Daily Media Links 11/30: GOP rider would boost party spending, New York Subway Pulls Nazi-Themed Ads For New Show, ‘Man In The High Castle’, and more…

Political Parties

Politico: GOP rider would boost party spending

Kenneth P. Vogel and Seung Min Kim

The provision, which sources say is one of a few campaign-finance related riders being discussed in closed-door negotiations over a $1.15 trillion omnibus spending package, would eliminate caps on the amount of cash that parties may spend in coordination with their candidates…

Other campaign-finance provisions being discussed during the omnibus negotiations include GOP-backed efforts to block the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission from enacting additional regulations and disclosure requirements on politically active nonprofit groups, sources say.

Read more…

Free Speech

National Public Radio: New York Subway Pulls Nazi-Themed Ads For New Show, ‘Man In The High Castle’

Laura Wagner

The New York Metro Transportation Authority has removed Nazi-themed subway advertisements for a new Amazon show, The Man In The High Castle, after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked that they be taken down.

Featuring Nazi eagles and a variation on the Japanese rising sun flag, the advertisements blanketed the walls and seats of the subway car. Though the advertising blitz was limited to only one subway car on the S train, Cuomo requested that it be removed, according the local CBS affiliate. MTA officials confirmed to NPR that the advertisements have been taken down.

The Man In The High Castle, which is based on a book of the same name, is about what life may have looked like had Germany won World War II. But some people, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, found the imagery overwhelming.

Read more…

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Who decides what’s political speech?

Christian Schneider

In the days when most campaign finance law was written, in order to speak publicly on political issues, one had to spend money placing television ads on one of the three broadcast networks, or purchase radio or newspaper ad space. But now every individual or group of individuals can become an influential political actor.

If you produce a YouTube video calling Donald Trump a bigot, then pay to advertise it, should the government then be able to come in and shut you down? Should churches that print fliers urging parishioners to support pro-life candidates be imprisoned? Should a Twitter account with a million followers be allowed to highlight Ben Carson’s daily missteps?

According to the campaign finance reformers, our right to free speech should be dependent on government bureaucrats poring over thousands of lines of text and determining whether a book, movie or YouTube video should be allowed.

But campaign ads should not be subversive underground films passed around among a secret society of insurrectionists. The best answer is to trust the American people to see them and judge their veracity on their own. Otherwise, we’re leaving our most fundamental right to Orwellian-style “speech panels” that ration our free expression.

As Chief Justice John Roberts said, “We don’t put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats.”

Read more…

New York Magazine: That Was a False Alarm on Millennials and Free Speech

Jesse Singal

Last week, I wrote about a new Pew poll that showed that 40 percent of millennials would be in favor of government bans on speech offensive to minority groups…

I was wrong; it shouldn’t have jumped out at me. A bit of digging into past poll results shows that this just wasn’t an unusual result. Yes, broad attitudes over free speech change over time — more on this in a bit — but there’s a general pattern to how Americans answer these questions: They’ve shown over and over again that they favor free speech in theory, when asked about it in the broadest terms, but they also tend to be fairly enthusiastic about government bans on forms of speech they find particularly offensive (what’s considered offensive, of course, changes with the times).

Read more…

Independent Groups

PJ Media: Conservative Group ‘Empower Texans’ Faces Political Persecution

Hans von Spakovsky

According to a lawsuit filed in Travis County, Texas, Empower Texans is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that was organized in 2006 to build support for strong fiscal stewardship by the state government, and to inform Texas voters and taxpayers about how their government officials are acting in relation to that objective. In 2007, for example, Empower Texans mounted a direct mail campaign asking voters to call on their state legislators to return a $13 billion tax surplus instead of spending it on more government programs. This kind of activity, along with its legislative scorecard, apparently angered not just state legislators, but lobbyists who make their living convincing the state government to spend money on their clients’ pet projects.

Read more…

Boston Globe: It’s wrong to call for brakes on super PAC spending (LTE)

Paul Sherman

Renée Loth’s criticisms of SpeechNow.org v. FEC, which eliminated limits on contributions to so-called super PACs, miss the mark (“The birth of the super PAC,” Opinion, Nov. 23). Contrary to her claims, SpeechNow.org eliminated a legal disparity that favored the wealthy. Wealthy individuals acting alone had long been permitted to spend unlimited amounts on political ads, yet individuals who pooled their money with others were severely limited. SpeechNow.org simply recognized that if one person is allowed to spend freely, groups should be allowed to pool money to do the same thing.

