No “shadow” groups out there, un-DISCLOSEd donors or not

Much wailing and sobbing has been heard from the so-called campaign finance “reform” community over the issue of disclosure of contributions to so-called “shadow” groups freed by the Citizens United decision to spend money urging the election or defeat of candidates for public office. Since the defeat of the DISCLOSE Act on Tuesday, the hysteria among “reformers” has kicked into overdrive.

As the Center for Competitive Politics has pointed out repeatedly, there is no “loophole” in current disclosure requirements. A 527 group that runs ads must disclose their funding sources, as must any other group that raises money to run express advocacy ads or electioneering communications. Ditto for any group that spends a majority of its funds running these types of ads.

It is for all intents and purposes impossible for a “shadow group” to form during the election cycle, run express advocacy ads or electioneering communications without disclosing any of their donors, and then fade away with nobody knowing who funded or was responsible for the ads.

But, let’s assume for a second that it was true that “shadow” groups could come and go without having to disclose their donors. Would voters still be in the dark about the backers of these groups, who was running them and what their perspective and interests were?

Probably not. The fact is, even if “shadow” groups could exist, there wouldn’t be anything particularly shadowy about them, as I explain below.

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

Citizens United, DISCLOSE, and “these important issues”

With the failure of the misnamed DISCLOSE Act, now, goes the logic, the onus is on “moderate Republicans” to “come out with their own proposal to do the important things that need to be done with campaign finance disclosure after Citizens United.”  The reality is that there are no “important issues” that are addressed by DISCLOSE, or that need to be addressed (and can constitutionally be challenged) because of Citizens United.

Moderates will oppose the incumbent self-dealing, partisan motivation, harassment of grassroots speakers, and invasions of privacy that are at the core of DISCLOSE. If any of the claims by proponents of addressing “these issues” begins to come true, there will be plenty of time to develop meaningful, moderate, narrowly tailored solutions.

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

Dems Table Campaign Finance Reform

 


 

Filed Under: In the News

Bill on Political Ad Disclosure Falls Short in Senate

 

Filed Under: In the News

House committee takes up shareholder regulations

The House Financial Services Committee is considering a bill to restrict the political speech of companies in an attempt to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The shareholder regulation bill, H.R. 4790, would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require an authorization of a majority of shareholders before a public company may make political expenditures. A manager’s amendment, which was not publicly available before today’s hearing, was introduced to make “corrections” to the bill, said Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), the bill’s sponsor.

“Instead of empowering shareholders, this bill would thwart the ability of companies to engage in political spending to further the economic interests of shareholders,” said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former Federal Election Commission Chairman. “Restricting political decisions to one vote a year would obliterate the First Amendment right of shareholders to advocate for policies that affect legitimate business interests.”

Rather than advancing a less restrictive proposal to allow a majority of shareholders to affirmatively decide to abstain from political spending, this proposal would force all companies to wade through a cumbersome layer of regulation simply to speak out on issues and candidates that may impact their bottom lines.

“This bill addresses a nonexistent problem by unconstitutionally curbing the speech of business groups,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “For decades, Congress has placed similar campaign finance regulations on business and unions. This law would depart from that standard and only restrict corporations.”

Filed Under: Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

DISCLOSE Act fails on party-line, procedural vote

The Center for Competitive Politics and fellow travelers who support First Amendment rights in politics won a major battle today as the DISCLOSE Act failed on a party-line, procedural vote (57-to-41). But the fight is not over.

Minutes after the vote, Democracy21 and other pro-regulation groups vowed a lame duck effort to pass this bill in September. The Hill quotes the bill’s Senate sponsor, Chuck Schumer, as saying the majority will attempt to “go back at this bill again and again and again until we pass it.”

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

DISCLOSE done for?

Fox News reports that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who had been considered a swing vote on the DISCLOSE Act, will vote against cloture later this afternoon:

Complaining that there have been “no hearings, no vetting, no attempt to bring people together,” Snowe touted her own past work on the issue and added, “I know the new routine on legislation these days is to ram and jam…but it really does take time…It really does require building a consensus.”

Also, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the Senator would have supported the cloture vote, but would not have supported the final bill or another procedural motion to end debate as long as the NRA exemption remains.

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

Down to the wire on DISCLOSE

As the DISCLOSE Act heads for a cloture vote in the Senate (expected at 2:45 p.m.), various media outlets are reporting that Sen. Joe Lieberman will miss the vote.

This development means that Democrats will almost certainly be unable to invoke cloture and move to passage of this speech-restricting legislation.

Other reports indicate that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will vote yes to invoke cloture while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will vote no. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is the main question mark.

CCP Chairman Brad Smith just published a commentary on the DISCLOSE Act in the Washington Examiner: “Democrats mount last-ditch P.R. campaign to spin DISCLOSE Act.”

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

DISCLOSE and Disclosure

As DISCLOSE careens toward a cloture vote this afternoon, it appears more and more like the purpose of the final vote is the same as the purpose of the original bill – to serve as a campaign tool for Democrats in Congress.  There is no evidence that the votes are there to break the a filibuster, and many supporters of DISCLOSE, from the President on down, have already shown themselves to be willing to shamelessly demogogue the issue, misrepresenting the Supreme Court’s holding in Citizens United v. FEC, misrepresenting history and experience, and misrepresenting the contents of the so-called DISCLOSE Act. Our Jeff Patch reviews a few of these misrepresentations here.

But at this final hour, it is worthwhile to go back one final time and review whether there is any serious reason for this bill; that is to say, is there really any need for more “disclosure?”  We have been over this before, but it worth it to review once more.

Here is the current federal law re disclosure of political spending…

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

DISCLOSE Act blocked in Senate

In a key victory for supporters of free political speech, the DISCLOSE Act failed on a procedural vote today.

Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked cloture on the bill designed to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, but the legislation stalled on a party-line vote.

“This bill wasn’t about disclosure, it was an attempt by the majority to legislate an electoral advantage fewer than 100 days before the midterm elections,” said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC Chairman. “Senators who support free speech in politics must remain vigilant to make sure these campaign finance restrictions aren’t pushed through on a later vote or in a lame duck session.”

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

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