SACRAMENTO, Calif. – This afternoon a federal court in Sacramento will hear arguments in a First Amendment case that challenges an effort by California Attorney General Kamala Harris to force nonprofit groups to turn over confidential donor records to the state.Harris is demanding that nonprofit groups — including the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) — turn over documents that list the names and addresses of contributors. If CCP fails to comply, the state has threatened to ban the group from asking Californians for financial support for its work. While there are other laws concerning campaign finance reporting requirements, CCP’s lawsuit does not challenge those laws. The group’s tax status does not allow it to advocate for candidates and it doesn’t take stands on ballot questions.“Federal tax law and Supreme Court precedent say that California has no right to demand this information,” said David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics. “But that hasn’t stopped Attorney General Kamala Harris from trampling all over the First Amendment and the right to privacy.
By Patrick Howley“The release of new documents underscores the political nature of IRS Tea Party targeting and the extent to which supposed apolitical officials took direction from elected Democrats,” Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement. “These e-mails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.”“Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said Oversight Economic Growth subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan.“Not only do these e-mails further prove the coordination among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Justice Department and committee Democrats to target conservatives, they also show that had our committee not requested the Inspector General’s investigation when we did, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped up criminal charges against Tea Party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights,” Jordan said.
By J. Christian AdamsYesterday was a significant day in the IRS abuse scandal. The scandal evolved from being about pesky delays in IRS exemption applications to a government conniving with outside interests to put political opponents in prison.Emails obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act reveal Lois Lerner cooking up plans with Justice Department officials to talk about ways to criminally charge conservative groups that are insufficiently quiet.Larry Noble, a law professor now with the Soros-funded Campaign Legal Center, was cited in the emails as someone agitating to jail conservatives who “falsely” report on IRS forms that they are not engaged in political speech. Lerner talked about setting up meetings with Justice Department election lawyers who wanted to talk about making Noble’s dreams a reality — this after Senator Sheldon Whitehouse raised the idea of criminal charges for conservatives who are not sufficiently quiet, charges that they falsely completed an IRS tax exemption form.
By Neil Reiff & Don McGahnWe’re now five election cycles removed from the passage of McCain-Feingold, which drastically altered the landscape of campaign finance law and has been at the center of countless court challenges over the past decade. It’s more than enough time to properly assess the long-term impacts of the law and judge how its major provisions have fared through the years.Since the 2004 election cycle, when McCain-Feingold took effect, we’ve had a front row seat, representing candidates, party committees and third party groups grappling with the ever-changing campaign finance landscape. So from the perspective of a Democratic campaign finance attorney and a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, what follows is a bipartisan perspective on the law—the good, the bad and the ugly.Let’s flash back to 2002. A Democrat-controlled Congress sought to address several issues it believed to be destroying American politics. Party committees were supposedly running amok. Spending by “unregulated” outside groups, which were running issue ads with unregulated funds, was rising. And the effects of the 1996 election scandals were still being felt —highlighting fundraising practices in both parties, as well as troubling attempts by foreign donors to funnel money into American elections.
Lee Goodman talked about how the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision could affect the Federal Election Commission. Topics included transparency in campaign finance, and the FEC’s regulatory structure and agency leadership.
By Bob BauerHere are three recent lines of argument about campaign finance, two of them in response to McCutcheon and one of them about the escalating conflict between the FEC Commissioners. Each is interesting in its own way; they are also constituent parts of the basic, most frequently heard defense of the Watergate-era regulatory program.
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD and RUSS BUETTNERAs Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for president in 2008, one of her most enthusiastic financial supporters was Sant Singh Chatwal, an Indian-American hotel and restaurant owner, whose relationship with the Clintons dated back years.Mr. Chatwal was a regular at Clinton campaign events in New York, a genial and gregarious presence in his red turban. He had directed more than $200,000 through his businesses to her 2000 Senate campaign, when unregulated “soft-money” donations were still permissible.
By John DickersonThe issue last week was the pay gap between men and women. The president issued executive orders to address the disparity, and Democrats pushed legislation in Congress. In making the case, the president and White House advisers used a figure they knew to be imprecise and controversial—a Census Bureau statistic that the median wages of working women in America are 77 percent of median wages earned by men.Under this approach, a president wants the fact-checkers to call him out (again and again) because that hubbub keeps the issue in the news, which is good for promoting the issue to the public. It is the political equivalent of “there is no such thing as bad publicity” or the quote attributed to Mae West (and others): “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” The tactic represents one more step in the embrace of cynicism that has characterized President Obama’s journey in office.