Sen. John Ensign continues to transparently block the electronic filing bill by refusing to back down from a ridiculous amendment requiring outside groups filing ethics complaints to reveal their funding sources. In stating his refusal to yield Ensign also admitted that he is working with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the author of this absurd amendment, to block passage of the electronic filing bill. The Hill reports, "Ensign added that he consulted with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before deciding on his strategy, deeming the push for the amendment ‘something we did together … we discussed it. I felt it was a good idea for me to do it.’" (Emphasis added.) McConnell has stated previously, including in the last few days, that he supports the electronic filing bill. It appears that he is being far less than honest.
Ensign and McConnell should do the senatorial thing and step out of the way as Sen. Bob Bennett did when he tried to offer a poison pill amendment. Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has offered Ensign a fair hearing in her committee on his amendment in exchange for dropping his objection to electronic filing. It’s time for Ensign and McConnell to stop blocking transparency legislation.
In regards to the Ensign/McConnell amendment itself there are serious legal questions that appear to make it and illegal attempt to infringe on certain groups’ privacy. Adam Bonin summarized the legal issues yesterday in a post at Daily Kos:
What can we say about this proposal? Of course it’s not germane to this innocuous, bipartisan legislation, but what’s more is that it’s pretty blatantly unconstitutional. In a series of cases from the civil rights era including NAACP v Alabama and Bates v. City of Little Rock, the Supreme Court has made clear that such compelled disclosure – or "outing" – of supporters of a political organization is anathema to democracy, as it subjects members to potential harassment or retaliation and infringes on their constitutional rights of association, and must be supported by a compelling state interest.
Tell Ensign and McConnell to stop blocking transparency.
Sen. John Ensign: (202) 224-6244
Sen. Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541