“Best Election Money Can Buy”: Reading the News with a Skeptical Eye

A recent article in the L.A. Times is practically bursting with all the things that advocates of campaign finance “reform” love to hear.  Money is being “poured” into ballot initiatives, voters are being “confused” and “misled” by television advertising, and we are reminded that “often…the politician or proposition with the most money wins.”  Public Campaign, in a blog post titled “Best Election Money Can Buy,” points to this article as proof that something must be done to curb the influence of “wealthy interests [who] are sparing no expense to buy a big bullhorn in the debate.” 

Regrettably, the L.A. Times article is typical of campaign finance reporting, and Public Campaign’s response is typical of the “reform” community’s response.  We view these sorts of stories and the responses they generate with a more skeptical eye.  Even when the facts contained in such stories are accurate, the conclusions that are drawn from them by “reformers” are often marked by muddled thinking and sometimes down-right illogic.

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Filed Under: Blog, California

“Relatives have ‘inside track’ in lobbying for tax dollars”

A story in USA Today highlights a true appearance of corruption, and it has nothing to do with financing America’s political campaigns: "Lobbying groups employed 30 family members last year to influence spending bills that their relatives with ties to the House and Senate appropriations committees oversaw or helped write."

Lobbyists defending the practice come off sounding less than credible: "Lobbyist William Clyburn Jr. said he sees no benefit to having family on the Appropriations Committee. The lobbyist is the son of Rep. Clyburn’s first cousin, and Clyburn said he grew up calling the lawmaker ‘uncle.’"

Click here to read the whole story. 

Filed Under: Blog, lobbying, lobbyist

Joyce Foundation/Wisconsin News Lab Report: Where and How Should Voters Get Their Information?

The Joyce Foundation, working with the University of Wisconsin NewsLab, has released a report highly critical of the coverage – or really the lack of coverage – that local news gives to elections and campaigns.  The Joyce folks are very disturbed by this: Vice President  Lawrence Hansen informs us that, "The failure of local television news to foster and encourage informed citizen participation in the political process is scandalous."  At the same time, however, Joyce has played a key role in trying to limit the information voters get from other sources.  So where should voters get their news?  And what, exactly, is the vision of politics that the Joyce folks have?  Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

And now for something completely different…

In recognition that the blog post below is a bit on the "heavy" side, and because it’s Friday, we thought our readers might appeciate something a little lighter (although still campaign related) courtesy of The Daily Show.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

When “Stand By Your Ad” is Irrelevant

The FEC is currently considering alternative drafts of a new Advisory Opinion that asks whether a campaign committee receives a prohibited in-kind contribution if an incorporated television stations charges them the Lowest Unit Charge ("LUC") for advertising time when the committee is not statutorily "entitled" to the LUC because of failure to comply with the "Stand by your Ad" disclaimer requirements. 

We believe believe that this is not a prohibited in-kind contribution, for reasons CCP Chairman Brad Smith expressed while serving as a Commissioner on the FEC.  For those interested in this issue, we offer the text of Commissioner Smith’s dissent in AO 2004-43 (Missouri Broadcasters Association):

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Filed Under: Blog

FEC to be renamed “Ministry of Free Speech”

The term “Orwellian”, which has come to embrace a number of different definitions, sometimes crops up in the campaign finance debate.  This post considers three common definitions ("Big Brother", doublethink, and language manipulation) to see whether they accurately describes some of the problems inherent to campaign finance "reform".

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Filed Under: Blog

A Persuasive Campaign for Coercion

Jared DeMarinis, of the Maryland State Board of Elections, has referred Governor Bob Ehrlich’s campaign to a state prosecutor because Ehrlich employed a common fundraising tactic known as the dollar-bill mailer.

Meanwhile, the reformers have a new tactic of their own.  And their latest, no less than their earlier ones, is designed to embolden “DeMarinises” everywhere.  It is the latest in the reformers’ persuasive campaign; a campaign for coercion.

Click on the title to read more.

UPDATE: More than two weeks later Maryland prosecutors determined that Ehrlich did nothing wrong.

Filed Under: Blog, Maryland

This Just In: Corruption in Politics is a Bad Thing!

Democracy 21 is up with a press release revealing that the American public does not like corrupt politicians.  Shazam!  For this you get six and seven figure dollar Pew and Carnegie Grants?  Of course the public is concerned about corruption.  The question is, does the public buy into Democracy 21’s speech squelching agenda? 

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Filed Under: Blog

Supreme Court Denies Cert. in FreeEats.com v. North Dakota

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari in FreeEats.Com, Inc. v. North Dakota, No. 06-127.  A brief description of the case can be found here.  The Center for Competitive Politics had previously submitted an amicus curiae brief seeking review of the Supreme Court of North Dakota’s decision to uphold a ban on political calls made over automated dialing systems.

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Filed Under: Press Releases

“Emboldened bloggers target financial disclosures”

CCP Chairman Brad Smith offers his thoughts on the push by bloggers for electronic filing of Senate campaign-finance reports in this article from The Hill.  Money quote:  "[F]or the most part [bloggers better] represent average citizens than the editorial page of The New York Times." 

Commissioner Smith’s own blog post on the issue can be found here.

Filed Under: Blog

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.