Daily Media Links 5/29: Campaign Finance Speed Trap, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler: From outsider to protector of the presidency, and more…

Campaign Finance Speed Trap
By Eric Wang
With a 556-horsepower supercharged V8, Mr. Augurson’s CTS-V is the pride of Motown – a “Standard of the World,” as its manufacturer Cadillac likes to say. So why might the Federal Election Commission be interested in Mr.Augurson’s stunning chrome Caddy?
Maybe it has something to do with what’s draped around that marvelous 6.2 liters of fire-breathing Detroit iron. No, I’m not talking about that sleek and sensually creased sheet metal. I’m talking about that vinyl wrap with the “Forward” Obama campaign slogan, complete with the “O” campaign logo and likeness of the president. But not so complete, because it lacked the disclaimer mandated by federal election law.
Mr. Augurson’s “Obamamobile,” which he drove around during last year’s campaign season, is one example of how the ridiculous laws for “independent expenditures” (IE) are a speed trap for well-meaning and public-spirited citizens. The law obligated him to file an IE report with the FEC if he spent just $250, but there’s no record he did so.
Independent Groups
Soft Money Hard Law: The IRS and “Bright Lines”
By Bob Bauer
One short evaluation of the Project cannot do justice to its complexity. This is already a problem: turning over a complex standard to the IRS for implementation puts the agency in an impossible position. Complexity means hard judgments; the judgments are about sensitive political matters; and the recent controversy demonstrates, if anything, that the IRS is at risk when making judgments of this nature. 

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

Washington Post: White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler: From outsider to protector of the presidency 
By Philip Rucker and Juliet Eilperin
Her role has made her office the focus of controversy in recent weeks over the White House’s handling of three incidents: the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, the administration’s response to the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records in leak investigations.
It was Ruemmler’s decision, for example,not to tell Obama about the findings of the inspector general’s audit of the IRS and to resist congressional demands to release drafts of talking points on last fall’s Benghazi attack on the grounds that it would violate executive privilege.
In the case of the IRS, Ruemmler — who got her first experience navigating scandal as a young associate in the White House counsel’s office in the final year of Bill Clinton’s presidency — was shielding Obama from even the appearance of trying to influence the investigation, officials said.
Washington Post: Did I get the money-and-politics debate all wrong? 
By Ezra Klein
This is, I think, my primary beef with the money-in-politics community: It can often make it seem as if money is the only problem in politics, and all other problems are simply its poisoned fruit. I think the evidence that polarization is the consequence of the realignment of conservative southern Democrats into the Republican Party and liberal northern Republicans into the Democratic Party is a whole lot stronger than the evidence that money drove the changes.
AP: GOP Dilemma: Draw New Voters Without Irking Base 
The Republican Party, having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, confronts a dilemma that’s easier to describe than to solve: How can it broaden its appeal to up-for-grabs voters without alienating its conservative base?  
There’s no consensus yet on how to do it. With the next election three years away, Republicans are tiptoeing around policy changes even as they size up potential candidates who range from tea party heroes to pragmatic governors in Republican- and Democratic-leaning states.
State and Local
New York –– Legislative Gazette: 9 out of 10 NY’ers say more arrests of pols coming soon 
By Matthew Dondiego
In the aftermath of the recent corruption scandals that rocked state politics, more than two-thirds of voters agree that state government is becoming more dysfunctional every day, according to a recent poll.  
Conducted by the Siena Research Institute, a poll released last week indicates that voters agree — by a margin of 50-36 percent — with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s claim that New York state government is working again. However, when the question was posed to voters in the context of recent corruption charges against lawmakers, only 26 percent of voters say government is working effectively compared to 67 percent of voters who say state government is becoming more dysfunctional every day.  
Texas –– National Review: Thank You, Governor Perry 
By  Ammon Simon
“Freedom of association and freedom of speech are two of our most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. My fear is that SB 346 would have a chilling effect on both of those rights in our democratic political process. While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws, no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone’s participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.”
“At a time when our federal government is assaulting the rights of Americans by using the tools of government to squelch dissent it is unconscionable to expose more Texans to the risk of such harassment, regardless of political, organizational or party affiliation. I therefore veto SB 346.”

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