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Pence on DISCLOSE ACT: “a naked attempt to cloud the free speech rights of millions of Americans.”

U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Democrat “DISCLOSE Act:”

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 5175, the Democracy is Served by Casting Light on Spending in Elections – DISCLOSE – Act.

“However, I must say, rarely has a bill fallen so short of doing what its title says. In fact, this bill does the opposite of its name by limiting free speech in the political process.

“The First Amendment says, ‘Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.’ That right is cherished by all Americans and is to be protected by this Congress. Unfortunately, this bill is a naked attempt to cloud the free speech rights of millions of Americans; rights that were clearly affirmed in January by the Supreme Court.
“It’s for that reason that I am profoundly disappointed that the Democratic majority is trying to overturn the High Court’s Citizens United decision. The justices were clear about the freedom of Americans to collectively participate in the political process through organizations. And the fact that the Court overturned a 20-year precedent speaks volumes about the importance of this issue.

“But, instead of standing on the side of free speech and the American people, this bill will cloud the court’s decision and cause uncertainty about federal election law. And that would happen during the months leading up to the November midterm elections.

“Democrats suggest that the bill deals with corporations and unions even-handedly. That is false. In the interest of full disclosure, the American people should know that this legislation is sponsored by the two Democrats who are chiefly responsible for the election of Democrats to the House and Senate this fall.

“Perhaps that explains why this bill’s provisions include enormous exclusions for union expenditures but place extraordinary limits on corporations to hinder their ability to participate in the political process, despite the clear directive of the Citizens United case.

“Corporations will have to make burdensome new identifying disclaimers.

“Companies that are government contractors or that received TARP bailout money will be banned from political speech. And this bill will suppress speech by those who choose to speak out through associations, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.

“This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to bring confusion to the political process and to discourage millions of Americans and thousands of organizations from becoming involved in the political debate.

“Campaign finance is an issue that I’ve been committed to since I first came to Congress. I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats alike in an effort to bring more freedom to everyone involved in the political process.

“This bill sets back the freedoms affirmed just months ago by the Supreme Court.
“Mr. Speaker, I believe that instead of greater government control of political speech, more freedom is the answer. And while such liberty may be a bit more chaotic and inconvenient for some in the political class, as Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.’

“The answer to problems in politics in a free society is more freedom, not less.

“I urge this body not to diminish the First Amendment for the sake of politics. Let’s reject this bill and allow the American people to exercise their right of free speech and participate fully in the political process, as our Constitution intended.”

" That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves. "

-- Thomas Jefferson

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