Saturday, January 13, 2007

U.S. Senate Bill No. 1: Grassroots lobbying groups would be forced to track every cent spent on any given issue

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LifeSiteNews The new Democratic majority in the United States Senate is poised to pass a new ethics bill that threatens the essential grassroots lobbying efforts and information distribution of pro-family and pro-life organizations.

Under Section 220 of Senate Bill 1, the proposed bill supposedly intended to “provide greater transparency in the legislative process,” would place onerous reporting burdens on any organization that encourages the public to contact any member of the executive or judicial branches of government on an issue. Any organization that does so would have to track each dollar spent as well as report which political issues they focused on and which government officials they communicated with. These figures would have to be submitted quarterly and would be public domain.

American Family Association websites asserts that the requirements would place arduous expectations on small organizations such as theirs, saying, “The compliance costs alone will be heavy, with the hiring of perhaps as many as 8-10 new employees to track both accounting and legal oversight involved and all the paperwork required.”

Expenditures that would have to be reported include employee costs, advertising costs, and mailing and distribution costs. These figures would have to be submitted quarterly and would be available to the public. The staggering compliance costs of monitoring all expenditures on every relevant issue would present a substantial burden to pro-family and conservative organizations that survive on public donations. The bill would also open these organizations’ lobbying plans and strategies to the scrutiny of opposing organizations.

Consequences for not properly complying with the proposed legislation would include fines up to $100,000.

Section 220 of Senate Bill 1, entitled “Disclosure of paid efforts to stimulate grassroots Lobbying” presents a clear attack on the effective grassroots lobbying of conservative groups since it provides exemptions for the more affluent organizations and corporations who can afford to employ lobbyists to contact government officials rather than relying on grassroots efforts. It also protects the communications of organized groups like the AFL-CIO and MoveOn.org under exceptions for communications to an organization’s “members, employees, officers or shareholders.”

American Family Association president, Don Wildmon said that the bill is being supported by both sides of the political spectrum because “they are tired of hearing from their constituencies.” AFA’s website is providing contact information and encouraging the public to contact their senators and request that they vote “No” on Senate Bill 1.

View American Family Association’s website:
http://www.afa.net/senatebill1.htm
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