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Walz, Demmer spar over Citizens United bill

Posted by: Eric Roper under 1st District Updated: June 23, 2010 - 7:39 PM
Randy Demmer/Tim Walz

The DISCLOSE Act: A restriction of free speech or a triumph of transparency?

This question had Rep. Tim Walz, shown right, and his Republican opponent, Randy Demmer, left, trading their first barbs of the still-young First District congressional race on Wednesday.

Lawmakers in Washington hope to take a vote this week on the DISCLOSE Act, which would force advocacy organizations to reveal more details about their donors. It was crafted in response to this winter’s Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which allowed corporations and unions to fund political ads for or against specific candidates.

Political analysts predict that the bill will significantly reduce the number of corporations willing to engage in political advertising, since they will not want their brands attached to partisan issues. Some Republicans have argued that Democrats are trying to game the system to their advantage before the mid-term elections.

Incidentally, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are key players also fighting on opposing sides of this issue.

In a veiled attack at Walz, who is a co-sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, Demmer demanded that the Mankato Democrat vote no on the bill.

“This bill would restrict free speech by placing onerous and costly regulations on industry groups, membership associations, and individual companies seeking to take advantage of their legal right to have an impact on legislation and elections – a right recently upheld by the Supreme Court,” said Demmer, who serves in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

He added that Congress is trying to “legislate around the Constitution.”

Walz responded to Demmer in a release titled “Tim Walz Stands Up for Transparency.”

“Instead of standing up for the right of citizens to know who is spending money in elections, Rep. Demmer is standing up for corporate interests who want to keep that information secret,” Walz wrote.

The First is widely seen as one of Minnesota’s only swing districts, though Walz handily won re-election in 2008.

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