Huffington Post Names NRA 'Baddest Force in Politics'
2:35 PM, Dec 18, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
There have been a lot of ill considered articles following the heinous grade school shooting in Connecticut, and I'm afraid this article in the Huffington Post is no exception. The headline, "The Gun Lobby: Why The NRA Is The Baddest Force In Politics," more or less sets the tone. Here's how the piece begins:
It's undeniably true that the NRA is a powerful political lobby, but this article makes it seem like the NRA is so feared it gets its own special exemption from campaign finance laws. That is grossly misleading.
For one, the exemption for "dues-paying" organizations would not have been just for the NRA—for example, it would have applied to the AARP and Humane Society as well. For another, "dues-paying" organizations such as unions would also have been exempt from the legislation's disclosure requirements. Unions are the largest political spenders in the country—they spent in excess of $400 million on campaigns in 2008, and 12 of the 20 biggest political contributors over the last two decades have been unions. Conveniently, unions give nearly all their money to Democrats.
Broadening the DISCLOSE Act's exemptions for dues-paying organizations was a transparent attempt to make it appear as if Democrats weren't slipping in a carve-out exclusively for their biggest donors. Here's how Politico reported it at the time:
The DISCLOSE Act ultimately failed in the Senate. Democrats couldn't get enough votes for cloture, in large part because Republicans objected to how the Democratic legislation exempted unions from the bill's disclosure requirements.
So yes, the NRA is a powerful political lobby, but not as powerful as this article makes it seem. Further, if the NRA does have a lot of political clout, this is because the organization has millions of members who voluntarily pay dues to the organization to support its political activities.
By contrast, unions have an enormous amount of political pull, which stems from liberally spending campaign cash collected from workers who are legally required to pay union dues against their will. Yet, somehow the NRA is always singled out as "baddest force in politics" whereas reporters never seem to bother scrutinizing union lobbying efforts.
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