Smith honored for advancing free political speech

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation announced that Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith is among the recipients of the Bradley Prizes, awarded annually to prominent scholars and leaders.

“Receiving this distinguished honor was possible only because of the support of so many others, including staff and supporters of the Center for Competitive Politics, my colleagues at Capital University and my loving family,” said Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University. “Their assistance and encouragement give me the energy to tirelessly advocate for a deregulated marketplace of ideas in American politics.”

Smith and other recipients—Michael Barone of The Washington Examiner, Paul A. Gigot of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and Prof. John B. Taylor of Stanford University—will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m.  Each award carries a stipend of $250,000.

Founded in 1985, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is devoted to strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture it.  Its programs support limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, cultural activity; and a vigorous defense, at home and abroad, of American ideas and institutions.  Recognizing that responsible self-government depends on enlightened citizens and informed public opinion, the Foundation supports scholarly studies and academic achievement.

Founded in 2005, the Center for Competitive Politics promotes and protects First Amendment political rights.

Filed Under: Press Releases

Law professor wins $250,000 conservative prize



Filed Under: In the News

In the News: Daily Caller: Grass(roots) dies when sun shines too brightly

Grass(roots) dies when sun shines too brightly By Jeff Patch The Center for Competitive Politics has made it no secret that we think a campaign finance bill written behind closed doors by the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the past chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee—and a President facing a re-election […]

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

Is DISCLOSE transparent?

Sunlight Foundation policy counsel Daniel Schuman has a thoughtful post explaining that Members of Congress have a long way to go toward making their legislative process transparent. Perhaps they should get their own house in order before they remake the campaign finance system near an election:

The House version (HR 5175) was available on Friday from THOMAS, the online repository of Congressional legislative information, one day after it was introduced. The Senate version (S. 3295) is still unavailable from THOMAS, as of 10:50am on Monday, 4 days after introduction. When you click on the link for the legislation, you get the following note:

Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from the Government Printing Office a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.

PDF versions of the House and Senate bills became available elsewhere on the web within 24 hours (see, e.g., ElectionLawBlog). The legislation is prepared in XML, so it’s unclear what has caused the delay of the official release on THOMAS of the Senate version. (These kinds of delays are, alas, common on THOMAS.)

More details about how the bill was drafted are not pretty from a “transparency” standpoint… This bill-drafting effort was announced Feb. 11 by Sen. Chuck Schumer, the past chair of the DSCC and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the DCCC chair. It was not only authored in secret, with the consultation of the White House and Democratic party lawyers, but Democrats publicly rejected an offer from committee Republicans on the House Administration Committee-the committee of jurisdiction-to meet to negotiate legislative text, which was only released on April 29. This has been reported by The Hill, among others. It has not been disavowed or challenged by Van Hollen or Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.).

How ironic that The DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would fundamentally alter the political system months before a major election, is supported in large part by transparency groups despite being written not with open debate and candor but in the cloakrooms of Capitol Hill. Do we really trust incumbents to grandstand on the morals of disclosure—especially when they insist these complicated bills must be passed ASAP?

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

DISCLOSE: shedding light on what you need to know

By now, you’ve probably read the Wall Street Journal editorial, “Free Speech for Some; Unions get a pass from new campaign finance disclosure rules.”

The ghostwriters of the Detroit News, i.e. their editorial board, also make a pretty good case for why DISCLOSE seems to intentionally exempt unions from some of the most burdensome parts of the proposed Rubix cube of regulation: “Democrats’ campaign finance bill excuses unions from limits placed on corporations.” Maybe that’s why the AFL-CIO commended the effort and broad contours of the Orwellian-named “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections,” after filing a brief supporting Citizens United with the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a person familiar with the union’s position explained that the bill has serious flaws.

The Washington Examiner offers “For Dems, new finance law may be a matter of survival.” Brad Smith explains why muzzling the marketplace of ideas in the summer before mid-term elections might not be so hot: “If people can discourage negative ads, it almost always benefits incumbents,” said Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

The broadcast industry does not approve the message of the DISCLOSE Act. Why? Probably because it bails out candidates and major parties at the expense of everyone else—broadcasters, independent groups, third parties, etc. Capitol Hill publications The Hill and Roll Call both focus on this developing static… The Hill: “Broadcasters group opposes ad-rate language in Dems’ campaign finance bill.” CQ-Roll Call: “Broadcasters Air Gripes With Political Ad Bill.”

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

Politico on Obama’s motivation for DISCLOSE

Politico breaks down Obama’s Saturday morning radio address on the DISCLOSE Act:

“…Obama worries about the effect of the Supreme Court ruling on Democrats.”

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

Grass(roots) dies when sun shines too brightly

Filed Under: In the News

Lies on DISCLOSE from the Center for American Progress

In President Barack Obama’s weekly address, “Giving Government Back to the American People,” he said, “the American people also have the right to know when some group like ‘Citizens for a Better Future’ is actually funded entirely by ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight.'”

