Daily Media Links 7/28: Obsessed With Need To Control Others, Political Busybodies And Judges Trample On Liberty, New IRS notification process announced for 501(c)(4) nonprofits, and more…

In the News

Center for Individual Freedom: The First Amendment in Peril

Bradley Smith, Chairman and Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and former Chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, discusses why Americans must vociferously protect their right to privacy in the political arena, the Supreme Court decision to deny an appeal of a lawsuit challenging a radical disclosure law in Delaware, and the latest push back in the IRS targeting scandal.


Washington Examiner: ‘Dark money’ opponents: Disclosure for thee, but not for me

Ben Hurst

The courts are an uncertain bulwark against speech chilling regulation. The Supreme Court just refused to consider a nonprofit’s challenge to a Delaware law that required disclosure of the nonprofit’s donors as the price for speaking. Justice Thomas authored a rare dissent: “Given the specter of these First Amendment harms, a State’s purported interest in disclosure cannot justify revealing the identities of an organization’s otherwise anonymous donors.”

For most citizens, the only means to participate effectively in public debate other than voting is to join financially with others. The First Amendment protects the privacy of that association. Where prosecutors and regulators wield the cudgel of “disclosure” with the effect — and the purpose — of chilling those with whom they disagree, they harm public discourse and violate the First Amendment.

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New Book

Ed. Note: The following is an excerpt from a newly published book, Business and the Roberts Court, edited by Jonathan H. Adler. The complete work, from Oxford University Press, is available here. This chapter, by Joel M Gora, examines the Citizens United decision.

In the Business of Free Speech: The Roberts Court and Citizens United

Joel M. Gora

Very few US Supreme Court decisions become household words. In our lifetimes, perhaps three have achieved that peculiar popular status: Miranda v. Arizona, Roe v. Wade, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The latest of these cases, Citizens United has quickly become one of the most reviled Supreme Court rulings in modern times. This is a constitutional shame, for it is a decision that embodied and applied classic First Amendment principles. It freed labor unions and nonprofit organizations from unwarranted restraints on their ability to speak on behalf of their members, supporters, and adherents, and cleared away a byzantine set of rules and regulations designed to stifle free speech with a complexity that rivaled the tax code.

Independent Groups

Wall Street Journal: Will Clinton Decry Her Own Money Machine?

Kimberley A. Strassel

The theme follows on Mrs. Clinton’s high-profile vow to propose, within 30 days of taking office, a new constitutional amendment that will “overturn” Citizens United. That’s another way of saying the Democratic nominee intends to gut the First Amendment, putting government in charge of who precisely can speak in elections.

It’s a dangerous pledge, but also one that is hard to swallow coming from a woman who has spent the past decades building—via the Clinton Foundation—one of the most ruthlessly efficient big-money machines ever witnessed in politics. And successfully so, given that the real “big money” to be found this presidential-election season is all solidly behind Democrats. Donald Trump’s fundraising woes are by now a central factor in the race, as many traditional high-dollar donors remain reluctant to go all in for his candidacy.

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Politico: George Soros rises again

Kenneth P. Vogel

Through the end of June, Soros had donated $7 million to a super PAC supporting Clinton called Priorities USA Action, according to FEC filings, making it the biggest recipient of his political largesse this cycle. And three Democratic operatives say he’s considering donating another $3 million to the group…

Jordan Wood, the national finance director for a PAC called End Citizens United, on Tuesday suggested Soros’s giving may have slumped in recent years partly because of Obama. “With George, his giving has spiked because of Hillary. He really likes Hillary Clinton and he didn’t like Obama as much,” said Wood, in an interview at a reception at a Center City bar for the campaign finance reform group Every Voice.

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Free Speech

Forbes: Obsessed With Need To Control Others, Political Busybodies And Judges Trample On Liberty

George Leef

These attacks are flagrantly unconstitutional but to modern “liberals” such as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, winning is the only thing that matters.

In the same vein, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has proclaimed that among her top priorities if elected will be amending the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s pro-free speech decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. (That case involved the funding of a movie critical of Mrs. Clinton and leftists have no qualms about stifling such criticism as much as they can.)

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DNC Emails

Washington Free Beacon: DWS Donor Convicted of Wire Fraud Relating to Horse Murder Not Allowed to Give to DNC

Joe Schoffstall

A major donor to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) was forbidden from giving to the Democratic National Committee due to a past conviction on three counts of wire fraud following his electrocution of a horse to collect an insurance payout.

George Lindemann Jr., a Miami-based real estate developer and son of billionaire New York investor George Lindemann, was vetted earlier this year as a possible donor to the committee and to attend an event with President Barack Obama, according to an exchange contained within the latest batch of hacked DNC emails released by Wikileaks.

