By Luke Wachob
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the government isn’t able to shut down dissenting views today. But private companies? That’s a totally different story. Private entities are not bound by the First Amendment, so when they join forces with government, our speech rights become muddled.
For power-hungry politicians, outsourcing censorship is a means to an end. Pressuring an industry into censoring itself, often with the threat of new laws in the background, can achieve in practice what the government is forbidden from doing directly. The result is the enforcement of conventional values to the exclusion of new or dissenting ideas…
Proponents of further regulating internet speech say they seek only increased transparency in online advertising. That doesn’t square with the Senate’s actions. Fierce condemnations of social media companies, fearmongering about “misinformation” and “fake news,” and misleading legislation titled the “Honest Ads Act” speak to much larger ambitions. They suggest an interest in dramatically curtailing freedom of speech online.
Our response to Russian dissemination of propaganda should punish Russia, not Americans. Rewriting the rules for political speech on the internet – or pressuring social media companies to regulate with a heavy hand – will threaten the future of legitimate, homegrown political movements in the United States.
By Luke Wachob
Washington Post: Danica Roem’s win proves it: We don’t need to restrict campaign contributions (In the News)
By Luke Wachob
Roem outraised Marshall 3-to-1 thanks in part to large donations from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates across the country. This was possible because Virginia is one of just a handful of states that impose no limits on who can contribute, or how much, to a political candidate…
If new political movements are to gain traction, states need to make it easy for candidates to organize, raise funds and speak to voters. The harder it is to campaign, the more the advantages shift to incumbents and well-connected political operatives.
Roem’s success shows how outsiders can benefit from a lighter touch…
Without extensive regulation of the political process, many argue, government is doomed to be dominated by the economically powerful – typically understood as old, white men.
Good news: Reality is not so bleak. Virginia’s freedom for candidates and donors allowed Roem to harness the power of the national LGBT movement. As the Old Dominion welcomes its new delegate, maybe other states should consider adopting its methods.
Let the candidates campaign. Let the donors donate. Let the voters vote. Simple as that.
“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” – Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310, 349 (2010) The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission struck down a provision of […]
Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Handouts, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issues, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, Disclosure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Disclosure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation
“[T]he government can have no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to independent expenditure–only organizations.” – SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission The product of a 2010 court ruling, “super PACs” have been a boon to citizens wishing to more effectively speak about elections. Legally, they have ensured that Americans do not lose their First Amendment rights […]
Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Handouts, Independent Speech, Issues, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Super PACs, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, The Media, Disclosure, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Disclosure, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation
By Luke Wachob
The ability to support causes privately is probably less important to the wealthy than anyone else. People who give millions of dollars to political causes can afford the security they need to be safe from potential harassers. It is the rest of us who might have reason to worry about declaring our political affiliations next to our name, home address, and employer. Yet federal law says that information must be disclosed when a donor gives just $200 to a candidate, PAC, or party.
We should be glad that a small role remains for groups that are unable to comply with the burdens of campaign finance regulations. Forcing citizen groups to operate like PACs would only further alienate Americans from public policy. And in the era of Trump, the benefits of donor privacy are increasingly recognized by progressives.
Surely there are wealthy donors who contribute to nonprofits. But new disclosure rules would barely inconvenience them; they can and do spend most of their political money elsewhere. More importantly, advocacy nonprofits are the best avenue available for average Americans to associate privately in support of a cause without fear of harassment and intimidation. That side of the equation should not be ignored.
Since Citizens United, the landscape of campaign finance law has often been described as a “wild west” where politicians, donors, and interest groups can do as they please. But a new study from the Committee for Economic Development (CED) dispels this myth. Their findings? The overwhelming majority of funds used to speak about candidates are […]
Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Money in Politics, Super PACs, CED, Committe for Economic Development, Dark Money, Nonprofit Advocacy
“The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.” – Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 48 (1976) Decided over forty years ago, the landmark 1976 Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, remains at […]
Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Handouts, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Handouts, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issues, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Money in Politics, Research, buckley, Buckley v. Valeo, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation
Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics argues that the misnomer of “dark money” is hardly the scourge it’s made out to be.
National-level institutions such as the Supreme Court, congressional leadership, and the Federal Election Commission often see a partisan divide on disclosure. In these bodies, Democrats and their appointees are more likely to support expansive disclosure requirements, and Republicans and their appointees are more likely to support stronger privacy protections. This partisan division, however, is far […]
By Luke Wachob
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens believes that individuals should be able to support causes they believe in privately. Missourians who donate to nonprofit groups such as the National Rifle Association, he says, should not be forced to have their name, address, occupation and employer appear in a public and searchable government database…
Governor Greitens should be commended for bucking the trend of politicians, like Schumer and McCaskill, who attempt to silence their critics. In supporting privacy and free speech, the governor protects both his supporters and detractors from retaliation.
Policymakers should seek balance between transparency and privacy. We have a right to know what our government is doing, but the government has no right to monitor our political affiliations or beliefs. Requiring candidates and parties to disclose their donors, while protecting privacy for nonprofit advocacy groups, is a compromise everyone should get behind.