Badgering government for a redress of grievances

There’s no shortage of free speech occurring in Wisconsin these days, at least regarding the “budget reform” bill that newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker is trying to pass in the state legislature. It’s encouraging to see this vigorous exercise of the First Amendment in the Badger State, in part because Wisconsin is generally one of the worst climates for political speech in the country…

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

Bipartisan opposition to presidential tax financing system ticks up

The bipartisan opposition to handouts to presidential candidates is ticking up.

Yesterday evening, the House voted 247-175 to temporarily restrict funds from being spent on the tax financing program for presidential candidates and political party conventions.

On Jan. 26, the House voted 239-160 to permanently repeal the program.

Most of the flux was from Members of Congress who didn’t vote on the permanent repeal (H.R. 359) but voted on the temporary restriction (Amendment 208 to H.R. 1). Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sponsored both measures.

Thirty-five lawmakers didn’t vote on H.R. 359; only 11 failed to vote on Amendment 208.

Perhaps the most surprising development was that Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) switched his vote to favor at least a temporary restriction of the program. Rep. Costello voted against H.R. 359 less than a month ago.

Filed Under: Blog

Smith and Justice Thomas v. Colbert

A clip of CCP Chairman Brad Smith was featured in a segment on last night’s episode of “The Colbert Report.” Host Stephen Colbert took on the Common Cause-manufactured controversy about Justice Clarence Thomas and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Colbert mangled a few facts (for instance, saying Citizens United allowed anonymous corporate contributions to candidates), but, hey, he’s a faux news host…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Clarence Thomas’s Financial Disclosure Controversy
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Adds Brad: “Colbert is skewering me for agreeing with Chris Matthews!  Normally, I’d expect him to skewer me for disagreeing with Chris Matthews.  I can’t get a break!”


Filed Under: Blog

2012: The Year Of The Billion-Dollar Campaigns?

Filed Under: In the News

Lawmakers clash on tax financing budget amendment

Members of Congress took up debate on amendments to a budget bill today. Republicans and Democrats offered hundreds of amendments to the bill, and the discussion featured a clash on tax financing for presidential campaigns and party conventions.

Lawmakers are considering a continuing resolution, H.R. 1, to fund the government until September. Rep. Cole offered Amendment 208, which would prevent implementation of the presidential tax financing system using funds appropriated under the continuing resolution.

Last month, the U.S. House passed H.R. 359, which would have abolished the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, but the measure has stalled in the Senate and President Obama would likely veto a stand-alone bill, assuming the Senate could pass it.

While the measure would not be permanent, Rep. Tom Cole, the sponsor of H.R. 259 and Amendment 208 to H.R. 1, said it would be a “down payment” on the goal of abolishing the system. He said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the amendment would save $38 million in budgetary authority and $40 million in outlays for Fiscal Year 2011 (CBO estimated repealing the program would save $617 million over ten years).

“We all know on this floor that we need to cut spending,” Cole said during the debate. “We can start today by cancelling political welfare for politicians and political party conventions.”

Filed Under: Blog

CCP urges Maine lawmakers to repeal tax financing

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) called on the Maine legislature to repeal its program of taxpayer subsidies for gubernatorial candidates. The system, known as the Maine Clean Election Act, has failed to achieve any of its intended goals yet continues to fleece Maine taxpayers. 

“Tax financed campaigns were supposed to eliminate corruption, alter legislative voting patterns, diminish interest group influence, and promote citizen participation in elections,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Not only is there almost no evidence that the program achieved any of these goals, the data suggests that the opposite is happening.”

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over campaign finance issues, heard testimony Wednesday advocating full repeal of the tax financing system. The committee is also expected to take up this issue again on Feb. 25.

LD 120, sponsored by Rep. Tyler Clark, would end tax financing for gubernatorial candidates. LD 80, sponsored by Rep. L. Gary Knight, would end tax financing for primary candidates who run unopposed. CCP sent a letter to Maine lawmakers Thursday detailing reasons supporting restricting tax subsidies while urging a full repeal.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, Maine

Smith plays Hardball with Common Cause


CCP Chairman Brad Smith appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” today to talk about a controversy manufactured by Common Cause in an attempt to discredit Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (and the Court’s majority decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission).

The segment, 8:30 long, also features Arn Pearson of Common Cause.

A rushed transcript of the segment appears after the jump…


Filed Under: Blog

Reformers’ recusal double standard

Elements of the campaign finance “reform” community (the, shall we say, more unhinged elements, including the folks at Common Cause) have recently launched a hysterical crusade against U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas for his role in voting with the majority in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The charges are beyond ridiculous, just a half-step away from alleging that Justice Thomas was on the grassy knoll in Dallas.

The basic premise of Common Cause’s argument is that Thomas attended one of the events for libertarian and conservative donors hosted by brothers Charles and David Koch a few years ago (before the Supreme Court was even aware of Citizens United). Then, after the Citizens United decision in January 2010, organizations affiliated with the Koch brothers ran ads in the 2010 elections, taking advantage of their restored First Amendment rights.

Plus, Justice Thomas’ wife Virginia is a member of the Illuminati. Or was with the Free Masons when they poisoned the wells. Or something like that (she exercises her First Amendment right to petition the government).

Filed Under: Blog

Proposed bills would limit taxpayer funds for campaigns

Filed Under: In the News

Junk Disclosure: Massachusetts

Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth is the next target in this series of posts unearthing “junk disclosure” requirements. Alert readers will recall that such laws are analogous to “junk science” and provide voters with no useful information. Instead, they require political speakers to generate useless, confusing, or even misleading “information.” 

Under Massachusetts law, a radio or television independent expenditure must include an onerous and windy disclaimer. So, suppose Bostonians for Democracy (BFD) wanted to run a radio advertisement advocating the defeat of Commonwealth Representative Khan and using thinly veiled references to Star Trek. Whether or not BFD is a corporation, its chief officer (however it might determine that person) must appear and say: “I am James Kirk, the Head Poobah of Bostonians for Democracy, and Bostonians for Democracy approves and paid for this message.” That takes about seven seconds—which is seven second of airtime BFD has to pay for (and seven seconds that add virtually nothing to the public’s understanding of BFD’s perspective, or the merits of its case against Khan).

Filed Under: Blog, Massachusetts

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