Calendar reading skills vs. Common Cause

The campaign finance ‘reform’ group Common Cause has been waging a fierce crusade against wealthy libertarian donors Charles and David Koch and their supposed involvement in and benefit from the Citizens United decision.  The anti-Koch campaign includes an effort to ferret out supposed links between the brothers and various other individuals and organizations, which perhaps most closely resembles a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon gone seriously awry.

As might be expected in such a witch hunt, facts tend to get overlooked and ignored. Just today, in a blog post promoting the efforts of Common Cause to funnel even more tax dollars into the campaigns of politicians in Los Angeles, they make the following claim:

Keep special interests at bay in Los Angeles

We know Citizens United has unleashed a torrent of undisclosed corporate and union spending at the federal level.  It overturned a century of laws and decades of legal precedent.  Common Cause has decided to do something about it.

We filed a complaint with the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of Justices Thomas and Scalia for attending a strategy session hosted by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the same time the Court was considering the case of Citizens United v. FEC in 2008.

The most obvious fact that Common Cause ignores is that the Tillman Act, the century-old law referred to here, is still alive and kicking, untouched by Citizens United. But I’m so used to this misrepresentation of the law by ‘reformers’ that I barely even notice it anymore.

More importantly is that Common Cause is simply wrong when they claim that Justices Scalia and Thomas attended Koch-hosted events “at the same time the Court was considering the case of Citizens United v. FEC in 2008,” as anyone even moderately familiar with the Gregorian Calendar could tell them.

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

‘Clean Elections’ candidates in Maine soiled by scandal

One of the things campaign finance ‘reform’ advocates claim about so-called ‘clean elections,’ programs that provide tax dollars to candidates for office, is that it will boost confidence in government and elected officials. Apparently, the ability to magically deem some candidates and officeholders ‘clean’ will erase any lingering doubt citizens may have about the honesty of their representatives.

This dubious theory is likely to take a hit in Maine, where a scandal is growing over a home weatherization program  known as the Maine Green Energy Alliance (MGEA) and funded with 2009 federal stimulus dollars. From the Pine Tree Watchdog:

Energy group funded via state hired Democratic legislators, activists, donors

The Maine Green Energy Alliance… announced it was returning the balance of its $1.1 million government contract to promote home retrofits after it had fallen well behind its goals…

… an examination of the Hallowell-based group shows that of its 13-member staff, seven have or had strong connections to the Democratic Party, including being members of the Legislature.

This finding comes a week after the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting revealed that the alliance got its grant with the help of former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci and was founded by Baldacci’s former counsel, also a well-connected Democrat.

The seven staff members are:

* Steve Butterfield, who was a Democratic House member representing Bangor and running for re-election when he was hired in August 2010 as a process facilitator. He was not re-elected.

* Jim Martin, who was a Democratic House member representing Orono and running for re-election when he was hired as a process facilitator. He was not re-elected.

* Shelby Wright, who was a Democratic candidate for the House from Hampden when she was hired in July 2010 to be a community outreach coordinator. She lost the election.

* Melissa Walsh Innes, a Democratic House member from Yarmouth, won election to a second term in the House in November and was hired as community outreach coordinator in January…

Any guesses on how many of these candidates for legislature are ‘clean elections’ candidates?

Filed Under: Blog, Maine

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