Daily Media Links 8/25: Clear distortions, Durbin’s intimidation tactics, and more…

In the News

Bangor Daily News (LTE): Clear distortions
By Luke Wachob
Sam Jenkins’ Aug. 10 BDN letter to the editor “Clean Distortions,” stated that under Maine’s Clean Elections program, the number of women legislators has increased 150 percent. If true, this claim would be a striking piece of evidence that privately funded campaigns have seriously sexist effects and that taxpayer-funded campaigns can open new opportunities for women.
However, this claim is not true. It’s outrageously false.
In the last legislature before Clean Elections, Maine had 51 female legislators. Today, there are 54. That’s an increase of 5.9 percent, not 150 percent.
 
Independent Groups

Chicago Tribune: Durbin’s intimidation tactics
State Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Iowa, first vice chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council.  
Are we upholding the ideals of the Constitution if we tolerate the liberal senator using his position to stifle the speech of a free-market nonprofit he disagrees with? What if a conservative, pro-free-market state legislator used similar tactics to intimidate supporters of Common Cause, the Center for American Progress or the Progressive States Network, all liberal groups aligned against ALEC? These actions are not welcome in a free society.
Whether you agree or disagree with ALEC policies, or the policies of any liberal or conservative group, the Constitution protects the right of members of these groups to assemble and discuss ideas. The implications of Durbin’s probing letter will be felt by every individual, organization and company in the future. In the context of the IRS scandal and other government intrusions, Durbin’s recent actions, whether politically driven, grossly negligent, or both, draw America perilously close to a day where freedom of speech will no longer exist without fear of reprisal.
Moreover, double standards are troubling things. The senator accuses ALEC of “shopping (policy) to legislators from around the country,” but he shops his own legislation to members of other state policy organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures. He accuses legislators who belong to ALEC of introducing legislation based on corporate interests, but he once earmarked funds for a group represented by his wife’s lobbying firm. He calls for ALEC to repeal laws, but ignores the fact that legislators make laws, not nonprofits.
 
Washington Times: The other IRS scandal

By Terrence Scanlon
While Americans rightly have been appalled by the ugly details of the Internal Revenue Service crackdown on conservative groups, another scandal much longer in the making has been festering.
Left-wing nonprofits such as ACORN’s successor groups are flouting federal law by spending tax-exempt funds for partisan political activities, using “fiscal sponsorship” to shift those funds through a shell game of various activist groups. That’s the finding of Cause of Action, a nonpartisan good-government group, in its new report, “Conprofit: How the IRS‘ Failed Enforcement Allows Nonprofit Money Laundering.”
 
Washington Times: Targeting the Tea Party
By Ed Feulner
The Coalition for Life of Iowa got this request: “Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3). … Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your group spends on prayer groups as compared with other activities of the organization.” At least they said “please.”   

Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties
 
US News: A Glaring Conflict of Interest 
By PETER ROFF
According to the Sunlight Foundation, Sussman has found ways to “bankroll” Pingree’s political efforts, going so far as to buy “a controlling interest in the local papers that cover her district.” What attracts him to Pingree may be her liberal stance on campaign finance reform, gun control, women’s issues and the environment. Or it may be that he finds it useful to back her political career simply because he is married to her.
Either way, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Portland Press Herald, one of the newspapers in which he has an interest, is doing all it can to bring down conservative Republican Gov. Paul LePage – against whom Pingree may still run in 2014 despite having already said she would not — by tilting its coverage to make the otherwise plain-speaking chief executive look bad.

USA Today: Potential White House contenders tap PACs for early boost 
Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars
WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican weighing a presidential bid, this year used his leadership PAC to spend more on consultants than he donated to other federal candidates, Federal Election Commission filings show.
Rubio’s Reclaim America political action committee spent nearly $1 million between Jan. 1 and June 30. It made a single donation to a federal candidate or party in that time: $15,000 in March to National Republican Senatorial Committee. Another $30,000 went to the Senate Conservatives Action, a super PAC run by allies of former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint.

State and Local

Virginia –– NY Times: McAuliffe Gets $1.2 Million Donation From ‘Super PAC’ 

By DEREK WILLIS 
The Democratic Governors Association’s “super PAC” has given $1.2 million to the party’s nominee for governor of Virginia, one of the larger single political donations in recent history.
Because the candidate, Terry McAuliffe, is running for a state office, federal restrictions that prevent super PACs from contributing directly to Congressional or presidential campaigns do not apply. Virginia is also one of the few states that do not limit contributions to candidates for state office.
 

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