More thoughts on Vermont

Perhaps no state recognizes the importance of freedom more than Vermont whose state motto is "Freedom and Unity."  But now, that freedom is under attack thanks to self-labeled "reformers" who are seeking to restrict political speech in Vermont.  

The United States Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech."  Why do politicians in Vermont want to limit speech in their state?  They may think that enacting contribution limits is not the same as limiting speech or perhaps they believe the amount of money spent on politics is outrageously high.  Both arguments, though, are easily refuted.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Again with the campaign finance?

This morning, the Rutland Herald (VT) ran an editorial urging the Vermont legislature to override the veto of a campaign finance bill by Governor Jim Douglas.

The editorial declares that the bill’s "limits on contributions would help diminish the influence of big money. Contribution limits bolster confidence that officials are serving the people rather than the special interests."

But do so-called "special interests" really "buy" legislative outcomes?

CCP addressed this issue and more in a guest commentary at the Vermont Tiger blog.

Click the headline for more

Filed Under: Blog

The Advantage of being Moses

So, exactly how much of a challenge must it have been to challenge, debate, and oppose Moses?

Not the real Moses, of course (although I expect that was a significant challenge as well). No, I’m talking about segregation defenders and gun-control advocates who had the daunting task of opposing Charlton Heston, who famously portrayed Moses in "The Ten Commandments" as well as other epic figures such as Spartacus and El Cid. Heston, of course, passed away this weekend.

Heston was able to use his enormous celebrity to advocate for political causes he believed in. Two of his most notable causes were the Civil Rights struggle (here’s a great picture of him picketing a white-only restaurant in 1961), and gun rights.

Whatever one thought of Heston and his views, there is no doubt about his ability use his celebrity to bring attention to causes he cared deeply about. Heston, of course, was not alone in using his celebrity to promote causes and candidates he supported. Today, celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Drew Carey, John Mellencamp, Alice Cooper, Bart Starr, Grant Hill, and countless others are known to speak out on politics, issues, and candidates.

Some celebrities even go on to elected office themselves, where their name recognition provides an important advantage over their less well known opponents. Heath Schuler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and others were all very familiar to voters before they ever ran for office. One celebrity, Ronald Reagan, became Governor of California and President after his acting days were over.

The point of all of this (yes, there is one), is that all candidates bring unique attributes, backgrounds, skills, and advantages to every race, something that "reformers" seem to completely ignore in their effort to create a "level playing field" or, as yesterday’s Sheboygan Press put it, "put everyone on equal footing." Celebrity is not the only advantage some candidates have over others. Incumbency is a powerful asset, as are great speaking ability and good looks. A compelling personal story, such as that of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, can also move voters.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Herbert E. Alexander, R.I.P.

CCP was saddened to hear this morning of the passing of Herbert Alexander.

Herb was a member of CCP’s Board of Academic Advisors and the grand old man of campaign finance studies.  More below the fold.

Filed Under: Blog

Fear mongering by Common Cause

At an event put on by Georgetown University’s "Forum for the Study of Democracy and Autocracy" this week entitled "Assessing the State of Democracy in America: Is This the Best We Can Be?" several panelists spoke on the current state of our election processes and on political reform.  A representative from Common Cause Maryland wisely pointed out that the call for reform too often comes in the heat of political battle, and more objective views are needed for long lasting, valuable reform. 

In that vein, we take issue with Common Cause’s current promotion of the clean elections bill in Maryland.  Rather than promote the bill on its merits, Common Cause has teamed up with another group, Progressive Maryland, to instead promote a series of ads designed to mislead voters.

If a clean elections regime is truly the solution to Maryland’s ills, the bill would stand on its own merit and Common Cause and Progressive Maryland could sell it to the state’s voters without resorting to scare tactics and falsehoods.  Even more egregious, however, is their manipulation of the facts in search of a "bad guy" special interest. 

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Blogger Protection Act of 2008

The "Blogger Protection Act of 2008" was introduced today.  The bill would protect bloggers from dangerous campaign finance regulations.

The proposed legislation, introduced today, guarantees blogs the same protections granted to other forms of media under federal campaign finance laws. 

"Bloggers deserve to have their First Amendment rights secured in statute," said Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. "Blogs have transformed the political process and made communication among citizens exponentially easier."   

The legislation also protects bloggers from ever being considered to have made a contribution or expenditure on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate by simply linking to campaign websites or writing about the positions of federal candidates. 

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Blogger Protection Act of 2008 Introduced

The "Blogger Protection Act of 2008" was introduced today.  The bill would protect bloggers from dangerous campaign finance regulations.

The proposed legislation, introduced today, guarantees blogs the same protections granted to other forms of media under federal campaign finance laws. 

"Bloggers deserve to have their First Amendment rights secured in statute," said Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. "Blogs have transformed the political process and made communication among citizens exponentially easier."   

The legislation also protects bloggers from ever being considered to have made a contribution or expenditure on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate by simply linking to campaign websites or writing about the positions of federal candidates.   

More after the jump.

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

The Power of the Internet

The growing power of the internet was demonstrated again yesterday as ActBlue released how much money has been raised through the site for the 2008 election cycle.

The numbers are impressive.

According to the group, "Fundraising on the site reached an unprecedented $24 million from more than 199,069 donors*, contributing to an all-time total of more than $42.35 million.

ActBlue broke a second record yesterday, raising more in one day than ever before ($799,827.60), nearly as much in a single day as in its entire first year in operation, when the group first raised eyebrows in traditional Democratic fundraising circles."

And ActBlue now says its "users have outpaced MoveOn and EMILY’s List in raising funds for Democrats."

Delving deeper into the numbers, after the jump, reveals even more good news for the future of online political fundraising.

Filed Under: Blog

Blogger Protection Act of 2008

A bill to protect bloggers from campaign finance regulations.

Filed Under: First Amendment, Internet Regulation, Research

In defense of the right to robocall

Politico published a commentary today by CCP legal associate Michael Darner in defense of political robocalls.

The piece begins, "Political robocalls can often be annoying. They may come during the dinner hour, slant the truth or even peddle outright falsehood. They can arrive several times a day — perhaps even more often than that near Election Day, if you live in a hotly contested state. Even if received in moderation, they can tax our patience and offend our sense of decorum with what can be appeals to ‘gutter politics.’ 

Fully acknowledging this, Congress should resist recent efforts by some members to severely restrict or ban these calls. While robocalls may be conveyed by machines with artificial intelligence, at their core, these calls are citizen-to-citizen communication about the political issues of the day. Such speech is First Amendment activity, and limiting it should not be undertaken lightly."

Click HERE to read the commentary in its entirety. 

Filed Under: Blog

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