Reformers’ crystal ball fails again with Crossroads GPS

In early October, the self-styled reform community was up in arms over the activities of Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (Crossroads GPS), a 501(c)(4) organization linked to the 527 group American Crossroads, even demanding an IRS investigation into the group’s spending.

As a 501(c)(4) organization, Crossroads GPS is not required to disclose its donors, but it also cannot have the “primary activity” of engaging in political activities. After apparently plastering and examining newspaper advertisements on their office walls in order to decode secret messages concerning the funding and spending details of Crossroads GPS, the speech scolds at Democracy 21 and Campaign Legal Center, among others, decided that Crossroads GPS had a primary purpose of political activity. They penned a letter to the IRS demanding an investigation.

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

Comments of CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward on Maryland Campaign Finance Reform Proposals

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) submitted comments to a Maryland panel considering changes to the state’s campaign finance law. CCP’s policy recommendations include raising contribution limits to permit effective political speech within the structure of campaigns. CCP also commented on proposals to regulate political speech disseminated through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as proposals to invent new disclosure requirements supposedly justified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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

CCP submits comments to Md. campaign finance committee

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to advancing First Amendment political rights, submitted comments today to a Maryland panel considering changes to campaign finance law.

CCP’s policy recommendations include raising contribution limits to permit effective political speech within the structure of campaigns. This reform would diminish the time candidates need to spend fundraising and discourage strategies such as using multiple LLCs and loans to contribute to candidates. The Baltimore Sun‘s editorial board recently suggested such an approach.

“Overly restrictive contribution limits to candidates—as well as restrictive aggregate limits—encourage political funding to move to other, less transparent or accountable recipients,” wrote Allison Hayward, CCP’s Vice President of Policy.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Smith on anonymous political speech at FedSoc convention

Video from a Nov. 19 panel at the Federalist Society’s National Convention, “Free Speech: Anonymity and The First Amendment,” is now available on YouTube:

Filed Under: Blog

Coleman on the implications of campaign spending

There’s too much money in American elections!

This long-used mantra of the reform community has at least one glaring weakness—it strongly lacks empirical evidence. Fortunately, CCP’s newest Academic Advisor John Coleman has taken an interest in examining the verity of this tired, old quip.

John Coleman is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (he also chairs the department). His academic interests are concentrated in campaign finance as well as public involvement and interest in politics. He is the author or co-editor of several books and a variety of articles on these subjects. Currently, he is engaged in research efforts relative to campaign finance and how the public holds political parties accountable in elections.

Filed Under: Blog

Sullivan on Citizens United

Academics and lawyers continue to parse Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which as topic de jour for the scholarly crowd may earn a title as this decade’s Bush v. Gore.

Kathleen Sullivan, former Stanford Law Dean, uber-litigator, and one of the smarter campaign finance scholars around, attempts in her recent Harvard Law Review piece to locate both the majority and dissent views in established strains of First Amendment scholarship:

Citizens United has been unjustly maligned as radically departing from settled free speech tradition. In fact, the clashing opinions in the case simply illustrate that free speech tradition has different strands.

Sullivan then presents an argument for regulations that she believes should satisfy both sides.

But, well, I’m not convinced.

Filed Under: Blog

Corporate spending and contribution fears fizzle fast

So-called campaign finance reform advocates were apoplectic in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, ominously predicting that corporations would empty their treasuries in an effort to “buy” the 2010 elections. I discussed (okay, mocked) these fears back on Sept. 7 in a blog entry titled “Waiting for ExxonMobil’s one percent.” where I wrote:

… “reformers” have offered as their scare scenario the idea that ExxonMobil might spend one percent of their annual profits on political speech (ExxonMobil seems to feature prominently in “reform” scare scenarios, presumably because they are the most profitable firm in the country and therefore the dollar figure is the largest possible “reasonable” amount as well as that oil companies are traditionally the top bogeyman for the campaign finance “reform” community)…

To date, ExxonMobil’s one percent (or anyone else’s for that matter) has yet to materialize…

Well, the election is long past, and we can now start to look at just how much corporate money was spent, and what type of corporations were giving.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics provides some interesting information, which seems to show that the self-styled reformers’ hysterics were wholly unwarranted.

Filed Under: Blog

Clean Elections Commission puts off vote on fixed-assets rule change



Filed Under: In the News

DeLay Verdict; Campaign-finance law abets political revenge



Filed Under: In the News

Citizens United President Enjoys ‘Bitching And Moaning’ Over Supreme Court Case



Filed Under: In the News

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