Daily Media Links 8/29: Cutting the price tag off free speech, de Blasio’s Woes, and more…

In the News

Washington Times: Cutting the price tag off free speech
By Eric Wang
Why this disparity in the law’s regulation of political speech? The answer lies in the campaign finance laws, which exempt media corporations from most of the rules that apply to everyone else’s political activities. Instead of imposing more restraints on the media, however, or going to the opposite extreme by subsidizing marginalized speakers, what we need is simply to give everyone the same legal rights to unfettered free speech.
The Supreme Court took the first step with its Citizens United decision, for which it was subject to endless derision, demagoguery and distortions. The court said simply that private citizens may organize themselves in whatever form they wish, and need not buy a media outlet in order to enjoy the same rights as “the press.” In fact, Citizens United was a grass-roots nonprofit that simply wanted to make a documentary about Mrs. Clinton.


de Blasio’s Woes 
By Joe Trotter
After all his talk about creating burdensome new regulations on political activity, as a NYC mayoral candidate, de Blasio seems to have trouble keeping up with the rules governing his own activities.  
First it was just fundraising scheme that was a little too cute for NYC’s Campaign Finance Board.  Now de Blasio’s campaign has, allegedly, moved on to accepting heavy discounts for fundraising events from felons.  

Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Politico: A scandal in plain sight  


The legal principle is called “donor intent.” It’s a very straightforward concept. When I make a contribution to a candidate’s campaign for office, I intend for those dollars to be used for ordinary and necessary expenses related to the campaign for that office and that campaign alone. My contribution isn’t intended to allow the candidate to hire his wife or mistress as a “campaign consultant.” It’s not meant to be used for a campaign for some other office down the road. I don’t want my contribution to be siphoned off to some other candidate or to pay off the campaign debt of some other political crony. And I most definitely don’t want my campaign contribution used as a criminal defense fund in a political corruption trial.
So what should happen with my leftover money? Any funds remaining in the campaign coffers after the election should be refunded to contributors on a pro rata basis or donated to the candidate’s favorite charity (other than himself). The common practice of rolling over the campaign fund into a reelection campaign or a campaign for higher office should be strictly prohibited.

State and Local

Arkansas –– AP: Lawmakers plan refresher course on ethics 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Arkansas House and Senate leaders say lawmakers will meet for a refresher course on the state’s ethics laws after a state senator resigned over his campaign spending money on clothes, home theater equipment and other personal items.
Senate and House leaders said Tuesday they’re planning to hold a seminar on ethics and campaign finance laws on Sept. 26. The meeting is aimed at answering lawmaker’s questions about state ethics rules and other issues.
Massachusetts –– Boston Globe: AG sues Mayor William Lantigua over donations
By Travis Andersen
The suit is the latest round of trouble for Lantigua, who has been dogged by controversy. Among the latest allegations are that the defendants accepted thousands of dollars in potentially illegal cash and corporate contributions, kept shoddy records, and had public employees solicit and accept donations in violation of state law.
Officials are asking a judge to fine Lantigua and compel him to forfeit contributions that may not have been properly recorded or were illegal, among other sanctions, Coakley’s office said in a statement.

Maryland –– Delmarva Now: Campaign finance: Behind scenes of elections 

By Jennifer Shutt
SALISBURY — Each year and four times during election years, Maryland Board of Elections staff members examine the fundraising and spending habits of Maryland’s politicians.
Looking for discrepancies and campaign finance law violations, its auditors are tasked with questioning some of the most powerful politicians in the state.
New York –– Epoch Times: Councilmembers Seek to Limit Corporate Money in City Elections 
By Kristen Meriwether
NEW YORK—With the campaign season in high gear many New Yorkers are seeing a huge uptick in campaign mailers. Those on the receiving end of the glossy print ads often assume they come from the candidates themselves, but in some cases they are actually paid for by Super PACs.
With so much money being poured in from independent groups this election cycle, Council member Brad Lander wants to see changes so New Yorkers won’t need to wade through confusing messages next election season.
Virginia –– Washington Post: Web site backing McDonnell seeks funds for his legal costs
By Laura Vozzella
Supporters of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell launched a Web site with a testimonial from Virginia’s longest-serving legislator on Monday in a bid to raise money for the governor’s mounting legal bills.
Retiring Del. Lacey E. Putney (I-Bedford) e-mailed a letter that was tantamount to a political fundraising pitch on behalf of the term-limited Republican’s legal defense fund. The e-mail directed recipients to a newly created Web site for the “Restoration Fund.”

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