By Jeff Brindle
Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, a married couple from Florida, challenged a provision in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that limits contributions by individuals to $2,700 in the primary and $2,700 in the general election…
Holmes and Jost, while not challenging contribution limits per se, maintain that it is a violation of their First Amendment rights to bar them from contributing $5,200, or two times $2,600, to a candidate in the general election…
Bradley Smith, a former FEC member and free speech advocate, said the election-cycle contribution split clearly favors incumbents, who often face little primary opposition and simply roll their primary contributions into their general election campaign kitties.
“Campaign finance laws often raise difficult questions about the intersection of free speech and elections, but not every case is a tough one. Some laws are just plain dumb and unfair, no matter what your views on campaign finance,” said Smith in an April 10, 2017, op-ed column in the Washington Examiner. His group, Institute for Free Speech, represents Holmes and Jost.
By Jeff Brindle
By Daniel W. Staples
Upholding contribution ceilings in federal election law, the en banc D.C. Circuit rejected claims Tuesday from Florida voters who wanted to forgo campaign donations in the primary season to double up in the general election.
In 2014, the election year that prompted the underlying challenge, federal base limits prevented any individual from contributing more than $2,600 to a candidate in each election for which the candidate was competing.
Primary and general elections are considered separate elections, however, so the same donor could contribute $2,600 to the same candidate for each contest.
Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, a married couple living in Florida, challenged the scheme as an unconstitutional bifurcation of what they construed as an overall $5,200 cap…
Allen Dickerson, an attorney for Holmes and Jost with the Institute for Free Speech, called the ruling a disappointment and said they might appeal.
“The FEC has never shown that restricting campaign contributions on the basis of the time of year they are given prevents corruption,” said Dickerson, who is legal director of the institute. “Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals deferred to Congress, and left intact a situation that is illogical and unfair to both candidates and donors.”
By Jennifer Suder
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday rejected a challenge to a campaign finance law that set limits on federal donations to primary and general elections.
The law placed a per-election donation cap: $2,600 for primary elections and $2,600 for general elections.
A Florida couple, Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, brought an action against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2014, arguing that they should be able to donate $5,200 during the general election, rather than being forced to split the maximum donation between the primary and general elections. Further, they argued, if spending $5,200 over both elections does not raise undue prospect of corruption, then donating all of the money during the general election should similarly be permitted.
By News Service of Florida
In a case brought by a Florida couple, a federal appeals court Tuesday rejected a challenge to a campaign-finance law that places limits on contributions in primary and general elections.
Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, a married couple, each backed a congressional candidate in California and Iowa during the 2014 elections.
During that election cycle, contributors were limited to writing $2,600 checks to candidates in primary elections and $2,600 checks in general elections.
In a lawsuit filed against the Federal Election Commission, Holmes and Jost did not challenge the overall $5,200 contribution limit — but said they should have been able to write $5,200 checks to their candidates for the general election instead of splitting the amount between contributions for the primary and general elections.
By Dennis Romboy
Government lawyers have asked a judge not to dismiss the Federal Election Commission complaint against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
The government says in a new court filing that it has a “more-than-plausible” case that Swallow violated the FEC’s ban on making campaign contributions in the name of another person…
Swallow’s new lawyers from the Virginia-based Institute for Free Speech, including a former FEC chairman, want Judge Dee Benson to dismiss the complaint.
Swallow broke no law, and the regulation cited in the complaint is illegal and violates the First Amendment, according to his lawyers.
Congress never created secondary liability – the practice of holding one party legally responsible for helping another – for the type of campaign finance violation Swallow is alleged to have committed, they say.
Not only is the FEC going after Swallow for something he did not do, it is pursuing him for violating a law that does not exist, his lawyer argued.
By Emma Leathley
Representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Google are expected to testify this week at three congressional hearings on the influence of social media in the 2016 election…
Last week, current and former representatives of print, online and broadcast media as well as two nonprofits testified on the House bill before the House Subcommittee on Information Technology.
