Van Hollen intervenes in support of failed campaign finance restriction

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has filed papers to join the legal battle over the ‘soft money’ ban in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), raising the stakes in an effort by congressional supporters to defend their failed law restricting political speech.

“The federal government doesn’t have the power to regulate the financing of state and local elections,” said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC Chairman. “It shouldn’t be able to tell the national political parties they can raise only limited funds for state and local purposes. The court will have the opportunity to examine the flawed decision that national party spending on non-federal campaigns can be restricted to remedy a vague and unjustified corruption concern connected to federal politicians.”

“National parties, including the Democratic National Committee, exist to support both federal and state candidates,” Smith said. “There’s no justification for restricting parties with federal rules when they have a legitimate and First Amendment-protected interest in participating in state and local issues. Despite ‘reformers’ unfounded fears, federal candidates can’t be corrupted by national political parties raising and spending money to support candidates and issues at the state and local level.”

The Republican National Committee is challenging BCRA’s ban on so-called soft money fundraising in non-federal races, state party infrastructure, ballot initiatives and other activities that Congress does not have the authority to regulate under the U.S. Constitution. The case is Republican National Committee v. Federal Election Commission. It’s before a three judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia with briefs scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

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