Daily Media Links 10/31: The S.E.C. and Political Spending, Wisconsin election board attorney asks federal judge to dismiss campaign coordination lawsuit, and more…

In the News

Journal Sentinel: Judge hears arguments in campaign coordination case 
By Bruce Vielmetti 
A federal judge on Thursday heard arguments about whether he should dismiss a lawsuit that contends Wisconsin campaign finance laws — as interpreted by state election officials and a prosecutor — infringe on free speech rights.
The issue is whether its legal for outside groups to coordinate with political candidates and their campaigns to influence elections.
Such activity had been the focus of a secret John Doe investigation, known as John Doe II, led be a group of district attorneys and a former federal prosecutor. It had been examining the relationships between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative groups, bull legal challenges by the groups put the brakes on the probe earlier this year
Similarly, others have filed briefs bolstering CRGA’s arguments. Arguing on their side are former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith, the Center for Competitive Politics and Wisconsin Family Action.

Read more…


 If you care about the regulation of political speech on the Internet, now is the time for the Commission to hear from you. The Vice Chair of the Commission recently demanded a total “re-examination of the Commission’s [regulatory] approach to the Internet and other emerging technologies.” Despite the Internet’s growing importance as a tool for all citizens to engage in political debate, and notwithstanding this Commission’s promise to take a “restrained regulatory approach” with respect to online political activity, the Vice Chair apparently believes the time has come to impose greater regulation on political speech over the Internet.
Citizens who wish to be heard on this issue should submit comments using one of the two options below. The deadline to comment is January 15, 2015. A public hearing will be held at the Commission on February 11, 2015, and will be streamed live online.

AP: Wisconsin election board attorney asks federal judge to dismiss campaign coordination lawsuit 
MILWAUKEE — State courts should get the first crack at deciding how Wisconsin’s campaign coordination law applies in cases involving political speech that doesn’t explicitly tell people how to vote, an attorney for the board that oversees Wisconsin elections told a federal judge Thursday.
Daniel Kelly asked U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa to dismiss a lawsuit filed Oct. 2 by the Milwaukee-based group Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates. The group has asked Randa to declare unconstitutional a law limiting coordination between third-party organizations and political candidates.
Lobbying and Ethics

NY Times: Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ 
By Eric Lipton
What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.
“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Corporate Governance
NY Times: The S.E.C. and Political Spending 
Starting in 2011, securities experts, institutional and individual investors, investor advocates and many Democratic lawmakers joined forces in a broad effort to get the S.E.C. to require public companies to disclose their political spending. In late 2012, the issue was placed on the S.E.C. agenda. But nothing happened, and, in May 2013, the newly confirmed S.E.C. chairwoman, Mary Jo White, assured Republican legislators who opposed disclosure that the S.E.C. was not working on a rule. In late 2013, the issue was removed from the agency’s agenda. Ms. White explained that the S.E.C. had to focus on a host of overdue rulemakings required by Congressional legislation passed in earlier years.
That claim may not have been credible then and is certainly not now. Over the past year, progress has remained slow on overdue rules, while other issues have been added to the agenda
State and Local

Arizona –– Arizona Republic: Judge upholds order against AG Tom Horne 
By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez,
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Thursday upheld an order by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne coordinated with an independent expenditure group in the days leading up to his 2010 bid for the office.
The long-running case contributed to Horne’s loss in the Republican primary, where he was running for re-election but was walloped by his rival Mark Brnovich.
Polk had ordered Horne and Kathleen Winn, who ran the group Business Leaders for Arizona, to return about $400,000 in donations and amend their campaign-finance reports to reflect the coordination. Horne faced a $1.2 million civil fine if he failed to follow her order.
Indiana –– Indiana Daily Student: Secretary of State candidate violates election law 
By Emily Ernsberger
The Democratic challenger to incumbent Connie Lawson was outed by the Indiana Republican Party last week for not having a financial disclaimer on postcard-sized 
campaign literature.
According to Indiana campaign finance regulations, all campaign literature must disclose who paid for it.
Publishing candidate material without a disclaimer is a felony, punishable up to $5,000, one-year imprisonment or both.

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