The most influential liberal advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., the Center for American Progress (CAP)—it’s unclear if they’re Obama’s “American People” people or the “Citizens For Criticizing Other Citizens” non-people—has smeared the Center for Competitive Politics for fostering a dialogue about disclosure and supporting an open marketplace of ideas in the political arena. CAP’s spin? “Secretive Right-Wing Plutocrats Use Front Groups To Attack New Campaign Finance Disclosure Bill.”

“The Center for Competitive Politics, one of real estate tycoon Howie Rich’s many anti-government front groups, quickly slammed the bill and absurdly argued that the ‘stand by your ad’ mandate ‘provid[es] no informational benefit and reduc[es] the amount of available political speech’ in an ad. This laughable claim that more disclosure gives less information is a cynical cover to help Rich stay behind closed doors as he operates a massive political machine from the perch of his SoHo apartment,” wrote Lee Fang, a research assistant for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

“What’s intersting is that CAP would make this claim with no knowledge who any of our donors are,” said Center for Competitive Politics founder and Chairman Bradley A. Smith in a statement. “They just figured they’d say whatever, and hope it might be true.  But I’m happy to state the facts: I have known Howie personally for more than two decades. As a personal friend and, like me, a believer in free speech, he made a single in-kind contribution of less than $10,000—a donation of legal services—to the Center for Competitive Politics nearly five years ago. He plays no role in our organization. Believe me, I wish we were a front group for some wealthy interest—my life we be a lot easier, and our budget might be the size of CAP’s, instead of less than one-tenth as large. But we’re rather fiercely independent, and we stick it to both parties when they deserve it: something I don’t think CAP can say.”

“This type of attack—silly, ad hominem, and made without regard for the truth—is typical of the campaign finance lobby pushing the ‘Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections’ Act in Congress. They don’t really care about sunlight or informing the public, they care about silencing voices they don’t like. But since he’s so big on ‘front groups,’ perhaps President Obama should explain why his campaign alumni organization is running a war room of smears with money from Wal-Mart and George Soros,” Smith added.

“The Democrats’ campaign finance bill is about intimidating political opponents,'” said Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “When someone doesn’t have a good case, they attack the messenger. “

“President Obama has been calling for a return of civility to American politics,” Smith added. “He could start by condemning the smears of the interest group closest to his administration in Washington instead of demanding that his political allies in Congress push through a campaign finance bill designed to give them an advantage in an election year.”

According to SourceWatch, the Center for American Progress, classified as a 501(c)(3) corporation under U.S. Internal Revenue Code, receives approximately $25 million per year in funding from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. The Center for Competitive Politics has an annual budget of under $2 million.

This release was updated at 7:08 a.m. on May 4. This updates a blog post addressing a similar topic.

The Center for Competitive Politics is a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting and protecting First Amendment political rights.

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

DISCLOSE Act—The Legislative “Fix” to Citizens United

On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Since then, congressional critics of the Court’s broad holding have promised a legislative “fix.” These Members believe that the decision to recognize constitutional protection for corporate (and labor) independent expenditures in federal elections will have a pernicious effect on American politics. Accordingly, on April 29, 2010, Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Chris Van Hollen introduced the “DISCLOSE Act.”

The DISCLOSE Act contains two main features. First, it requires corporations to include certain notices in their expenditures and file additional disclosure reports. Second, the DISCLOSE Act identifies certain types of corporations that would not be permitted to make independent expenditures.Leaders in both the Senate and the House have promised expedited consideration of this legislation. The sponsors intend for it to enter into effect for much of the 2010 election cycle. 

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, campaign finance, campaign finance disclosure, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act, Disclosure, Coordination, Disclosure, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Coordination, Disclosure, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Stand By Your Ad

Judicial Recusal and Expanding Notions of Due Process

This piece considers the merits of applying the Mathews v. Eldridge balancing test when an elected judge threatens a litigant’s due process rights. We argue that this approach is particularly compelling in light of the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. In Caperton, the Supreme Court recognized that a litigant’s due process may be violated if the judge harbors an objective “probability of bias.” In perhaps his most vigorous dissent since joining the Court, Chief Justice Roberts posed over forty questions about the potential scope of the decision. Given the Court’s 2002 decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Justice Roberts has good reason to be concerned. In White, the Court ruled that once a state allows judges to be elected, it can’t muzzle them – candidates for judicial office have the right to announce their views on contentious issues of the day. Taken together, Caperton and White provide the makings of a constitutional crisis. On the one hand judges have a First Amendment right to say almost anything, even if it seems to effectively bind them in future cases. On the other hand, litigants have a due process right not to face a judge whom a reasonable person may deem biased given his previously advertised views. This Article argues that weighing the due process violation by using the reliable and flexible approach developed in Mathews v. Eldridge keeps both decisions intact, while protecting the rights of both the judicial candidates and the litigants.

Filed Under: Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, West Virginia

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