ORTL v. OEC Complaint

Ohio Right to Life Society, Inc. v. Ohio Elections Commission court documents

Filed Under: Legal, Legal Center, Completed Cases (Filings), Completed Cases (Litigation), Filings, Litigation, Ohio

Right to Life seeks Right to Speak – national media release

The Ohio Right to Life Society filed a lawsuit today in federal court challenging an Ohio law mandating that the group report all contributors who contribute $200 or more to the group so that it can run advertisements mentioning the name of a political candidate within 30 days of an election.

"The government cannot simply compile a database of citizens’ political activities without providing a compelling reason," said Stephen Hoersting, vice president of the Center for Competitive Politics and an attorney representing the group. "Compelled disclosure is supposed to put sunlight on the operations of government, not glare on the operations of citizens." 

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

Right to Life seeks Right to Speak

The Ohio Right to Life Society filed a lawsuit today in federal court to secure the organization’s ability to engage in issue advocacy during the critical days before the November general election. 

A ruling in favor of Ohio Right to Life would free advocacy groups of all ideologies from government restriction that inhibits free speech rights prior to Election Day. Current state law bars citizen organizations, like Ohio Right to Life, from using funds in their general treasury to run advertisements mentioning the name of a political candidate within 30 days of an election.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

A Final Reply to Bauer on the Woes of Issue Advocates

Bob Bauer hears that Michael Darner and I have some concern for modern-day issue advocates, quite apart from Austin, yet he cannot see what Darner and I think all the fuss is about.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Chill is real

Earlier this week the Baltimore Sun published an editorial demanding more regulation of independent expenditure groups.  Chief among the Sun’s "reforms" is more disclosure from these groups and "their frequently hidden sources of funds."

Typical of most disclosure arguments, the Sun makes no real effort to say why more disclosure is needed aside from the ubiquitous, "Such outside efforts, while legal, can make winning candidates beholden to hidden special interests."

But real examples of why burdensome disclosure is not necessarily desired for those independently engaging in advocacy abound.

Just this week, the Washington Post reported on intimidating behavior some campaign workers have faced on the campaign trail.  Meanwhile, corporations are turning to RICO statutes in an effort to silence their (usually) union-backed grassroots critics. Not be outdone, a bill is pending that would do away with the ability of union members to vote in union elections via secret ballot.

If you need more, you might ask Russell Howard and Steve Cicero if they have any arguments against mandatory disclosure.  The pair was fined $808,000 for failing to properly follow disclosure requirements.

More of their story after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Stopping independent speech

Politico ran a story yesterday revealing that Barack Obama’s campaign finance chairwoman is asking donors not to contribute to independent advocacy groups.

Two days earlier CQ reported that the Service Employees International Union is organizing "a $75 million fund to help Barack Obama win the presidency and the Democrats expand their majorities in Congress."

And the Washington Times previously reported that Obama "has benefited more than any other candidate from millions of dollars in independent political expenditures, records show."

Now, there is every reason to believe that the Obama campaign is sincere in its pleas to donors that they not fund independent groups (and the campaign also certainly has selfish reasons for limiting independent expenditures). 

But the above examples should illustrate the beauty of First Amendment – no one, not even presidential candidates – can keep citizens from speaking out.

Filed Under: Blog

Brad Smith on C-SPAN

Center for Competitive Politics chairman Bradley A. Smith is scheduled to be on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Tuesday, May 13th, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to discuss the ongoing stalemate over nominees to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the impact that a dormant FEC has on enforcing the nation’s campaign finance laws.

Tune in to C-SPAN at 8:30 a.m. to watch live or click here to watch the program on the web after it’s posted.

Filed Under: Blog

Robocalls in Court

As the thought of regulating political robocalls continues to be bandied about Washington, the Indiana Supreme Court is taking on directly the question of whether the state of Indiana can use an existing statute to ban political robocalls.

According to a press release issued by Jim Bopp, "The case, State of Indiana v. American Family Voices, Inc., was initiated by the State of Indiana against American Family Voices and others for using automatic dialing machines to make political calls during the 2006 election cycle. The case was dismissed by the trial court, based on the Defendant’s argument that the statute only prohibited commercial calls.  The Attorney General appealed and the case was taken up directly by the Indiana Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeals."

In the release, Bopp states, "The First Amendment and the Indiana Constitution protect all political speech, including computer-generated political calls. The Indiana Supreme Court should interpret the statute to only apply to commercial calls leaving intact the robust political arena that the First Amendment was designed to protect." 

Oral Arguments appear to be scheduled for Monday, June 16th, at 1:00 p.m. and you should be able to watch HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

Not funding from “any source whatever:” a quick reply to Bauer

Bob Bauer comments on our posts on "major purpose."

He makes one very large misstatement that, if true, would make us very erroneous.  We are quite surprised that Mr. Bauer made it, and hope he has time to correct it.

He says that our posts seek to extend protection to corporate express advocacy or its functional equivalent.  We make no such statement.

We are saying that a proper understanding of major purpose would protect corporate issue advocacy.  We say that a proper understanding would also protect independent express advocacy by unincorporated organizations that use individual funds.  This first should remind Mr. Bauer of ads protected by the Court in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life.  The second should remind him of a logical extension of MCFL.

We say repeatedly "protection for organizations that pose no threat of corruption."  This has always meant no corporate or union funding for express advocacy.  We’re not out to protect corporate express advocacy with our last two posts.  We’re well aware of the Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce line of cases, right up through and including WRTL II.

The issues are difficult enough without this very large misstatement of our position.

Filed Under: Blog

“Reformer” benefits from $300 million Gore Campaign on Global Warming

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the Washington Post concerning Al Gore’s plan to spend $300 million promoting his views and policy proposals on the issue of global warming. In the letter, I wondered "how campaign finance ‘reformers’ and ethics ‘watchdogs’ who continually bemoan the fact that private citizens are allowed to spend money to influence public opinion and political debate will react to Mr. Gore’s campaign."

We now have an answer, at least regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi is, among other things, a staunch advocate of "eliminate[ing] the influence, the corrosive influence of big special-interest money in the political process." This reformer’s response to Gore’s spending large amounts of money to influence the political debate on an important issue is apparently to jump on board and star in one of his ads. Needless to say, this appears to be a pretty clear violation of the very "reforms" she champions.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

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