Allen Dickerson, the legal director for the Institute for Free Speech, said he opposed adding online political ads to existing regulations on electioneering communications on the pretext of preventing foreign intervention, which Congress can regulate separately.
The Institute for Free Speech (IFS) – known as the Center for Competitive Politics until last week – generally opposes campaign finance transparency on First Amendment grounds. The organization represented the plaintiffs in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, which helped give rise to super PACs.
By Nick Budnick
Written by the county’s charter review committee with input from local activists, the measure was designed to conflict with Supreme Court rulings on both the state and federal level, giving activists a path to revive campaign contribution limits in Oregon and the entire country through the appeals process.
In April, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners started that process, voting to forward the measure to a judge for constitutional validation. County attorneys filed a brief supporting the campaign reforms.
In August, Multnomah Circuit Judge Eric Bloch heard arguments over the measure. Business groups including the Portland Business Alliance argued against it, citing past court rulings, and so did the Taxpayers Association of Oregon – the latter in conjunction with a Virginia-based group called the Center for Competitive Politics…
“The plain fact is that these very regulations have been tried before, these same arguments routinely made, and both have been repeatedly rejected by the highest courts. This court has no discretion to revisit those decisions,” contended two attorneys for the Virginia center, Owen Yeates and Allen Dickerson.
Deseret News: New John Swallow defense team asks judge to toss FEC complaint against him (In the News)
By Dennis Romboy
Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow has mobilized a free-speech rights group and a former Federal Election Commission chairman to defend him against alleged election law violations.
Lawyers for the Center for Competitive Politics and ex-FEC Chairman Scott Thomas, all based in Washington, D.C., have asked a federal judge to dismiss the complaint against Swallow.
“The FEC’s pursuit of Mr. Swallow is a clear overreach of the agency’s constitutional authority, made especially dangerous by the fact that it concerns his speech rather than his actions,” Allen Dickerson, the center’s legal director, said in a statement.
Swallow broke no law, and the regulation cited in the complaint is illegal and violates the First Amendment, according to the filing in U.S. District Court.
Salt Lake Tribune: Swallow asks judge to toss FEC lawsuit, says it violates his right to free speech (In the News)
By Jennifer Dobner
Swallow’s attorneys argue that the FEC has never accused the former GOP officeholder of doing anything more than giving Johnson advice – an act they say he’s now being illegally prosecuted for under a quietly adopted “secondary liability” rule that holds one person legally responsible for helping another.
It’s a broad interpretation of election law, Swallow’s lawyers from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) contend, that has a chilling effect on free speech.
“This means speakers like Mr. Swallow must be silent or edit their speech to avoid tripping over an amorphous line,” the motion states. “The First Amendment does not permit such unbounded regulations.”…
Even if the FEC could make a sound argument for its rule – one reportedly based on a judicial decision – the agency failed to inform campaign practitioners of its intentions or reasoning when it adopted the rule creating a new class of liability, the motion adds.
“In other words, the FEC pulled a switcheroo,” Swallow’s attorneys wrote, arguing that the court should dismiss the case and toss out the FEC’s “misguided regulation.”
Ballot Access News: Libertarian Party Files Brief Attacking Federal Campaign Limit on Bequests (In the News)
By Richard Winger
On September 5, the Libertarian National Committee filed this 27-page brief in Libertarian National Committee v Federal Election Commission, U.S. District Court, D.C., 1:16cv-121. The issue is whether it is constitutional for the federal government to prevent the party from receiving a bequest of amounts greater than $33,900 in any one year…
This is the second such lawsuit. The first one, when Raymond Burrington died and left the party $217,734, took so long to adjudicate, the money had all been possessed by the party before it was over, so it was declared moot. This case was filed in 2016 and is likely to be quicker, because some of the issues were already settled in the first lawsuit.
This new case is stronger than the last one, because in late 2014, Congress passed a budget bill that said national political parties could receive contributions almost ten times higher, if the money was used for one of three purposes: legal, national convention expenses, or headquarters expenses. The party argues that if such big contributions are now legal if a party wants to use the money just for those purposes, then a general gift to such a party can’t possibly cause corruption.