By Luke Wachob
By starting with McCain and ending with President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the Times is able to present the withdrawal from Paris as a shift in Republican and U.S. policy. This serves as corroborating evidence for the theory that self-motivated donors, empowered by Citizens United, manipulated the GOP into opposing progressive climate policies.
Whether you support or oppose taking action on carbon emissions, a fair observer can see the Times story got the history wrong. Among Republicans, McCain’s presidential campaign was the outlier and opposition to climate deals has been and remains the norm.
In fact, Congress has rejected international efforts to police climate issues for at least two decades. In 1997, the U.S. Senate expressed its disapproval of the Kyoto Protocol in a resolution that passed 95-0. Recognizing a lost cause, President Bill Clinton did not even submit Kyoto to the Senate for ratification.
The George W. Bush administration was no different. “The president has been unequivocal. He does not support the Kyoto treaty,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in 2001. So much for the notion that withdrawing from Paris was only made possible by “an all-fronts campaign” in the wake of Citizens United, as the Times suggested.
By Luke Wachob
A recent Pacific Standard article offers a master class in how to spin run-of-the-mill issue advocacy into a spectacular conspiracy. “Awash in Dark Money, a Western Think Tank is Leading the Charge Against the Antiquities Act” is a must read, though not for the reasons the author intends. The subject – or target – of […]
Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Media Watch, Money in Politics, Antiquities Act, Dark Money, Issue Advocacy, Jimmy Tobias, Pacific Standard, Private Giving, Sutherland Institute, Utah
A troubling story came to light this week out of New Jersey, where a bank employee resigned her position in part due to pressure over her political advocacy. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) had sent a fundraising letter to the board member of a bank with a handwritten note singling out an employee, […]
Putting “Dark Money” In Context: Total Campaign Spending by Political Committees and Nonprofits per Election Cycle
PDF available here Not every group that spends money on campaigns or candidate-related speech is a political committee. If that were so, only politicians, parties, and PACs would have a voice in election campaigns. In addition to political committees, nonprofit groups are permitted to engage in a limited amount of campaign spending. These groups are […]
Here’s a strange bit of advice I bet you haven’t heard before: trust politicians, but be wary of everyone else. It’s strange advice because it’s such bad advice. Politicians lie. Everyone knows politicians lie. They distort their positions to better match public opinion. They exploit political ignorance to fuel outrage at their opponents. They dodge […]
Filed Under: Amending Press Release/In the News/Blog, Amending the Constitution, Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Issues, Super PACs, Claire McCaskill, congress, independent speech, Negative ads, Tom Udall, Udall Amendment, Missouri
Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and the latest conservative to come out with a book criticizing the sausage-making in Washington, D.C. In 2013, it was Peter Schweizer with Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets. In 2015, it was Jay Cost’s A […]
The bipartisan makeup of the Federal Election Commission is coming under fire yet again. A House bill (H.R. 2034) would effectively disband the FEC and replace the agency with a new, partisan model of campaign finance law enforcement. Perhaps recognizing how unpopular this idea would be if put in plain English, the proposal’s backers couch […]
Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, IRS and the Tea Party, Issues, Derek Kilmer, FEC, federal election commission, HR 2034, Jim Renacci, Restoring Integrity to America's Elections Act, richard nixon, Watergate, Montana, Wisconsin
American Spectator: Gorsuch Understands How Bureaucratic Bullies Harm First Amendment Rights (In the News)
By Luke Wachob
Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, appears to take seriously the threat to First Amendment freedoms posed by government intimidation. His ruling in a 2007 case should encourage defenders of donor privacy.
In Van Deelen v. Johnson, plaintiff Michael Van Deelen alleged that a sheriff deputy intimidated him during a meeting with a county appraiser. Van Deelen alleged that the sheriff deputy made intimidating gestures, bumped him, and warned, “They told me to do whatever necessary to put a scare into you. If you show up for another tax appeal hearing, I might have to shoot you.”
Van Deelen argued that these intimidation tactics infringed on his First Amendment right to petition government. Judge Gorsuch’s discussion of the case demonstrates a deep understanding that First Amendment rights are harmed when citizens can be bullied out of exercising them. “When public officials feel free to wield the powers of their office as weapons against those who question their decisions, they do damage not merely to the citizen in their sights but also to the First Amendment liberties and the promise of equal treatment essential to the continuity of our democratic enterprise,” Gorsuch explained.
By Luke Wachob
Bernie Sanders is demanding that Judge Gorsuch explain his “opposition to campaign finance reform.” Jeff Merkley is accusing conservatives of “packing the court” and threatening “the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections.” Sherrod Brown has already announced that he will vote against Gorsuch, saying, “I cannot support any nominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people.”
These attacks are beyond misleading. “Court-packing” brings to mind politically motivated efforts to increase the number of justices on a court, not the routine filling of a vacant seat. And so-called corporate personhood has been enshrined in law for centuries and is almost universally accepted by jurists. But there’s an even better reason to take these criticisms with a grain of salt.
These same senators voted in 2014 to amend the Constitution specifically because their idea of “campaign finance reform” could not exist under our current Constitution. In fact, 54 Democratic senators voted in favor of an amendment giving Congress nearly unlimited power to regulate political speech, effectively gutting the First Amendment.
Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Massive protests greeted Donald Trump upon his inauguration, but speaking out against the president will require a robust First Amendment. Will the American Left support it? Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics believes so.