By David Keating and Thomas Wheatley
The so-called Fair Elections Act of 2017, a measure that would provide a five-to-one tax financing match to small-dollar donations to D.C. candidates, cleared committee this month. The sponsor markets the proposal as “giving more people a bigger voice.”
That’s nonsense. The bill proposes a grand experiment with unpredictable impact. There’s a good chance that it will turbocharge the power of special-interest groups in D.C. campaigns, giving fewer interests a dominant voice. It also could incentivize fraud, which could lead to a collapse of public confidence.
The proposal is biased in favor of a new form of special PAC. The fine print allows for allocations from labor unions to count as contributions from individuals, and thus may be considered small-dollar donations. The provision not-so-subtly prohibits similar contributions from partnerships and small-business owners. The D.C. ACLU noted “labor unions do not have greater First Amendment rights than other kinds of organizations.” But the potential constitutional defect remains.
Archives for December 2017
By David Keating and Thomas Wheatley
Washington Examiner: More campaign finance regulation means less political free speech (In the News)
By Joe Albanese
If Feingold thinks it’s unfair that some people are able to spend more money on elections, is it also unfair that some people can get more attention without spending money at all?
When ordinary people want to express their opinions alongside those of the powerful, they have to raise and spend money to do it. This doesn’t just mean buying advertising time on TV – even posting an internet video or printing fliers requires buying the right materials and equipment. Pooling resources can be an effective way to enhance the voices of ordinary Americans, but these expenses trigger government regulations when they add up.
Yet, campaign finance law only targets certain types of political participation. Before Citizens United, the Obama administration argued in court (at least for a time) that an organization could be forbidden from screening a movie criticizing a presidential candidate. A celebrity or politician can go on TV to criticize that same candidate, however, and face no such legal obstacles. Luckily, the Supreme Court recognized that 501(c) organizations could be an important way for citizens to join together and speak about politics without needing to hire campaign finance attorneys every step of the way. The rich can hire all the help they need – grassroots activists can’t.
By Thomas Wheatley
Investigators from the state Department of Justice called the “previously unknown and secret investigation into a broad range of Wisconsin Republicans” John Doe III. The scheme secretly collected hundreds of thousands of Republicans’ personal emails…
The scope of John Doe III was shocking – in fact, DOJ officials could not “discern any limit” to it. More egregiously, the sleazy scheme seemed motived by partisanship…
Americans are led to believe that more government regulation of election campaign speech is key to ensuring fairness. John Doe III says otherwise.
Law-abiding citizens were exercising their free-speech rights. But that was enough for Big Brother thugs to compile a secret dossier on all aspects of their lives.
A vague and complex campaign finance law enabled these abuses. Wisconsinites learned this lesson via an especially terrifying abuse of power and reformed their laws accordingly. Other states would do well to learn from them.
Earlier this month, Jonathan Rauch – a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution – and Raymond J. La Raja – an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst – co-authored a report on the role of political parties and independent, non-party groups in selecting and cultivating political candidates. […]
Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Super PACs, Brookings Institution, Independent Groups, Jonathan Rauch, Political Parties, Raymond J. La Raja
Arizona State Senator Needs a Dose of Reality on the Negative Side Effects of Banning Marijuana Billboard Messages
Over 20 years ago, Arizona residents legalized the sale of marijuana for medical uses, but just last year, they narrowly vetoed a proposition that would have legalized the substance for recreational use as well. As in many other states around the country, this has been, and remains, a very contentious topic. Understandably, people on both […]