Daily Media Links 6/30: Political opposition groups want to tear down 2016 hopefuls, House lawmakers seek to reform FEC ahead of 2016, and more…

In the News

WhoWhatWhy.Org: Keeping Dark Money in the Shadows

Jon Hecht

David Keating, President of the Center For Competitive Politics, applauds the Committee’s bill, saying that it is a victory for freedom of speech.

“It’s very dangerous for any government agency to be policing speech, especially when it’s an agency like the SEC that knows nothing about First Amendment speech,” Keating told WhoWhatWhy. He points to the way that these disclosure rules would go beyond political contributions and affect all non-profits—a problem for worthy causes that may be unpopular.

He furthermore feels that forcing rules like these for government contractors would make assigning of government contracts far more difficult. “It’s bad from a First Amendment perspective and it’s bad from a fiscal policy perspective.”

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Independent Groups

Washington Post: Q&A: What The Post’s money-in-politics reporter will be watching for in Q2 fundraising numbers

James Hohmann

George W. Bush raised nearly $29 million in his first quarter as a presidential candidate in 1999. That spooked John Kasich, who withdrew from the race. Jeb Bush is expected to raise around $100 million, but his haul has not spooked Kasich this time. He’ll announce on July 21. It hasn’t scared anyone else either. Why do you think that is?

[Gold] One fascinating development we’re seeing is that as campaign finance restrictions have loosened, money has in some ways become less determinative than in past races. Because of the primacy of wealthy donors and the potential in online fundraising, the donor universe has expanded. It’s no longer the case that one well-connected candidate can lock up a party’s top bundlers and freeze out his or her rivals. Now, a presidential aspirant with one deep-pocketed patron or a passionate small donor base can stay alive for quite a long time. As we’ve written, the escalating financial arms race could fuel a protracted GOP primary season similar to the one in 2012 — exactly what party leaders were hoping to avoid.

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Yahoo News: Political opposition groups want to tear down 2016 hopefuls

Julie Bykowicz

American Bridge was still proving its worth in August 2012 when a tracker assigned to monitor Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin, heard him talk about “legitimate rape” during a local morning show. The group blasted the clip out to the media and to allies on the left. His campaign never recovered.

Republicans watched American Bridge with envy. Then they copied it.

“Republicans had completely dropped the ball on tracking,” said Steven Law, president of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two of the best-funded outside groups of the 2012 election. “And we were deeply disappointed with the quality of the opposition research available to us.”

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The Hill: House lawmakers seek to reform FEC ahead of 2016

Cristina Marcos

Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), the measure’s authors, said the agency tasked with overseeing campaign finance laws has become ineffective.

“Lately, the commission designed to be the people’s advocate in our elections has seen more gridlock than Congress,” Kilmer said in a statement.

Their bill would reduce the number of commissioners from six to five, as well as require that one member be unaffiliated with either Republicans or Democrats. FEC commissioners would be further limited to serving only one term, instead of serving until a replacement is appointed.

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CPI: Gridlocked elections watchdog goes two years without top lawyer

Dave Levinthal

Three FEC employees familiar with the general counsel hiring process tell the Center for Public Integrity that conservative commissioners insist on a person who reliably supports political actors’ ability to campaign with minimal restrictions. And they don’t want a bomb-thrower who frequently clashes with them.

Liberals, for their part, refuse to back someone who won’t press for a more tightly regulated election environment. They’d particularly love a general counsel who believes the law compels all organizations — namely nonprofit groups — to reveal their donors when advocating for or against political candidates.

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Supreme Court

New York Times: John Roberts, the Umpire in Chief

Jeffrey Rosen

Chief Justice Roberts insists that his passionate opposition to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion is based on his commitment to judicial restraint, not on his personal disagreement with same-sex marriage. In his dissent on Friday, the chief justice said he would not “begrudge” the celebrations that would follow. Instead, his passions were engaged by his commitment to the court’s limited role in American politics.

However, the chief justice’s commitment to judicial restraint and a limited conception of the court’s institutional role is not unvarying. He has written or joined opinions striking down federal campaign finance laws and voting rights laws. Earlier last week, he wrote an opinion for the court that removes one of the last New Deal farm programs propping up price supports for raisins as a violation of the Fifth Amendments prohibition on takings of property without just compensation. In all of these cases, however, Chief Justice Roberts identified a particular clause of the Constitution — the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment or the 14th Amendment — that he believed invalidated the federal law in question.

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Washington Post: Ted Cruz calls for judicial retention elections for Supreme Court justices

Katie Zezima

“I am proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would subject each and every justice of the United States Supreme Court to periodic judicial retention elections,” Cruz said Saturday, during a speech in Des Moines, Iowa. He also called for such elections in the National Review on Friday.

The proposal from Cruz, who once served as Supreme Court clerk, comes as he is trying to position himself as the presidential candidate of choice for conservatives and evangelicals who disagree with the court’s decisions this week. The Texas Republican is using the rulings to paint himself as a stalwart defender of religious freedom, opponent of same-sex marriage and reaffirm his pledge to abolish the Affordable Care Act should he win the presidency.

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National Journal: Make Your Own Supreme Court Decision (And See How the Real One Voted)

Andrew McGill

In the world of government, few votes are more closely scrutinized than those of the Supreme Court, be it a 9-0 blowout or a 5-4 split. Indeed, SCOTUSBlog’s statistical-analysis package devotes a whole section to narrow votes.

Some patterns are easy to predict. Conservative justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas often agree. So do Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. But how often do Ginsburg and Scalia join in dissent against the rest of the Court? And when did Chief Justice John Roberts join with the liberal wing, as he did in upholding Obamacare last week?

Using data from the Supreme Court Database and SCOTUSblog’s 2014 Stat Pack, we built a tool letting you run the numbers yourself, followed by some notable combinations.

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The States

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: High court allows dark money case to move forward in Helena

Troy Carter

A Montana Supreme Court ruling will end the legal challenges made by several 2010 candidates being taken to court for accusations they broke the law by coordinating with and accepting unreported donations from a Colorado corporation.

The state’s highest court ruled last week that the commissioner of political practices is allowed to file campaign violation cases with the Lewis and Clark County District Court in Helena and that associated lawsuits and filings can also be transferred to the same court.

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Portsmouth Herald: Rebels for a cause

Suzanne Laurent

On July 4, hundreds of New Hampshire citizens will take to the streets to declare independence from the corruption of big money in politics.

Two groups of “rebel” walkers will be walking 20 miles from Rochester and 16 miles from Hampton to demand the presidential candidates support reform in 2016.

NH Rebellion is celebrating in style with its first-ever Rally for Independence in Portsmouth, the destination of Paul Revere’s first ride in 1774, as the walkers converge in Prescott Park.

The nonpartisan NH Rebellion, founded by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, is a movement that considers unrestrained money and the influence it buys in Washington, D.C., to be the root of the country’s current political and governmental dysfunction.

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