Daily Media Links 11/26: Ready For Hillary Faces Legal Minefield, No opponent? No problem when it comes to public campaign finance cash, and more…

In the News

LA Times: Judge to elections officials: Reveal sources of campaign spending

By Joseph Tanfani
Conservative legal organizations argue it’s wrong for the government to force groups that take controversial opinions to reveal donor names. “Some people are fine with it, but others are not,” said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which argues for fewer restrictions on campaign spending. “It will be harder to speak out.”
Read more…

 

More Soft Money Hard Law: Contribution Regulation and Its Critics
By Bob Bauer
When the Supreme Court took up the McCutcheon case, and again when it was decided, commentators suggested that the Court might be poised to reconsider the constitutional foundations of contribution regulation. The Justices had done what they needed to do to expand and solidify the right to independent spending; now they would turn their attention, in the same deregulatory spirit, to contribution limits, perhaps laying the foundation for invalidating them. McCutcheon does not by its terms really justify this fear. It did direct attention to the question of how—and not whether—contributions are regulated. And other cases percolating in the court system have begun to confront those questions.
An example is Holmes v. Federal Election Commission, — F.Supp.3d —-, 2014 WL 5316216 (D.D.C., 2014). The plaintiffs wished to support a challenger in the general election at the same level as the supporters of the incumbent. While in theory, the limits are the same for both—$2600 per election—the incumbent could collect from a donor the full amount for an uncontested primary and then combine this unspent amount with another contribution, given under the general election limit, from that same donor. The donor’s effective general election limit would be $5200. Another contributor who planned to oppose this incumbent, but did not support a candidate in the primary to select the challenger, would have only $2600 to give the winner for the general election. Not so good for the challenger; very good for the incumbent.
The District Court brushed this claim aside and found no constitutional violation. The limits were formally the same for each candidate, the Court concluded: any iniquities were a byproduct of political chance—“the vagaries of the election process”–and the contribution limits still served their anti-corruption purpose. 
 
Independent Groups
 
Free Beacon: Ready For Hillary Faces Legal Minefield  
By Alana Goodman and Elizabeth Harrington
One of Ready for Hillary’s top priorities would be transferring its carefully cultivated mailing list, an invaluable political resource, to an official Clinton campaign.
While the group can’t give the list away due to campaign finance laws, it will be allowed to sell the list to a Clinton campaign or an exploratory committee for a reasonable market price, according to Lawrence Nobel, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center and the former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. Lists can sell for several million dollars.
“They can make arrangements pretty quickly,” said Nobel. “But one of the pitfalls in all this is if she’s too involved in setting up, in getting all this stuff going [before the campaign officially launches], one could find that she has begun testing the waters before she thought she had.”
 
Brookings: Democrats and Republicans Attempt Twitter End-Run Around Campaign Finance Laws 
By Paul S. Ryan
Although FEC regulations make clear that a political party cannot provide internal polling and ad buy information to outside “independent” groups, the outside group may obtain the information “from a publicly available source.” Apparently, both parties used Twitter, a public forum, to share precisely the information covered by the regulation—information that would enable the outside groups to produce ads of great value to the parties. Whether or not such activity was legal seems to boil down to whether all of the party information used by outside groups was obtained “from a publicly available source.” Republicans’ failure to include the decoder on its Twitter page may have necessitated private communications with outside groups, a necessity the Democrats may have avoided.
 
State and Local

New Mexico –– Albuquerque Journal: No opponent? No problem when it comes to public campaign finance cash 
By Thomas Cole
Pat Lyons’ re-election this year to the state Public Regulation Commission was a breeze. He had no opposition in either the primary or general election.
Yet Lyons, a Republican and former state senator from Cuervo, near Santa Rosa, received nearly $42,000 in public financing for his can’t-miss campaign.
Lyons, who represents much of eastern New Mexico on the PRC, spent a large part of his public financing on newspaper and radio ads and to travel his vast district. Purchases included tires, brakes and a battery for a campaign truck.
 
California –– Daily Pilot: Costa Mesa coat-donation site switches after campaign-law complaint  
By Bradley Zint
“This is extremely disappointing,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for five years … no one is doing anything [political.] It’s just a box sitting in a room.”
Righeimer told the Daily Pilot on Saturday that Foley’s donation drive is tied to her sixth annual Holiday Soiree & Benefit, which he felt is deceptive in that it’s a campaign fundraiser “hiding behind a coat drive.” Attendees of the Dec. 10 soiree are given the option of donating to Foley’s campaign fund.
Righeimer contended that her event should be appropriately labeled in accordance with state standards, but is being done in an inconsistent manner.
At least one of her fliers does not have a campaign ID number on it, but Foley said any exclusion is an inadvertent mistake.
 
Connecticut –– Hartford Courant: Aide In Donovan Bribe Case Loses Appeal 
By Edmund H. Mahony
Braddock, with a group of seven political operatives, tobacco shop owners and a labor unionist, was accused in 2012 of conspiring to disguise $30,000 in bribes raised by the businessmen, making the money appear to be legal contributions to Donovan’s 2012 campaign for U.S. Congress in the state’s 5th District.
Donovan was not charged and denied knowledge of the scheme. The seven others pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and were given varying prison sentences. Only Braddock chose to go to trial and in 2013 was convicted by a jury of conspiracy, disguising the identities of campaign donors, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
Braddock, who remains in prison, argued on appeal that he was convicted on insufficient evidence. The appeals court disagreed, pointing out that he and other conspirators were recorded on FBI wire taps

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