David Keating

Alliance for Charitable Reform: Debating the Johnson Amendment (In the News)

David Keating: The current law is poorly written. Given that it was added on the Senate floor in 1954 with no hearings or substantial debate, that’s not surprising. Lyndon Johnson wasn’t looking out for the integrity of the political system or charitable groups when he proposed the amendment. He was concerned about his own reelection prospects after winning by just 87 votes in his 1948 reelection campaign…
Some of the activities banned by the Johnson amendment are clear. Charities may not spend money on ads endorsing a candidate. Charities may not donate to candidate committees, political parties or political committees (PACs). Beyond that, no one knows for sure. That’s a problem, and a big one, because vague laws chill our First Amendment speech rights…
The problems created by the Johnson amendment are getting worse, not better. As everyone knows, the news business has fallen on hard times since the internet cut classified and display advertising and created many new competitors. As a result many news organizations have become 501(c)(3) charities. Does “publishing statements” on candidates or a political campaign endanger such a news organization’s tax status?

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: First Amendment gives advocacy groups a right to privacy (In the News)

By David Keating
Perhaps you want to limit the right of elected officials, like Eric Greitens, to raise money for advocacy groups. If so, tread carefully. And certainly don’t endorse new laws ensnaring groups independent of elected officials from forming and speaking out on public policy while ensuring their members keep their privacy.
In supporting privacy for these groups, the group I run does not stand alone. We stand with the Supreme Court. In NAACP v. Alabama, the court ruled that government can’t force nonprofits to turn over their membership lists. The justices warned that such disclosure “may constitute as effective a restraint on freedom of association as (other) forms of governmental action.”
In Talley v. California, the high court said disclosure requirements “would tend to restrict freedom to distribute information and thereby freedom of expression … fear of reprisal might deter peaceful discussions of public matters of importance.”
Such privacy rights related to speech also protect an independent media. Some elected officials want new laws to punish the press for publishing leaks or quoting anonymous sources. The media, including the Post-Dispatch, need to realize that the First Amendment gives it no more rights than citizens who form groups. Attacking citizen rights to free speech undermines the media’s rights to the same.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles

National Press Foundation: Why Limit Campaign Contributions? (In the News)

By Chris Adams
David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, hears all about efforts to “reform” campaign finance and he asks, Why?
Reviewing the literature on electoral competitiveness, public corruption and the flow of money into campaigns, Keating finds no relationship between money spent and important indicators of robust politics or clean governance. Since adoption of the Federal Election Campaign Act in the 1970s, for example, the number of elections with double-digit shifts in Republican or Democratic seats in Congress has dropped. And over the past 40 years, trust in government has dropped as well.
“I think the impact of these contributions is way overblown,” said Keating.
Keating and his center work to promote and defend First Amendment rights to free political speech, engaging in litigation and training designed to ease restrictions on political donations. In a presentation with NPF Paul Miller fellows, Keating said he would like to get rid of contribution limits to campaigns; substantially raise the financial threshold for something being declared a political action committee; and raise the threshold for what constitutes a small donor who doesn’t have to be disclosed (right now, it’s $200; he would raise that to $1,000).

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

Center for Individual Freedom: Free Speech and Donor Privacy (In the News)

David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics, discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court order in Independence Institute v. FEC, which marked a sad day for the First Amendment and for the right to criticize government, and the dangers invasive disclosure requirements pose to Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

Washington Examiner: The truth about Gorsuch’s record on ‘money in politics’ (In the News)

By David Keating & Luke Wachob
Democrats and progressives are losing their minds over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. One left-wing advocacy group released a video titled “3 Reasons to Fear Judge Gorsuch.” Number one? According to them, if Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, “our elections could be completely handed over to the powerful and the wealthy.”
That ludicrous statement refers to Gorsuch’s concurring opinion in Riddle v. Hickenlooper, a campaign finance case. Riddle challenged Colorado’s contribution limit law as discriminatory.
Was it ever! It allowed major party candidates to raise twice as much money as minor party candidates and independents. Progressives love to say “money isn’t speech,” but Riddle wasn’t about that. It was about equality…
Should progressives worry that Gorsuch may rule against them on campaign finance cases? Probably, given the type of restrictions they support on your free speech.
The silly Colorado law struck down by the court – they wrote it! Common Cause and like-minded groups seeking speech limits put it on the ballot. The goal? Getting money out of politics, of course.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

Daily Caller: Trump is Right: Destroy The Johnson Amendment (In the News)

By David Keating
Despite some hysterical reactions, the truth is that, as it stands, the Johnson Amendment is horribly written. It chills vital speech in violation of the First Amendment. Congress should repeal it, and pass a clear and sensible provision in its place.
The amendment was inserted into the law by a powerful senator – Lyndon Baines Johnson, who later became president. Johnson’s amendment aimed to silence groups he didn’t like. Today, the potential IRS penalty for even a minor violation of the amendment is a death sentence for any group – a complete loss of its tax exemption. That’s absurd…
No one wants churches or charities to become super PACs blessed with tax-deductible donations. That’s not what’s going to happen, and I very much doubt President Trump wants that outcome. Evangelical groups that sparked Trump’s concerns have no interest in this state of affairs either.
But do we want a law that places the IRS in a position to investigate what a preacher said from the pulpit the Sunday before Election Day?

