When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union both warn of severe unintended consequences of a legislative provision, perhaps it is time to hit the ‘pause’ button.
The Chamber took a broad position against H.R. 1, which passed the House on a party-line vote and is now before the Senate. Among the many reasons the Chamber opposes this bill is its impact on political speech and donor privacy.
“H.R. 1 would also usher in a host of onerous disclaimer requirements for those engaging in communications that mention a candidate or elected official, even if those communications are related to legislative issues.”
The ACLU supports many of the provisions of H.R. 1, but spells out why the donor disclosure provision is so problematic. Writing in The Washington Post, ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane, wrote:
“We know from history that people engaged in politically charged issues become political targets and are often subject to threats of harassment or even violence. This should be gravely concerning in light of the rise in white supremacist violence that has brazenly targeted private citizens and public officials alike. Moreover, in the time of social media, there is heightened interest in who is supporting these efforts.”
Conservatives and liberals can disagree over the merits of H.R.1’s many provisions. But civil libertarians of all stripes see a danger when donors are exposed to doxing by the government, and the abuse, threats and intimidation that can result from that.