Van Hollen-Schumer tease continues

Another day, another Van Hollen-Schumer delay.

The duo first told reporters that they would release their legislation to water-down free speech rights after the Presidents’ Day recess. Then later. Then, recently, they said they would release the bill today with a “mystery” Republican co-sponsor.

After failing to secure any Republican support in the Senate, media outlets are reporting today that the introduction of the bill will be delayed yet again. Democrats, who blamed an abbreviated legislative week on the delay, now plan an introduction early next week.

The Huffington Post reports that “[t]he real obstacle, however, remains the cold feet of Senate Republicans. While Van Hollen was able to secure the backing of Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) for his bill — other potential Republican co-sponsors are being targeted too — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been rebuffed so far by his GOP colleagues. Scott Brown (R-Mass), turned down overtures last week, though Senate aides say the Massachusetts Republican could still vote for the bill when it comes to the floor. As it stands now, Schumer is targeting the usual suspects for bipartisan support: the moderates of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio. ‘We cannot be labeled as trying to be partisan here,’ one senior aide said.”

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

Maine’s “Clean Elections” gubernatorial candidates decidedly non-average

The Bangor Daily News reports today that Maine gubernatorial candidate John Richardson is awaiting word on whether the Maine Ethics Commission will approve him for several hundred thousand dollars in public funds as part of that state’s “clean elections” program. Apparently he turned in approximately 3,500 “qualifying contributions,” more than the required 3,250 but possibly not enough after ineligible contributions are removed from the total.

What caught my eye in this article was not the intricacies of the qualifying standards and candidate Richardson’s efforts to meet them (those of you following my Twitter account, seanparnellCCP, might recall Richardson as the candidate who enlisted unions endorsing him to help raise qualifying contributions. For those of you not following me on Twitter, shame on you for having lives). Instead, it was the brief biographical information provided regarding Richardson that drew my attention:

…But the commission is still reviewing whether Richardson – a former lawmaker and economic development commissioner for the state – had received enough valid contributions to qualify…

For some reason, I was curious about Richardson and his too-close-to-call-at-this-time submission for “clean elections” funding, and checked out his online bio. From the Richardson campaign’s web site:  

In 1998, John beat an incumbent Republican to win election to the Maine House of Representatives…

… The following term, as chair of the Business and Economic Development Committee, he sponsored and wrote the economic development bond bill that passed on the June 2002 ballot…

John was elected House Majority Leader, and then the 97th Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2005…

In 2007, John was named Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development

In other words, Richardson has a fairly typical background for the type of person who can run a credible campaign for governor, with more than a decade of public service including the top two positions in the Maine House of Representatives.

But where are the “average” citizens that we have been told are empowered by “clean elections” programs to run for office?

Filed Under: Blog, Maine

Hoersting talking VH-S on NPR

Center for Competitive Politics Vice President Steve Hoersting appeared on the Patt Morrison Program yesterday to talk about the prospects for campaign finance legislation proposed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Sen. Chuck Schumer

Van Hollen, who also appeared on the show, and Schumer have floated a framework for legislative action since February but they’re still seeking Republican support for their measure to stifle corporate political speech.

CCP analyzed the meek “bipartisan agreement” on Van Hollen-Schumer yesterday, as Republican Mike Castle signed on to the bill but every other Republican who supported McCain-Feingold in 2002 is holding back.

The Patt Morrison program airs on Southern California Public Radio (89.3 KPCC), the Los Angeles National Public Radio affiliate. Here’s their description:

Money, money, money: Democrats push for campaign finance regulations

Democrats in Congress are firing back at the recent Supreme Court decision which all but decimated campaign finance laws. They are barreling ahead with plans to require companies/unions/groups to disclose exactly how much money they contribute to political campaigns. Leaders in both houses say they will push forward with legislation with, or without, bipartisan support, although they are working hard to get it. Will Republicans go along and how does big business feel about the proposed legislation? Patt finds out and it won’t cost you a thing.

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

Campaign Spending: Why Companies Are Holding Fire

Filed Under: In the News

ACLU goes soft on speech restrictions

The American Civil Liberties Union still stands for free speech—sort of.

The good news is, after considerable debate, the ACLU affirmed its policy on associational speech after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The ACLU board of directors affirmed the organization’s long-standing opposition to limits on campaign finance expenditures—whether corporate, union, media or otherwise—at a weekend meeting, according to a Monday press release.

On a 36-30 vote, though, the board voted to revise the ACLU’s policy on taxpayer financing programs and campaign contribution limits.

The ACLU would “accept spending limits as a condition of voluntary public financing plans,” according to the release, stressing that candidates would have to have a “true choice” as to whether to participate. This presumably rules out taxpayer financing programs with “rescue funds” which boost subsidy-accepting candidates based on the spending of outside groups and non-participating candidates. Two states, Connecticut and Arizona, have “rescue funds” challenges to their programs pending at the federal appellate court level. CCP is challenging Wisconsin’s recently-enacted program for state Supreme Court candidates in federal court as well.

The ACLU will now also permit “reasonable limits on campaign contributions to candidates. ” Prior policy opposed all limits.

The board set aside six hours to discuss these issues at its April 17-18 meeting. The ACLU board also met in October and January to discuss these policy changes.

Filed Under: Blog

How many Republicans does it take to screw over free speech?

Democratic congressional leaders continue to tease news-starved reporters and campaign finance observers with the latest logistical minutiae regarding the timing of the Van Hollen-Schumer campaign finance bill.

Today, news broke that Rep. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican running for Vice President Joe Biden’s former Senate seat, will co-sponsor Van Hollen-Schumer. Shocker! One of the only three Republican co-sponsors of a bill to implement congressional taxpayer financing will support other campaign finance regulations? Stop the presses!

Roll Call reported that “Democrats Claim [A] Bipartisan Breakthrough…” The Hill took a slightly different approach, writing that “GOP senators avoid co-sponsoring campaign finance reform bill.” The story noted that Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan Collins of Maine both rebuffed Democratic overtures to sign on to the measure.

Politico wrote that Van Hollen-Schumer is designed to help Democrats “…make the case that they’re tougher than Republicans on Wall Street. They see that as a winning argument in an otherwise bleak 2010 electoral landscape in which experts expect Democrats to suffer deep cuts to their congressional majorities, or to lose the majority all together.”

According to CQ-Roll Call, Van Hollen and Schumer “declined to indicate when a final proposal would emerge, other than to say it would be introduced ‘shortly.'” They introduced their framework for a bill Feb. 11.

With the recent faux-flurry of activity surrounding Van Hollen-Schumer, it’s worth asking a truly beltway question: How many minority party lawmakers does “bipartisan” legislation require?

Filed Under: Blog

GOP sponsors elude campaign finance bill


Filed Under: In the News

Citizens United Supreme Court Decision: Republican Signs On To Dem Response


Filed Under: In the News

Money, money, money: Democrats push for campaign finance regulations

Filed Under: In the News

Another campaign against corporations

Filed Under: In the News

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