Daily Media Links 5/31: Civil Rights Movement Is a Reminder That Free Speech Is There to Protect the Weak, Missouri Attorney General to Defend Campaign Finance Changes, and more…


CCP Earns Highest Rating from Charity Navigator

For the third year in a row, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) was awarded the highest possible rating by Charity Navigator for “demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.”

Charity Navigator’s coveted 4-star rating indicates that CCP exceeds industry standards in pursuing our mission in a financially efficient way. CCP earned 95 out of a possible 100 points, its highest rating to date…

Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher congratulated CCP in a letter.

“Only 27% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 2 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Center for Competitive Politics outperforms most other charities in America,” he wrote. “This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Center for Competitive Politics apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Free Speech    

ACLU: Civil Rights Movement Is a Reminder That Free Speech Is There to Protect the Weak 

By Jay Stanley

We at the ACLU are often criticized for our unyielding defense of free speech rights. Even our closest allies complain when we defend the free speech rights of Klansmen and assorted other racists, misogynists, online haters, fake news creators, and other toxic speakers. In particular, we hear that such defenses of free speech rights serve not to protect the weak but to protect the powerful in their attacks on the vulnerable.

Recently I’ve been re-reading Taylor Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years,” a history of the civil rights movement with a focus on the life of Martin Luther King. I’d forgotten what a fantastic telling of the civil rights story it and its two sequels are. But also, rereading the story in light of my work at the ACLU, I’ve been struck by the injustice not only of segregation, “separate but equal,” and the deprivation of voting rights, but the key role that egregious violations of free speech rights played in Southern officials’ opposition to the movement. It’s a reminder that when you mess with First Amendment rights, it’s ultimately the weak and powerless who lose out the most, even when those rights do sometimes protect the powerful.

Reason: After Violent Attack, Portland Mayor Calls for Abandoning First Amendment 

By Scott Shackford

He flat out said in his comments that the city would refuse to grant rally permits to alt-right groups based on their views. However, the plaza right by Portland City Hall is actually federal property, and Wheeler is trying to get federal authorities to revoke the permits for the groups involved in a pair of June events…

In response to those who point out that the alt-right has the same First Amendment protections as the rest of us, Wheeler actually says, “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.”…

At this point we should be less inclined to think that the “hate speech exemption” refrain reflects a person’s ignorance of the First Amendment and more inclined to see it as a deliberate effort to will an idea into reality and to change everybody’s perception of where speech’s legal limits actually are.

Fortunately the American Civil Liberties Union’s chapter in Oregon is tweeting back at the mayor, warning him that attempting to shut down rallies on the basis of disagreeing with the content is literally what the First Amendment is meant to prevent.


The Hill: Congress must reform its rigged ‘dial for dollars’ fundraising system 

By Former Rep. Zach Wamp

While the phrase “party dues” may sound innocuous, during the past few years, these fundraising demands have escalated to astronomical levels. What we have now is nothing short of a rigged system wherein the parties force legislators to raise ridiculous sums of money to protect every incumbent. Guess who gives the bulk of these funds? The very interests that congressional leaders oversee…

No one likes this system. The people being shaken down hate it. The members of Congress hate it. And the public hates it. The current fundraising system turns lawmakers into telemarketers, soliciting individuals and industries with business before their very committees for cash. House Republicans and House Democrats alike should embrace changes to the official House rules that bar committee assignments and chairmanships from being granted based on someone’s fundraising ability…

The time for Congress to reform this is now. Nothing less than the public’s trust in government itself is at stake.

The States

U.S. News & World Report: Missouri Attorney General to Defend Campaign Finance Changes 

By Associated Press

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he’s appealing a federal judge’s ruling to block a new state ban on contributions between political action committees.

Hawley appealed the decision Tuesday, saying it’s his duty to defend the state’s constitution…

Western District of Missouri Senior Judge Ortrie Smith in May blocked the ban on giving between political action committees and several other limits on donations. The ban includes donations by heavily regulated industries, such as rural electric cooperatives and insurance companies. He also undid a ban on some companies and unions from donating to ballot initiatives.

The judge left a $2,600 contribution limit to individual candidates in place.

