Candidates No Longer Personally Liable For Wasting Matching Funds, Thanks To New Court Decision

Filed Under: In the News

Special interest driving federal spending? Big Labor

Filed Under: In the News

Junk Disclosure: A series on stupid disclaimers

In a landmark 1993 case, the Supreme Court held in Daubert v. Merrell Dow that “expert testimony ” or scientific “evidence” was inadmissible at trial if it was based on “junk science.” That is, if the information or methods were not reliable, admitting it would not help the jury in its fact-finding role.

Why haven’t the courts applied this principle to political speech regulation cases? Disclosure of the identity of political spenders is upheld in cases because courts see these requirements as furthering an important purpose, by informing the public who supports or opposes the candidate or cause at issue. Just as expert testimony and scientific studies can give jurors useful information to arrive as a conclusion, one could think about reporting requirements, disclaimers, and all the rest as serving a similar purpose for voters.

Unfortunately, there is no Daubert decision for campaign disclosure. There should be, since if a disclosure provision does not provide useful information, there is no state interest that could justify the intrusion into privacy and association rights. Furthermore, it might generate inaccurate information—or at least obscure the interesting bits in a sea of minutia.

Filed Under: Blog, Alaska

McConnell recounts campaign finance fight at CPAC

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today. During McConnell’s speech, he recounted his decade-long effort to restore First Amendment political rights by repealing unconstitutional campaign finance restrictions.

Last Congress, McConnell led opposition to the DISCLOSE Act, which would have banned the political speech of many independent groups and businesses while imposing an onerous disclosure and disclaimer regime designed to silence grassroots organizations. This Congress, McConnell introduced S.194 in the Senate, which would repeal the presidential tax financing program (and save taxpayers $617 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office). The House passed the bill on a bipartisan vote last month.

In a two-minute rendition, McConnell reveled in his infamy among editorial writers and pro-regulation lobbyists for standing up for free speech against skewed polls and goo-goo talking points manufactured by campaign finance “reformers”:

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

New attack on Koch brothers shows danger of disclosure

So-called campaign finance “reform” advocates often express befuddlement and outrage that anyone might oppose public disclosure of citizens’ donations to private organizations that engage in some political or public policy speech. An example of this occurred last year during debate over the DISCLOSE Act, when a staffer for former Republican Congressman Mike Castle, a supporter of the bill, said “It’s just disclosure, for God’s sake.”

One of the biggest reasons to oppose disclosure of donations that go to public policy and advocacy groups, of course, is that the information revealed can be used to build an ‘Enemies List’ for vengeful politicians and activists seeking to intimidate, harass, and punish their political opponents.

This danger was made clear today in an article about the Keystone XL Pipeline project from Canada to the U.S. that is currently seeking approval from the Obama administration. Apparently, the pipeline might in some way benefit Charles and David Koch, owners of privately-held Koch Industries, and so the permit should be denied.

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

Why Katrina vanden Heuvel Declines to Acknowledge a Mistake

Filed Under: In the News

Common cause suddenly uncommonly forceful in fighting Koch Industries

Filed Under: In the News

Taxpayers paying for questionable RNC convention spending

Via the Tampa Tribune, yet another reason why Congress should cut off subsidies for presidential candidates and political parties:

They rented an exclusive waterfront mansion, wined and dined at five-star restaurants and hired family members and friends, all on the taxpayers’ dime.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s 2012 convention team based in the Tampa Bay area raked up nearly $1 million in charges—using a line of credit backed by federal funding—before they were fired by the newly elected party chairman last month.

Read the whole thing here.

Filed Under: Blog, Florida

CCP urges N.Y. lawmakers to reject restrictions on business political speech

The New York legislature is considering legislation designed to put up administrative and legal road blocks to participate in the political process by companies. The proposal would restrict the ability of businesses to engage in political speech by requiring multiple votes on whether or not to make political contributions. The shareholder regulation measure would also mandate votes on specific levels of spending at annual shareholder meetings.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter to New York lawmakers Wednesday explaining the constitutional and policy flaws of the legislation, Senate Bill 101 and Assembly Bill 696.

Although these bills would not directly ban corporate contributions, they would place an undue burden on for-profit firms before they can engage in their First Amendment rights. Many corporations may not know where they need to allocate resources at the time of their annual meetings, as policy and political issues develop rapidly, and organizing shareholder votes would sap a  significant amount of time and resources.

Given the delay between the time a corporation decides to make a political expenditure and the time the ads would actually be aired, it is unlikely that this law will survive judicial review.

“In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court determined that the government cannot place unreasonable hurdles on the speech of advocacy groups and companies,” said CCP President Sean Parnell. “New York lawmakers shouldn’t waste taxpayer’s time and money by passing a law that a court would likely strike down.”

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

Conservative try to halt public funding of court race

Filed Under: In the News

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