The Los Angeles city council has voted unanimously to require city contractors to disclose financial ties to the National Rifle Association.
“For the sake of transparency, the city’s residents and stakeholders deserve to know how the city’s public funds are being spent, and whether taxpayer funds are being spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA,” the motion to approve the ordinance states.
Contractors would be required to disclose under affidavit any relationship they have with the NRA, under the new ordinance approved on a first reading by the council February 12. It will become municipal law after a final vote and approval by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
First Amendment Issue
The proposed ordinance amounts to blacklisting and is a violation of contractors’ First Amendment rights, says a law firm representing the NRA in a February 4 letter to the council.
“The First Amendment protects the right to free speech and association,” states Tiffany D. Cheuvront, an attorney with Michel & Associates.
“The proposed ordinance specifically blacklists those who affiliate with the NRA and is an unconstitutional effort to restrict and chill an individual’s right to associate and express their political beliefs,” Cheuvront states in the letter.
‘Attempt to Censor’
The ordinance is intended to discourage affiliation with or support of the NRA, says Lennie Jarratt, a government relations manager at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News.
“By making this disclosure of NRA ties part of the application process, this information will now be public,” said Jarratt. “This will allow others to target and harass these companies. It is an attempt to censor any company that wants to work with the city.”
‘Disgusting and Un-American’
The NRA will seek an injunction to prevent the ordinance from going into effect, the letter states.
Courts might decide the ordinance is constitutional, but that won’t make it right, says Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.
“It might pass constitutional muster because they’re not actually forbidding companies with NRA ties from having contracts with the city,” said Gottlieb. “However, it’s clearly intended to have a chilling effect on free association, and I think that’s disgusting and un-American.”
‘Pure Political Intimidation’
The ordinance is an attempt to put political pressure on contractors, says Sterling Burnett, a Heartland Institute senior fellow.
“This is the city council’s attempt to suppress speech and political association, and blacklist businesses that associate with the NRA,” said Burnett.
“This is pure political intimidation,” said Burnett. “They could do the same thing to anyone who gave to Trump’s campaign, or to anyone else with political views they personally dislike.”
Businesses that support the NRA are unlikely to be intimidated by the ordinance, says Gottlieb.
“Many of the businesses in L.A. that have NRA sponsorships are probably gun stores,” Gottlieb said. “The city council is not going to intimidate them out of supporting the NRA, despite their best efforts.”
Expects Cost Increases
If it stands, the ordinance will make city projects more expensive by discouraging many companies from bidding on contracts with the city, Jarratt says.
“With fewer companies competing for business, contract costs will increase,” Jarratt said.
The law unfairly burdens people for holding a particular viewpoint, says Jarratt.
“This ordinance is clearly discriminatory based on political views,” said Jarratt.
Ashley Herzog ([email protected]) writes from Avon Lake, Ohio.