The DISCLOSE Act’s assault on political bloggers – Day III

As is well known by followers of the so-called campaign finance “reform” issue, during Wednesday’s “DISCLOSE Act” hearing before the Committee on House Administration, election lawyer William McGinley stated that the legislation potentially threatens the free and unfettered speech of political bloggers, who often support or oppose candidates in a manner that, to borrow a phrase, “can be interpreted by a reasonable person only as advocating the election or defeat of a candidate.”

The self-styled campaign finance “reform” community has, as Jeff Patch has noted, “freaked out.” While the public has generally not given much attention to the issue of campaign finance regulation and the Citizens United decision, I suspect that the term “censorship of internet bloggers” is not one the “reform” community wants associated with their latest brainstorm and bandied about in public. There remains a deep reservoir (although not deep enough) of support for the First Amendment in this country, and being seen public as censors hardly benefits  those who, well, want censorship.

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

Lies, Damned Lies and Reformers, Part II

…or, WWBD: What Would Bob Do?

In advance of Tuesday’s House Administration Committee hearing on the “DISCLOSE Act,” the Center for Competitive Politics submitted a written memo analyzing the disclosure provisions of the bill. CCP also posted and circulated a press release noting past comments on disclosure by White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

As the head of Perkins Coie’s political law practice, Bob Bauer was widely recognized as the top campaign finance and election lawyer for Democrats. He also has a long and undisputed record of tangling with self-styled reformers over their pet theories of how to regulate money in politics. That may be an inconvenient truth for the Obama administration as they push this outrageous legislation, but it’s true nonetheless.

In CCP’s memo, we cited a statement from a lengthy law review article Bauer published in 2007 detailing “The Purposes of Disclosure in an Expanded Regulatory System.” Our press release included six other instances on Bauer’s blog where he noted the costs or potential drawbacks of onerous disclosure regimes.

The majority staff of the House Administration Committee quickly prepared a detailed, two-page memo supposedly rebutting these claims. No word on if they coordinated with anyone at the White House… Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California asked Chairman Robert Brady of Pennsylvania for consent to place the document into the hearing record. The memo was unsigned and anonymous. The identity of the author engaging in this political attack was not disclosed, you might even say…

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Money in Politics, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

Schumer-Van Hollen Is As Much about Prohibitions As about Disclosure



Filed Under: In the News

Lies, Damned Lies and Reformers, Part I

The goo-goos are “freaking out” about testimony submitted at yesterday’s hearing at the House Administration Committee by the Center for Competitive Politics on the disclosure provisions of the “DISCLOSE Act,” (Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections).

These “watchdogs,” (or junkyard dogs) of democracy are also flipping out about the testimony of Patton Boggs attorney Bill McGinley, who runs the blog Express Advocacy. McGinley mentioned in the hearing that the “DISCLOSE Act” would, for the first time, regulate political speech on the internet by bloggers and possibly journalists. CCP President Sean Parnell also raised this issue in a blog post.

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

Kagan’s chalky campaign finance views

Buckley  Chalk

The views of Solicitor General Elena Kagan have been described by commentators on the left and right as vague at best, and she’s been characterized as a “blank slate.” Perhaps a more apt term, especially on campaign finance, would be a chalky slate. She’s written on First Amendment issues perhaps more than any other issue, she’s argued a major case—Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission before the Supreme Court, and she’s authored memos on campaign finance issues while working as a domestic policy aide in President Bill Clinton’s administration. However, like the professor Kagan was, her views seem to be as messy as a primary school chalk board—subject to frequent revision and written for the understanding of others with a detached level of advocacy.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library has released documents on its website authored or co-authored by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who President Barack Obama nominated to the Supreme Court this week.

These documents are related to the files of Bruce Reed, assistant to President Clinton for domestic policy. The file of interest to First Amendment advocates is a memo for former Chief of Staff Leon Panetta on “Possible Q&A on President’s Campaign Finance Reform Announcement.” The document was authored by Kagan and five other domestic policy aides. Other campaign finance memos Kagan has authored or co-authored still remain under wraps.

The memo appears designed to support and explain President Clinton’s position on an early version of McCain-Feingold (the bill of campaign finance restrictions Congress ultimately passed in 2002)—it’s written in that style and not in an advocacy style. It’s still not clear what Elena Kagan really thinks about campaign finance issues.

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

Pooling funds for IEs gains ground

As BNA reports, another court has held that a “municipal cap on acceptance of contributions by any ‘person’ that makes independent expenditures supporting or opposing a political candidate violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.” The Ninth Circuit of Appeals issued the ruling as applied to a local chamber of commerce’s political action committee in Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce v. Long Beach, Cal., 9th Cir., No. 07-55691, 4/30/10).

The Ninth Circuit upheld the theory already validated by the D.C. and 4th circuits in the Leake and cases, respectively.

Filed Under: Blog

Does the DISCLOSE Act attack internet free speech?

The DISCLOSE Act (Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections) by Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Chris Van Hollen just keeps getting worse and worse with each reading.

Among the many deficiencies uncovered so far (crafted behind closed doors, favors the speech of organized labor while silencing the business community, designed by Democratic Congressional political leadership to enhance their election advantages, and ignoring that current disclosure requirements are more than sufficient), another has recently come to light—the bill would impose significant restrictions on the right of citizens to speak freely on the internet about candidates.

William McGinley, a prominent campaign finance lawyer who testified at yesterday’s hearing on the DISCLOSE Act, noted during his oral testimony that “the broad reach of the new definitions of independent expenditure… and covered coordinated communications… now appear to regulate internet communication, including the liberal and conservative blogosphere.”

McGinley went on to note that the DISCLOSE Act’s media exemption provisions does not include web sites or internet communications in the same manner as current law, which does protect political speech on the internet from government regulation and restriction. He concludes that “this legislation does not exclude bloggers or internet communications, and places them at risk. If this bill passes, the internet’s status as a free-speech zone is in danger.”

You can check out McGinley’s testimony at the Committee on House Administration’s web site. His comments on regulation of political speech on the internet begin at around 34:30.

Analyzing this so-called campaign finance “reform” bill, I keep feeling like that boy in the room with a shovel, looking for the pony…

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

Kagan on Free Speech

Filed Under: In the News

Capuano bill puts ‘Citizens fix’ at risk

Filed Under: In the News

Doubts about Kagan on key Obama issue

Filed Under: In the News

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