Conservative activists have been screaming bloody murder about a provision in the Senate ethics bill that would require grassroots groups to report on their fundraising activities. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who previously had championed a similar measure, has heard their call and is switching his position on the matter.
So-called "grassroots" groups spend millions of unregulated dollars trying to change public opinion each year -- money that often comes not from individuals but from corporate coffers. McCain, as The Hill
reports, "sponsored legislation last Congress that included an even broader requirement for grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors."
But conservative figures as powerful as Richard Viguerie and James Dobson have weighed in hard on the measure in the current bill. Viguerie is calling it
"the biggest threat to free speech ever," and Dobson's Focus on the Family is circulating
a petition against it.
Now, as The Hill reports
, McCain, who recently said
he wanted to have a "dialogue" with Dobson, "has told conservative activists that he will vote to strip a key provision on grassroots lobbying from the reform package he previously supported."