Daily Media Links 7/7: Can super PACs be put back in the box?, Nearly half of all Americans can’t name ‘a single First Amendment freedom,’ survey finds, and more…

In the News

CNN: Here’s how presidential candidates sell your personal information

Jose Pagliery

Wondering where the Democrats are? Donors to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton received lots of emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — but she never reported any income from the transaction on FEC records.

Federal candidates are allowed to quietly swap lists with their national party groups, said Cleta Mitchell, a political law attorney in Washington.

Bernie Sanders, who has received small donations from more than 2 million people, appears to be holding back from sharing his list.

“People are probably drooling over that list,” said David Keating, who leads the Center for Competitive Politics. He was previously in the marketing industry and saw this data-trading business firsthand.

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Independent Groups

Washington Post: Can super PACs be put back in the box?

Matea Gold

A powerhouse legal team representing a bipartisan group of congressional members and candidates is unleashing a new effort to overturn the case that birthed super PACs, part of a novel strategy to rein in the big money that has poured into campaigns since 2010.

Their immediate target is not Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the polarizing decision handed down by the Supreme Court that year. Instead, they are going after a lesser-known case decided by U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit just two months later: SpeechNow.org v. FEC .

That decision, citing Citizens United, permitted a conservative group to raise money beyond the contribution limits placed on traditional PACs because it planned to spend its funds independently of a candidate or party. In doing so, the appellate court paved the way for new political vehicles — later dubbed super PACs for their ability to accept unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations.

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Washington Free Beacon: FEC Complaint Filed Against Clinton Super PAC

Alana Goodman

A pro-Clinton Super PAC was hit with a Federal Election Commission complaint on Wednesday for accepting $200,000 in contributions from a government-contracting firm, a potential violation of campaign finance laws.

The Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, filed the FEC complaint on Wednesday against Priorities USA, a Super PAC that has spent $30 million in support of Hillary Clinton.

Priorities USA accepted the donations from the Boston-based Suffolk Construction, Inc., a company that held nearly $1 million in federal contracts, the Center for Public Integrity first reported in April. Campaign finance laws bar candidates and Super PACs from taking contributions from federal contractors, in order to deter influence buying.

Priorities USA returned the $200,000 donation after the story appeared in the Hill last month.

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Public Opinion

Deseret News: Nearly half of all Americans can’t name ‘a single First Amendment freedom,’ survey finds

Bill Hallowell

A new survey of Americans found sweeping support for constitutional rights, including free speech and religious freedom, yet 4 in 10 respondents were unable to list “a single First Amendment freedom.”

The survey titled, “The 2016 State of the First Amendment,” was conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, offering a lens into the way in which the American public views the U.S. Constitution in the modern era.

The results showed that many Americans are simply unaware of the protections enshrined in the First Amendment…

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The Courts

Bloomberg BNA: Judge Sides With Unions in Blocking Political Donation Law

Michael J Bologna

The “PAC checkoff” portion of Public Act 269 of 2015 likely effectuates “viewpoint discrimination” and thus infringes on workers’ First Amendment rights to engage in political speech, Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled June 30.

“The Court finds that by enacting PA 269, Michigan has placed an obstacle—bolstered by the threat of a felony charge—in the path of organizations’ and employees’ efforts to solicit and raise funds necessary to engage in political speech. The Court further finds that this obstacle does not apply evenhandedly,” Parker said.

The statute “is unconstitutional” unless it furthers a compelling government interest, a burden the state had failed to demonstrate to the court, Parker said.

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Conventions

CPI: Special interests look to influence political conventions — discreetly

Carrie Levine

A host of Republican officeholders and eminences have announced they’ll be skipping the Cleveland event this year, contributing to questions about whether large investments are worth it — especially since most companies like to support both conventions to the same degree.

Kevin O’Neill, co-chair of the legislative practice group at law and lobbying firm Arnold & Porter, said clients have always gone through a process to evaluate the value of participating, and it’s been declining.

Now, O’Neill said, lobbying firm clients are concluding, “If we’re going we should have a smaller footprint, a smaller visibility, it should be very targeted, and we should do anything we can to steer our brand clear of controversy. You have two candidates here that have some high negatives, and that gives people pause.”