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles

Breitbart: Democrat Commissioner Resignation Creates Opportunity for Change at FEC (In the News)

By Sean Moran
David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, told Breitbart News, “Commissioner Ravel came from California which has a different setup than the FEC. California’s electoral board is run by the governor, entirely partisan. The FEC was enacted after Watergate, and set up as a bipartisan commission to avoid partisan control over electoral law.”…
Keating explained that with Commissioner Ravel’s resignation there is much opportunity for change at the FEC. He said, “Since all of the remaining FEC Commissioners have expired terms President Trump has an enormous opportunity to reshape campaign finance. Since there cannot be more than three commissioners of any party on the board, President Trump can have the discretion to nominate future Commissioners that are more receptive to free speech.”…
President Trump ran on “draining the swamp,” and David Keating said that Trump could easily “clear the morass of regulations surrounding electoral law.” He added, “One way to drain the swamp would be to make the rules behind political speech clear and straightforward. Clear and simple rules could ensure that freedom of expression on the Internet remains unregulated.”

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

CPI: Business Roundtable softening stance on political transparency? (In the News)

By Dave Levinthal
In its latest “Principles of Corporate Governance” report, the Business Roundtable encourages corporate members to decide for themselves whether to publicly disclose political activities, such as contributing cash to so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups…
But David Keating, president of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for political speech rights, disagrees, calling the Business Roundtable’s latest statement on political disclosure “unremarkable.”
Keating – whose legal efforts led to the creation of super PACs – noted that the Business Roundtable’s Principles of Corporate Governance document scolds corporate shareholders who attempt “to use the public companies in which they invest as platforms for the advancement of their personal agendas or for the promotion of general political or social causes.”…
In sum, the Business Roundtable “does not appear to have softened its stance on voluntary disclosure,” Keating said. “Disclosing one’s affiliations with trade associations and nonprofits creates a roadmap for activists to pressure corporations in an attempt to starve [politically active nonprofit] groups of support and silence their voices.”

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

Concurring Opinions: FAN 141 (First Amendment News) Judge Neil Gorsuch – the Scholarly First Amendment Jurist (In the News)

By Ronald K.L. Collins
“Judge Gorsuch is a serious, accomplished jurist who will defend a robust First Amendment.” There is truth there, in David Keating’s assessment of the First Amendment opinions of Judge Neil Gorsuch…
If one scans what we now know of the arc of Judge Gorsuch’s views on the First Amendment and free expression, it is readily apparent than he has long and informed commitment to the First Amendment. Should that continue, and it seems likely to, he could well become the First Amendment point-person on the Court.
David Keating: “Judge Gorsuch’s record suggests he will be a strong defender of free speech rights if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He wrote or joined opinions on a wide variety of topics related to free speech, including campaign finance, petition clause and defamation cases. Each time, he ruled for free speech. He applies real scrutiny in constitutional challenges and is a terrific writer. Not only are his opinions a joy to read, they are clear.”
“It’s ironic that President Trump nominated a judge who wrote or joined four opinions in cases brought against the media. Each time Gorsuch ruled for the media defendants.”

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

Washington Examiner: Gorsuch’s record shows strong support for the First Amendment view of campaign finance laws (In the News)

By David Keating
In his time on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Gorsuch consistently wrote or joined pro-free speech rulings. The Center for Competitive Politics found four cases Gorsuch has ruled on concerning press freedom, one case concerning petition rights, and one case on contribution limits. In each instance, he came down on the side of the First Amendment…
Critics of campaign finance laws will be particularly heartened by Gorsuch’s concurring opinion in the contribution limit case Riddle v. Hickenlooper. Riddle was a challenge to Colorado’s contribution limit laws, which allowed Democratic and Republican candidates to raise twice as much money as minor party and independent candidates. The majority struck down the law as a violation of the equal protection clause.
More interesting than that is Gorsuch’s concurring opinion in the case. He expressed “some uncertainty about the level of scrutiny the Supreme Court wishes us to apply” to contribution limit cases, and signaled that he might support the application of strict scrutiny, the most stringent standard of judicial review.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles, Uncategorized

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