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NRA Deal: Powerful Groups Exempt from Campaign Disclosure

WASHINGTON - The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, in negotiations over a bill to limit big money influence in political campaigns, is considering exempting the biggest such players in a move geared toward securing the support of the National Rifle Association.

“This proposal is so outside the spirit of what Congress says it is trying to do that any supporter of real reform should be embarrassed to vote for it,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “People are already cynical about the connections between big money and Congress. Now the big guys would get to avoid the rules once again.”

In order to get the gun rights group to agree not to block legislation responding to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that removed barriers on vast campaign expenditures by powerful special
interests, the House negotiators are working on language that would, in effect, exempt the NRA, with revenues of more than $322 million in 2007, from having to reveal the sources of funding it spent on election efforts.

“It also appears there is now a new condition that must be met before almost any legislation is allowed to proceed in the Democratic Congress: make sure the legislation doesn't upset the gun lobby bosses,” said Helmke. “This so-called compromise is a shameful one, and we urge
House members to oppose such legislation.”

The Politico news team reported the agreement Monday afternoon.  Under the previous legislative proposal authored by Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, advocacy groups would be required by law to disclose the major sources of funds for its independent expenditures late in the
campaigns of federal candidates for office. The new deal would exempt the handful of groups with more than a million members who raise 15 percent or less of the funding from corporations from disclosing their larger contributions, but would require smaller groups to disclose their contributions.


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