The January decision in Citizens United affirmed the right of associations to speak out in political campaigns. Democrats, however, fear that such spending will favor Republicans. That’s why Democrats have advanced H.R. 5175, dubbed the “DISCLOSE Act.” It might as well stand for “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections.” The bill is a partisan power grab, designed to mitigate heavy losses expected in the midterm elections.

The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (D-N.Y.), claim the bill is necessary to, among other things, prevent foreign influence in U.S. elections. Joining congressional Democrats, President Obama used his State of the Union address for a bit of demagoguery, darkly warning that the decision “opens the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.” Talking points distributed by Van Hollen’s office Monday trotted out the absurd argument that the bill would stop “manipulation of elections… by ‘hit’ groups funded by U.S. based foreign corporations such as BP.” Wednesday, the Rules Committee added an amendment authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to force a vote on whether to strip First Amendment rights from all companies holding oil leases in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Another provision of existing law, however, already prohibits any involvement by foreign interests in U.S. elections. This provision was left undisturbed by Citizens United. The DISCLOSE Act — and Kucinich’s unconstitutional amendment — would prevent U.S. companies from speaking out about issues and candidates if they have even minimal foreign investment. There is some irony here — a key plank of Obama’s campaign messaging, his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope,” was published by a subsidiary of Random House Inc., which is owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann.

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want different rules for their potential critics, though. DISCLOSE would prevent companies from exercising their political speech rights if they attract foreign investment of as little as 20 percent. As a practical matter, it’s nearly impossible for a company to control whether a shareholder crosses over this arbitrary 20 percent threshold in a global economy. Shares constantly change hands, and a company that is 19 percent foreign-owned today could cross the 20 percent barrier several times between now and Election Day. Rather than risk criminal sanctions, companies will simply step back from politics — the intent of the bill’s sponsors.

Van Hollen has not always been so reflexively xenophobic. In 2002, with anti-French sentiment on the rise due to French opposition to the Iraq war, Van Hollen defended the U.S. subsidiary of French giant Sodexo. “I am concerned that a misdirected attempt by some members of Congress to punish certain companies in the U.S. for the French government’s lack of support for U.S. policies in Iraq would put thousands of American jobs at risk. Sodexo provides 110,000 American jobs, employing people in all 50 states and paying $646 million in taxes,” Van Hollen wrote on behalf of the company, whose headquarters are in Gaithersburg, Md. — part of the congressional district he represents. Under DISCLOSE, however, Sodexo would lose the political speech rights its American competitors can freely exercise.

This week Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) implied that the bill’s opponents support allowing rogue dictators to control U.S. elections: “Do they want Kim Jong Il in their democracy, too?” he asked the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retiring Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) warned in a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that campaigns will be susceptible to terrorist control without a congressional remedy.

The idea that American voters would blindly follow the orders of an al Qaeda-sponsored ad in a congressional race is beyond absurd, but it became clear this week that many Democrats may be touting this falsehood at the direction of Obama campaign pollster Joel Benenson. His firm selectively released the results of biased poll questions on DISCLOSE, such as “When voters learn that the [Citizens United] ruling would make it easier for foreigners to spend money in U.S. elections, only 13% support it, while 82% oppose it.” The only problem is, as Justice Samuel Alito whispered after a similar whopper by President Obama at the State of the Union, “That’s not true.”

Interestingly, while foreign corporations are already prohibited from making political expenditures, foreign corporations and even sovereign governments retain First Amendment rights to directly lobby the federal government and to speak freely in the press. But congressional Democrats don’t see these rights disturbing their congressional majorities, so they provoke no outcry.

Bradley A. Smith is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.