Allentown Morning Call: Pa. among top states that support free speech of campaign donors (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
The Institute’s Free Speech Index scores and ranks all 50 states on their laws governing political giving, grading them from A-plus to F. Fortunately, Pennsylvania ranked as one of the top states in the country, earning an A grade…
Pennsylvania’s high score is particularly notable given the poor performances of its neighbors. Bordering West Virginia and Maryland both receive an F, while Ohio and Delaware each earn a D. New York fares a little better, earning a C grade, but it still restricts most forms of political giving. Taking stock of the entire East Coast, only Virginia does as well as the Keystone State at protecting the freedom to support candidates and causes…
Capping the amount of money that a candidate’s supporters can donate makes it harder for political outsiders to break into a system dominated by entrenched incumbents.
Perhaps that is why recent calls to impose contribution limits in Pennsylvania have come from the governor’s residence. Gov. Tom Wolf has pushed for contribution limits as part of his plan to “reform” Pennsylvania politics. If he gets his way, democracy will become less vibrant in the state and voters will have less speech about candidates to inform their vote.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

Evansville Courier & Press: Indiana among top states for political speech rights (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
The Institute’s Free Speech Index scores and ranks all 50 states on their laws governing political giving, grading them from A+ to F. Fortunately, Indiana ranked as one of the top states in the country, earning an A grade. This places it alongside 10 other states that earned an ‘A’ or higher. One crucial trait these states have in common is that they don’t limit the freedom of individuals to give to candidates, parties, and political committees, as well as the ability of parties and political committees to give to candidates…
Why is it so important that states like Indiana allow freedom in political giving to and between these groups? Because the main effect of government-imposed restrictions on political giving is to limit the amount of speech individuals, organizations, and political actors can express. Giving money is not just a show of support. It also enables candidates and groups to spread their message further.
That means stringent campaign finance laws tend to favor incumbents and hinder challengers… 
Lawmakers in Indiana deserve praise for preserving their constituents’ First Amendment freedoms. Many politicians find it easier to pass laws that make it harder for voters or rival candidates to criticize them. They do so while claiming they are protecting voters from the rich, when really, they are protecting themselves.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

Americans Support Speech Regulation… If They Are Not Told the Facts Surrounding It

Last week, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a news outlet biased in favor of greater political speech regulation, touted recent polling by the University of Maryland’s “Voice of the People” initiative. In their story, CPI specifically highlighted results showing that a large proportion of respondents support certain regulatory policies, such as a constitutional amendment […]

Filed Under: Amending Press Release/In the News/Blog, Amending the Constitution, Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Money in Politics, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing, polling, University of Maryland, Voice of the People

No, OpenSecrets, Nonprofits Are Not “Fueling” an Increase in Political Ads

Understanding election spending can be difficult. Complex campaign finance laws and numerous categories of political giving and spending are enough to make your eyes glaze over. If that’s the case for experts, reporters, and analysts working in the field, it is certainly even more incomprehensible to the average voter who has less time and know-how […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Money in Politics, Center for Responsive Politics, Political Spending, Wesleyan Media Project

Making a Difference with Anonymous Political Speech

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a detailed article about a group called “The Collective PAC,” whose mission is to “fix the challenge of African American underrepresentation in elected seats of power throughout our nation.” The Times outlines how this group is “bankrolling” Andrew Gillum, a black candidate for Florida governor in the Democratic […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Media Watch, Money in Politics, 501(c)(4)'s, Donor Privacy, Harassment, NAACP v. Alabama, Nonprofit Advocacy, Privacy, Tampa Bay Times, The Collective PAC, Florida

Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: Virginia ranked A+ for political free speech rights (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
Imagine that you lived in a state where it was illegal to express too much support for a candidate. Such a law would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment. The ability to support causes and candidates of one’s choice is key to participation in a democratic society.
Yet many states place limits on one of the most impactful ways to do so: donating money to campaigns and political groups.
For those without the time to work or volunteer in politics, this outlet is especially important. As a new Index from the Institute for Free Speech shows, state laws that limit contributions to such groups effectively restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights.
The Institute’s Free Speech Index scores and ranks all 50 states on their laws governing political giving, grading them from A+ to F. Fortunately, Virginia is ranked as one of the top states in the country, earning an A+ grade.
This places it alongside 10 other states that earned an ‘A’ or higher.
One crucial trait these states have in common is that they don’t limit the freedom of individuals to give to candidates, parties and political committees, or the ability of parties and political committees to give to candidates…
Giving money is not just a show of support. It also enables candidates and groups to spread their message further.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

Distrusting “Suspicious” Online Ads Is No Excuse for Restricting Americans’ Free Speech

A new study is being hyped as evidence that the government needs to police the First Amendment on social media. This month, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Issue One – two groups that advocate for greater political speech regulations – authored a press release touting a study by the research team of Professor Young […]

Filed Under: Blog, Campaign Legal Center, Facebook, Honest Ads Act, Internet Speech Regulation, Issue Advocacy, Political Ads, Young Mie Kim

Democracy Faces Many Challenges, But Free Speech is Not One of Them

On Tuesday, the Brookings Institution held an event entitled “Democracy’s resilience: Is America’s democracy threatened?” During the event, a panel of scholars discussed trends in U.S. and global democracy, as well as the potential erosion of democratic institutions. The panel featured E.J. Dionne, William Galston, and Thomas Mann of Brookings, and Steven Levitsky, Yascha Mounk, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Issues, Money in Politics, Brookings Institution, democracy, First Amendment, free speech, Political Speech Rights, Thomas Mann

San Antonio Express-News: Texas preserving political rights (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
The Institute’s Free Speech Index scores and ranks all 50 states on their laws governing political giving, grading them from A+ to F. Fortunately, Texas ranked among the top states, earning an A, one of 11 states earning an A or higher. One crucial trait these states share is that they don’t limit the freedom of individuals to give to candidates, parties and political committees, or the ability of parties and political committees to give to candidates.
Why is it so important that states allow freedom in political giving to and between these groups? Because the main effect of government-imposed restrictions on political giving is to limit the amount of speech individuals, organizations and political actors can express. Giving money is not just a show of support. It also enables candidates and groups to spread their message further…
Texas lawmakers deserve praise for preserving First Amendment freedoms. Many politicians find it easier to pass laws making it harder for voters or rival candidates to criticize them. They do so while claiming they are protecting voters from the rich when, really, they are protecting themselves. Texas is one of 11 states that has done an exemplary job of avoiding this trap. Hopefully, the Institute for Free Speech’s Index will shed light on how such states can continue producing pro-First Amendment policy – and will push others to do the same.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

Washington Examiner: The strangest scenes from Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony on Facebook (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
The hearing was ostensibly about data privacy, but that subject (and the hearing’s more outlandish moments) are not the only reason Americans should care about Facebook. Zuckerberg’s exchanges with senators have important implications for political speech rights as well.
First, it’s worth noting the emerging consensus that the senators’ lines of questioning revealed startling ignorance about how Facebook even works. That hasn’t reduced their propensity to regulate that which they do not understand…
This ties into a crucial matter relating to free speech – the intermittent references to the so-called “Honest Ads Act,” which would impose regulations on broad swaths of political speech online. Senators like Tom Udall, D-N.M., did their best to connect the bill to Russian interference in U.S. elections. Despite this, by the sponsors’ own admission, the bill would restrict the 99.99 percent of online political ads purchased by Americans in order to address less than 0.01 percent purchased by foreigners in the 2016 cycle. The Internet is unique as an inexpensive and invaluable forum for allowing virtually anyone to express their viewpoints to the broader public. The Honest Ads Act would negate these benefits with burdensome reporting and disclaimer requirements. Even ads that are not targeted to the “relevant electorate” of an election would face these conditions, making the bill stricter than existing rules for large-scale TV and radio advertising.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

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