Remembering the Rationale

Why are so many so eager to invoke McConnell when interpreting FECA?

Click on the title to read more… 

Filed Under: Blog

Comments on Alternative Draft AO 2006-33 (National Association of Realtors)

CCP comments on Alternative Draft Advisory Opinion 2006-33 (National Association of Realtors). Associate Director Paul Sherman recommends that the Commission adopt this alternative draft which is consistent with the text and purpose of 11 CFR 114.5(b).

Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, Uncategorized, Comments and Testimony

Regulation for regulation’s sake

On Thursday, the FEC will consider Draft Advisory Opinion 2006-33 (.pdf).  We believe the opinion mistakenly prohibits lawful activity and should be rejected by the Commission.  The Draft Advisory Opinion also illustrates the importance of staying mindful of–and the consequences of forgetting–the rationale for existing campaign finance regulation.

Click the headline to read more. 

Filed Under: Blog

“FEC Likely to Fine Several 527 Groups”

Today in Roll Call($), CCP Chairman Brad Smith offers his predictions on pending enforcement matters against 527 groups. 

Says Smith, "[T]hese cases will be big time — I think you’ll see pretty big fines come out of them.”

Filed Under: Blog

An Anniversary to Forget

Today marks the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC, upholding in most all respects the McCain-Feingold law regulating political speech.

The law itself has been in place for four years, and seems to have accomplished little or nothing of value in that time.  The McConnell decision already seems dated and tired.  The narrow majority that supported it on the Court has disappeared;  Justice Breyer’s cavalier dismissal at oral argument of the notion that the law would not prohibit George Soros and others from spending millions has been proven laughably incorrect.  The primary effect of the law on politics has been to further embroil campaigns in legal allegations, and to give the parties tools they can use as partisan weapons, as in the Republicans’ lengthy effort to use the law to silence Democratic leaning "527" groups.  The Court has already begun to move away from McConnell with its decision last term in Randall v. Sorrell, striking down Vermont’s spending and contribution limits. 

Shortly after McConnell was handed down, I wrote, "Historically, decisions that sharply curtail civil librties, as does McConnell, have not stood well the test of time, and are looked upon as black moments in the Court’s history."  I believe that this process is already underway with the flacid McConnell decision.  One of our goals here at CCP will be to hurry the process along.

Happy Anniversary, McConnell v. FEC.  May your life be deservedly short.

Filed Under: Blog

Farewell to Commissioner Toner

Michael Toner is resigning from the FEC, after completing his term as Chairman.  He brought tremendous energy to the job, and was a strong voice for common-sense regulations and internet freedom.  He will be missed. Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

Two (brief) observations on the news

Journalists can say a lot in just a few words.  This is a blessing and a curse.  Sometimes journalistic conciseness distills the truth.  Other times, brevity obscures important issues. On Tuesday, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, respectively, provided examples of each. 

Click the headline to read more. 

Filed Under: Blog

A Fair Hearing for a Fair Hearing

FEC Chairman Michael Toner and Commissioner Ellen Weintraub have put forth a most modest proposal, a pilot program providing for a basic due process right that the Commission has heretofore ignored – the right of accused to appear in person, or through counsel, before the Commission.  Response to the Toner/Weintraub proposal has demonstrated once again the uncompromising extremism that now dominates the campaign finance reform community.  Are reformers really prepared to oppose even experimenting with basic due process?  Apparently so.

CCP Chairman, and former FEC Chairman Brad Smith takes a look at the FEC’s current procedures, the Toner/Weintraub pilot proposal, and the predictably reactionary initial response from the reform community. 

Click the headline above to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Margaret Alexander Parker

CCP wishes to note the passing of Margaret Alexander Parker.  Over the last 25 years, Mrs. Parker raised hundred of millions of dollars for political candidates and shattered records for direct-mail, telemarketing, and major-donor fundraising.  In doing so, she helped fund the political speech that would persuade voters to elect presidents and members of Congress, as well as governors and countless other state officials.  Our condolences go out to her family.

Click here to read more (via Washington Post)

Filed Under: Blog

Ben Tillman: Forgotten Founding Father of “Reform”

The Tillman Act, the first federal campaign finance law, turns 100 next year.  The anticipation is already buildingFor years, reformers have eagerly cloaked their endeavours in the mantle of Teddy Roosevelt and – for the erudite – Elihu Root.  But Ben Tillman – well, Ben Tillman is one they’d like to forget.  In a soon-to-be forthcoming post, we’ll talk a bit about the continued viability of the Tillman Act.  But first, if for no other reason than because we enjoy a less theoretical post on Friday, let’s take a quick look at Ben Tillman, the Founding Father of "Reform" that today’s self-styled reformers prefer to forget.  Click on the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

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