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 Emma Leathley
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.
By Editorial Board
Thanks to a provision of Proposition 73, an initiative approved by voters in 1988, local governments and the state of California can’t create public financing systems for political campaigns. (There’s an exception for charter cities. Six California charter cities, including San Francisco, have adopted limited public funding programs to match small campaign contributions.)
Last year, the state Legislature passed SB 1107, a measure from state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, to allow cities, counties and the state to provide public financing for campaigns…
Unfortunately, Judge Timothy Frawley, of the Sacramento Superior Court, just struck down the new law, arguing that it didn’t “further the purpose” of Proposition 73.
Allen has said he’ll urge Attorney General Xavier Becerra to pursue an appeal. He should do so.
But, ultimately, the final approval may need to come from the voters.
Los Angeles Times: Judge invalidates law that would have allowed public financing of political campaigns in California (In the News)
By Patrick McGreevy
A Superior Court judge has struck down a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that would have allowed cities, counties and the state to provide public financing of political campaigns, ruling that it violates a ban on that use of taxpayer dollars established nearly 30 years ago, officials said Monday.
Judge Timothy M. Frawley in Sacramento ruled that the financing law, which was signed last September, “directly contradicts” Proposition 73, an initiative approved by voters in 1988 that bans use of public money for campaigns.
The judge ruled the new law did not “further the purpose” of Proposition 73, which is the only means in which the Legislature can amend a law passed by the voters…
“We are very pleased with the decision,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which filed the lawsuit against Brown.
“It’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars when taxpayer dollars are limited,” Coupal added. “And you are in a situation where the government is picking winners and losers, because how do you decide who gets it [money] and who doesn’t?”
By John Ryder
In 2016, Multnomah County, Oregon, passed, and voters approved, a measure which created contribution limits, expenditure limits, registration requirements, and disclosure requirements for spending related to county races. The expenditure limits provide that individuals and entities may only spend money if the money was collected subject to the contribution limits.
The new rules also limit aggregate independent expenditures per election cycle for individuals and political committees, impose no independent expenditure limits on small donor committees, and completely prohibit independent expenditures by all other entities, including corporations and non-profit organizations.
The primary problem with this misguided effort restricting constitutional rights of political speech is that it ignores not only Citizens United but also 40 years of settled campaign finance case law…
Multnomah County filed a petition for validation of the rule in Oregon state court in May. The Taxpayers Association of Oregon, represented by the Center for Competitive Politics, is seeking to intervene in the case and has masterfully outlined the legal problems with new rules and with the rule’s supporters’ arguments.
Reason: Trump Attacks on Washington Post Illustrate Importance of Citizens United By Ed Krayewski Absent this protection, the federal government could decide that the Washington Post, as Trump claims, was a sort of lobbying arm of Amazon, and thus muzzle their election-related speech. It’s not theoretical. Before Citizens United, as A. Baron Hinkle has pointed […]
By Kurt Erickson
Ten months after Ron Calzone declared victory when a circuit judge blocked the Missouri Ethics Commission from requiring him to register to lobby the Legislature, a state appeals court said the original ruling was premature…
Calzone, director of a group called Missouri First, speaks to lawmakers at the Capitol, often at public hearings, but says he does not buy food or gifts for legislators. Missouri First is a group that promotes constitutional governance.
However, in 2015, a complaint was filed against him with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which decided that Calzone should have been registering as a lobbyist and would need to in the future.
In fighting that decision, Calzone won a ruling from Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem that he did not have to register or pay a $1,000 fine to the MEC.
But, the appeals court found that Calzone had not exhausted his ability to appeal the MEC decision before he went to court.
The ruling said because other remedies were available, it was an “abuse of discretion” for Beetem to block the MEC from further pursuing its case against Calzone.