CCP Chairman testifies before Illinois Reform Commission

Bradley A. Smith, the Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), testified today at a hearing of the Illinois Reform Commission. Smith provided expert advice on ideas for improving campaign finance and ethics laws in Illinois.

Smith counseled against passing reactionary legislative measures in response to the scandal involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He suggested commission members compare the promises of campaign finance "reformers" with the results of past efforts before enacting any legislation that curbs free speech rights.

"The core assumption of most ‘reformers’ is that the public shares identical perspectives on important public policy issues, and absent the campaign contributions of self-interested groups the government could easily implement measures the general public supports," Smith said in prepared testimony. "This charge is not just wrong, it’s fundamentally anti-democratic. It requires you to believe the United States is a homogenous society, filled with citizens who all share roughly identical ideologies and interests, and that there is no honest disagreement among citizens about what constitutes good public policy."

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

CCP releases study on interest groups and ‘clean elections’

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released a study today analyzing donors to so-called "clean elections" candidates in New Jersey. The study found that donors to candidates funded by taxpayers have strong ties to interest groups, undermining promises by proponents that taxpayer-funded campaigns will eliminate the influence of such groups.

The study has wide implications for states which have already implemented such programs and provides a clear warning to states considering such schemes that the promises of proponents often fail to materialize.

"’Clean Elections’ are sold as a way to rid politics of ‘special interests’  that allegedly use contributions to gain undue influence with elected officials," said CCP President Sean Parnell. "Even based on this misguided premise, there is little reason to believe that a candidate would feel any less appreciation for an interest group whose membership provided substantial support towards their efforts to raise the required number of qualifying contributions than they would if the group simply contributed directly to their campaign."

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing

Obama still opposes “Fairness Doctrine”

The expanding number of activists demanding a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" in talk radio were dealt a significant blow – again – by President Obama, who’s spokesperson yesterday confirmed again that the President remains opposed to the return of the "Fairness Doctrine." As reported by Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post:

President Obama does not support reviving the so-called Fairness doctrine, an aide said on Wednesday, knocking down speculation that Obama was open to reinstating the rule requiring broadcasters to air alternate perspectives on controversial issues.

Some administration officials had made non-committal remarks about the policy. But Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, said Obama "does not support the Fairness Doctrine," and never had.

Click here to read more about Obama and the "Fairness Doctrine"

Filed Under: Blog

Simplistic media coverage of Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal

National — and even legal — media coverage of the upcoming Supreme Court case Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal is often superficial and misleading. Most of the articles paint the issue as a broad case of defining a standard for recusal due to contributions to judicial campaigns, failing to distinguish between contributions to independent groups or direct campaign contributions. There hasn’t been a single article in the recent crop of argument preview stories [the argument is set for March 3] which specifically mentioned the free speech consequences of requiring recusal based on contributions to or the spending of an independent group in a judicial election.

To read more click here

Filed Under: Blog

Fairness Doctrine, more watts not the cure for progressive talk radio

Looks like another progressive radio operation has folded, this time Nova M, founded by former Air America founders Sheldon and Anita Drobney. My prediction, this will be used as yet more "evidence" of the need for a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" (I have a custom Magic 8-Ball that I use in these situations for guidance).

According to Brian Maloney of the Radio Equalizer web site, Nova AM is closing its doors:

Libtalk network Nova M Radio has been shut down, according to the attorney for Randi Rhodes, Robert V Gaulin of New York.

Moments ago, Gaulin sent this letter to your Radio Equalizer:

Randi Rhodes’ on-air home for less than a year will shut its doors. In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi’s entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week. All payroll deposits were reversed on Tuesday, leaving Nova’s employees unpaid for the past two weeks.

Click here to read more about Nova M, station wattage, and the Fairness Doctrine

Filed Under: Blog

That which we call the Fairness Doctrine, By any other name would smell as foul

Yet another voice has been added to those calling for government regulation of speech over the air through a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," that of Representative Henry Waxman, now Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. From today’s America Spectator online:

Senior FCC staff working for acting Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps held meetings last week with policy and legislative advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways the committee can create openings for the FCC to put in place a form of the "Fairness Doctrine" without actually calling it such. 

To read more about the effort to sneak censorship in through the back door, click here.

Filed Under: Blog

First Amendment organization criticizes FEC letter from pro-regulation groups

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) criticized as "deeply dishonest" a letter sent by pro-regulation groups to the Federal Election Commission today.

"These organizations are recycling their laundry list of complaints about the FEC, which boils down to their belief that the Commission should silence political speech and ignore First Amendment concerns," said Bradley A. Smith, Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former FEC Chairman.

"This is evident in their scorn for due process rights, a phrase they can’t even bring themselves to say without putting scare quotes around the words.  That they argue against such basic elements of fairness as allowing respondents’ counsel to actually appear before the Commission illustrates their extreme anti-speech ideology."

Last month, CCP joined a broad coalition of respected campaign finance lawyers, advocacy groups and others in testifying before the FEC regarding its procedures on enforcement and other matters. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub singled out CCP in particular for its extensive and constructive comments on how the agency could better enforce existing rules and regulations.

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Another Setback for the Officer Barbrady Chorus on the “Fairness Doctrine”

We’ve been told repeatedly that there is no serious effort to bring back the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" (what would better be called the Censorship Doctrine) in talk radio, which would put politicians and their appointees in charge of political speech on the air.

I recently wrote about efforts to mock and deride those of us concerned about the return of the "Fairness Doctrine," and to claim that it is simply paranoid delusion to worry about this. Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post, for example, wrote a piece titled "Fairness Doctrine Fears: A Fake Right Wing Firestorm," and others have written equally dismissive columns and articles.

Needless to say, the "nobody’s talking about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine" meme took a hit last week when Senator Debbie Stabenow voiced her support for the "Fairness Doctrine" on the Bill Press Show, saying "it’s absolutely time to pass a standard… whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep."

To find out which U.S. Senator has growing number of Senators calling for a return of the "Fairness Doctrine," click here

Filed Under: Blog

Ensign’s transparency misstep

The U.S. Senate is moving forward on a bill requiring the electronic filing of campaign finance reports by Senate candidates, bringing the technology standards of the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ into the 21st century.

The disclosure of large donors to candidates (not independent groups) – we can quibble on the threshold – is a reasonable measure to guard against the appearance of or potential for quid pro quo, but Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has long delayed the electronic filing bill. 

The legislation, entitled the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, will soon receive a hearing and pass, The Hill reports.

click the headline to read why Ensign was threatening the First Amendment with his poison pill amendment…

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

CCP sends letter to Sen. Harkin on ‘Fairness Doctrine’

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter today to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and other legislators asking Harkin to reconsider his support for the controversial ‘Fairness Doctrine.’

Harkin expressed his support for the reinstating the draconian law on a taping of The Bill Press Show.

In January a coalition of U.S. Representatives and Senators favoring media freedom unveiled a bill designed to permanently ban the ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ a law mandating broadcast censorship and regulation of speech repealed in 1987.

"It’s clear after repeated comments by Sen. Harkin and other members of Congress who seek to use government to level the speech playing field that this bill is needed protect the First Amendment by ensuring that the misguided ‘Fairness Doctrine’ never again comes into effect," said Sean Parnell, the President of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly and petition.


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

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