Decrying “Out-of-State” Spending Only Further Divides Americans

We live in politically polarized times – that’s about the one thing most Americans can agree on. A more contentious question is what – or who – is causing that polarization. A common view is that Americans themselves have become more polarized, but Stanford political scientist Morris Fiorina sees it another way: he argues in […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Geographic Sorting, Morris Fiorina, Out-of-State Donors, Out-of-State Spending, Polarization, Political Parties

Three Campaign Finance Media Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

It’s just a few days into the new year – more than enough time for everyone to have begun breaking their resolutions, but not enough to know what exactly 2018 will hold with regard to media coverage of campaign finance stories. Looking at the past year (and beyond) of such stories in the news, however, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Media Watch, Money in Politics, 2018 Midterm Elections, Out-of-State Donors, Out-of-State Spending, Politico, The Media, Georgia, Illinois

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.

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

Brookings Report Examines How Parties Have Weakened in Relation to Independent Groups

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

Out-of-State Spending Was a Tool for Local Change in Alabama

The Alabama special election for U.S. Senate concluded Tuesday with a win for Democrat Doug Jones. Given the deep-red electoral history of the state, the victory was viewed by many as remarkable. There are a few obvious reasons for Jones’s victory. Republican candidate Roy Moore was already a controversial figure – twice removed from the […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Doug Jones, Out-of-State Donors, Out-of-State Spending, Roy Moore, Alabama

Georgetown Public Policy Review: Do Taxpayer-Funded Campaigns Increase Political Competitiveness? (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
Advocates of taxpayer-funded political campaigns often claim that such systems improve the political process by exposing incumbent politicians to more competition and increasing the chance that challengers will defeat them in elections. One such advocate, the Brennan Center for Justice, has argued that tax-financed campaigns “improve competition, and help challengers.”  Lower incumbent re-election rates in states that offer tax-financed campaigns would result, as competition rises.
Evidence shows no such result. The evidence available indicates that, despite claims that this policy increases electoral competition, taxpayer financing of political campaigns does not produce statistically significantly lower re-election rates for incumbent state legislators. A comparison between states with and without such laws suggests that the system of funding campaigns has no effect on re-election rates. Many factors contribute to high incumbent re-election rates across states, such as name recognition, the platform provided by elected office, and voter satisfaction with their representatives. Tax-financing of campaigns is not one of those factors.

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

No, “Big Donors” Aren’t the Only Ones Who Want Tax Reform

A perennial tactic in political debates is to oppose legislation not just in terms of ideology or policy soundness, but also to attribute the worst intentions to your rivals. The simplest way to do so is to call the other side “corrupt.” When you are so certain that your worldview is self-evidently correct, surely nobody […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Donors, Small Donors, Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, Tax Reform

NYT Op-Ed Grasps at Straws to Justify Online Speech Regulation

Data privacy is an increasingly salient issue. Billions of users have had their personal information leaked over the internet as a result of numerous hacks and data breaches. Many individuals hand over information voluntarily to social media companies, who in turn sell it to third parties for targeted advertising. Writing in The New York Times, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Facebook, FARA, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Honest Ads Act, Internet Speech Regulation, Russia, The New York Times

Checking in on Seattle’s “Democracy Vouchers” Experiment

This week featured the first general election in which Seattle residents and candidates were able to use the city’s new taxpayer-financing system for political campaigns. The so-called “democracy vouchers” program levied a new property tax in order to provide every voter in the city with four $25 vouchers that they could in turn give to […]

Filed Under: Blog, Money in Politics, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, Democracy Vouchers, Seattle, Washington

Targeted Advertising is Neither a Problem Nor New

The evolving story about Russian intervention in the 2016 elections has spurred Congress to fixate increasingly on online advertising. Organizations with suspected links to the Russian government ran ads on social media platforms like Facebook, where they spent about $100,000 on such content – a miniscule number compared to both domestic political spending online and […]

Filed Under: Blog, Ads, Advertising, Facebook, Internet Speech Regulation, Russia, Targeted Advertising

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