CCP calls on White House to nix draft exec. order

The Center for Competitive Politics sent a letter to the White House today detailing concerns with a proposed executive order that would inject political considerations into the merit-based federal contracting process.

The main objective of the draft executive order, which leaked last month, is to require entities with federal contracts of more than $5,000 to disclose its donations to nonprofit groups that engage in some campaign-related speech, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It would not apply to groups that receive no-bid federal grants or public employee labor unions.

“The Obama administration cannot cite a single instance of the federal contracting process being corrupted by a donation to a nonprofit group,” said CCP President Sean Parnell. “The timing of the executive order, as President Obama gears up his reelection campaign, is about politics–not concern for good government.”

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

CCP joins National Defense PAC challenge

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) announced today that it joined the legal team representing National Defense PAC in its challenge to unconstitutional Federal Election Commission regulations.

The federal suit, Carey et al v. FEC, asks the FEC to acknowledge what the courts have already decided: that any political action committee may make contributions to federal candidates using limited funds while also engaging in independent expenditures using segregated funds raised for that purpose. The FEC has demanded that grassroots organizations jump through burdensome regulatory hoops just to speak out about candidates running for office.

National Defense PAC, created by retired Rear Admiral James J. Carey, submitted a request to the FEC for an advisory opinion on the matter in August 2010. Previous court rulings, most notably in SpeechNow.org v. FEC (SpeechNow.org was represented jointly by CCP and the Institute for Justice) and EMILY’s List v. FEC, uphold the principle that organizations may engage in both types of political speech and association so long as funds are properly segregated.

The FEC deadlocked on the issue, with three commissioners voting in support of National Defense PAC’s argument. In response to National Defense PAC’s suit, the FEC has argued against injunctive relief, claiming that the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were not immediately, irreparably harmed based on the PAC’s ability to clone itself and create another organization to speak on its behalf. 

“The FEC response is typical of its disregard for those seeking clarity in their free speech rights,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “What they are really saying is, because of their belief that government alone is in the business of regulating when, where, and how people participate in politics, they don’t want to argue this case on the merits. When those are the facts, who can blame them?”

Filed Under: Carey v. FEC Other Links, Completed Case, Litigation Blog/Press Releases, Press Releases

CCP releases tax financing poll, FENA introduced in Congress

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released the results of a poll on tax financed political campaigns today as a bill to subsidize congressional campaigns with government funds was re-introduced in Congress.

Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. John Larson re-introduced the “Fair Elections Now Act” (FENA) today. The bill would allow the government to provide a 4-to-1 match of contributions of $100 or less to candidates who agree to participate. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed legislation April 12.

CCP’s poll found that Americans do not support tax funding for political candidates, and that the level of intensity shifts based on the wording of the question. The poll of 1,000 adults was developed in collaboration with University of Missouri professor Jeff Milyo and was conducted in October by YouGov as part of the recently released 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a multi-university research partnership.

“Promoters of tax financed campaigns tout many supposed benefits such as increased competition, greater candidate diversity, less corruption and reduced interest group influence, but no credible research supports those claims,” said Center for Competitive Politics Vice President Allison Hayward. “Americans are leery of a billion dollar bailout for politicians based on the unproven assumptions of Washington, D.C. interest groups.”

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing

Crossroads GPS and government transparency

Liberal-leaning pro-regulation groups blasted a conservative group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, as hypocrites for launching a transparency project but protecting the privacy of its donors.

Democrats in Congress, reeling from critical ads Crossroads GPS ran in the 2010 campaign and during the current Congress, piled on. The DCCC launched a website, wikipocrisy.org, to highlight stories about Crossroads GPS declining to disclose their donors.

The criticism of Crossroads GPS misses a huge distinction. The group is calling for government disclosure, an essential tool to hold elected officials accountable. Crossroads’ critics, however, are calling for the government to force a private groups and citizens to reveal their associations, chilling political speech as government opponents and rival groups are empowered to retaliate.

Transparency should enable citizens to serve as watchdogs of government—not the other way around.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

CCP opposes FCC regulation of political ads

The Center for Competitive Politics came out today against a proposal by a telecommunications lobbying group to force onerous disclaimers for political ads.

The petition for a Federal Communications Commission rulemaking by the Media Access Project asks the FCC to rewrite longstanding regulations to force an unworkable disclosure standard on citizen groups.

“Supporters of broad campaign finance regulation in Congress failed to pass the DISCLOSE Act, the pro-regulation bloc at the FEC failed to impose a broad rulemaking to add disclosure regulations and now groups are seeking to impose these standards through the backdoor at the FCC,” said CCP President Sean Parnell.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Why Buddy Roemer’s campaign finance pledge makes no sense

The 2012 battle for the GOP presidential nomination is heating up, and underdog candidates are grabbing the spotlight as marquee candidates continue to play coy about their political intentions.

