By Megan R. WilsonIn its amicus brief to the high court, the center said that, by upholding a standard of using a person’s campaign donations to infer bribery, the ruling threatened to have a “chilling effect” on free speech rights.“Lobbyists and other citizens who may hope to influence public policy through campaign contributions will be reluctant to exercise that First Amendment right for fear that their lawful conduct may later be used as evidence that they intended to influence public officials unlawfully,” wrote Allen Dickerson, the nonprofit’s legal director, and the organization’s counsel, John D. Cline.
By Ed KrayewskiA 2008 documentary from Fox News, “Porked: Earmarks for Profit” provided several examples of this: congressmen like former speaker Dennis Hastert and Democrat Paul Kanjorski earmarked millions in taxpayer money that benefited not the project of any corporation or corporate donor, but their own personal coffers. The push to limit free speech by restricting campaign donations is an easy out for Washington’s politicians, as it may make it harder for Americans to participate in the political process but does nothing to curb the power of Washington’s politicians to spend the people’s money on their own personal financial enrichment. Corporate money is an easy scapegoat for politicians looking to divert responsibility for political corruption from themselves, where it actually belongs. The solution, then, to corruption in politics is to cut government spending, not your spending on politics.
By Matt NeseFor one, it ignores that more political spending is disclosed now than at any point in American history. It ignores that all candidates, parties, PACs, and Super PACS disclose all contributors above extremely de minimis amounts ($200, in most cases).Further, it ignores the total amount of spending in federal races which, according to the FEC, was $7.3 billion. Or, rather, seven thousand three hundred million. $311 million turns ought to be just about five percent of total spending on federal elections.The report asserts that the “surge in spending” of tax-exempt entities “is primarily due to the activities of a relatively small number of politically active organizations—twenty-eight in all.” Sounds ominous.
By Tom SwansonWhile Citizens United did affect the volume, mode, and source of spending and advertising, none of these changes has obvious normative implications. Corporations largely avoided the political arena, neither Republicans nor Democrats enjoyed a significant advantage in advertising, and foreign nationals remained on the sidelines. While Citizens United seems to have led to more spending and greater advertising by Political Action Committees, this increase did not come from disproportionately corporate sources or have an inordinately determinative effect on elections.
By Bob BauerWhat to do about super PACs? Joel Gora, no admirer of campaign finance restrictions, argues that we should defend them. Joel Gora, Free Speech, Fair Elections, and Campaign Finance Laws: Can They Co-Exist? Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 346 (2013). If they have come to typify the problems with money in politics, Gora contends, it is because we fail to appreciate their contribution to free speech, or their origins in long-standing independent expenditure jurisprudence. He adds: they didn’t have the impact on the outcome that their critics widely feared. In other words, super PACs are good things, not bad things.This is a recurring feature of the campaign finance debate: the one practice or development in a period of time that is taken to represent, and dramatizes, the failure of the entire “system.” Once this was the simple, every-day PAC, now it is the super PACs; once it was political party soft money spent in coordination with candidates, and now it is unlimited independent expenditures by non-party organizations. Wealthy Fortune 500 corporations were the worry of those who were agitated by PACs. Now wealthy individuals funding super PACs are more the centers of attention.
Lobbying and Ethics
By JOHN BRESNAHAN“I take the accusations of perjury very seriously, [and] I formally ask the committee to request that Mr. Meggesto or his employer present evidence of false statements made under oath. Absent evidence or proof, I request a formal apology to Chairman Norris,” Grijalva said in his letter to Hastings and DeFazio. “Organizations with business before Congress must conduct themselves in a professional manner and understand that slander — no matter the means of communication — will not be tolerated.”
By Matea GoldIn a letter Thursday to Republican leaders of the House Administration Committee, FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub indicated that she was inclined to delay the matter until the Senate confirmed Ann Ravel and Lee Goodman, who were recently nominated to the FEC by President Obama.“In my view, it would be highly inappropriate for the Commission to take precipitous action on a matter of this importance without giving our new colleagues the opportunity to participate,” wrote Weintraub, who added that she was also concerned that the six-member panel is currently short one Democratic commissioner.
By Matea GoldIn light of the court’s decision, the election commission said that same-sex spouses can now make a single campaign contribution from a joint bank account if only one spouse has earned the income, as opposite-sex spouses are permitted to do. The commissioners also concluded that gay federal candidates who are legally married can use assets they jointly own with their spouses in their campaigns, and that same-sex spouses are considered family members of gay candidates for purposes of campaign finance rules.
By Howard FischerPHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court refused Tuesday to step into the fight over whether legislators broke the law by sharply increasing how much candidates can take from private donors and special interests.In a brief order, the justices rejected a bid by challengers to immediately take up the issue. They gave no reason for the ruling.