Political Contributions are Speech: Jeff Flake Edition

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake recently made a $100 contribution to Alabama’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Doug Jones. Along with the donation, Flake sent out this tweet: Country over Party pic.twitter.com/JZMTaEYdxQ — Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 5, 2017 Why’d Flake do this? To make a political statement. From Flake’s perspective, the message is: I […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Doug Jones, Jeff Flake, Alabama, Arizona

Let’s Talk Turkey: Comparing 2016 Election and Thanksgiving Spending

Over Thanksgiving, one of your relatives may have mentioned the amount of money ($6.4 Billion) spent in the 2016 election cycle, asserting that there is “too much money in politics.” Many advocates for greater government regulation of political speech would say the same. But, compared to what Americans spent over 5-days beginning on Thanksgiving, $6.4 Billion over a two-year period doesn’t seem like so much.

Filed Under: Featured Content

Roy Moore, Taco Bell, and How We Use Disclosure Data

Breaking news! Taco Bell is supporting Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. How could the home of the Doritos Locos Tacos and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch do such a thing?? The reaction by the enraged? Let’s boycott. Obviously, Taco Bell is not supporting Roy Moore. But in many ways, this is the inevitable, absurdist conclusion of […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Media Watch, Money in Politics, Super PACs, Roy Moore, Taco Bell, The Daily Beast, Alabama

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Scott Blackburn column: Wave election possible because of Virginia’s campaign finance laws (In the News)

By Scott Blackburn
That wave elections happen is welcome news for democracy. Incumbent legislators have many advantages over challengers, particularly those without a political pedigree. The only way many new faces get a chance in politics is on the back of a political groundswell.
But how many newcomers get to “ride the wave” depends greatly on how easy or hard it is to run a campaign. Luckily for candidates in Virginia, the state has some of the most pro-free speech campaign laws in the country.
Like just 10 other states, Virginia has no limit on how much individuals may donate to a candidate’s campaign…
In every seat that flipped parties in the election, the candidate who won received a contribution that would have been prohibited as too large under federal campaign finance rules…
Ironically, now the wave of newcomers becomes the incumbents… 
More importantly, they will have the ability to reshape campaign rules for the future.
Let’s hope that they don’t tilt those rules in their own favor. That they are good stewards of democracy. That they remember that campaigning is hard, that campaigns are expensive, and that the goal of the law should be to make it as easy as possible for the future outsider to get into politics. 

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles, Scott Blackburn

2016 Online Ad Spending in Perspective

The use of online advertisements by Russia to meddle in the 2016 campaign has featured heavily in the news. Those in favor of more regulation would have you believe that the problem is great enough to necessitate government intervention. Check out this infographic to see just how expansive these ads were.

Filed Under: Featured Content

2016 Election Spending vs. Consumer Spending

A common refrain from proponents of greater speech regulation is that Americans spend “too much money on politics.” In the 2016 election cycle, “too much money” amounted to $6.4 billion. That may sound like a lot, but when compared to consumer spending on a variety of frivolous or non-essential goods, the amount Americans spend speaking about candidates and elections pales significantly in comparison. Check out the Institute for Free Speech’s newest infographic.

Filed Under: Featured Content

Amicus Brief: Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project

Filed Under: Featured Content

Amicus Brief: Minnesota Voters Alliance, et al. v. Joe Mansky, et al.

Filed Under: Featured Content

The Hill: Saying American businesses spend ‘dark money’ harms our democracy (In the News)

By Scott Blackburn 
When trade associations speak for their members, all Americans are better informed. If there’s a new tax, you want to know if it is going to endanger your job. Trade groups can let you know. If there’s a new healthcare bill, you want to learn how it will affect your employer’s plan. Trade groups provide this information. If a union is looking to pass a pro-labor bill, you want to hear the reasons why it might be a bad idea. Trade groups offer an alternative voice.
No one will agree with everything these groups have to say. But that’s okay. Democracy is built on all sides voicing their ideas…
Sadly, some activists want to stifle the debate. One such group, the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), is engaged in efforts to pressure and shame corporations into “voluntarily” telling you what associations they take part in…
They acknowledge that “companies continue to be named and in some cases shamed by the president.” Still, they want to stop businesses from having the privacy and benefits of trade associations. Perhaps the union-backed CPA doesn’t want businesses to talk about issues at all. 

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles, Scott Blackburn

CLC Says CCP’s Wrong about “Dark Money.” Here are the Facts. Readers can Decide.

In a blog post from earlier today, the Campaign Legal Center’s Brendan Fischer critiques a mid-April CCP blog post I authored highlighting “Five Lessons about Spending in the 2016 Campaign You Might Have Missed.” In his post, Fischer labels CCP’s analysis that “‘dark money’ was nearly non-existent in 2016” as “wrong,” “misleading,” and “an alternative […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, 2016 Election Cycle, Brendan Fischer, Campaign Legal Center, Center for Responsive Politics, Dark Money, Grey Money, LLCs, One Nation, OpenSecrets

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