These tactics are straight out of the left-wing playbook: Expose your opponents to public view, release the liberal thugs and hope the public pressure or unwanted attention scares them from supporting causes you oppose. This is what the administration has done through federal agencies such as the FCC and the FEC, and it’s what proponents of the Disclose Act plan to do with donor and member lists.
Oddly, some on the left are now arguing that the IRS scandal is reason to revive the Disclose Act. But if this scandal has taught us anything, it is that Washington’s ability to target individuals and groups is already too expansive. We should be looking at ways to limit, not expand, the government’s ability to target people because of their beliefs and the causes they support. And we should take a serious look at the culture that enabled this scandal.
Before the recent revelations, it may have seemed fanciful to some that government officials would use donor and member lists as a political weapon. Yet that’s precisely why the FEC has exempted the Socialist Workers Party from public disclosure since 1974. It’s also why the Supreme Court told Alabama in 1958 that it couldn’t compel the NAACP to disclose the names and addresses of its members: Compelling disclosure of such information infringes upon one’s freedom to associate and thus violates their First Amendment rights.