CCP’s Renz testifies on New York campaign finance bills

Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz will testified today at a New York State Senate Committee on Elections hearing.

The state Senate is considering several bills that would impose campaign finance restrictions ranging from contribution limits, taxpayer financing of campaigns and so-called pay-to-play curbs.

A bill supposedly designed to increase disclosure of corporate political spending following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission would instead empower incumbents and other influential interests to pressure citizens and groups.

“Campaign finance laws should be designed to allow citizens to serve as a watchdog for their government, not to allow government and other activists to become modern day McCarthys,” Renz said.

CCP provided research to the committee on campaign finance issues, including data showing that contribution limits do not have an impact on political corruption. Utah and Virginia, for example, both have no limits on campaign contributions yet are well-governed. There is no correlation between a state’s corruption level as measured by the Department of Justice and its campaign finance restrictions.

“Overly complex and punitive campaign finance regulation discourages political participation and forces individuals, associations, and candidates to seek other ways of speaking out on important issues,” Renz wrote in prepared remarks. “At its core, campaign finance regulation should aim to be as simple as possible in order to encourage a plethora of voices, both in support of and critical of government and its policies.”

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

CCP files brief in Gableman case

The Center for Competitive Politics filed a friend-of-the-court brief late last week in a case involving state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Opponents of Justice Gableman are seeking to have the state punish him for speech he engaged in during his campaign for the Supreme Court.

“This action against Justice Gableman is a punishment for political speech, which the First Amendment does not permit,” said CCP Vice President Stephen M. Hoersting. “The Court’s decision on this matter will set a precedent for whether the government can determine which political speech is true and which is false, and punish those who fail to adhere to government-approved truth in their campaigns.

CCP’s brief argues that Gableman’s political speech deserves full First Amendment protection.

“The prospect of seeking sanctions and retribution for political speech could have a chilling effect on a free exchange of ideas in the electoral process,” Hoersting said. “The Court should dismiss the idea of government truth panels and let voters decide what speech is appropriate.”

The case is before the state Supreme Court. Gableman’s colleagues are expected to decide the matter by this summer. In order to sanction Gableman a majority must decide he violated the judicial ethics code.

Filed Under: Press Releases

Doe v. Reed

Doe v. Reed is a case regarding petition privacy, with the petitioners being represented by Jim Bopp.

In Sept. 2009, a federal court prevented the release of the names of 138,500-some individuals who signed a petition for a ballot initiative to overturn a domestic-partnership law passed by the state legislature. Protect Marriage, which organized the petition effort, sued. Bopp argues that the experience of Washington activists and opponents of gay marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign shows a record of harassment and intimidation targeted at people who are forced to register their personal information publicly with the state in order to exercise their First Amendment rights.

In this case, the court will decide “[w]hether the First Amendment right to privacy in political speech, association, and belief requires strict scrutiny when a state compels public release of identifying information about petition signers.” Another procedural issue: “Whether compelled public disclosure of identifying information about petition signers is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and whether Petitioners met all the elements required for a preliminary injunction.”

Filed Under: Media Resources

Van Hollen-Schumer waiting game continues

Campaign finance watchers continue to pore over the scattered signals emanating from anonymous congressional leadership aides as the legislative drafting process of Van Hollen-Schumer continues behind closed doors.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Sen. Charles Schumer, the chair and former chair of their respective chambers’ campaign committees, announced their framework for a Citizens United response in February—Feb. 11 to be specific.

Over two months later, the world hasn’t ended, corporations have not announced a cabal to buy elections and Obama administration ethics counsel Norm Eisen—the White House’s manabouttown pushing the legislation—is reportedly decamping for the Czech Republic.

Politico is reporting that the wait may soon be over and that long-awaited draft language might soon emerge from the legislative fine-tuning: “Citizens United answer almost ready”

Filed Under: Blog

Citizens United Foes Seek a McCain Stand-In


Filed Under: In the News

Citizens United answer almost ready

Filed Under: In the News

Obama’s SCOTUS litmus test

After the retirement announcement from Justice John Paul Stevens this morning, President Obama wasted no time indicating he will impose a rigid litmus test on the next nominee to the Supreme Court.

No, there was no talk about abortion—Obama signaled that he will insist on a nominee who thinks the First Amendment is about equalizing speech, not freedom of speech or prohibiting government censorship.

“It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens,” according to remarks by President Obama in the Rose Garden today.

Media reports indicate that Stevens’ retirement means that Citizens United—and the congressional effort to respond with Schumer-Van Hollen—will be salient this summer:

“Stevens’ retirement means that the Citizens United ruling—an issue the President thought enough of to mention in his State of the Union speech—will be front and center for the foreseeable future. We are always skeptical that campaign finance issues matter to the public but if ever they will impact the electorate the next few months is the time,” writes Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post.

Filed Under: Blog

Testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to the Alaska House Judiciary Committee

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to an April 9, 2010 hearing before the Alaska House Judiciary Committee on the topic of campaign finance legislation.

Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony, Alaska

Citizens United Ruling Will Liberate Dot-Org News Sites From IRS Rules Curbing Advocacy

Filed Under: In the News

Schumer-Van Hollen Bill Not Likely Before Midterms

Filed Under: In the News

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