Back to subsidizing politics with taxes…

With the Arizona Free Enterprise decision in the rearview mirror, “reformers” are quick to find new ways to implement the incredibly poor idea of using money taken from taxes to pay for political campaigns.  

Naturally, one of the first comprehensive plans of action to ensure the continued flow of tax money to politicians also came from one of the most debt-ridden states in America, California.  The Center for Governmental Studies published a report entitled “Public Campaign Financing in California: A Model for 21st Century Reform,” which posits that candidates should raise a number of small donations (under $100) and then receive four times the amount in matching funds.  This is similar to a measure proposed in the Fair Elections Now Act bill that failed in Congress.

While this plan does avoid the part of Arizona’s system that was struck down by the Supreme Court in June, financing campaign on the taxpayer’s dime is still a terrible idea.


Filed Under: Blog

Reason Foundation Promotes CCP Video “What Citizens United Didn’t Say”

The Reason Foundation posted a quick hit reminder of what the 2010 Citizens United ruling means as the election season approaches. Using a video produced for CCP by Cato multimedia master Caleb Brown (click the link for video), Reason reoffers their take on why all the fretting and sweating over the scary spectre of unlimited funding of political campaigns is really much ado about nothing. They supplement the CCP spot with a video they produced (embedded video below) shortly after the decision came down in 2010.

Filed Under: Blog

Colorado Secretary of State Report Confirms Need for Simpler Campaign Finance Regs

A piece appeared yesterday in The Pueblo-Chieftan, a news source serving Southern Colorado, that gives details of an informative report released by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office that indicates small and grassroots political organizations suffer more than “well-oiled political machines” due to the complexity of campaign finance laws currently in place. How did they determine these results? Their methodology was simple: they looked at who paid the most fines due to violations of these regulations.

“Our office did a study and looked at who pays campaign finance fines, who doesn’t, who violates the law a lot, things like that,” said Secretary of State Scott Gessler. “And the bottom line is this: Volunteers and grass-roots groups are far more likely to run afoul of the law because the law is so complex. Large, big-money groups are able to hire attorneys and accountants and pay very, very few fines.”

Filed Under: Blog

Brad Smith Explains to Huffington Post Why Playing Politics is Bad for Campaign Finance Regulation

CCP founder Brad Smith was quoted in an interesting piece posted yesterday at The Huffington Post regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) decision to suspend audits on five donors to political campaigns, and one DC lawyer’s opposition to that suspension:

And on July 7, the IRS shut everything down until further notice. The five donors have never been identified.

The agency, however, had been on solid legal ground in pursuing those cases, said Marcus S. Owens, a Washington lawyer who used to head the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations. Owens said his four progressive clients are “outraged” by the IRS’s cave-in and believe that dropping the investigation was the political decision — not launching it.

Filed Under: Blog

Another threat to democracy vanquished

Today a three judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that non-resident foreigners do not have a right to make political contributions or express advocacy expenditures in U.S. elections. The horrible threat of a foreign takeover of U.S. elections now seems behind us.

Filed Under: Blog

Faith in the Federal Acquisition Process

Last week the New York Times published an editorial calling for President Obama to sign a proposed executive order that would require “federal contractors to disclose donations to the stealth campaign machines now undermining national politics.”

“Stealth campaign machine” undermining our system of government or not, President Obama’s plan unnecessarily introduces politics into the contracting process. Brad Smith weighs in on some of the problems with requiring contractors to disclose their non-profit contributions to federal contracting officers:

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

The strange case of W. Spann, LLC: Part II

The big W. Spann, LLC scandal turns into nothing, in just 48 hours.

Filed Under: Blog

Woodall’s proposed ban on campaign warchests: A losing game for freedom lovers

Representative Rob Woodall (R. Ga.) has introduced a bill that would prohibit candidates from carrying over their campaign assets from one campaign to the next. The proposal is probably unconstitutional, and also misdiagnoses the problem. In any case, persons who generally favor freedom and deregulation, such as Rep. Woodall, aren’t going to be able to win a long term game based on regulating speech.

Filed Under: Blog

Another plea for regulation…

Two days ago, a number of prominent legal academics asked the SEC to issue a new regulation on disclosure of corporate political spending.

This comes as no surprise. With the failure of the DISCLOSE Act and other attempts to accomplish this goal through legislation – that is, through democratic means –  pro-regulation groups have increasingly turned to executive action.

What is interesting is the argument these corporate law experts advance. They make several points, but let’s start with the first (substantive) one: “investors have become increasingly interested in receiving information about corporate political spending.”

My initial response is: why?


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

GOP Leaders Take Sides on National Popular Vote

GOP Leaders convened their summer meeting yesterday in Tampa, Fla., and, on the agenda, is an attempt to put Republican leaders on the record concerning the National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative, an effort that will effectively eliminate the Electoral College, an idea gaining traction in the States. The Washington Times reports:

Critics warn that a national popular vote would be a backdoor way of amending the Constitution, while shifting the center of gravity in presidential elections from the Founding Fathers’ vision of an urban-rural, large-small states balance to one with a much more urban — and likely liberal — tilt.

Essentially states, no matter what their Electoral College votes favor locally, would award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Filed Under: Blog

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