Daily Media Links 3/27: The corporate ‘predator state’, Nevada Bill Would Burden Nonprofit Groups’ Political Speech Rights, and more…

Happy Birthday SpeechNow: Thanks for Trusting Us 
By Zac Morgan
SpeechNow came about because of a fundamental unfairness in the Federal campaign finance laws that favored the speech of wealthy single individuals over groups of middle-class activists. 
The courts have long recognized that political speech rights are “at the heart” of the First Amendment. After all, freedom of speech means very little if you cannot use your voice to criticize those in power. The legislatures are only allowed to regulate political speech very narrowly and with great care not to chill the speech of others.  
As a result, political speech may only be limited in order to fight corruption or the appearance of corruption. Specifically, the courts have held that “corruption” means quid pro quo…money exchanged for a political favor. So long as a single person never coordinates with a candidate or officeholder and never substantially benefits from running the ad, he or she is free to do so. That’s how T. Boone Pickens was able to flood the airwaves with millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements backing his so-called “Pickens Plan” for energy independence during the 2008 election—well before the rise of the super PAC. Had he run similar ads encouraging people to vote for Pickens Plan backers, he could have just as easily done so.  
Nevada Bill Would Burden Nonprofit Groups’ Political Speech Rights 
By Sarah Lee
“Senate Bill 246 inappropriately ignores decades of jurisprudence regarding the need for a ‘major purpose’ test for organizational registration and reporting,” Nese writes. It further “places an unreasonable and legally-suspect burden on many organizations, and may subject donors to harassment. As a result, many provisions in this legislation raise serious legal concerns, and the bill should be reconsidered and revised.”  
Independent Groups
Slate: In Which Stephen Colbert Dedicates a Campaign Finance Group’s Conference Room With Secret Cash 
By David Weigel
“I just want to say that all of you at the CLC have dedicated your time and talent to ensure that our nation’s campaign finance laws are followed to the letter,” said Colbert in a taped message. “So I could not be more proud to learn that you have named this conference room in exchange for a sizable donation of untraceable cash.”  
Politico: OFA joins New York campaign finance reform fight  
By Maggie Haberman
The aim of the group is a matching funds system, which would dramatically change the state’s current, porous campaign finance system. The current limit is tens of thousands of dollars for individual donors.  
Bloomberg: Messina Putting Obama Campaign Forces to Work in States 
By Julie Bykowicz
President Barack Obama’s re- election campaign — a political powerhouse with 20 million e- mail addresses and 4 million volunteers — is setting its sights on state-level battles such as gay marriage legislation in Illinois. 

Corporate Governance 

Bloomberg: Goldman Rejects Proposal That Firm Run for Elected Office
By Michael J. Moore
A shareholder proposal that the New York-based company run for office instead of funding political campaigns was discarded, according to a letter last month from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which agreed the firm can exclude the measure from its annual meeting.

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

TPM Muckracker: Is Ex-Rep. David Rivera’s ‘Conservative Bad Girl’ Holed Up In Nicaragua? 
By Eric Lach
According to prior media reports, Alliegro served as a go-between for Rivera and an out-of-nowhere 2012 Democratic congressional primary candidate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, Justin Lamar Sternad, who initially failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in campaign expenditures. Earlier this month, Sternad pleaded guilty to the charges against him, including one count of conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions. Prosecutors said Sternad had received illegal cash contributions form co-conspirators to pay for the design, printing, and distribution of campaign flyers.

Lobbying and Ethics

Washington Post: The corporate ‘predator state’
By Katrina vanden Heuvel
But true conservatives are — or should be — offended by corporate welfare as well. Conservative economists Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales argue that it is time to “save capitalism from the capitalists,” urging conservatives to support strong measures to break up monopolies, cartels and the predatory use of political power to distort competition.  
USA Today: Ex-lawmakers go to lobbying-related jobs 
By Fredreka Schouten
Former Ohio congressman Steve LaTourette, who retired from Congress in January after 18 years in the House, cannot register as a federal lobbyist nor talk to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. But the Republican heads a new Washington lobbying branch of a Cleveland-based law firm.  
“My job is to fashion strategies and give advice,” LaTourette said.  
State and Local
Massachusetts –– Sentinel and Enterprise: Area supermarket owners fined for illegal campaign donations  
BOSTON — John Donelan and Joseph Donelan, co-owners of Donelan’s Supermarkets in Littleton, have made a $25,000 payment to the state’s general fund to resolve campaign finance violations for disguising the true source of contributions and making excess contributions, according to a March 22 disposition agreement between the Donelans and OCPF.

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