NYC campaign finance ruling aids establishment hopefuls

Need another example that taxpayer financed campaigns can be manipulated to benefit establishment candidates?

A New York Times report yesterday noted that New York City’s campaign finance board ruled that candidates can use money raised for a previous campaign to qualify for matching funds for a future campaign. Guess who that benefits?

And that is good news, in particular, for two potential mayoral candidates: Representative Anthony D. Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.

Filed Under: Blog, New York

Should these jokers run taxpayer financing in Penn.?

It’s a good thing Pennsylvania doesn’t have government-funded campaigns, as a recent story detailing “Bonusgate” in the Philadelphia Inquirer illustrates.

I’m sure “reform” groups in Pennsylvania will try to use this story to insinuate that campaign finance reforms are needed, including taxpayer financed campaigns. The real story, though, is how state officials can manipulate the political process to crush their opponents at the behest of powerful incumbents:

Between 2004 and 2006, House Democrats awarded more than $1 million in previously secret government bonuses to hundreds of staffers. Most of that, the government alleges, was given to aides as rewards for working on political campaigns on state time.


Filed Under: Blog, Pennsylvania

Nonprofit group sends letter to N.Y. lawmakers on Paterson’s ethics proposal

The ethics and campaign finance legislation proposed by Gov. David Paterson in his State of the State address this week could cause grave harm to the free speech rights of Empire State residents, according to an analysis of the “Reform Albany Act” by the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP).

Paterson proposes sharply restricting the right of citizens to contribute to candidates, enacting taxpayer funded campaigns, greater regulation for nonprofit groups and banning the practice of bundling. “All of these proposals raise serious constitutional and public policy problems,” said CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz. “Albany’s fiscal and ethics problems will not be solved by funneling millions of dollars into political campaigns and exposing nonprofit donors to pressure from powerful legislators.”

“Campaign finance rules are meant to allow citizens to keep an eye on their government, not for the government to monitor — and potentially retaliate against — its citizens,” Renz said.

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

Bysiewicz’s dirty double-talk on clean elections

Next week — Jan. 13 to be exact — a federal appeals court panel will hear Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now running for U.S. Senate, is appealing the decision of a federal judge in August striking down Connecticut’s taxpayer financing system.

Connecticut Secretary of State — and “potential” gubernatorial candidate — Susan Bysiewicz filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit earlier this week supporting the state’s contention that Connecticut’s discriminatory rules for third parties and “rescue funds” punishing independent speech are hunky dory.

Bysiewicz’s campaign press release announcing her action (filed in her capacity as a candidate, not as an elected official) is packed with platitudes but short on specifics. She has the gall to argue that “public financing ensures that anyone can run for public office,” without mentioning a main reason why a federal judge ruled the program unconstitutional – it throws up insurmountable obstacles to third party candidates.

Filed Under: Blog, Connecticut

Smith on ‘Paterson’s Political Fix’

Don’t miss CCP Chairman Brad Smith’s commentary in City Journal on a catch-all “ethics” proposal — the nuclear option of campaign finance regulation, so to speak — by New York Gov. David Paterson.

An excerpt:

Facing the most severe budget crisis in state history, New York governor David Paterson has wagered his political future on a dubious idea: that voters will think it’s wise to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars into the campaigns of scandal-ridden politicians. In Wednesday’s State of the State address, Paterson announced an extremely broad political “reform” package. The laundry list includes a new, all-powerful ethics oversight commission; expanded reporting of outside income for lawmakers; a constitutional amendment enacting term limits; reducing the maximum individual campaign contribution by 97 percent, with even greater reductions on campaign contributions by lobbyists; a ban on contributions by any corporation or limited liability partnership; a prohibition on “bundling” campaign contributions (that is, delivering multiple individual contributions from one source, such as a company or advocacy group, to the campaign at one time, to emphasize the source and reason for the support); new regulations for the state comptroller’s office; and an increase in civil fines for campaign-finance violations of up to 250 percent, plus the criminalization of some violations.

Filed Under: Blog, New York

Paterson’s Political Fix

Filed Under: In the News

Fred v. Don et al part IX

Yesterday, “reform” one-man-band lobbyist Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 issued another jeremiad directed at FEC Commissioner Don McGahn specifically and the other two FEC Republicans — newly-minted FEC Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter — generally.

The chest-thumping, 1,346-word press release devolved into increasingly personal attacks aimed at Wertheimer’s nemesis, McGahn, who Wertheimer perceives as the 9-headed hydra of the free speech voting bloc on the FEC. During his recent tenure as FEC Chairman, McGahn forcefully led the charge against overbearing and unconstitutional FEC regulation after the Supreme Court rebuked the agency in several cases for overstepping its bounds. It’s worth noting, though, that during Peterson’s recently-completed stint as FEC Vice Chairman, he and Hunter have also emerged as eloquent defenders of free political speech and existing law in their own right.

Filed Under: Blog

Washingtonian: top election and campaign finance lawyers

Last month, the print edition of Washingtonian magazine carried its rankings of top Washington, D.C. lawyers — now available online. Washingtonian’s comment preceding the list indicates a truism of the current campaign finance regime: candidates need expensive, top-flight attorneys to stay abreast of our complex political speech rules.

Running for office requires more than just printing bumper stickers and glad-handing potential donors. Individual candidates as well as political parties and organizations can run into major trouble if they don’t follow campaign-finance and ethics laws. Here are the best lawyers to keep campaigns on track.

The chosen ones in the practice of campaign finance and election law…

Filed Under: Blog, District Of Columbia

Political speech petitions to watch at SCOTUS

As the collective anticipatory energy of campaign finance watchers is focused on the prediction-fest swirling around the forthcoming decision in Citizens United v. FEC, SCOTUS Blog has a report mentioning a few cases with political speech implications under consideration by the high court.

The blog’s latest edition of “Petitions to Watch” mentions three cases under consideration at the Justice’s Jan. 8 private conference and another case waiting in the wings…

Filed Under: Blog, Texas

Redistricting in a post-McCain-Feingold world

Via Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog comes a notable “quote of the day” from campaign finance lawyer Cleta Mitchell, commenting in a Politics Magazine article on the impact of McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban on the next round of redistricting.

“It was only [Sen. John] McCain and the morons at the Bush White House who didn’t realize the ultimate impact of the soft money ban,” Mitchell said.

Filed Under: Blog

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