Disclosure 50 years later

A little more than two weeks ago marked the 50th anniversary of oral arguments in the historic Supreme Court Case, NAACP v. Alabama, that protected civil rights activists from government sponsored disclosure of their identities which would have promised serious retribution.

The Jim Crow laws that the NAACP was fighting at the time have thankfully disappeared but the dangers of government coerced disclosure remain.   Yet today, under the guise of "reform", some are still trying to erode the political protections assiduously earned in the case.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

The switch in time that saved nine

More than 70 years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s infamous court-packing scheme, advocates of government-financed campaigns are employing a similar tactic in their effort to enact government-financed elections in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire House Bill 0794 innocuously seeks to establish "a commission to study the feasibility of public funding of state election campaigns."

But as usual the devil is in the details. Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

Wisconsin Senate Bill 182

Wisconsin Senate Bill 182

Filed Under: Uncategorized, Wisconsin

CCP Has Moved!

  The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) has moved into new office space to accommodate our growing staff.

Our new contact information is:

New main office line: 703-894-6800

Direct line for media: Mike Schrimpf, Communications Director: 703-894-6824

Address: 124 West Street S.                

                  Suite 201

                  Alexandria, VA  22314

CCP now has 8 full time staff members and continues to expand our advocacy efforts in support of the First Amendment.

Filed Under: Blog

Commissioner Mason’s Dissent in SpeechNow.org

Commissioner Mason’Commissioner Mason’s Dissent in SpeechNow.orgs Dissent in SpeechNow.org

Filed Under: Legal, Legal Center, Completed Cases (Litigation), Completed Cases (Opinions), Litigation, Opinions

Split FEC Vote Leaves SpeechNow.org Silenced

Chairman’s Dissent Says Limits on Independent Citizens Groups Unconstitutional 

In a public hearing today, Federal Election Commission Chairman David M. Mason argued that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the FEC from imposing the contribution limits faced by "political committees" on SpeechNow.org, a new independent speech group that wishes to advocate for or against federal candidates on the basis of their support for free political speech.

"Limiting the contribution limits given to an organization like SpeechNow would impose an intolerable, and constitutionally unjustifiable, burden on the independent spending of this citizen organization," wrote Mason in a draft "dissenting opinion" released at the hearing.  In oral remarks, he said that the proposed activities of SpeechNow.org, a group of individual citizens independent of corporations, unions, candidates and parties, are analogous to independent expenditures by individual citizens-which are constitutionally protected and not bound by government limits.

Mason therefore voted against adopting a draft "advisory opinion" issued Tuesday that would silence SpeechNow.org.  Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub voted in favor of adopting the opinion.  But without a quorum, the commissioners can neither officially adopt the opinion, nor approve SpeechNow.org’s operational plan by the legal deadline of January 28.  That leaves SpeechNow.org without the legal protection it sought by asking for an FEC opinion, and therefore vulnerable to a future enforcement action if it speaks.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

FEC Recommendation Could End Up in Court

The Associated Press ran a story on the FEC’s draft opinion regarding SpeechNow.org.

More after the jump.

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

Buying Time (again)

The Badger Herald reports that professor Ken Goldstein is reprising his role from the late ’90s on behalf of the Brennan Center, by tracking and analyzing advertisements in the 2008 election cycle.

This time the work is being dubbed the "Wisconsin Advertising Project" and is being funded by the Joyce Foundation. But already pro-"reform" advocates are seizing on the upcoming study as a useful tool to "prove" the existence of "phony issue ads."

Due to the dubious past of the previous issue ad study, this latest effort will undoubtedly deserve close scrutiny.

More after the jump.

 

Filed Under: Blog

FEC Draft Opinion Would Silence SpeechNow.org, Independent Speech Groups

The Federal Election Commission today released a draft "advisory opinion" that would, if adopted, effectively silence SpeechNow.org, a new independent speech group that wishes to advocate for or against federal candidates on the basis of their support for free political speech.

The draft opinion asserts that SpeechNow.org and any similar groups must organize and register as "political committees" and may not accept contributions larger than $5,000 per person per calendar year.  The opinion would for the first time explicitly extend the full array of federal campaign finance regulations to groups of individual citizens acting independently of candidates and parties without corporate or union support.

"This opinion would leave practically no room for Americans to exercise our First Amendment rights to join together and speak freely to other Americans about who to elect to office," said David Keating, president of SpeechNow.org.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

First Amendment Politics

A funny thing happened in less than three weeks between the Iowa and Nevada caucuses that revealed the sad truth that First Amendment politics are more about gaining a competitive advantage than true concern about the freedom of political speech and association.

Union members in Iowa were told by the campaign manager of one of the leading Democratic candidates that advocacy being conducted by their organizations constitute a "loophole" in campaign finance law that was of an "underhanded nature" and "deserves further scrutiny."

Later, after earning major union endorsements in Nevada, the SAME candidate strongly defended the role of unions in the political process.

The candidate, speaking before the union about legal efforts to disrupt the Nevada caucus process, asked, "Are we going to let a bunch of lawyers try to prevent US from bringing about change in America?"

Of course, any close observer of campaign finance and election law could tell you that lawyers are always using campaign finance laws to try to gain an electoral advantage.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

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