Legal Challenge to Lobbying Disclosure

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging disclosure provisions in the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act" (HLOGA).

Specifically, the NAM is challenging Section 207 of the Act, which, according to BNA, "requires disclosure of organizational members of an association that contribute more than $5,000 annually to an association’s lobbying efforts and ‘actively participate’ in lobbying."

NAM president John Engler contends that the lawsuit is necessary because HLOGA "has a very powerful chilling affect on our members’ constitutional rights."

More after the jump.


Filed Under: Blog

What’s Good for American Apparel…

On Super Tuesday, the homepage for retailer American Apparel featured company "endorsements" of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

The website has since reverted back to a less political front page, but not before Politico questioned the applicability of campaign finance laws to American Apparel’s "endorsements."

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Amicus Brief: Shays and Meehan v. FEC — “Shays III”

Amicus brief of the Center for Competitive Politics

Filed Under: Blog, Completed Amicus Briefs, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus), Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

“Outsiders?” Why not just call them gaijin?

The Politico ran an alternately informing, insightful, and irritating article in today’s edition.

The very first word is "Outsiders" – in reference to groups spending money in states to try to influence voters as they select Republican and Democratic nominees for president.

Proponents of strict campaign finance laws like to use terms like "Outsiders" as a pejorative term for citizens who exercise their constitutionally protected right to speak about candidates, campaigns, government, and politics. I suppose we should be thankful that "reformers" apparently aren’t familiar with the term gaijin

But these "outsiders" are not some sort of bizarre, external force threatening democracy and the ability of candidates to convey their message uncontested to the plebes.  In fact, they are exactly the opposite of what campaign finance "reform" groups claim to abhor – the political "Insider."

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

A Tangled Web: John McCain and Public Funding

Hoo boy.  Is John McCain cooked by public financing?  Writes Mark Schmitt, "Last summer, when he was out of money, John McCain agreed to accept public financing for his primary campaign — matching funds that require accepting a limit on total spending in the primaries and on spending in each state. He, John Edwards, and several long-gone candidates were officially granted public funds, in December, but have not yet received the cash… [due to the fact that the presidential campaign fund (funded by the $3 check off on tax forms) is out of money until 2007 tax returns start coming in -ed.] Now that he is the front-runner, McCain is surely tempted to escape that commitment, and raise private funds rather than accept the constraints of the public system."

But can he do so?  Schmitt accepts the opinion of Democratic lawyer Mark Elias, that he cannot.  Elias, who voiced his concerns in this Politico article, clearly has a vested interest in arguing that McCain can’t get out of his tax funding commitments.  Why?  Because, as Schmitt says, if McCain is locked in the system:

"The consequences for McCain — especially in a match-up with Barack Obama  — are huge. McCain had spent $39 million by the end of last year. The total spending limit in the primaries for candidates who accept public funding is — according to the FEC — ‘approximately $50 million.’ Now that the primaries are underway and he’s buying airtime,  McCain will surely hit that limit soon, and may have hit it already.

"If that happens, he will have no ability to raise or spend money until he receives his first public financing payment for the general election, after he is confirmed as the nominee at the Republican convention. From the day he hits the limit until September 4 — as much as seven months — will be a "dark period," when Clinton or Obama, who are not limited by the primary public financing system, will be free to keep raising and spending money, and defining McCain while he is silent. Note that it was the dark period that doomed Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, leading George W. Bush to be the first to opt out of public financing, in 2000.

But for McCain, it’s even worse than Schmitt realizes.  Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Make a call, give a buck

Despite a set back earlier this year at the FEC, progressive and liberal causes continue to lead the charge in embracing technological advances that enable more money to be raised so that more speech can be disseminated.

The latest effort, enabled by an FEC advisory opinion last year and detailed in yesterday’s Politico, involves cell phone users being able to donate 10 percent of their monthly charges to Democracy for America, a liberal PAC,

More after the jump. 

Filed Under: Blog

Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

In this article, the authors perform a large scale analysis to determine the effects of “robocalling” on voter turnout. The authors determine that turnout increases only marginally when civic duty is primed, but increases significantly when social pressure is applied to establish a norm of civic duty. The authors therefore surmise that “robocalling” is wholly unable to affect voter turnout, which contrasts with critics’ charge that automated political telephone calls drive down voter participation. They conclude that, in order to affect voter turnout, exterior pressures from social norms would have to exist.

Filed Under: Independent Speech, Research, Uncategorized, Independent Speech, Independent Speech

Regulating Political Contributions by State Contractors: The First Amendment and State Pay-to-Play Legislation

In this article, Melanie D. Reed analyzes a legislative trend in which states are increasingly enacting broad contribution restrictions on state contractors, known as “pay-to-play” laws, in response to corruption allegations against elected officials. Reed asserts that these laws may actually go overboard, restricting individuals’ constitutionally protected First Amendment right to participate in the political system. Her article challenges the perception that broad restrictions will accomplish their intended goal of reducing corruption in the bidding process on government contracts. She concludes by suggesting that, “states passing pay-to-play laws should tailor the reach of such laws to focus on those contributors and recipients closely related to state contracts.” According to Reed, it is important that legislation focus on increasing the competitiveness of the contract bidding process, which should result in increased public confidence in government.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Pay to Play, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Pay to Play, Contributions & Limits, Pay to Play

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