The Myth of Campaign Finance Reform

The Winter issue of the Journal of National Affairs includes “The Myth of Campaign Finance Reform,” by CCP Chairman Brad Smith.

Filed Under: Blog

My congressman is nuts – and wants to prosecute me for saying so

Alan Grayson, a Florida Congressman known for sharp commentary, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute a web site that is critical of him.

Grayson, a freshman Democrat from Florida’s eighth congressional district, has gained some notoriety in the last year by a series of colorful comments:  he referred to radio talk host Rush Limbaugh as “a has-been hypocrite loser” who “was more lucid when he was a drug addict;” urged Dick Cheney to “Shut the F___ Up;” called one Republican a “whore,” and said that Republicans “want you to die quickly.”

Republican activist Angie Langley has started a PAC called the “My Congressman is Nuts Committee,” which set up a website to chronicle Rep. Grayson’s colorful statements and activities, “”  The site also allows you to make contributions to the PAC, which it spells out will be used to try to defeat Rep. Grayson next fall. 

Now Rep. Grayson has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking Holder to prosecute Langley and the My Congressman is Nuts Committee.  Grayson argues that the name is false since it implies that Langley lives in Grayson’s district (she does not), and the PAC has misrepresented itself in its FEC filings.  Grayson has also filed a complaint with the FEC. 

Mr. Grayson’s letter to the Attorney General includes some (unwitting) humor, as where he writes, “Ms. Langley has chosen a name for her committee that it utterly tasteless and juvenile.”  But there is a very serious issue here, too, and it’s not any alleged violation of campaign finance laws.  No allegation is made that the My Congressman is Nuts PAC is “corrupting” Congressman Grayson or anyone else, or poses a danger of corruption.  And as the PAC has raised all of $3725 as of December 19 (despite a “money bomb” planned for December 16) we doubt that Mr. Grayson is even concerned about the amounts raised.  Rather, it seems apparent that Representative Grayson simply want to silence a political opponent that is showing his many colorful comments and actions in a bad light. 

Regulars to this site know that this is nothing new – indeed, it is probably the main use made of campaign finance laws, and arguably the intended purpose of campaign finance laws.  But it is a reminder, once again, of the danger these laws pose to our speech rights – of the fundamental way in which they are contrary to the First Amendment. 

Filed Under: Blog

Signed and unconstitutional

Filed Under: In the News

WRTL PAC challenges Wis. taxpayer funded judicial campaigns

Campaign finance lawyer James Bopp, Jr. sends word today that he’s filing a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee challenging the state’s recently-signed bill enacting taxpayer financed campaigns for state Supreme Court.

The Center for Competitive Politics has pointed out several policy problems and constitutional flaws in the legislation.

Filed Under: Blog, Wisconsin

BREAKING SCANDAL: Candidate asks NYT’s Linda Greenhouse for contribution

There’s a campaign finance scandal brewing…

Linda Greenhouse, a former New York Times Supreme Court reporter, wrote an online opinion piece for the NYT detailing a stunning series of events that “brought home … the dimension of our campaign finance problem as no stack of legal briefs ever did.”

After Greenhouse donated to the campaign of a state judge, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and a congressional candidate, another candidate had the temerity to call her and ask for a campaign contribution.

This will not stand!

Filed Under: Blog

FEC members clash over family gifts

Filed Under: In the News

Government declines to seek SCOTUS review in EMILY’s List

SCOTUS Blog reports that the Obama administration has announced that it will not ask the Supreme Court to review EMILY’s List v. FEC. Today was the deadline for S.G. Elena Kagan to file cert.

Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter yesterday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explaining the government’s decision. He referenced v. FEC, set for argument Jan. 27 before the full Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  The Center for Competitive Politics and the Institute for Justice serve as co-consel for

Filed Under: Blog

Pack the Court!

The latest hysterical reform effort to push back against the Supreme Court’s pending ruling in Citizens United v. FEC seems like self-satire at first glance.

Oregon campaign finance attorney and Ralph Nader acolyte Dan Meek has channeled FDR in creating a campaign called “PACK THE COURT.” It has a website,, with a 1,067-word manifesto, “ASSAULT ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.”

Filed Under: Blog, Oregon

FEC Elects Petersen Chairman for 2010, Bauerly to Serve as Vice Chair

Filed Under: In the News

Ballot petition freedom updates

A couple ballot petition freedom lawsuits are working their way through the federal courts.

The tireless Richard Winger of Ballot Access News has more…

Filed Under: Blog, Petition Rights, Petition Rights, Arizona, Nebraska

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