Judicial candidate touts “reform” line, is fined $25,000

A successful candidate in Florida for a county judgeship has been fined $25,000 by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Her offense? Apparently trying to insinuate that her opponent’s campaign contributors expected to get something in return for their support.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Brevard County judge has agreed to a public reprimand and a $25,000 fine for “improper conduct” during her successful campaign last year to the bench, officials announced today.

A panel that investigates judges said Michelle Baker’s campaign mailer violated judicial cannons of conduct that require “dignity appropriate to judicial office.”

…At issue is a campaign mailer that said Hotusing’s campaign donors largely consisted of criminal defense attorneys and it asked voters: “What are they trying to buy?”

Filed Under: Blog, Florida

Spying on citizen activism makes a comeback

Elizabeth Carney at National Journal today has a column making the case for the government to spy on the political activities of its citizens.

That isn’t exactly how she puts it, of course. So-called “grassroots lobbying disclosure” is apparently back in fashion after some shenanigans pulled by a lobbying firm to misrepresent the views of several community leaders on climate change issues. Carney reports:

The investigation into a prominent lobbying firm’s fake letters to Congress points up the dangers to K Street in so-called grassroots and grass-tops lobbying…

…Bonner & Associates, which sent out the letters…got a temporary reprieve last week after Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, abruptly canceled a scheduled hearing on the faked letters following a rules dispute…

Filed Under: Blog

Supreme Court blocks disclosure in Washington

SCOTUS Blog reports that, “[T]he Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon blocked officials in Washington State from publicly disclosing the names and addresses of individuals who signed petitions seeking a voter referendum on a new gay rights law.”

This decision may open up the possibility that disclosure in ballot campaigns is constitutionally suspect, and signal a welcome growth in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in McIntyre, which struck down disclosure requirements for opponents to a public-school levy.

Filed Under: Blog

House hearing on post-Caperton judicial recusal Tuesday

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy will hold a hearing Tuesday on what they call “Examining the State of Judicial Recusals after Caperton v. A.T. Massey.”

Details, including potential witnesses, are not yet available for the 10 a.m. hearing in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

Filed Under: Blog

Rep. Larson goes all-in on ‘dialing for dollars’ argument

The reasons “reformers” tick off for passing the Fair Election Now Act (FENA), which would implement taxpayer funded political campaigns, invariably include the story of the poor, downtrodden congressman — forced to spend hours upon hours in a tiny room “dialing for dollars.” Something must be done!

Filed Under: Blog

Citizens United and corporate governance

Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer has an interesting, if occasionally hyperbolic and certainly ideologically-driven, article over at Slate today. In what is something of a follow-on to his September article urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Austin decision in its forthcoming Citizens United ruling, Spitzer takes after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and urges state comptrollers and treasurers in charge of public pensions to try to reign in the political activities of the Chamber.

Writes Spitzer: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce…has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform …

The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression… It is the chamber’s right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively…

The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money…”

Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog

Censoring political speech in the Live Free or Die state

The pending ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United is expected to free up businesses, unions, and nonprofit advocacy corporations to voice their opinions with minimal restraint in elections. For those of us who believe strongly in the First Amendment and the right of all citizens to speak either individually or collectively, the anticipated striking down of the 1990 Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a good chunk of McCain-Feingold will be a welcome development.

But from the Granite State comes a tale that demonstrates just how imperiled political speech will continue to be even if/when Austin meets its well-deserved demise. According to at least one judge in New Hampshire, speech by business entities can be restrained by such things as consumer protection laws and other regulations on commercial speech, even when the speech is plainly political in nature.

Filed Under: Blog, New Hampshire

FEC meeting features coordination regulations

Today’s FEC meeting featured minimal discussion and disagreement as the commissioners introduced and unanimously passed two notices of proposed rulemakings: one addressed federal election activity and the other — the issue that packed the seats in the 9th floor hearing room at 999 E St. — addressed coordinated communications.

The FEC also unanimously passed three advisory opinions: (1) allowing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to file bundling reports quarterly instead of monthly, (2) affirming the Illinois Green Party as a state party committee and (3) — the most interesting AO — allowing a Virginia PAC and fund affiliated with the Sierra Club to conduct “voter drives,” air ads with express advocacy targeting local (non-federal) candidates, and air issue ads. The FEC’s AO concluded that the Sierra Club organizations at issue are not “political committees” subject to the FEC’s allocation regulations (11 CFR 106.6).

Filed Under: Blog

Hayward moderates FENA discussion

George Mason University Law School Asst. Prof. — and CCP board member — Allison Hayward moderates this discussion of the Fair Elections Now Act hosted by the Federalist Society.

The panelists are Craig Holman of Public Citizen and William Maurer of the Institute for Justice.

Filed Under: Blog hearing set

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit set oral argument for’s appeal of an earlier prelimary injunction ruling. The Dec. 4 hearing in v. FEC will be before a three-judge panel: Circuit Judges Henderson and Griffith and Senior Circuit Judge Williams.

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

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