Florida political ad censors’ outdated crusade against online ads

Government control of political advertising in Florida may threaten the ability of candidates to spread their message on social media networks and other online outlets, The Jacksonville Observer reports.

“Florida’s election laws do not reflect the dramatic growth of electronic advertising over the last several years,” said state Sen. Ted Deutch, who plans to file legislation to remedy the problem. “The increased use of search engines like Google, and the explosion of social networking sites, has given politicians instant access to millions of Floridians.”

Filed Under: Blog

Maine Leads (in dishing out taxpayer dollars to insider politicians)

The state motto of Maine is dirigo, latin for “I lead.” There are many things Maine is the national leader in — lobster harvest, low-bush blueberry production, and quite possibly, breathtaking scenery and natural beauty.

Not content with leadership in these areas, however, the Dirigo State seems ready to lead the way in showing the folly of so-called clean elections, by giving a glimpse of what can be expected at the national level if the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) is passed. Mainly, a program that benefits incumbents and political insiders and with no noticeable benefit to the public.

click here for more on Maine’s “clean elections” program

Filed Under: Blog

FEC Reform: The Potter Exception

Last week Senators McCain and Feingold once again introduced a bill to “reform” the FEC. We chuckle at the periodic efforts by certain reformers to create a “tough” FEC, mainly because the idea fails to understand that the reason campaign finance regulation hasn’t worked is the law, not the FEC. (We think it’s a bad idea, since most proposals would allow for more partisanship at the FEC, but that’s another issue.) 

But the funniest part of the bill, which is in there every time they introduce it, is what we call the Potter exception. The bill would prohibit from serving on the new agency any current or former member of the Federal Election Commission, “subject to a term limit.” Now, what exactly is the point of this? What disqualifies former commissioners from serving on the new commission? And more particularly, what disqualifies only former commissioners subject to term limits from serving on the new commission? Is there any possible rationale at work?

There are currently eight living former commissioners who were never subject to term limits while on the Commission. Six of them are octogenarians who have been out of public life for years, and the others are Tom Josefiak and Trevor Potter, the latter of whom is John McCain’s campaign counsel. Hmm… does that explain anything?

Well, we don’t know what is running through the minds of the “reform” lobby, but we’d love to see just one reporter ask Senator McCain why former commissioners not subject to term limits are qualified, while former commissioners subject to term limits are not qualified.

Filed Under: Blog

McCain, Feingold call for election czar

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) have introduced a bill that would create an election czar and dismantle the bipartisan, independent FEC. Read CCP’s release on this terrible idea here.

Filed Under: Blog

Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure, the new COINTELPRO

So, lots of people are concerned about the current health care reform proposals being considered in Congress. Shouting down members of Congress, fisticuffs between those opposed and those in favor of the current proposals, accusations that those opposing the proposals are somehow “un-American” — this, it seems, is the messy part of free speech. Messy, but vital (well, maybe not the brawling).

This messiness apparently provides an opportunity for the so-called campaign finance “reform” community to jump in with their latest effort to restrict citizens’ First Amendment rights, this time in the guise of disclosure for the funding of grassroots lobbying.

Apparently, it is possible that some of the American citizens showing up to voice their displeasure with the health care reform proposals are being urged to do so by business groups and Republican/conservative/libertarian-leaning organizations. And this is, apparently, troubling to some. The Hill reports in “Town halls underscore grassroots secrecy, critics say:”

Lobbyists have to register their activities and expenses with Congress, but well-funded grassroots firms don’t – a fact that aggravates watchdog groups.

click here to read more about grassroots lobbying disclosure, the new COINTELPRO

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

McCain, Feingold introduce election czar proposal

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released the following statement today after Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced legislation that would replace the bipartisan FEC with an election czar.

The legislation, S. 1648, would create a three-member Federal Election Administration. The chairman would wield near absolute authority for a ten year term.

“Any Republican who would agree to let President Obama appoint an election czar for the next ten years would be out of his mind, just as any Democrat would have been crazy to let President Bush do so,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith.

Filed Under: Press Releases

The Real Truth About Obama and its meaning for Citizens United

Last week the free speech movement took one on the chin when the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against the Federal Election Commission in The Real Truth About Obama v. F.E.C..  (CCP has not been involved in the case).  While the case is a setback for First Amendment advocates, it is a minor setback and may even have beneficial repercussions as the Supreme Court prepares to hear reargument in Citizens United v. FEC on the question of overruling McConnell v. FEC and Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

‘Localism’ booster now on the FCC payroll

The FCC has hired communications attorney Mark Lloyd as its new “Chief Diversity Officer,” reports Seton Motley of the Media Research Center.

Lloyd’s hiring is concerning because he co-wrote the white paper for proponents of returning to the “fairness doctrine” or implementing “localism,” code words for government regulation of broadcast speech.

Lloyd’s Center for American Progress (CAP) paper, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” suggested the government wield greater control over radio licensing and require some commercial broadcasters to pay fees supporting taxpayer funded broadcasting.

More details from MRC’s report:

“Localism” is a nebulous FCC regulatory requirement that radio stations must meet to get and keep their broadcast licenses. How it is defined and enforced is wide open to the interpretation of whomever is doing the enforcing. It can mean something benign like airing local public service announcements, or it can be used as a weapon by activists to punish, harangue and ultimately shut down stations they don’t like.

In a follow-up essay to the CAP report entitled “Forget the Fairness Doctrine,” Lloyd specifically instructs liberal activists to do the latter — use the “localism” requirement to harass conservative stations by filing complaints with the FCC…

Or worse — the FCC would rescind these stations’ broadcast licenses. In other words, shut them up by shutting them down. Thus, as Lloyd says, no need for the mis-named “Fairness” Doctrine.

Filed Under: Blog

The ‘Real Truth’ will have to wait

Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction motion filed by Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom in The Real Truth About Obama v. FEC, No. 08-1977 (Aug 5, 2009).

The opinion is here.

For a brief discussion of the opinion, click on the headline.

Filed Under: Blog

Brad Smith on FENA, ‘clean elections’

Brad Smith appeared on the “Mornings with Ray Dunaway” program on Connecticut radio station WTIC today to talk about the “Fair Elections Now Act” (FENA). He also discussed the failed record of “clean elections” in states like Connecticut, Maine and Arizona.

The listening area of the station includes the district of Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the chief sponsor of FENA in the U.S. House.

A podcast of the segment in .mp3 format is here.

Filed Under: Blog

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