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J. Michael Smith, Esq.
President

Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Chairman

H.R. 5175/DISCLOSE Act:
Another Congressional Attempt to Muzzle Free Speech

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

June 22, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering an imminent vote on the DISCLOSE Act.

The DISCLOSE Act, H.R. 5175, was intended to roll back the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. However, the legislation places severe disclosure requirements on corporations and organizations that decide to use corporate funds to make statements about candidates for federal office. Organizations that use funds for campaign activities (such as taking out an advertisement in a newspaper urging people to vote for a candidate who supports the U.S. Constitution over international law) would have to include the names of every single person who has given over $600 to the organization, even if the person didn’t know that the organization was going to take out these newspaper ads.

The bill does not appear to apply to organizations such as HSLDA because we do not spend membership revenue on campaign activities, and we only send political communications (such as endorsements of federal candidates) to our membership. Additionally, the DISCLOSE Act does not apply to organizations that only engage in advocacy and do not get involved in political activity. However, we believe that the bill as written will create a chilling effect on free speech. Organizations will have to comply with onerous red tape and disclosure requirements, which will likely mean that they will cease to provide valuable and informative statements on candidates and elections.

Furthermore, this legislation may lead to even greater restrictions on the free speech of organizations such as HSLDA in the future.

Action Requested

Please call your U.S. representative right now and urge him or her to vote against the DISCLOSE Act. You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox to find the name and contact information of your U.S. representative. There is no need to identify yourself as a homeschooler. You can make your message as simple as:

“Please vote against H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act. Congress should not take away the free speech rights of organizations and corporations that are made up of ordinary American citizens.”

Background

Campaign finance reform is a complicated issue. While maintaining the integrity of the campaign and election system is important, we believe that the DISCLOSE Act goes too far toward discouraging free speech through its imposition of severe disclosure requirements.

 Other Resources

We encourage you to read the following materials for more information on the DISCLOSE Act (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader):

Group Letter to Members of Congress

Center for Competitive Politics Policy Briefing on DISCLOSE Act

ACLU Letter in Opposition to the DISCLOSE Act