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Tax-Financed Campaigns

Fox & Hounds: Campaign Finance Reformers Would Help Trump

Joe Mathews

Trump fits the description of the candidate that reformers want to help, and that public financing would assist. A person from outside the political process, who is opposed by most traditional lobbies and parties. Trump can’t raise money from the usual folks, and he either can’t help himself (or isn’t nearly as rich as he claims or won’t). The reformers want such candidates to have the aid of a public financing system.

Of course, they’ll protest that this is unfair. And that Trump’s lying and bigotry—which are at the core of his candidacy – make him just one bad example and that lots of good people would be helped by public finance.

That’s nonsense. In places with public finance, it’s precisely Trump-style candidates of the left and right – extremists and bigots – who have benefited. Specifically, the people whose views can’t get financial support from mainstream donors of both parties.

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Free Speech

Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette: Urbana flag-burner won’t be charged

Tracy Crane

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said today that the man arrested on July 4 after a flag-burning Facebook post will not be charged.

“The State’s Attorney’s Office is declining to file charges against (Bryton) Mellott as the act of burning a flag is protected free speech according to the US Supreme Court decision, Texas v. Johnson, 491 US 397 (1989),” Rietz said in a statement…

Within hours of a Fourth of July Facebook post showing him burning an American flag, a 22-year-old Urbana man found himself under arrest and under fire — from all corners of the Internet.

Monday night, Bryton Mellott’s booking mug and the text of his posting — which began with “I am not proud to be an American” and closed with “#ArrestMe” — had been seen by thousands and commented on by hundreds of people on social media.

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Influence

Washington Post: Diet guru Jenny Craig is co-hosting a Trump fundraiser

Emily Heil

Jenny Craig might be into whittling waistlines — but she also wants to pad the coffers of Donald Trump’s campaign.

The weight-loss guru is among the hosts throwing a July 13 fundraising dinner and reception for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee near San Diego, the L.A. Times reports. No word on whether the menu will include low-cal options.

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Candidates and Campaigns

International Business Times: How Much Money Has Donald Trump Raised? When It Comes To Campaign Finance, He’s Still Way Behind Typical Candidates

Tim Marcin

As far as fundraising goes, comparatively speaking, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had a good June. According to his campaign, he raised some $51 million.

That total is made up of $26 million in donations to the campaign and more than $25 million going to the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups. The campaign said some 400,000 supporters donated, with 94 percent sending under $200…

But compared with his competition and candidates of years past, Trump is still a ways behind. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton raised about $68.5 million in June. The campaign brought in $40.5 million, while an additional $28 million was raised through joint fundraising and routed to the Democratic National Committee and state parties.

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Wall Street Journal: Lagging in Fundraising, Donald Trump Has Aired Zero TV Ads in Last Month

Rebecca Ballhaus

Hillary Clinton has aired 20,000 TV ad spots since June 8, the day after she became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.

Donald Trump’s ad tally in that period: zero.

That’s a historic imbalance in TV ads at this stage in the election, and it illustrates the immediate effect of Mr. Trump having raised little money for his campaign to date.

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The States

New York Daily News: NYC Campaign Finance Board says Mayor de Blasio’s nonprofit spending did not break rules, but ‘raises serious policy and perception issues’

Greg B. Smith

The independent non-partisan board found that de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York, set up before he took office and run by his campaign staff, stayed within the law but took advantage of serious loopholes that need to be closed.

“The fundraising conducted by the CF1NY plainly raises serious policy and perception issues and illuminates the ways in which the jurisdiction of the (law) is limited,” the board said in a joint statement. “More than 95% of the funds it received would have been prohibited under the laws that apply to candidates for office.”

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Observer: New York City Kindly Reminds Its Employees Not to Be Corrupt

Jillian Jorgensen

The campaign began this weekend with ads on the sides of city buses showing money in a mousetrap proclaiming: “Bribery & Corruption Are a Trap. Don’t Get Caught Up. Report It.” (The mouse trap is a bit of an interesting choice, given that people who report crimes are often referred to as “rats.”)

The ads were designed in partnership with Frank Ginsberg, the chairman of the advertising agency afg&. It’s not the first time the DOI has launched ads: in 2013 they used the tagline “See Something Crooked in NYC?” and in the 1990s it was “Get the Worms Out of the Big Apple.”

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