“Stopping the Next McCain-Feingold”

Sean Trende, an attorney with Hunton & Williams LLP, has authored a piece in Human Events on the case of Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee ("COMPAC") v. City of San Jose, currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

After you’ve read the article and gotten a feel for what the case is about, take a look at the amicus brief CCP submitted in the case, on which Mr. Trende graciously donated his time and served as counsel of record.

Filed Under: Blog

The areas of our expertise

It’s Friday, so to prove that we don’t just limit ourselves to campaign finance regulation, check out this cover story from the Wall Street Journal, which ends with a quote from CCP’s Associate Director, Paul Sherman.

Filed Under: Blog

Fortunately, Forced Disclosure Poses No Threat of Retaliation

In the debate over forced disclosure, including disclosure of grassroots lobbying expenditures, proponents of regulation have argued that such forced disclosure poses no threat to free political speech.

 Yesterday comes news that Sam Fox has withdrawn his name from consideration as Ambassador to Belgium, a position to which he was nominated by President Bush.  Fox’s nomination began to run into trouble when Senator John Kerry (D-MA), showed up at Fox’s hearing to denounce Fox for having contributed to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth – a group that ran ads critical of Senator Kerry during the latter’s 2004 run for president.  Now, whether or not financing a political group should disqualify one from serving as Ambassador is an interesting question: perhaps it should.  But let us not kid ourselves that retaliation for voicing one’s political views is not real.  Sam Fox is not going to be ambassador to Belgium for one reason and one reason only: as TPM Muckraker reports, quoting the Associated Press, "Democrats are raising concerns about Fox’s nomination to be ambassador to Belgium because of a $50,000 contribution Fox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth…."

We also find it interesting that this is justified by some on the grounds that the Fox was, "financ[ing] smears and lies of combat veterans," a statement that is clearly, at best, only half true.  Most of the Swift Boat Vet ads, from what we can see, involve competing claims in which the best evidence may lead one way or the other, but it is hard to say conclusively that either side is lying.  On most of these ads, we voice no opinion.  On the other hand, however, there seems to be no doubt whatsoever that the most effective Swift Boat Veteran ads, that showing a video clip of Senator Kerry’s testimony to Congress in the early 1970s, in which he accuses U.S. soldiers of numerous atrocities, is clearly true, and has never been denied by Senator Kerry.  Nevertheless, one of Fox’s opponents, Senator Chris Dodd (himself now a presidential candidate) was opposing Fox because Fox, "refused to apologize." 

This is, pure and simple, retaliation for political speech.  Let us not kid ourselves into thinking that this problem does not exist elsewhere.  Disclosure is, stripped to its core, government spying on citizen political activity.  There are times when its benefits may outweigh its cost, just as we sometimes allow government to spy on, surveil, or track its citizens in other circumstances.  But it should not be undertaken lightly.  It is not, "just disclosure."  It is regulation of fundamental First Amendment Rights that can only be justified by a compelling government interest.

Filed Under: Blog

Skewed Priorities, or Schizophrenia?

Strange as it may sound to those outside the world of campaign finance regulation, political parties are limited in the amount they can coordinate their advertising with candidates of their own party.  The Washington Post, as recently as November 3, 2006, has called this cap on party coordinated expenditures a "particularly ridiculous aspect of campaign finance law that ought to be fixed before 2008."  Enter Sen. Bob Bennett, who less than six months later has proposed an amendment to the Senate Electronic Disclosure bill that would do exactly that.  So what was the Washington Post’s reaction?

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Policy Primer: A Constitutional Solution to the Problems of Control and Accountability in Party Independent Expenditures

Control and accountability in party independent expenditures can be restored constitutionally.  As this Policy Primer indicates, one way is to eliminate the dollar limit on candidate-coordinated advertising by party committees.

Filed Under: Uncategorized, Independent Speech, Independent Speech, Political Parties

Five Years of Force

McCain-Feingold is Five.

Is politics purer?

Click on the title to read more… 

Filed Under: Blog

Five Years after McCain-Feingold, Law’s Failure is Evident

PRESS RELEASE:    March 27, 2007

Media Contact:      Stephen M. Hoersting (703) 682-9359

Filed Under: Press Releases

“Never in the field of campaign finance has so little been owed by so few to so many.”

Pardon us for ripping off a great statesman–Churchill, discussing a life and death battle for Western Civilization–to discuss so mundane a topic as campaign finance disclosure.  But it seems like that would be the appropriate quote if the U.S. Senate approves S. 223 on Wednesday, which provides for electronic filing of Senate Campaign Finance reports.  Mind you, we’re not opposed to electronic filing of campaign finance reports by Senate campaigns.  But we think that the push behind S. 223 reveals more about the quality of campaign finance argumentation than the reality of the bill would ever reveal about campaigns.  Click the headline to learn why.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Amicus briefs supporting WRTL keep pouring in

They can be downloaded here

Filed Under: Blog

Amicus Brief: FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.

Download Amicus Brief

Filed Under: Completed Amicus Briefs, Legal, Legal Center, amicus brief, Wisconsin Right to Life, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus), Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

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