Daily Media Links 1/24: Rhode Island Governor Candidates Seeking To Curb Free Speech, CCP Welcomes External Relations Associate Kelsey Drapkin, Cruz demands special investigation of IRS, and more…

In the News

The Libertarian Republic: Rhode Island Governor Candidates Seeking To Curb Free Speech

By Joe Trotter

The “people’s pledge” is a cute trick that benefits politicians in three ways.  First, publicly rejecting the Citizens United decision gains candidates press and public goodwill.  In this case, each candidate in the Rhode Island gubernatorial race who has publicly called for the “people’s pledge” now has a Providence Journal article fawning over the move.

Second, if the “pledge” is successful, candidates benefit from the lack of large-scale independent critics.  By limiting outside voices, candidates are only beholden to responding to criticism from traditional critics, such as the press and other candidate, rather than the positions taken by concerned citizen groups.  Simply put, the “people’s pledge” is a non-legally binding attempt to negate the constitutionally protected associational rights of American voters.

Third, if the “pledge” is unsuccessful, the candidates who signed the pledge then have a new platform from which to attack their opponents.  Although the truth is that candidates who reject the pledge are recognizing the important role independent voices play in a free democracy, their opponents now have a vehicle with which to tar the rejecting candidate as tools of special interests.

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CCP Welcomes External Relations Associate Kelsey Drapkin

By Matt Nese

The Center for Competitive Politics is pleased to welcome Kelsey Drapkin to our team as an External Relations Associate.

Kelsey spent the past two summers interning for The Blaze in Dallas, Texas, gaining experience with deadline research and writing as well as the unpredictable nature of live television and radio. She is currently a junior political economics major with a psychology and journalism double minor at Hillsdale College in Michigan. While spending the majority of her time studying at Hillsdale, Kelsey writes for the college newspaper, The Collegian, is the president of a club she helped found called Hillsdale Chavarah, works as a Student Ambassador, and sings in two choirs.

In her time at Hillsdale, Kelsey has grown passionate about the principles upon which our country was founded. Kelsey sees the guarantee of free speech, assembly, and petition found in the First Amendment as fundamental to having a free country.

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McCutcheon Decision — When? 

By David Keating

Of the eleven cases argued last October, seven have been resolved, though no major cases have been decided during this term.

If it takes as long as Citizens United, that would be 134 days, or Wednesday, February 19.

If it takes as long as the average decision for cases argued in October 2012, that would be 129 days, or Friday, February 14.  But the Court usually issues opinions earlier in the week, so maybe we could learn the outcome February 12.

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Independent Groups

Wall Street Journal: New Study Counters Assumptions About Impact of Citizens United

By Jacob Gershman

“By comparing spending in states affected by the decision to spending in states that were not affected by the decision, we provide the first systematic estimates of the effect of Citizens United on independent political spending,” the professors write.

In addition to their findings about larger expenditures, the professors also observed that spending in the lowest percentiles — meaning individual amounts in the hundreds or less — didn’t change in 2010. “We don’t see these giant big-ticket expenditures drowning everybody out,” Mr. Spencer told Law Blog.

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Politico: Hillary Clinton foes file FEC complaint  


At issue, according to Stop Hillary lawyer Dan Backer, is whether Clinton is tacitly supporting a committee that’s aiming to “draft” her for president.

“Ready for Hillary is in the business of trying to get Hillary Clinton to run for office — essentially to draft her for office. And that’s their right to do so, provided the object of their draft — Hillary — isn’t behind it or helping them, because then it stops being a draft committee and becomes an authorized campaign committee,” he said in a statement, going on to suggest that she and the committee are in violation of campaign finance law.

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The Hill: Cruz demands special investigation of IRS 

By Ramsey Cox

Cruz wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday, saying the administration has failed to keep its promise of investigating and holding people accountable for the targeting.

“Two hundred fifty-three days have passed since both you and President Obama professed outrage at the IRS’s wrongful conduct,” Cruz wrote. “To date, no one has been indicted.”

Cruz said instead the administration appointed a “partisan, Democrat donor” to lead the Department of Justice’s probe into the IRS, which has yielded no criminal convictions.

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The United States Attorney’s Office (Southern District of New York): Former College President Indicted In Manhattan Federal Court For Campaign Finance Fraud

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today an Indictment charging DINESH D’SOUZA with violating the federal campaign finance laws by making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others and causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission in connection with those contributions. D’SOUZA is expected to be presented and arraigned tomorrow in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As we have long said, this Office and the FBI take a zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process. If, as alleged, the defendant directed others to make contributions to a Senate campaign and reimbursed them, that is a serious violation of federal campaign finance laws.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos stated: “Trying to influence elections through bogus campaign contributions is a serious crime. Today, Mr. D’Souza finds himself on the wrong side of the law. The Federal Election Campaign Act was written to limit the influence of money in elections; the FBI is fiercely committed to enforcing those laws to maintain the integrity of our democratic process.”

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State and Local

Colorado –– Ballot Access: Tenth Circuit Invalidates Colorado Law That Lets Contributors Give Twice as Much Money to a Major Party Candidate than to Anyone Else

By Richard Winger

On January 23, the Tenth Circuit overturned a Colorado campaign finance law that lets contributors give $400 to a candidate for the legislature who is nominated in a primary, but only $200 to a candidate who is nominated in a minor party convention, or with the independent candidate petition procedure, or who is a write-in candidate. The decision is Riddle v Hickenlooper, 13-1108, and is written by Judge Robert Bacharach, an Obama appointee, and co-signed by Judge Neil Gorsuch, a Bush Jr. appointee, and Bobby Baldock, a Reagan appointee.

The decision overturns the U.S. District Court decision, which had upheld the law. Although all three Tenth Circuit judges agree, Judge Gorsuch wrote separately to discuss the appropriate level of scrutiny. The basis for the decision is equal protection. It is very rare for minor parties, independent candidates, and their supporters, to win a constitutional election law case on equal protection grounds; most laws striking down ballot access restrictions and other laws that injure minor parties and independents are won on First Amendment grounds.

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New Mexico –– Albuquerque Journal of Politics: Courts limit reach of NM campaign finance law 

By Thomas Cole

Over the past several years, federal courts have narrowed which politically active groups must disclose donors to the state and which political committees are subject to contribution limits.

However, the state Campaign Reporting Act hasn’t been brought up to date to reflect the court decisions.

The CRA – as it is known in political circles – is the state law that limits contributions to candidates and political committees and restricts how donations can be spent.

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