SENATE Key Vote Alert – Free Speech Limits

The Club for Growth, with its 35,000 members, plans to score a “NO” vote as a pro-economic growth vote in its annual rating of Congress on any bill that contains restrictions on free speech that would force all 527 groups to become political action committees (PACs). Such a measure proposes a breathtaking assault on First Amendment free speech rights and would deprive Club members of important associational rights also guaranteed by the Constitution.

One such proposal is S. 1053. This bill goes far beyond the reviled prohibitions on ads imposed by the so-called Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). Those limits barred “only” TV and radio ads from most groups if the ads mention the name of a candidate within 60 days of a November election. It exempted PACs.

S. 1053 is an unprecedented proposal that would ban any such ads placed anywhere at any time in any kind of medium by a 527 group unless sponsored by a highly-regulated PAC. If passed, money currently donated to 527s will instead flow to other nonprofit groups and business associations where it will be hidden from the public disclosure currently mandated for 527 groups. Under the logic and precedent of BCRA and S. 1053, Congress would, presumably, then apply these same anti-free speech restrictions to these other groups, perhaps until First Amendment-guaranteed free political speech has been thoroughly shredded.

The Club’s rating will also score other actions for or against such a proposal such as sponsoring S. 1053 or other bills with a similar provision or signing a letter urging action on these proposed free speech restrictions by leadership, a committee, or the President.

Free speech is vital to a healthy debate on public policies, including policies that create economic growth. Our Congressional Scorecard for the 109th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public.

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