We have no authority, but we’ll get them anyway (Part I)

Judge Sullivan:  “Why aren’t you going after those 527s I am hearing so much about?”

FEC:  “You see, Judge, the problem is we have no authority to get those 527s.  But, trust us, we’ll get them anyway.”

Click on the headline to read more…

Filed Under: Blog

Friday Recommended Reading

Anyone who’s been reading editorial pages recently know that the reformers have worked themselves into a lather over "bundling" disclosure.  Now, like most "reform" efforts, the concept is quickly expanding to endanger valuable citizen participation.  Bob Bauer has written a thoughtful post, well worth our readers’ attention, that considers these threats and offers some common-sense advice on line-drawing.

Our second recommended article comes courtesy of The Politico, which is quickly establishing itself as required reading for those interested in campaign finance and lobbying.  Posted today is an article titled "To Lobby (v.): To Be Part of a Basic American Tradition," which offers a brighter view of lobbying than that painted by reformers, a view that recognizes lobbying as an integral part of the First Amendment right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

Money quote (courtesy of lobbyist and former U.S. Rep. John Porter): "The word ‘lobbying’ has become a bad word. . . . But all of us in America are lobbyists in one way or another. Most of us have things that we’re interested in government doing. I don’t think it’s a bad word at all."

Filed Under: Blog

Stand by your Blog?

You may recall the original "Stand by your Ad" legislation as responsible for sharply curtailing negative television ads and generally improving the tone of debate in and around Washington.

Just kidding.

The ridiculous "Stand by your Ad" provisions in BCRA – despite having the avowed purpose of discouraging political speech in the form of negative advertising – were upheld by the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC (though, as Prof. Rick Hasen has pointed out, the Court did so with little analysis).  Now the Campaign Legal Center reports (and, predictably, endorses) a new House bill that will extend BCRA’s "Stand by your Ad" provisions to the Internet and "robo-calls."  

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

The Price of Disclosure

"Reformers" often tout the benefits of disclosure, but rarely discuss the drawbacks.  Apropro this column in The State, I received an email from a reader that illustrates the price of disclosure.

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP Accepting Applications for Deputy Communications Director

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), is seeking a self-motivated, detail-oriented Deputy Communications Director.  The position will involve substantial responsibility in coordinating all aspects of CCP’s media presence.

Click the headline for more information on the position.

Filed Under: Press Releases

“How to fix campaign financing forever for $50”

Well, make that $50 per person,…so around $6 billion, and that’s only for one presidential election cycle.  But, as Farhad Manjoo claims in a recent Slate commentary, that’s a small price to pay in order to "fix campaign financing forever."

The $6 billion dollar outlay advocated by Manjoo is part of a larger proposal by professors Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres of Yale Law School.  Their plan, first advanced a few years back in their book Voting with Dollars, is unique, rejecting disclosure and embracing anonymity in the form of a "donation booth" through which all political donations will flow anonymously to candidates.

While it deserves credit for outside-the-box thinking, we’re skeptical of the Ackerman/Ayres proposal’s ability to "fix campaign financing forever."  For an excellent and thorough critique, we recommend this book review by CCP Academic Advisor Lilian BeVier of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Filed Under: Blog

“Government watching your politics”

CCP Chairman Brad Smith’s latest op-ed starts with a provocative request:

Answer this statement with “Agree” or “Disagree”: The government of South Carolina should maintain a database of its citizens and monitor their lawful political activity.

Regular readers of this blog will likely "disagree."  So did South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a group that is currently suing the South Carolina Ethics Commission to vindicate the right of all South Carolinians to speak about political issues without opening themselves to government retaliation.

Read the whole thing here.

Filed Under: Blog

Quote of the Day

Well, OK, we don’t actually have a "quote of the day" feature, but if we did, this would be a good quote:

Click the headline for more…

Filed Under: Blog

Campaign War Chests and Challenger Quality in Senate Elections

This article examines whether or not Senate incumbents can use war chests to affect their odds of winning. The author uses data on races from 1980 to 2000 to demonstrate the effect of an incumbent Senator’s war chest on a campaign. For the purpose of this article, the author defined war chest as the cash on hand an incumbent has 22 months before the election. The author finds that, on average, about half of a Senate incumbent’s war chest comes from the cash the incumbent saved from the previous election. Thus, an incumbent’s war chest may be a partial result of what happened in the previous election campaign. Ultimately, the author concludes that war chests do not have a strong effect on the type of challenger in U.S. Senate elections. Similar to recent studies of war chests in the U.S. House, this work fails to uncover any systematic evidence that war chests in Senate elections deter general-election challengers. Consequently, reforms aimed at eliminating war chests will do little to increase electoral competitiveness. Implementing such a reform would not decrease competitiveness either, since incumbents are not raising war chests for tough election battles but merely carrying leftover money from one election campaign to the next.

Filed Under: Research, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

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