Wishful Thinking

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released today a legal analysis finding that rescue funds provisions in publicly-financed election programs are unconstitutional in the wake of the Supreme Court case Davis v. Federal Election Commission.

The analysis focuses specifically on the provisions in New Jersey Assembly Bill 100, "The 2009 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project Act," which would extend and expand New Jersey’s experiment with taxpayer-financed political campaigns.  It confirms the opinion by the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services which also found that "rescue fund" provisions are unconstitutional.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Comments of the Center for Competitive Politics on Constitutionality of Rescue Funds

Legal analysis regarding the constitutionality of “rescue funds” provisions in taxpayer-funded political campaign programs in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Davis v. Federal Election Commission.

Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Research, State, State Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Comments and Testimony, New Jersey

12,000 residents muzzled

The New York Sun reported yesterday that New York City’s new campaign finance law, currently being challenged by Jim Bopp, will bar more than 12,000 city residents from fully exercising their political rights.

The law sets disparate contribution limits based on whether or not the contributor is a lobbyist or does business with the city. Unions and union members, however, are exempt from the law.

According to the Sun,"The aim of the law was to prevent corruption in city politics, or at least the appearance of corruption." But, Court documents in Bopp’s lawsuit "have not yet turned up any evidence that campaign contributions from those on the list had been linked to corruption in the past." (Meanwhile, some officeholders elected with taxpayer subsidies continue to be investigated for funelling tax money to "phantom organizations.")

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Conventional wisdom

The New York Times is surprised that "More than three-fourths of the federally registered lobbyists making campaign contributions in excess of $25,000 this year have showered money mainly on one political party or the other, according to the reports they filed with Congress at the end of last month."

According to the Times, this flies in the face of the "conventional wisdom," which presumed that "most lobbyists hedged their bets by donating freely to members of both parties."

Perhaps, though, we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by the giving pattern of lobbyists. After all, many registered lobbyist are former officeholders, staffers, or political operatives. It seems only natural that they would continue to support those who represent their ideals.

In fact, it is important to remember that the vast majority of all political giving is driven by ideology and that campaign contributions have little impact on the way a legislator votes.

For more on campaign contributions and legislative voting patterns click HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

The Anti-Matzzie?

John Kerry, who knows a thing or two about the impact of independent speech groups, has launched a new initiative called the "Truth Fights Back."

In his email announcing the launch of the website, John Kerry writes that the website "empowers you to fight back across the country in ways no campaign has attempted."

The website offers tools to "report smears," send letters to the editor, and recruit friends.

While one facet of the site is to research the organizations sponsoring the independent advocacy, its overriding purpose appears to be to combat speech with more speech.  All in all, Kerry’s effort is a much more commendable way to combat speech with which one disagrees than the one being employed by "Accountable America."

Filed Under: Blog

I don’t like your blog, so I’ll file a complaint

CCP has long argued that a primary purpose of campaign finance laws is to harass one’s political opponents.  This certainly seemed to be the case in an MUR that the Federal Election Commission announced it had closed out yesterday. MUR 5949 had been pending for nearly a year.

The initial complaint was brought by Kirk Tofte, a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and was filed against a blogger (and former Iowa Democratic Party chairman) who supported the campaign of Barack Obama.

The complaint was apparently motivated primarily by Tofte’s disappointment that the blog, www.iowatrueblue.com, touted Obama and had nothing positive to say about Clinton.  Tofte alleged coordination between the Obama campaign and the blog and that it was a "direct arm of the Obama for President campaign." Tofte also claimed that the blog had a "donate" tab on its website.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Brad Smith radio interview

CCP chairman Brad Smith is scheduled to be on Seattle’s Kirby and Company this morning beginning at 10:06 AM Eastern.

The host of the program, Kirby Wilbur, may be best known to blog readers as the radio personality at the center of the No New Gas Tax case.

You can click HERE to listen to Brad live at 10:06 AM.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP featured in Politico

The Politico ran a story today focusing on the Center for Competitive Politics’ efforts to return the nation’s campaign finance system to one that is based on First Amendment principles.

The story also includes some interesting anecdotes from CCP chairman Brad Smith’s time on the Federal Election Commission.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Filed Under: Blog

On Tax-Financing of Campaigns: Why We’re Skeptical

Bob Bauer has offered some thoughtful comments on a recent CCP release that found that so-called “clean elections” programs of tax funding for campaigns neither alleviate concerns about “special interest” influence nor lead to voters having greater confidence in government – arguments commonly advanced in favor or tax funding of campaigns.  These findings come on the heels of an earlier CCP reports that found that so-called “clean elections” plans have not, in Maine or Arizona, dramatically altered the make up of the legislature; reduced the number of lobbyists; increased competition; helped government get spending and taxation under control (in fact, “clean elections” in Maine and Arizona has been accompanied by an increase in the rate of government growth in spending and taxes); or led to better government.


Given his status as one of both the nation’s leading practitioners and thinkers in the field, as an astute critic of the excesses of the regulatory state, and as one of the leading Progressives to express concern about the effect of the current regulatory regime on grassroots political activity, Bauer’s thoughts always deserve respect and, in this case, some further comment.

Click the headline for more after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Speech Intimidation

UPDATE: The Times obtained a copy of the warning letter (HERE) and a $100,000 bounty (HERE)

The New York Times reported yesterday on a disturbing, yet predictable, outgrowth of our over-regulated campaign finance system.

A new group, "Accountable America", is "planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions."

They’ve begun by sending a "foreboding ‘warning’ letter" to more than 10,000 Republican donors.

According to the Times, "The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives. "

The Times further reports that the group has already raised $200,000 and ultimately hopes to raise $2 million for their efforts to harrass and intimidate citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights.

Ironically, Tom Mattzie, the founder of the new anti-independent speech group, previously attempted to run a liberal independent speech group called Progressive Media U.S.A., but that effort folded after Mattzie failed to raise enough money.

Unable to find financing to fund his media efforts, Mattzie now simply seeks to silence his ideological opponents.

Update: Accountable America also is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to a civil or criminal penalty of at least $10,000 against an organization that "primarily serves business or ideologically conservative interests."  The ironic humor in this effort is that Accountable America promises that, "if the submitter wishes to remain anonymous, Accountable America will use its best efforts to enable such confidentiality…." 


Filed Under: Blog

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