‘Clean elections’ in New York

With the New York Senate still in chaos, Gov. David Paterson is expected to call a special session of the legislature as soon as tomorrow. S. 5814, a bill to implement taxpayer funded campaigns in New York, is still alive and CCP sent a letter today to Senate leaders explaining why the bill is bad for the First Amendment rights of New Yorkers.

Filed Under: Blog, New York

CCP sends letter to New York lawmakers on bill to implement taxpayer financed campaigns

The Center for Competitive Politics sent a letter today to leaders in the New York legislature listing constitutional problems with a state senate bill that would implement taxpayer financed campaigns in the Empire State. The bill, S. 5814, is sponsored by Sen. Malcolm Smith.

“Campaigns financed by taxpayer dollars stifle free speech and effectively limit citizens’ voices from political debate while doing nothing to address the problems of real or perceived corruption and supposed undue influence by organized interest groups,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “The New York Senate should not force citizens to support candidates with whom they disagree.”

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

Election Law Questions… for Prof. Hasen (and his students)

The matter of split votes at the Federal Election Commission is cropping up everywhere and spilling onto the national newspapers.  The phenomenon is cast always as a problem with the Republican Commissioners, never the Democrats.

Election Law Professor Rick Hasen has all but invited national press scrutiny of the voting, and has at every turn spun events to cast ominous predictions of a commission now unwilling to enforce matters as Hasen wishes.

But we wonder.  If the matters resulting in split votes were election law hypotheticals, how many points would Professor Hasen award to law students who gave answers opposite those of the Republican Commissioners?

Click on the headline to read more.

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

A curious view of free speech in Canada

Our gaze doesn’t often leave the U.S. of A. in terms of commenting on speech restrictions in other countries. When we do, it’s often with a mixture of relief and concern.

Relief because we see that even as difficult as it is here in the U.S. to speak out in politics thanks to so-called campaign finance “reform,” there are places where it is far more difficult to voice certain opinions that are contrary to the government-approved orthodoxy. Concern because  we see the road down which we may be headed (and that many urge we go down), and it is not one that embraces the notion that citizens have the right to express themselves on controversial issues.

Some time ago I blogged briefly here about the kangaroo court show trial of Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s, hauled before the Canadian Commission on Human Rights for the offense of running several articles and columns that were apparently, well, offensive to some parts of Canada’s Muslim community.

Click here for more on free speech in Canada (and the U.S. too)

Filed Under: Blog

Citizens United waiting game continues

The Supreme Court did not release an opinion today in Citizens United v. FEC, extending the waiting game over the decision until at least Monday.

Filed Under: Blog

Waiting for Citizens United v. FEC

The Supreme Court did not release its ruling on Citizens United v. FEC Monday, meaning the next possibility for a ruling is Thursday (the opinion could also come as late as the end of the Court’s term this month).

CCP has written extensively on the case and filed an amicus brief in support of Citizens United.

If you just can’t contain your anticipation while waiting for the ruling, peruse CCP’s comments on the case here.

Filed Under: Blog

Bauer emerges from blog semi-retirement to shred Caperton opinion

Bob Bauer, on hiatus from regular blogging, has this must-read post analyzing the “unfortunate solution” resulting from the majority opinion in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co.


Filed Under: Blog

‘Poison pill’ continues to delay Senate electronic filing bill

A bill to require Senate candidates to join the 21st Century and file campaign finance reports electronically is stalled again because of a “poison pill” amendment, which would require nonprofits to disclose their donors if they file an ethics complaint against a Senator.

CCP last wrote about this issue in February, when The Hill reported the bill would likely pass after Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) dropped a similar amendment demand. Guess not… Now, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is taking up the mantle, ostensibly in the name of transparency and accountability.

Our concern isn’t with the method of how ethics complaints are filed in the Senate. The problem is that certain Senators are using this amendment as a way to intimidate nonprofit groups that might file complaints by requiring them to disclose their donors — a significant regulatory burden that chills independent speech and advocacy.

Electronic disclosure of campaign finance reports is a sensible measure, and CCP has long said that while we may disagree about the threshold necessary for disclosure, large contributions to candidates should be reported. It’s unfortunate that Sen. Roberts is continuing this misguided battle over Senate ethics procedures at the expense of reasonable campaign finance improvements.

(To see the entire update from Judicial Watch, and a letter from a coalition it joined on the issue, click this link)

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

Sullivan advances out of Senate Rules Committee

After a breezy, 20 minute hearing yesterday in the Senate Rules Committee, FEC nominee John Sullivan advanced out of commitee on a voice vote this afternoon, clearing the way for confirmation by the full Senate.

CCP Chairman Brad Smith’s comments on the Sullivan hearing were featured in CQ Politics and BNA’s Money & Politics Report ($).

Click here to download an audio file of the hearing.

Filed Under: Blog

Connecticut commission forgoes “enforcement” to save itself and less-than-“clean” elections

So-called “reformers” defend taxpayer financing of campaigns by claiming that such programs are the silver bullet that will eliminate corruption — and even the perception of corruption — in politics, thus touting “participating” candidates as “clean” and virtuous.  However, reports keep coming out demonstrating that so-called “clean” candidates are often the dirtiest of all.

As we pointed out only a month ago, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission voted not only to fine pro-“reform” Arizona State Senator Doug Quelland $45,500, but also to oust him from office, for violating the very “clean” elections law he had championed.

Filed Under: Blog, Connecticut

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