Montana Public Radio: Montana’s New Political Cop Focusing On Transparency And Accessibility  

By Edward O’Brien

Jeff Mangan: I can’t see myself going out and aggressively looking for violations. I don’t think that’s necessarily the purpose or the role of the commissioner. The office is there for a reason. We have very strict protocols set up for folks to report and organize. When that process happens and everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we will know who the bad actors are.

And I’d like to see the commissioner’s office be more active on social media and just be more of a presence out there for the average Montanan to find out about campaign finance and transparency, and if they have any questions that’s not necessarily a phone call or to the website that they can go out and find and understand and just be part of that entire process. So, continuing to work on transparency and accessibility is going to be a major goal of mine and the office moving into these next couple years.

Edward O’Brien: Jeff Mangan is Montana’s new commissioner of political practices. Mangan was a Democrat during his tenure in the state legislature from 1999 to 2006.

Santa Fe New Mexican: Ethics board considers campaign money crackdown  

By Justin Horwath

The Santa Fe County Ethics Board wants to know if counties can impose campaign spending rules that are stricter than state law…
In the fall of 2014, the board proposed ethics code revisions, but county commissioners did not act on them. The current board is now focusing on putting more teeth into campaign finance rules, such as by limiting how candidates can use leftover campaign cash. Some of the proposals it is considering would make the county rules more stringent than state campaign finance law…

John Blair, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which enforces New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act, on Friday said in an email that he’s not aware of anything in state statutes “that would prohibit a county from creating stricter campaign finance rules in its ethics code.”

But Assistant County Attorney Cristella Valdez cautioned the ethics board members, saying state law is often unclear on the ability of a county ordinance to pre-empt state law.

“We wouldn’t know before we went to a judge whether these would be valid deletions,” she said.

Maryland Reporter: Montgomery County sets up $11M public campaign fund for 2018  

By Glynis Kazanjian

It is not clear whether the new system will meet its promised goals of keeping special interest money out of campaigns, leveling the playing field for newcomers and increasing voter turnout…

Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, takes the case a step further.

“Public financing won’t have an impact on big money at all,” Eberly said.  “[The U.S. Supreme Court case] Citizens United established that corporations and unions can spend unlimited money independent of a candidate. The research conducted on public finance systems in other states has shown that public financing systems does free candidates from the burden of continually fundraising, but incumbent candidates continue to enjoy a tremendous advantage over competitors.”

Eberly said it is a “false hope” to think candidates won’t be beholden to big donors just because the contributions are not coordinated with their campaigns. In fact, Eberly said, independent expenditures increased in New York after public financing was introduced.

McClatchy DC: Judges weigh law cutting governor’s elections oversight role  

By Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press

The judges are looking at a law passed in April over Cooper’s veto that takes away his authority to pick the majority of the five-member statewide elections board. That state board selects the members of the three-member local elections boards in all 100 counties.

GOP legislators now want to divide the elections boards equally between Democrats and Republicans, with Cooper picking elections board members from lists of candidates compiled by the two major parties. The new, expanded boards would also take over investigating ethics complaints against politicians and violations of lobbying and campaign finance laws.

But a Republican would head the decision-making state board in presidential election years when most people vote and ballot disputes are hottest. The current Republican executive with day-to-day control couldn’t be replaced for at least two years, perhaps indefinitely if the board devolves into partisan deadlocks as the Federal Elections Commission has done for years, Cooper’s attorneys said.

Seattle Times: Is this guy a Washington state watchdog or a partisan annoyance?  

By Joseph O’Sullivan

Morgan said he may have hundreds more campaign-finance complaints to add to the deluge he has filed against Democrats in the past year or so.

They include allegations that candidates and campaigns have failed to correctly report debt and break down spending, Morgan said. Other possible complaints, he said, may allege that people have failed to properly fill out personal financial-disclosure statements…

Morgan argues that his efforts keep government honest and highlight quirks in state disclosure laws he believes need changing.

Republicans, especially at the county level, he said, have dropped the ball in filing complaints, losing out on a way to hold Democrats accountable. He also sees his actions as pushback against agencies he considers biased against Republicans.

That refrain rippled through the 2016 election cycle, when the Washington State Republican Party called for the resignation of the PDC’s executive director at the time, Evelyn Lopez, claiming she aided Democrats.

“It creates a scenario where people will believe they’re biased, because it depends on who the director is that day,” said Morgan.

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