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IFA Urges Senate to Protect First Amendment Rights of Small Businesses

For immediate release
Contact
: Alisa Harrison, 202-628-8000
aharrison@franchise.org
www.twitter.com/franchising411

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2010—The International Franchise Association today urged the Senate to reject a bill that threatens the First Amendment rights of small business owners who wish to engage in the policy setting process.

“IFA strongly opposes S. 3628, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE),” IFA Vice President of Government Relations David French said in a letter to all Senators.  “This legislation directly threatens the First Amendment rights of hundreds of thousands of small franchised business owners by placing onerous restrictions on the free speech of small businesses, corporations and trade associations while ignoring the political influence and spending of labor unions.” 

 The legislation would require significant new reporting requirements for corporations or trade associations that engage in various forms of express advocacy as well as issue-based voter education campaigns.
 
“The sponsors of the bill admit that the bill’s purpose is to deter businesses and trade associations from participating in the political process,” French said.  “Small franchised businesses would be at a tremendous disadvantage since they do not have the resources that larger corporations or labor unions enjoy so they often coalesce together through trade associations to amplify their voice.  The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that voluntary associations are vital participants in our public debate, and that government attempts to curb participation in associations to stifle their voice violate the First Amendment.”

French noted that the legislation imposes no comparable restrictions on labor unions even though unions and their political action committees are the single largest contributor to political campaigns and claim to have spent nearly $450 million in the 2008 presidential race. 

“The discriminatory treatment of corporations and small businesses is a significant departure from prior campaign finance legislation, such as McCain-Feingold, in which Congress treated corporations and unions equally under the law,” French said.  “Attempting to silence the voice of small businesses in the political process while enabling unions to retain their enormous influence is an unconstitutional threat to the election process.”

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About the International Franchise Association
The International Franchise Association is the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. Celebrating 50 years of excellence, education and advocacy, IFA protects, enhances and promotes franchising through government relations, public relations and educational programs. Through its awareness campaign highlighting the theme, Franchising: Building Local Businesses, One Opportunity at a Time, IFA promotes the 21 million jobs and $2.3 trillion of economic activity generated by franchising. IFA members include franchise companies in over 90 different business format categories, individual franchisees and companies that support the industry in marketing, law and business development.

 

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