Daily Media Links 1/28: Liberal campaign finance reform group files faulty disclosures, risks federal audit, Anti-Disclosure Backlash Carries Risks for GOP, and more…

MayDay PAC
Washington Examiner: Liberal campaign finance reform group files faulty disclosures, risks federal audit 
By Luke Rosiak
Each of the letters scolds: “Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.”
Three of the problems found by FEC analysts were in amended reports that had already been resubmitted to correct previous errors.
Mayday PAC was funded by grassroots support but also by numerous donations in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy donors. Its website says major political donors are “less than .01%” of the population and such payments by the elite “give[] the funders of political campaigns enormous power.”
It’s an irony of which the PAC was certainly always aware.
But the results of November’s election seemed to prove it wrong. The PAC raised $10 million, yet it bet on the losing candidate in nearly every race, in what Politicocharacterized as “How to waste $10 million.”
Independent Groups
National Journal: The Rise of Dark Money and the Koch Party
By Ron Fournier
Now we have the worst of all worlds: Gobs of money showered over Democratic and Republican candidates with precious little transparency. The 2016 presidential campaign will give rise to the next grim iteration of dark money: “The arrival of candidate-specific nonprofits, personalized vehicles for a politician’s supporters to raise and spend unlimited cash—completely clandestinely,” writes my colleagueShane Goldmacher…
…What’s the solution? Spending limits are off the table; like it or not, the Supreme Court is unlikely to reverse itself anytime soon. That leaves transparency as the issue to tackle. Mindful of potential First Amendment problems, Congress should revisit a policy Republicans offered in defiance of McCain-Feingold: Unlimited donations coupled with immediate transparency.
LA Times (LTE): Readers React Can America fix its politics five years after Citizens United? 
By William N. Hoke
We are trained to think of money as unseemly, but it is really essential for our democracy. Without it we get an entrenched elite pushing their view of what is good for you.
Frankly, money is the mother’s milk of democracy, and I am glad we promote speech rather than restrict it. We can ignore speech we don’t like and we can fight it with more speech, but when it is restricted, we get a closed society.
Wall Street Journal: Conservative Donors Set High Bar for 2016 Race 
By Rebecca Ballhaus
Such a hefty concentration of campaign spending within one network would also mark a shift for the GOP, which in recent elections has seen conservative outside spending manifest itself in a far more scattered way than on the Democratic side. In part due to the party split between pro-business, “establishment” candidates and the more conservative wing, in 2014 pro-Republican outside groups spent considerably more money than Democrats on primaries—and weakened their ability to spend on the general election. Pro-Democratic groups, meanwhile, spent money through a far more tightly coordinated network, largely avoiding primary spending.
The Koch network is considering spending money on the Republican presidential primary, one attendee said, but added that it is unlikely. Most donors who attended the summit haven’t yet chosen which candidate they want to back, that attendee said.
In light of that, the weekend summit provided an early opportunity for potential presidential candidates to begin jockeying for those donors’ campaign dollars.Monday’s luncheon followed a panel Sunday night where Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio , who are all mulling running for president in 2016,—discussed economic and foreign policy issues. The panel was the first opportunity to see potential 2016 candidates debate issues that will play a key role in the presidential campaign. The first official GOP debate of the cycle won’t take place until August.
National Journal: Buying a Nominee
By Shane Goldmacher
The coming presidential contest is ushering in an epochal shift: the arrival of candidate-specific nonprofits, personalized vehicles for a politician’s supporters to raise and spend unlimited cash—completely clandestinely. It is poised to yield a campaign season more dominated by secret money than any election since Watergate, according to more than two dozen campaign strategists, election lawyers, donors, and worried watchdogs.
Already, at least four Republicans—Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich—are linked to nonprofits staffed by allies helping to promote their vision for America. They have used these nonprofits to poll and formulate policy, to hire operatives and travel the country, to build national networks and keep themselves in the spotlight.
Such activities were once the province of campaign committees, where donors are named and expenses are tallied. But by raising money through “social welfare” nonprofits, these not-yet-candidates are avoiding disclosure of both their financiers and what, exactly, they are financing.

Roll Call: Anti-Disclosure Backlash Carries Risks for GOP 
By Eliza Newlin Carney 
The conservative backlash against disclosure is among the most important outcomes of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which five years ago lifted all limits on independent political spending. The ruling has disproportionately boosted political spending by groups that fail to publicly report their donors. It has also spawned a conservative campaign to discredit political transparency, forestall new reporting restrictions and challenge disclosure regulations in court.
It’s a risky gambit. Republicans remain justifiably outraged at the IRS for, by its own admission, targeting the tea party and other groups seeking tax exemptions. And the IRS scandal points out the dangers inherent in government regulations aimed at curtailing speech surrounding policies and issues, which can inadvertently sweep up average citizens along with millionaire donors. But some Republicans argue that the GOP crusade against disclosure is a poor political bet, saying such arguments threaten Main Street business interests and will run aground in the courts.
First Amendment
Wall Street Journal: The United States of ‘American Sniper’ 
By Rorke Denver
But every U.S. fighting force possesses a weapon that frightens our enemies today more than any of those above. The Taliban, al Qaeda, Islamic State, jihadists everywhere—all those who oppose us fear and hate this weapon, and are haunted by its power to stop their own twisted plans for the world.
What is this weapon? The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It was written long ago by leaders of astonishing foresight and courage. It is what men like Chris Kyle fight and die for. It is what I immediately think of when someone burns a flag, shouts some hateful remark during a protest or criticizes the men and women who have volunteered for military service and willingly go into harm’s way.
When Seth Rogen and Michael Moore exercise this right, it is a tribute to those who serve. While I am revolted by their whiny, ill-informed opinions about Chris Kyle and “American Sniper,” I delight in the knowledge that the man they decry was a defender of their liberty to do so.
Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Roll Call: DCCC Announces Final Fundraising, Debt Figures for 2014 
By Emily Cahn
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will report raising more than $206 million during the 2014 cycle — a record total, according to a committee aide.
The DCCC will start the 2016 cycle $10 million in debt. Also per the aide, that’s less than the $13.5 million in arrears the committee posted following the 2012 cycle.
USA Today: Judge refuses to toss out Rick Perry charges 
AUSTIN, Texas — A criminal case against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will go forward after a judge for the second time Tuesday rejected his request to throw out the felony charges against him.
Perry’s lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus in August, claiming that the indictment against Perry violated his constitutional rights of free speech, but a special prosecutor argued that a jury should hear the evidence. On Tuesday, District Judge Bert Richardson agreed with the special prosecutor and ruled that the case will continue.
The ruling states the court is “without authority to review the merits of (Perry’s) pretrial” and that Perry’s motion to quash and dismiss the indictment “does not challenge the sufficiency of the indictment.”

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