The award for the stupidest ‘reform’ idea goes to…

Common Cause!

I’ve worked for the Center for Competitive Politics since December, and in that time I’ve heard some wacky “reform” ideas.

But the post today from Nader Habibi, the Henry J. Leir Professor in Economics of Middle East at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies, takes the cake.

Prof. Habibi offers this gem today on the Common Cause blog: Fifty Percent Response Time: A Reform Proposal for Political Advertisement.

The [r]adio and television stations must be required to offer a 50% response time to an opposite view immediately after broadcasting a political advertisement at the advertiser’s expense. In other words if a candidate needs a 60 second time slot on a TV program he must pay for a 90 second slot and allow his opponent a 30 second response time. A similar rule will also apply to print media.

Wow. It’s interesting to note that there’s not a word of caution in the post that such a proposal, forcing people to pay for the air time of their opponents, is completely at odds with the First Amendment.

It really is a delight, though, to watch this train wreck of an argument featuring such ridiculous contortions (for every issue with more than one candidate or interest group, a public poll will determine who gets to respond with half time).

Stupidest. Idea. Ever.

Filed Under: Blog

Conn. taxpayer financing gets stay of execution

The Connecticut judge who last week ruled that the state’s taxpayer financed campaigns program is unconstitutional granted the state a two-week stay, according to media reports.

The state plans to appeal the ruling.

Filed Under: Blog

With opponents like these…

During the first round of oral argument in Citizens United v. FEC, the government’s attorney raised eyebrows by suggesting that it had the authority to ban books.

The New York Times has more, basically explaining that the proponents of campaign finance restrictions would rather not talk about such extreme violations of the First Amendment in favor of just making unfounded accusations about corporate money drowning out other speech:

The discussion of book banning may have helped prompt the request for re-argument…

In an interview, Mr. Wertheimer seemed reluctant to answer questions about the government regulation of books. Pressed, Mr. Wertheimer finally said, “A campaign document in the form of a book can be banned.”

The similar argument by Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart is featured in pages 26-30 of the transcript of the March 24 argument.

If I were advocating the ability of the government to ban books, I’d be “reluctant” or embarrassed, too…

Filed Under: Blog

Failed taxpayer funded campaigns experiment ends in Connecticut

A federal judge ruled Connecticut’s system of taxpayer financed campaigns unconstitutional, immediately ending the program, which first starting doling out taxpayer money to candidates in 2008.

CCP’s release on the development is here and the 138-page ruling is here.

The AP reported on the case here.

UPDATE: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has announced he will appeal the ruling, and Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell issued a critical statement here.

Filed Under: Blog

Judge shuts down taxpayer funded campaigns in Connecticut

A federal judge ruled Connecticut’s system of taxpayer financed campaigns unconstitutional late Thursday, immediately shutting down a flawed program which proponents held up as a national model.

“Connecticut’s failed experiment with taxpayer financed campaigns is thankfully over,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “The paradox of ‘clean elections’ is that incumbent politicians write the laws to either shut out minor candidates and challengers or make it too easy to grab taxpayer cash. It’s time to return to a true system of voluntary campaign funding – donations from citizens to candidates they support.”

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

FEC allows Visclosky to use funds for staff

Filed Under: In the News

Quinn to veto campaign finance bill, but for wrong reasons

According to media reports, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will veto a flawed campaign finance bill.

CCP’s release is here.

The Illinois Policy Institute also has reaction here.

The bottom line: It’s mixed news because Quinn is thankfully using his veto pen on this terrible legislation, but for the wrong reasons. He thinks it doesn’t go far enough and will try again to limit political speech in Illinois.

Filed Under: Blog

Misleading road ‘MAPlight’ from contributions to votes

MAPlight.org, a nonprofit organization, has launched a new feature called “Money Near Votes.” The tool, which mashes up campaign finance data with legislative votes, purports to show “the connection between money and politics” and highlight “the role special interests play in shaping public policy,” according to a press release.

The Center for Competitive Politics criticized the feature as “misleading” yesterday in a report on Marketplace, an American Public Media radio program on business issues.

MAPlight.org moves beyond merely providing objective information and overreaches by implying quid-pro-quo relationships and special interest influence without any credible evidence. The tool is lacking because of at least three significant omissions and zero context for the information, raising the question of whether the data was purposely clipped to play up a supposed connection between campaign contributions and votes.

Filed Under: Blog

Quinn announces campaign finance veto, will try again

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced his intention today to veto a misguided campaign finance regulation bill.

“Even a self-styled reformer like Gov. Quinn recognized what we have been saying for a long time: so-called campaign finance reform is often used by politicians to benefit themselves at the expense of challengers and political outsiders, while ignoring real solutions to cleaning up government,” said Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) President Sean Parnell.

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

Texas-sized campaign finance humor

The campaign manager for Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is running against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP primary, fired off a sarcastic letter today to the Texas Ethics Commission asking the standards for defining an in-kind contribution.

On a blog post, the Perry campaign says it is “working with the Texas Ethics Commission to determine the appropriate reporting” of a what it calls “a video highlighting the Senator’s disastrous announcement tour last week” that it posted on its website.

Filed Under: Blog

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