Make no mistake: This is a direct assault on the freedoms of political speech that have been the birthright for every American since the Constitution was ratified.But since when has the Constitution stopped those seeking to regulate political speech?As Robert Mutch points out in his liberal history of campaign finance reform, “Buying The Vote,” the debate over regulating political speech remains, as it has always been, “between egalitarian and inegalitarian visions of democracy.”
EditorialIt’s only a matter of time before this arm of the federal government is weaponized again. This time, conservatives were the victims Who will be skewered next when partisan hacks rear their ugly heads and use another agency as a sword?Last week’s interpretation of existing law essentially means the IRS can go unpunished for illegally targeting American taxpayers. Obviously, the law needs to be changed. Now.A good start would be Section 6103 of the U.S. Tax Code, which allows taxpayers to sue the IRS in tax-exempt application disputes but provides no legal remedies. The code should be amended to outright ban the improper acquisition of taxpayer information and subject any individual IRS employees who harm taxpayers through unconstitutional, partisan or biased actions to damages.
By Lachlan MarkayThe head of a liberal activist group recently scrubbed its political transparency initiative’s website of all information about a secretive network of left-wing donors that supports the group.The Center for Media and Democracy is one of 180 groups supported by the Democracy Alliance. However, visitors to CMD’s SourceWatch website—which claims to work “to increase public scrutiny and public awareness of the people and companies shaping public policy”—will not find any information about the Alliance.CMD executive director Lisa Graves deleted the entire SourceWatch page on the Democracy Alliance, according to edit logs on the website.
By Maggie Haberman and Edward-Isaac DovereOrganizing for Action is getting the jump on a post-midterms shake-up, with staff changes and the beginning of a reconstituting that will begin President Barack Obama’s shift toward thinking about his role after leaving office.Jon Carson, the former Obama aide who had been running the group since shortly after its creation last year, is stepping down. He’ll join former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as a co-chair of OFA.OFA is winding down its advocacy and plans to become part of the Obama library and foundation after Obama leaves office, according to sources.
By Derek WillisBy putting the four candidates on an ideological range, the experiment also raised the ire of Montana officials, who expressed concern about the injection of partisanship into an officially nonpartisan race. “For a university to join in the flood of outside groups coming into Montana is not doing a service to our democracy,” said Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, in a telephone interview. He said the experiment was done “to influence voters” and described the mailer’s language as “the kind of stuff I get from the Montana Republican Party or Democratic Party.”The use of the state seal also upset officials because it cannot be used on campaign literature. Groups wishing to use it must obtain the permission of the Secretary of State. Montana officials have begun an investigation into the mailers’ display of the official seal. Montana’s commissioner of political practices, Jonathan Motl, has asked Stanford and Dartmouth to disavow the mailers.Story continues:Senator Tester also said he would examine if any federal money had been used to pay for the study.
BY Eric Whitney“Given that Montana had, in 2008, 2010 and 2012, three consecutive election cycles when a particular corporate entity, Western States/American Tradition Partnership, basically ignored our campaign practice laws and carried out campaign activities,” Motl says, “we need something from these two universities, that the universities recognize the inappropriateness of that mailing, and talk directly to the people of Montana, the 100,000 people that they sent that mailer to.”Motl says he’s in ongoing contact with Stanford, and that voters will receive some kind of communication, probably another mailer, before the election, explaining what happened. He says that his office will send that on it’s own if it has to, but he’s hoping both universities will participate in that communication.
By Brent ScherIt is the very billionaires who decried the 2010 Citizens United case who are now “taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling,” writes the group.
By Rebecca Ballhaus, Amy Harder and Brody Mullins
In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators.Political-action committees created by businesses had given 61% of their donations in those races to Democrats this election cycle through June. That reversed in the closing months of the campaign, with only 42% going to Democrats and 58% to Republicans in the July-to-September quarter, a Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows.
By Deirdre ShesgreenThe Ohio Elections Commission can’t crack down on Tweets — even if those 140-character messages include false political information, a Cincinnati federal judge ruled on Monday.The decision by Judge Michael Barrett, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, bars the Ohio Elections Commission from enforcing the state’s false claims statute. That law bans political lies in campaigns, and it’s been the subject of multiple legal battles in recent years.At the center of this fight: a series of 140-character messages posted on Twitter in 2011 by a Cincinnati anti-tax group, COAST, which urged support for a charter amendment that would have blocked the streetcar project. COAST said the streetcar was diverting money from the city’s fire department, causing services to be reduced.
By Fredreka Schouten and Christopher SchnaarsLiberal environmentalist Tom Steyer dominates the field, having pumped more than $73 million into these amped-up political action committees. Most of his money has flowed to NextGen Climate Action, the super PAC the California billionaire created to make climate change a top priority in several key Senate and gubernatorial races.Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made gun control a top cause, is No. 2 at $20 million, nearly 65% of which has gone to the super PAC he created, Independence USA.