Loth is also wrong to seek to curtail super PAC spending. The money raised by super PACs is spent on one thing: trying to persuade voters. Whether these efforts succeed is entirely up to those voters. Perhaps Loth longs for greater government control on the sources of information that voters may consider before casting their ballot. Thankfully, the First Amendment prohibits that.

Read more…

Los Angeles Times: Donors gave a super PAC $6 million. Candidates actually got about $140,000.

Joseph Tanfani and Maloy Moore

Those early mass mailings, financed by the outside groups, will probably prove to be a huge boon to Carson’s fortunes, said Candice Nelson, a government professor at American University. The big expense of such fundraising tactics comes at the beginning, she said, in scouting for the donors.

“Usually, once people give, they’re invested, and they continue to give,” she said. “That’s why once you have a house list, it’s something that can provide a steady source of income to a campaign. Because they are small donors, they usually don’t max out” by reaching the individual contribution limit of $2,700.

Read more…

Wisconsin ‘John Doe’

Wisconsin Watchdog: John Doe victims still in legal limbo four months after Supreme Court ruling

M.D. Kittle

More than four months have passed since the state Supreme Court ruled Wisconsin’s secret John Doe investigation unconstitutional and ordered it shut down.

People from 29 conservative organizations are still waiting for the return of property the investigators illegally seized and the resumption of their lives — long suspended by the politically driven probe.

“Worse yet, innocent people continue to be harassed by prosecutors filing frivolous motions and threatening to disclose their private information which prosecutors obtained illegally,” said a John Doe target who asked not to be identified for this story due to the unsettled nature of the case.

Read more…


Atlanta Journal Constitutional: FEC shuts down campaign of Johnny Isakson’s GOP primary foe

Daniel Malloy

The Federal Election Commission has “terminated” the campaign account of Derrick Grayson, the Stone Mountain minister and MARTA engineer who is running a Republican primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

In a letter to Grayson’s campaign treasurer this month, an FEC staffer said Grayson’s failure to file campaign finance reports means the FEC is shuttering the account. If Grayson wishes to refile his candidacy, he may do so, but he has not filed a shred of paper to the FEC since May 2014 — shortly before Grayson garnered 1 percent of the vote in a seven-way Republican U.S. Senate primary…

In order to not run afoul of the law, Grayson must register his candidacy and report his fundraising and spending quarterly — if he raises or spends $5,000.

Read more…

Candidates and Campaigns

New York Times: Ben Carson’s Book Tour Draws Campaign Finance Complaint

Trip Gabriel

On a 26-day book tour last month, Ben Carson held a news conference in a Books-a-Million store in Iowa, appeared often on TV to discuss his candidacy and sandwiched campaign rallies between book signings.

Now a Democratic watchdog group has complained to the Federal Election Commission that Mr. Carson violated campaign finance law because his publisher paid his travel expenses.

The watchdog group, the American Democracy Legal Fund, charges in its complaint filed Monday that the expenses paid by Mr. Carson’s publisher, Sentinel, a division of Penguin Random House, are in-kind contributions to his campaign. Corporations are banned under federal law from donating directly to a candidate.

Read more…

The States

Billings Gazette: Political Practices adopts new Montana campaign finance rules

Associated Press

Commissioner Jonathan Motl filed the rules with the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday. He says they will be in effect during the 2016 campaign season.

The new rules require candidates and political committees to file their reports electronically, which will make them immediately available online in a searchable form. The rules require candidates to file campaign finance reports at both 35 days and 12 days before elections. The 35-day reporting requirement is new.

Read more…

Billings Gazette: Disclose Act intended to silence conservatives

Art Wittich

The current commissioner was appointed by Steve Bullock to crusade against and silence conservatives. While he occasionally “investigates” complaints against corrupt crony practices (including the governor), he mostly dismisses them, and only occasionally slaps their hand with a minimal fine.

Notably, he has only sued conservatives (including me), by drafting a “citizen” complaint, investigating it, ruling in his favor, filing a lawsuit in a Helena court as the plaintiff and attorney to enforce his ruling, listing himself as the prime witness, and even as the expert witness. Welcome to the New McCarthyism.

Read more…

Santa Fe New Mexican: Will 2016 be the year for ethics reform in New Mexico?

Steve Terrell

Once again, there is a call for ethics reforms. Last week, House Democrats convened a news conference — held in front of Duran’s former office — to announce they will be sponsoring specific bills to try to root out and punish government corruption in the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 19.

“Ethics appears to be like other issues in which you need to have a crisis before we get the momentum and the attention of the legislative body,” House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, told reporters.

Read more…

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