Daily Media Links 7/30: IRS gets lashing from judge for refusing to release Lerner emails, other documents, Is the Federal Election Commission’s voting procedure unlawful?, and more…

In the News

Politico: ‘Dark money’: ALEC wants image makeover

Tarini Parti

David Keating of the Center for Competitive Politics took a more doom and gloom approach in his remarks. “The right of every American and the causes they believe in is under attack,” he told attendees.

Keating added that nonprofits are being unfairly targeted because they represent only 5 percent of total political spending. When asked by POLITICO to explain the 5 percent number, Keating said he was including only money spent by nonprofits directly advocating specific candidates and not issue ads that might criticize or praise candidates on a particular issue but don’t explicitly ask viewers to vote for or against them.

“Where do you begin to count issue advocacy? I know organizations try to do it, but they don’t disclose their methodology and no one can replicate it,” Keating said. “I think those numbers are junk. You might as well include the value of New York Times editorials in those numbers.”

Read more…


Someone killed a lion. Want to see his political contribution history?

Luke Wachob

There is no further discussion of the dentist’s contributions or political views. The rest of the article simply reviews what’s already in the news. I have to ask: What is the point of this kind of reporting?

Does it help us understand what happened? No. Does it tell us why the dentist killed the lion? No. Does it help us understand the controversy surrounding the dentist’s actions? No. Does it tell us anything about the politicians he contributed to? No.

In short: it’s not useful information, it’s junk. The only reason I can imagine to publish it is to unfairly smear by association those politicians to whom the dentist contributed, or to make the dentist appear (even more) unsympathetic to readers who dislike those politicians. Are either of those good reasons to run a story?

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Washington Times: IRS gets lashing from judge for refusing to release Lerner emails, other documents

Stephen Dinan and Dave Boyer

On July 1, at a hearing, he had ordered the IRS to turn over documents weekly. But after the hearing was over, the IRS approached Judicial Watch and proposed a new schedule. Judicial Watch said it would accept the new schedule, but wanted the IRS to make it official with the court — something the IRS refused to do.

Judge Sullivan was not pleased, noting that the government lawyers had agreed his initial instructions were clear, but violated them anyway.

“The government’s reasoning is nonsensical,” he wrote.

Read more…

Foxnews.com: Let’s not forget about the IRS scandal

Jay Sekulow

This hearing comes as new revelations surface about this scandal – including a stunning finding by a congressional watchdog that confirms what we have suspected all along: The IRS continues to deceive the public about the extent of its misconduct and maintains that deception to this day.

In fact, the more we learn — the more evidence we uncover — the clearer it becomes that this scandal continues to grow and continues to threaten Americans even today.

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Dallas Morning News: Ted Cruz presses IRS commissioner on non-profit targeting

Sylvan Lane

“The American people have a right to be angry when an instrument of the American government is used a partisan cudgel,” said Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate running on abolishing the IRS. “I have to say, Richard Nixon’s ghost must have been smiling.”

A 2014 Inspector General report found that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize conservative 501(c)4 non-profit groups, and several Congressional and executive investigations are still ongoing.

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Washington Examiner: Tea Party farmer: IRS watchdog still probing audit of me

Susan Crabtree

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, is still trying to get to the bottom of allegations that the IRS colluded with a local environmental group to improperly audit Martha Boneta, owner of a 64-acre organic farm in Fauquier County, Boneta said Wednesday.

“It was a ray of hope,” she said. “He said your case is still open and if we hadn’t found anything, it would have been closed … it will stay open until action is taken.”

But while that investigation is ongoing, the IRS came back this year with another audit for the farm for 2012, in addition to the first audit covering 2010 and 2011, she said.

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Independent Groups

Huffington Post: Maryland Democratic Senate Primary Erupts Over Citizens United

Paul Blumenthal

Van Hollen leads the money race in Maryland so far, with $4.2 million. Edwards has raised just short of $1 million. But Edwards has received prominent endorsements from Emily’s List, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America — all groups that could help her fill that fundraising gap rapidly with appeals and independent spending.

