Daily Media Links 4/29: Citizens United Lawyer: Why Jeb Bush’s ‘Record Sum’ Might Not Matter, Hillary’s Campaign Finance Proposals Are Pure Hypocrisy, and more…

In the News

Acton Institute: Proxy Disclosure Resolutions About Politics, Not Transparency

By Bruce Edward Walker
This past week, The Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal offered up a piece of agitpropmasquerading as trenchant political analysis. It seems – well, not seems inasmuch as Blumenthal pretty much declares outright – that he isn’t much of a fan of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s antipathy toward shareholder proxy resolutions promoting political spending disclosure policies. Likewise, writes Blumenthal, three other “usual suspects” – the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Wall Street Journal – are aligned with the Chamber against all that the left considers right and proper regarding corporate political transparency and disclosure.
In the article, tellingly titled “The Chamber of Commerce Is Fighting Fiercely to Stop the Scourge of Corporate Transparency,” Blumenthal writes as if guided by the hands of the Center for Political Accountability’s Bruce Freed and the religious activists at As You Sow and the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility
Independent Groups
Bloomberg: Why Jeb Bush’s ‘Record Sum’ Might Not Matter
By Phil Mattingly
Jeb Bush’s declaration to donors Sunday that his yet-to-be-declared presidential campaign has raised record-breaking amounts of early money belies a question dogging the former Florida governor:
Can big money alone fuel a winning campaign? 
What was missing from the pep talk, according to people in attendance at the behind-closed-door session for donors in Miami, were specific details or context.
SCOTUS/Judiciary

ELB: 6th Circuit Strikes Down Ky 300-Foot No Electioneering Buffer Zone as 1st Amendment Violation
Plaintiffs John Russell and Campbell County Auto Body, Inc. (collectively “Russell”) brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, and various other state and local officials, alleging that Kentucky Revised Statute § 117.235(3), which creates a 300-foot no-political-speech buffer zone around polling locations on Election Day, violates Russell’s free-speech rights. Russell’s business property is 150 feet from a polling location, with a four-lane highway and guardrails between. Citing the statute, Sheriff’s deputies have removed political signs from his property on previous election days, and the statute’s language prohibits Russell from—on his own property—waving signs and offering campaign literature to passersby. Defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject- matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The district court denied those motions to dismiss, held a bench trial, declared § 117.235(3) unconstitutional, and permanently enjoined its enforcement. We granted a partial stay of that injunction because it was issued only days before the 2014 general election, and expedited this appeal. We now hold that we have jurisdiction over this case, that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar suit against any of the remaining defendants, and that the statute facially violates the First Amendment because Kentucky failed to carry its burden of showing why it required a no-political-speech zone vastly larger than the Supreme Court has previously upheld.
Jumping the Shark

New York Daily Intelligencer: The Inevitable Salon Defense of Kazakhstan’s Election System Is Finally Here and It’s More Amazing Than You Could Have Imagined
By Jonathan Chait
What’s more, McClennen argues, Kazakh’s media landscape has a lot to teach us:

The third Kazakh improvement is with media coverage.  Much has been made of Kazakh media censorship, but when I researched this article and asked someone in the U.S. to send a screen capture of the same search, we got identical top results on Google. One Economist article unfavorable to President Nazarbaev appeared blocked, but I eventually was able to gain access to it from within the country.

In the U.S., the press may be free, but it is certainly controlled as well.  There is significant research that shows the bias of Fox News and its influence on voting. It’s worse than that, though.

So Kazakhstan’s “improvement” over American political media is that it does not have Fox News. She does not mention certain features of the Kazakh media landscape that appear — at the risk of committing smug Western self-satisfaction — worse than having Fox News, per Human Rights Watch:
Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

The Federalist: Citizens United Lawyer: Hillary’s Campaign Finance Proposals Are Pure Hypocrisy
By Chris Berg
During the 2008 campaign, the Clintons were said to have kept an “enemies list” to target prominent Democrats who failed to endorse Clinton’s bid for the White House. Eight years later, Clinton is again the presumptive Democrat nominee and is in a greater position to punish those who do not rally behind her campaign.
Such outsized influence by the presumptive Democrat nominee highlights the need for independent speech. If an entire class of donors is subject to the threats and intimidation of an incumbent politician or a member of a political dynasty, challengers and dissenters will be far too easily dispatched. The rights restored by the Citizens United decision help break down the institutional advantage provided to these entrenched members of the establishment and make the political process more democratic.
Buzzfeed: That Time Bill Clinton Ran Ads Attacking His Rivals For Taking Money From Foreign Interests
By Andrew Kaczynski
The Clintons have faced scrutiny this year for their family foundation’s acceptance of foreign donations, including allegations in a new book Clinton Cash, which alleges that foreign entities gave to the Clinton Foundation or paid Bill Clinton for speeches and in turn received “favors” from the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state. 
Bill Clinton himself, however, once was the person attacking his opponents for taking money tied to foreign interests. In the midst late of the 1996 Clinton re-election campaign against Bob Dole, the issue of foreign interests improperly funneling money to help Bill Clinton’s re-election efforts became an issue. Dole, seizing on reports of improper contributions attacked Democrats for taking money tied to foreign interests. 
Clinton shot back with an ad of his own, accusing Dole of being a hypocrite in an attempt to muddy the waters.
Lobbying and Ethics

More Soft Money Hard Law: Clarifying the Problems in the Political Reform Debate: Lee Drutman on Lobbying
By Bob Bauer
This is a good time for carefully researched and balanced discussions of political reform and Lee Drutman has now stepped in and done his part with an excellent book about lobbying, The Business of America is Lobbying (2015).  It is not a screed and instead looks closely at the growth and changed character of this activity within the corporate sector.  Drutman concludes with proposals for reform but only and admirably after he pares away preconceptions and identifies precisely what he believes the problem to be.
Corporate lobbying has become pervasive, Drutman claims, but he does not mean by that that it is always effective.  Huge amounts of money are spent unwisely or inefficiently and Drutman assigns some of the responsibility for the excess to the lobbyists themselves.  It is a business, after all, and those engaged in lobbying are immodest, he finds, in appraising the value of their efforts.  Their clients, relying on this appraisal, ask for more of the same, which the lobbyists are only too happy to provide.  (In fairness, lawyers should be quick to admit, lobbyists are not the only professionals convinced of their indispensability.)  So a great deal of money is spent on lobbying.
State and Local

Pennsylvania –– The Next Mayor: Big money is back in Philly politics, just dressed differently
By Tom Ferrick Jr.
It’s time to face the facts. Philadelphia should do away with the strict limits it adopted in 2007 on political contributions to candidates.
The intent of the law – to curb “pay-to-play” politics – was admirable. And, for a while, it worked.
But it has been undermined – eviscerated is a better word – by a series of court rulings beginning in 2010 that swept aside the strictures placed on political contributions from corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals.
Vermont –– VT Digger: Sorrell Calls for Outside Review of Campaign Charges Against Him
By Anne Galloway
The attorney general says he supports the formation of an independent election commission that could review, investigate and or enforce campaign finance violations. 
“I leave it to you whether such an entity would conduct investigations or screen complaints to see if they warrant investigation,” Sorrell said. 
Sorrell said it’s unusual for an official to ask for the authority of his or her office to be reduced, “but that is what I am asking of you today. I believe such a change will enhance Vermont’s already progressive campaign finance laws.”

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