The Obama administration has been striking out at conservative ideological groups and their involvement in the 2010 elections throughout this entire campaign season.
Their biggest target to date was the Tea Party movement. Certainly, you have read or heard the liberal lilliputians who can’t help but throw the word “teabagger” into every other sentence that comes out of their mouths or nearly every post they make to their blogs.
Now, as the election comes to a close and prospects look bleak for the liberal lilliputians, they have found a new target…the Chamber of Commerce.
They rant and rave about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case which, at its core, ruled that non-profit and for profit corporations as well as labor unions could use their money in communication for electioneering. So, groups like the Chamber of Commerce, SEIU, AFL-CIO, PSEAA, Teamsters, etc. could all use their money to electioneer if that is what they choose to do.
Getting back to the liberal’s desire to censor the Chamber of Commerce – the allegation is that foreign funds are being funneled into these groups to help Republicans. The foreign money comes because these groups operate outside of the US and collect dues so that money is poisoning the process. Worse, they argue, there is no disclosure of the donors to these groups which must be nefarious, right?
Absent from the dialogue is the admission that labor groups operate under these very same rules. Labor unions do not disclose their donors. Labor unions dump truckloads of cash into races to elicit a desired result. Labor unions operate outside of the United States.
Anyone read an attack on any of the labor groups using foreign money to influence an election? How about use money from foreign countries or foreign nationals? How about failing to disclose their donors? Calls for the union-endorsed to reject those endorsements?
Here is the deal with the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce has a $200 million budget. They accept somewhere around $100,000 a year from affiliates in other countries. That money is segregated and further, not used in any election efforts.
At the heart of the matter is free speech. Every group is a special interest group. Whether it be a labor union, think tank, or issue advocacy group. There is nothing and there should be nothing standing in the way of American citizens joining together to speak with one voice.
And, if you are going to be critical of this type of advocacy, by all means be consistent. Don’t cherry pick which groups should have rights under the Constitution and which ones shouldn’t. Especially when the only delineation between one group's speech and another group's speech is based on what they are saying.
In America, there should be no room for censorship.
Least of all censorship born of disagreement with the subject matter.
For more on this, read Marc Thiessen’s recent op-ed in WaPo.