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Fox News: IRS looking into Clinton Foundation ‘pay-to-play’ claims

Fred Lucas, Judson Berger, Peter Doocy, Tamara Gitt, and Mike Emanuel

The IRS confirmed in a letter it is looking into claims of “pay-to-play” practices at the Clinton Foundation, after dozens of Republican lawmakers requested a review of potential “criminal conduct” at the organization founded by the family at the center of this week’s Democratic National Convention. 

Commissioner John Koskinen wrote in a July 22 letter to Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn that the issue has been “forwarded” to the IRS “Exempt Organizations Examinations” program in Dallas.

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Lexology: New IRS notification process announced for 501(c)(4) nonprofits

Stefan C. Passantino, Kellie L. Newton, Benjamin P. Keane and Jibran Shermohammed

Earlier this month, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its long-awaited temporary regulatory framework implementing the new statutory notification requirements placed on 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. This new legal framework, contained in Revenue Procedure 2016-41, will require nonprofit social welfare organizations to file a public notification form with the IRS within 60 days of formation that indicates their intention to operate under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Failure to comply with this new obligation could place at risk the nonprofit status of social welfare entities, and likewise subject the organization, its officers and its directors to substantial financial penalties.

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Time: Lobbyists Celebrate Democratic Party’s New Embrace at Convention

Jay Newton-Small

Podesta is just one of a legion of lobbyists coming out of the proverbial closet this convention, free to raise money, support candidates and be proud of it for the first time in nearly a decade. For many influence brokers, the distinction is an important one. Facing a fundraising shortfall after Congress ended public funding for the conventions, the Democratic National Committee eased the ban in 2012 to allow corporate funding of external convention events. That led to lobbyists and private industry largely funding much of the 2012 Democratic convention…

In February, the restrictions were further eased to allow lobbyists to directly raise money for the various Democratic committees, the convention and any events that don’t directly involve President Obama, Vice President Biden or their wives. The move was controversial at the time as it was supported by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, opposed the change.

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National Review: How the Media’s History of Smearing Republicans Now Helps Trump

Jonah Goldberg

Many in the media were so willing to put clicks and ratings before country because the conventional wisdom was that Trump would fade or implode eventually. Why not gawk at the spectacle? And if Trump did get the nomination, many journalists calculated, all the better. What fun it will be to watch Hillary Clinton destroy Trump and Trump destroy the GOP.

Only slowly have the media come around to the realization that Trump is an actual threat, but now it may be too late because they have a serious “cry wolf” problem. Millions of Americans firmly believe that journalists are water carriers for the Democrats and will tune out much of what they have to say about Trump now that he’s the nominee.

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Business Insider: It looks like Russia hired internet trolls to pose as pro-Trump Americans

Natasha Bertrand

“I created this list of Russian trolls when I was researching. And I check on it once in a while, still. And a lot of them have turned into conservative accounts, like fake conservatives. I don’t know what’s going on, but they’re all tweeting about Donald Trump and stuff,” he said.

Linsky then asked Chen who he thought “was paying for that.”

“I don’t know,” Chen replied. “I feel like it’s some kind of really opaque strategy of electing Donald Trump to undermine the US or something. Like false-flag kind of thing. You know, that’s how I started thinking about all this stuff after being in Russia.”

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Candidates and Campaigns

Media Matters: The Trump Campaign Is Paying A Fox News Analyst $13,000 A Month

Eric Hananoki

Fox News continues to employ contributor Walid Phares while Donald Trump’s campaign pays him $13,000 a month. Phares regularly appears on the network to boost Trump on foreign policy issues.

Two weeks ago, Fox News suspended the contributor contract of Newt Gingrich “due to the intense media speculation about Gingrich’s potential selection” as Trump’s running mate and “to avoid all conflicts of interest that may arise.” It does not appear to be concerned with any “conflicts of interest that may arise” with Phares.

Fox News states on Phares’ biography page that he “joined Fox News in January 2007 and serves as Middle East and terrorism expert.” Trump’s monthly Federal Election Commission report shows that the campaign paid Phares $13,000 in both May and June for “policy consulting.”

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The States

AL.com: How elected officials exploit a campaign finance loophole to raise big piles of cash

Kyle Whitmire

So here’s the loophole. Under the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, fundraising is supposed to end on Election Day. But there is an exception: If a candidate has debt at the end of a campaign, the candidate gets another 120 days to raise money to pay that debt off.

Reasonable enough, right?

But here’s where it gets screwy. There’s nothing to stop candidates, the day before the election, from lending their campaigns huge personal loans, claiming that as campaign debt, then using that three-month window to raise an identical amount, even if the money that was lent to the campaign is still sitting in the campaign account.

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