It’s no surprise that the Edwards campaign sees Van Hollen’s pledge as a cynical attempt to freeze her allies out of the race.

“We’re not going to give in to a gag order for women, progressives and working families,” Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes told The Huffington Post.

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Washington Post: Is the Federal Election Commission’s voting procedure unlawful?

Jonathan Adler

The FEC’s practice of treating unreturned ballots as “affirmative votes” was of no consequence here, but there is no guarantee this will be always be the case. Even if only for prophylactic reasons, the FEC may wish to revise its procedure so as to insulate future actions from similar attacks. Even if the FEC believes its current practice complies with the FECA, now that a panel of the D.C. Circuit has expressed reservations about the practice, why would the FEC want to take the chance?

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The Hill: FEC tells dump Trump PAC to change its name

Ben Kamisar

The group’s name uses the acronym Terrible Radicals Undermining Middle-class People as an attempt to squeeze past FEC compliance rules that bar an independent committee from using the name of an official candidate.

But it looks like the acronym didn’t placate the FEC, which sent the group’s treasurer a letter that says the group must become officially coordinated with Trump’s campaign, change its name or provide it with more information.

But it looks like the acronym didn’t placate the FEC, which sent the group’s treasurer a letter that says the group must become officially coordinated with Trump’s campaign, change its name or provide it with more information.

Read more…

Contribution Limits

Newsweek: Why Do Congressmen Spend Only Half Their Time Serving Us?

Rep. Tim Roemer

But it doesn’t stop there. Members are now additionally “required” to raise money for “the party” and contribute to pools of funds at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC). As a member rises in seniority to committee chair or ranking member, their fundraising responsibilities multiply significantly. So just as they assume more jurisdiction, clout and a heavier legislative workload, they are simultaneously saddled with spending even more time raising even more money.

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Donor Disclosure

The Hill: Cecil the lion’s killer donated to Romney

Kevin Cirilli

Federal Elections Commission (FEC) forms show Walter James Palmer, a dentist in Eden Prairie, Minn., donated $5,000 to the Romney campaign in 2012.

Palmer also donated $250 to former Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) in 1990 and $250 to Ramstad in 1992…

Palmer is at the center of an international storm after the death of Cecil the lion, who was well-known at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

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Arizona Republic: Attention non-partisan political doofuses: I made a mistake and I’m sorry!

Doug MacEachern

In that column, I originally (and incorrectly) cited Open Secrets, which publishes campaign-finance data. I wrote that according to the Open Secrets graphic (see: here), 100 percent of contributors to Common Cause in 2014 were Democrats.

Well, that was a misreading of that graphic, wasn’t it? We’ve got to be fair here: There is no way to know the party affiliation of contributors to Common Cause. What a schmuck I can be!

What the Open Secrets graphic actually says is this: In the 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2014 election cycles, every penny of filthy political lucre donated by Common Cause employees, officers and board members went to Democrats. In that landmark Barack Obama election year of 2008, Common Cause folk appear to have set an organizational record for contributions. All to Democrats.

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The States

Austin Monitor: Zimmerman suit could undo campaign finance law

Jo Clifton

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by Houston attorney Jerad Najvar, the city charter rules prohibiting candidates from raising money until six months before Election Day as well as the “arbitrary limits on the quantity of support Zimmerman may accept” from people and associations living outside Austin “must be enjoined immediately.” That limit is $36,000.

In addition, Zimmerman is seeking a preliminary injunction overturning the requirement that city candidates completely dissolve their campaign funds between elections. He is also challenging the $350-per-person contribution limit.

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Santa Fe New Mexican: Council rejects increase in campaign matching funds

Daniel J. Chacon

“In the last mayoral election in 2014, all three candidates, in an effort to level the playing field, used public campaign financing,” Dimas said. “But when top union officials, their attorneys and top political party officials formed PACs to support one candidate, that’s when the concept of a level playing field went to hell.”

The proposed changes, made by the city’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board, were born out of complaints about weaknesses that emerged in the public campaign finance code during last year’s municipal election, the first time the system was tested in a mayoral race.

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