Brad Smith at Townhall.com

On Monday, Townhall.com ran a surprising column by Armstrong Williams, in which he advocated sweeping new regulations of campaign finance.  This morning, Townhall.com has published a response by CCP Chairman Brad Smith, available here.

Money quote:

More than simply being unfair to taxpayers, such a scheme is fundamentally foreign to the system of government that the Founders envisioned.  As P.J. O’Rourke says: "You want to get elected to change the government and the only place you can go to get the money necessary to run for election is the government you want to change. Do you see something a little East German about that?" /> />And it’s not just individual taxpayers who would fund Williams’ vision of "clean elections."  Campaigns have to advertise, after all, and that can cost a great deal of money.  So in addition to the new "campaign tax," Williams advocates "extensive free advertising on all public television, radio, print, and online media outlets."  But just like there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s no such thing as "free" advertising.  What Williams is really advocating is nothing less than the government seizing control of the media and giving those resources to candidates to use as they wish.  And because his plan embraces all "online media outlets," it presumably applies to Townhall.com itself.  I wonder how the readers of Townhall.com feel about that plan (not to mention Williams’ publishers, whose assets will be taken under Williams’ scheme). />"Williams is not ignorant of the need for money in campaigns.  In fact, his proposals recognize that money facilitates speech.  But instead of relying on voluntary contributions, Williams wants to prohibit all private contributions and impose a ‘campaign tax.’ . . .

"More than simply being unfair to taxpayers, such a scheme is fundamentally foreign to the system of government that the Founders envisioned.  As P.J. O’Rourke says: ‘You want to get elected to change the government and the only place you can go to get the money necessary to run for election is the government you want to change. Do you see something a little East German about that?’"

Filed Under: Blog

The “Live Free or Die” State on WRTL

With only eight days until the Supreme Court hears FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Concord Monitor urges the Court to decide the case on first principles, regardless of the possible motives behind WRTL’s ads:

"Let’s stipulate that even in the absence of explicit language, Wisconsin Right to Life was doing more than issue advocacy. The group opposed the voting records of both senators, and its members clearly looked forward to the defeat of both men. Their ability to advocate for that result shouldn’t be a function of how cleverly they disguise their motives.

"Above all else, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech in order to allow Americans the right to criticize their government. Whatever the intentions of a law’s drafters, if it effectively shields elected officials from criticism at the very moment when citizens are deciding whether to rehire those officials, the spirit of the First Amendment has been impermissibly violated. That’s the case here, and the justices should say so."

To read the whole thing, click here.

Filed Under: Blog

No Time to Talk

CFI has called for conversation.  Public Citizen can’t be bothered.

Click on the headline to read more…

Filed Under: Blog

Fake Astroturf Lobbying Rears Its Ugly Head Once More

Is there no end to the "astroturf lobbying" efforts to stir up the public?  This is nearing crisis stage!

Click the headline for the latest outrage.

Filed Under: Blog

Sen. Corker introduces “Campaign Accountability Act of 2007”

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), joined by Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), has just introduced the "Campaign Accountability Act of 2007" (S. 1091).  The text of the bill isn’t available on Thomas yet, but CCP has obtained a copy.  Here’s a sneak peek.

Click the headline for more. 

Filed Under: Blog

Amicus Brief: Rongstad v. Lassa

Download Amicus Brief

Filed Under: Completed Amicus Briefs, Legal, Legal Center, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus), Jurisprudence & Litigation, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

Supreme Court Should Decide Grassroots Disclosure Requirements

PRESS RELEASE: April 12, 2007

Media Contact: Mike Schrimpf (703) 682-9359

Filed Under: Other Resources – Corporate Governance, Press Releases, State Comments and Testimony, State Press Releases and Blogs, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns State

The Effort to Justify McCain-Feingold

Tony Corrado and Norm Ornstein, Bob Bauer, Tom Mann, and John Samples are having an interesting debate on McCain-Feingold.  Mann and Corrado and Ornstein argue that the bill has been a success.  All three having been involved in drafting the bill, that is to be expected.  Samples and Bauer were critical of the bill before it was passed, and remain critical now. 

For some thoughts, click the headline.

Filed Under: Blog

Light blogging the rest of the week

Regular blogging will resume next week.  In the meantime, Steve Simpson of the Institute for Justice has an interesting post over at Volokh, responding to some comments about IJ’s recent study of public attitudes about ballot initiative disclosure laws.

Also, in case you missed it earlier on Monday, John Samples of the Cato Institute had an excellent post responding to Norman Ornsteins and Anthony Carrado’s op-ed claiming that McCain-Feingold had "really paid off."

Filed Under: Blog

Vermont contribution limits redux

In 1997, Vermont passed new campaign finance legislation that, among other things, drastically reduced the state’s contribution limits, in some races to as low as $200.  In June of 2006, the Supreme Court struck down those limits holding that they placed too substantial a restriction on the rights of political speech and association.

Now it appears that Vermont is taking another crack at contribution limits.  Knowing now that a $200 limit for state representatives is too low, the state senate has passed a bill upping the limit…to $250.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

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