Harvard University professor and campaign finance activist Lawrence Lessig is on a tear boosting long-shot GOP presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer for the candidate’s quixotic campaign finance pledge.

Lessig, who runs a pro-regulation group that pushes for tax financing of congressional campaigns, is praising the Reagan Democrat because of Roemer’s pledge to only accept individual contributions to his presidential campaign of $100 or less. Roemer has also pledged to report every donation, even though federal law only requires reporting donations of $200 or more.

“As much as I hoped, I never realized he was this good,” Lessig gushed Tuesday after Roemer tested out his stump speech Monday at a multi-candidate forum hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, an influential conservative group.

“Electability should not be discussed in terms of who can raise the most money, but rather who has the best ideas to raise America,” said Roemer, who supported strict campaign finance regulations as governor. “Today, I declare my independence from moneyed special interests.”

Roemer, a former Louisiana governor and congressman, is free to run his campaign any way he likes. There’s no doubt his pledge will be popular among many in the press and left-leaning interest groups. But is the federal campaign finance system really so corrupt?

Read the whole thing at The Daily Caller.

Filed Under: Blog

Bipartisan opposition to presidential tax financing system ticks up

The bipartisan opposition to handouts to presidential candidates is ticking up.

Yesterday evening, the House voted 247-175 to temporarily restrict funds from being spent on the tax financing program for presidential candidates and political party conventions.

On Jan. 26, the House voted 239-160 to permanently repeal the program.

Most of the flux was from Members of Congress who didn’t vote on the permanent repeal (H.R. 359) but voted on the temporary restriction (Amendment 208 to H.R. 1). Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sponsored both measures.

Thirty-five lawmakers didn’t vote on H.R. 359; only 11 failed to vote on Amendment 208.

Perhaps the most surprising development was that Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) switched his vote to favor at least a temporary restriction of the program. Rep. Costello voted against H.R. 359 less than a month ago.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP urges Maine lawmakers to repeal tax financing

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) called on the Maine legislature to repeal its program of taxpayer subsidies for gubernatorial candidates. The system, known as the Maine Clean Election Act, has failed to achieve any of its intended goals yet continues to fleece Maine taxpayers. 

“Tax financed campaigns were supposed to eliminate corruption, alter legislative voting patterns, diminish interest group influence, and promote citizen participation in elections,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Not only is there almost no evidence that the program achieved any of these goals, the data suggests that the opposite is happening.”

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over campaign finance issues, heard testimony Wednesday advocating full repeal of the tax financing system. The committee is also expected to take up this issue again on Feb. 25.

LD 120, sponsored by Rep. Tyler Clark, would end tax financing for gubernatorial candidates. LD 80, sponsored by Rep. L. Gary Knight, would end tax financing for primary candidates who run unopposed. CCP sent a letter to Maine lawmakers Thursday detailing reasons supporting restricting tax subsidies while urging a full repeal.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, Maine

Lawmakers clash on tax financing budget amendment

Members of Congress took up debate on amendments to a budget bill today. Republicans and Democrats offered hundreds of amendments to the bill, and the discussion featured a clash on tax financing for presidential campaigns and party conventions.

Lawmakers are considering a continuing resolution, H.R. 1, to fund the government until September. Rep. Cole offered Amendment 208, which would prevent implementation of the presidential tax financing system using funds appropriated under the continuing resolution.

Last month, the U.S. House passed H.R. 359, which would have abolished the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, but the measure has stalled in the Senate and President Obama would likely veto a stand-alone bill, assuming the Senate could pass it.

While the measure would not be permanent, Rep. Tom Cole, the sponsor of H.R. 259 and Amendment 208 to H.R. 1, said it would be a “down payment” on the goal of abolishing the system. He said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the amendment would save $38 million in budgetary authority and $40 million in outlays for Fiscal Year 2011 (CBO estimated repealing the program would save $617 million over ten years).

“We all know on this floor that we need to cut spending,” Cole said during the debate. “We can start today by cancelling political welfare for politicians and political party conventions.”

Filed Under: Blog

McConnell recounts campaign finance fight at CPAC

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today. During McConnell’s speech, he recounted his decade-long effort to restore First Amendment political rights by repealing unconstitutional campaign finance restrictions.

Last Congress, McConnell led opposition to the DISCLOSE Act, which would have banned the political speech of many independent groups and businesses while imposing an onerous disclosure and disclaimer regime designed to silence grassroots organizations. This Congress, McConnell introduced S.194 in the Senate, which would repeal the presidential tax financing program (and save taxpayers $617 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office). The House passed the bill on a bipartisan vote last month.

In a two-minute rendition, McConnell reveled in his infamy among editorial writers and pro-regulation lobbyists for standing up for free speech against skewed polls and goo-goo talking points manufactured by campaign finance “reformers”:

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

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