Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Earlier this week, the National Rifle Association scored a major victory when the gun rights lobby persuaded House Democrats to exempt it from legislation intended to reign in the campaign finance free-for-all ushered in by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The move has sent other groups scrambling to create their own carve-outs, ramping up their lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Among those seeking a deal of their own are a handful of labor unions, which have largely criticized the Citizens United ruling while also taking advantage of its loosened restrictions.
On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) met with top Democratic leaders who are involved with the bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act, to push for additional changes that would blunt the legislation’s impact on unions. "I think there’s just overreach in this bill," said Chuck Loveless, director of AFSCME’s legislative department, who attended the meeting and said that "key people" were involved, though he declined to name them.
While many have warned that Citizens United would unleash a flood of corporate spending in elections by relaxing campaign finance rules, labor unions have been some of the first groups to try out tactics that would have previously been forbidden. AFSCME, along with the AFL-CIO and SEIU, has yet to take a formal position on the bill. Their support, like the NRA's, could be critical to its passage, particularly since a host of conservative groups have come out against the legislation in the wake of the NRA's deal. (And 45 liberal organizations have threatened to pull their support from the bill if the NRA exemption isn't taken out.)
But while the SEIU has suggested that the bill doesn't go far enough, groups like the AFL-CIO and AFSCME are seeking to roll back some of the DISCLOSE Act's restrictions and regulations, arguing that unions should be treated differently than corporations. And a flurry of last-minute lobbying over the bill has erupted since news of the NRA's deal broke on Monday. "Currently we are discussing our concerns with members of Congress," said AFL-CIO press secretary Amaya Tune. According to Loveless, AFSCME is pushing for two major changes to the bill, which will require campaign ads to disclose all the names of the corporations, unions, and other groups that fund them.