Mickey Kaus can’t leave FEC

Mickey Kaus would like to stop filing with the FEC, but they won’t let him.

Filed Under: Blog

JournoList and the First Amendment

JournoList, the listserve discussion group of left-leaning journalists and academics founded by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, is back in the news for allegedly helping the Obama campaign to deal with the controversy surrounding Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the 2008 campaign.

Michael Calderone of Politico first reported on JournoList in March of 2009, writing:

For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy?

Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. “Basically,” he says, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.”

While many are expressing angst over the fact that JournoList members apparently attempted to plan and coordinate messaging in support of their favored candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama, we at the Center for Competitive Politics are not among them.

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

CCP files comments on FEC advisory opinions

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed comments with the Federal Election Commission supporting two draft advisory opinions affecting independent political groups.

The Club for Growth and Commonsense Ten, a new group formed by Democratic consultants, requested advisory opinions concerning how recent court decisions such as Citizens United v. FEC and SpeechNow.org v. FEC impact their plans to raise money from individuals, companies and unions.

“The consensus draft opinions from the Federal Election Commission are reasonable responses to game-changing court decisions expanding the freedom of political speech,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward, who authored the comments. “These guidelines will provide clarity to groups across the political spectrum as midterm elections approach.”

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

The shameless sophistry of Fred Wertheimer

As Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Maine moderate Republicans, follow in the footsteps of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and pan the DISCLOSE Act, campaign finance “reformers” are getting desperate.

Take a 1,500 word missive penned by Democracy21 President Fred Wertheimer to supposedly shed light on the “Myths and Realities Regarding Claims that Labor Unions are Treated More Favorably than Corporations by the DISCLOSE Act…”

The piece, dripping with self-righteous condescension toward anyone who dare disagree with the erudite “reformer,” falsely asserts that the DISCLOSE Act “does not tilt to Democrats or Republicans” because “[d]isclosure laws do not advantage either party.” Throughout this rant, Wertheimer obfuscates the plain fact that the DISCLOSE Act includes myriad speech prohibitions and added layers of regulation beyond simple disclosure provisions.

The theme of Wertheimer’s piece is that all the provisions of the DISCLOSE Act apply with equal force to corporations and unions. However, Wertheimer’s fallacy is treating the proposed prohibitions on corporate speech as if they were some sort of tablet of regulations handed down from Moses rather than partisan provisions crafted by Democrats behind closed doors. It’s as if Congress crafted a cookie selling ban and then claimed it simply applied to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts equally.

Four provisions in the DISCLOSE Act provide uneven benefits for labor unions while meting out disproportionate prohibitions or regulations for companies. One would have to be incredibly naïve to think that these provisions were written to apply evenly to business and labor interests.

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

Testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to the Maryland Joint Committee On Administrative, Executive, & Legislative Review

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to July 20, 2010 hearing before the Maryland Joint Committee On Administrative, Executive, & Legislative Review on the topic of campaign finance legislation and electronic media.

Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony, Maryland

Anonymous political speakers support DISCLOSE Act in order to stifle anonymous speech

Yet more evidence emerged yesterday, in news coverage regarding the dim prospects for passage of the DISCLOSE Act in the U.S. Senate, that members of the so-called campaign finance ‘reform’ community simply do not have a well-developed sense of irony.

The DISCLOSE Act, we are continuously told, will solve the problem of anonymous political speech – and there is little doubt that anonymous political speech is a problem, according to the “reformers.”

Campaign Legal Center, for example, ominously warns that “…without the DISCLOSE Act, anonymous groups will be able to hide their financial backers,”  while the House Democratic Caucus states that the DISCLOSE Act “will stop Wall Street, Big Oil, and U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments from secretly manipulating elections by funneling money to fly-by-night front groups that run last minute attack ads and other anonymous election advertisements.”

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

Wisconsin: land of cheese and censorship?

Mixed developments are fermenting in Wisconsin.

The state’s Government Accountability Board, known whimsically as GAB, has successfully amended its rules regarding political speech to curtail political gabbing, including internet and email communications from outside groups. (That is, the Legislature has declined to revisit the rule, which was approved 6-0 by the GAB on March 23).

Ostensibly a rule designed to increase disclosure, the new Wisconsin regulation would require persons spending $5,000 or more on communications with a “political purpose” to comply with all the state recordkeeping and reporting requirements. What’s “political purpose”? Well, express advocacy, the “functional equivalent” of express advocacy, or any communication made within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, which identifies a candidate, and “supports or condemns” that candidate’s fitness, positions or record. Unlike the federal “electioneering statute” there’s no targeting requirement. And, yes, Wisconsin has amended the definition of “communication” to specifically include email and internet messages. 

So, word up, don’t blog about Wisconsin candidates. Unlike you fancy becoming a test-case plaintiff, in which case go right ahead.

Filed Under: Blog, Wisconsin

Chances of Campaign Finance Bill Affecting Midterms Dim



Filed Under: In the News

Rocky Road for Campaign Finance


Filed Under: In the News

Nominee for the 2010 Inigo Montoya Award, “Campaign Finance Reform” division

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) recently released a report on so-called campaign finance “reform” in Los Angeles, Money and Power in the City of Angels. The report is a look at the “effectiveness of Los Angeles municipal campaign finance reforms” and the authors also “suggest additional reforms to strengthen existing campaign finance laws.”

Los Angeles already has many of the features of campaign finance “reform” that advocates claim are necessary to ward off corruption, or the appearance of, or undue influence, or unfairness in politics, or achy joints, or whatever the collection of clichés being used that day are.

Among other things, Los Angeles limits city council candidates to no more than $500 and citywide candidates no more than $1,000 from any one citizen, an aggregate limit that varies from election to election based on a formula (in 2009, the limit was $7,000), a prohibition on lobbyists contributing to candidates. Los Angeles also has a program to funnel taxpayer dollars into the campaign accounts of politicians, which dished out $1.8 million in 2009.

Towards the end, noting that incumbents raised approximately 19 times more than challengers in the 2009 campaign, CGS notes:

The passage of campaign finance reforms in the 1980s and 1990s for Los Angeles municipal elections limited and stemmed the massive flow of contributions from organizations and fundamentally altered the candidate contribution landscape… Challengers nonetheless continue to face almost insurmountable obstacles when competing with incumbents in fundraising or at the polls.

Regarding the use of the term “nonetheless,” I’m tempted to tell CGS that “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Filed Under: Blog, California

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