.- The United States Senate will soon vote on Senate bill S1 that may prohibit advocacy groups including pro-life groups from sending e-mails informing voters about certain bills and urging them to contact their elected officials.
Senate bill S1 is intended to reform lobbying in Washington and includes a provision in the disclosure of paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying. This provision would in effect create complicated and expensive reporting requirements on advocacy groups. Organizations such as National Right to Life, Family Research Council, American Family Association, and the Population Research Institute, along with many others are concerned.
Advocacy groups could be fined up to $100,000 for urging Americans to contact their elected officials if they do not meet quarterly reporting requirements, if passed in its current form. Advocacy groups would be required to register with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
In a letter to U.S. Senators, obtained by LifeNews.com, the National Right to Life organization wrote that the “net effect,” of the bill, “would be to chill activities that are essential to the healthy functioning of a representative system of government."
"If this provision is enacted,” the letter says, “many ordinary citizens will get less and less information from pro-life groups and other issue-oriented organizations about what is going on in Congress."
National Right to Life is urging lawmakers to adopt an amendment by pro-life Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah that would resolve the problems. Bennett’s Amendment 20 would remove the provision relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, told LifeNews that he agrees that pro-life advocates should ask their senators to oppose the damaging provisions.
"This is a move to stop us from informing you about the issues you find important," he said.
"We don't oppose legitimate proposals to address unethical actions by Members of Congress, congressional staff and lobbyists," Perkins explained. "But nothing in those misdeeds provides any justification whatever for the idea that Congress should regulate the constitutionally protected efforts of groups such as ours to alert citizens regarding legislative developments in Congress."
Perkins says his group backs the Bennett amendment as well.
"The Senator realizes that just as it would be unconstitutional to monitor the press because of their contact with their readers, Congress has no business monitoring the motives of citizens who contact Washington to express their views," he said.