By Jena McGregor
The report released Tuesday, by the nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, creates an index that ranks companies based on the disclosure, oversight and policies about their election-related spending…
The study ranks companies based on the information they provide on their web sites about factors such as payments to super PACs and tax-exempt organizations like 501(c)(4)s, whether or not senior managers or board members oversee political spending and activities, and what kind of policies they outline for how and where money can be spent…
One critic of the index is the Center for Competitive Politics’ Brad Smith, a former Federal Election Commission chair who says much political spending by corporations is already disclosed and that the index is a “one-size-fits-all” model that does not necessarily have corporations’ best interests at heart. He suggests those behind the index “tend to think corporate involvement is a bad thing — they want to get corporations not to participate. But most Americans, I think, believe corporations do have a role to play in terms of politics.”
By Jena McGregor
By Edward Graham
Bradley Smith, a former Republican FEC chairman and the current chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, cautioned against a rush to impose new disclosure requirements that might limit First Amendment rights before understanding the extend of foreign involvement in the presidential election.
Smith added that current federal law already requires disclaimers for paid ads supporting or opposing candidates, including those online – although he said there are exemptions for smaller campaign items, like bumper stickers and small internet ads like Google search advertisements.
“I think we need to be careful about what the response should be, making changes that we can make that are effective,” Smith said in a Wednesday phone interview. “But we should realize that, if this is really a case of the Russian government involved, this is something in which the FEC and campaign finance disclosures have a really small role to play. It’s really something for counterintelligence operations or the Department of Justice.”
An FEC spokesperson would not comment on Klobuchar and Warner’s legislative efforts, but pointed to the commission’s vote at its Sept. 14 open meeting to reopen the comment period on proposed rulemaking on internet disclaimers for an additional 30 days.
By Michelle Casady
Trainor has previously represented conservative group Empower Texans, which has fought the Texas Ethics Commission on the disclosure of political donors.
But David Keating, president of the nonprofit group Center for Competitive Politics, an organization whose stated mission is to “promote and defend First Amendment rights” said there is a big difference between being a lawyer, paid to advocate for your client, and being a commissioner on the FEC. Naysayers may be conflating the two, he said.
Keating, who said he has met Trainor on a few occasions while in Austin testifying before the Texas Ethics Commission, said Trainer is “very knowledgeable” on election law.
“There are groups that don’t like him, so they’re trying to dig up what they can to make it controversial,” he said. “Trey clearly is someone who believes in free speech. I think he’s going to apply the law as it’s written and not come up with a hair-brained interpretation of what the law is.”
Keating said that although it is historically not common, senators have been able to block some “highly qualified” candidates for the post in the past, such as one put forward by Obama who had to withdraw his nomination, he said. He said he doesn’t think that will happen in Trainor’s case.
By Jordan S. Rubin
Though the justices are asked to decide whether the Fourth Amendment applies in Carpenter’s case, some of the outside briefs are concerned with another amendment: the First.
One of the First Amendment-focused briefs comes from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 19 media organizations. Another was filed by a diverse band of racial justice and economic freedom groups, led by the Center for Competitive Politics, an organization whose goal, according to its website, is “to promote and defend the First Amendment’s rights to freely speak, associate, assemble, publish, and petition the government.”…
The competitive politics brief’s concern is that, in “a world where tracking information is so precise that individual rooms can be differentiated, the locations of multiple people can be amalgamated, allowing the government to assemble an extraordinarily precise picture of citizens’ memberships, meetings, and associations.”
Thus, “the government’s warrantless access to this information threatens Americans’ First Amendment right ‘to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing,'” they argue, quoting NAACP v. Alabama…
A ruling against Carpenter, then, could “discourage Americans from engaging in public gatherings and private meetings of all types, chilling both social and political association and the collective speech it fosters,” they conclude.
By Sarah Kleiner
Seizing on the specter of Russian election influence, they’ve ramped up their quixotic effort – with minimal effect – to blunt Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision that unleashed a torrent of special interest spending on U.S. elections.
In doing so, they’ve introduced two dozen bills related to money in politics…
Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican chairman of the FEC, said campaign finance deregulation, in general, makes sense.
Smith, founder and chairman of pro-deregulation nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, sees many of the Democratic proposals on the table now as efforts to rig the system in their favor.
The FEC, for example, isn’t as divided as some people make it out to be; the vast majority of money raised and spent in U.S. elections is already disclosed; and government probably shouldn’t be in the business of financing campaigns, he said.
There’s strong reason to believe people such as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse want reform because “they think it will stifle speech that opposes their agenda,” Smith said.
By Ashley Balcerzak
State lawmakers this year are engaging in full-throated debate on campaign finance proposals – with some surprising outcomes.
New Mexico’s secretary of state may have found a way to enact rules that the governor vetoed months before…
In April, Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, vetoed legislation that doubled contribution limits but tightened donor-disclosure rules.
Just two months later, newly elected Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver proposed a campaign-finance rule that included elements of the failed bill, though not the increased contribution limits. This angered opponents of increased disclosure requirements…
“The proposed rule attempts to legislate rather than implement existing law,” Tyler Martinez, an attorney with the conservative Center for Competitive Politics and no relation to New Mexico’s governor, wrote in public testimony to the secretary of state.
Americans for Prosperity: Prosperity Podcast #75: Are Democracy Vouchers Good or Bad for Democracy? (In the News)
Should you be taxed to fund political campaigns? Seattle has experimented with so-called democracy vouchers, or tax financed campaigns, and the results haven’t been good. Property taxes on businesses and individuals in the Emerald City have been hiked by $3 million per year to finance these campaigns, and the money has almost all gone to incumbents. Other cities, including Washington, D.C., are considering joining Seattle in tax financed campaigns. Scott Blackburn, a senior research analyst at the Center for Competitive Politics, joins the podcast to explain why that’s a bad idea.
By Jack Crowe
There were 9,791 registered lobbyists at the end of June, the lowest number at any point since 2008, and special interest spending on lobbying reached its lowest point in the last decade in the second quarter of 2017, according to a Boston Globe review of the last decade of lobbying data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Trump administration’s legislative agenda has been marred by a failure to achieve a bipartisan coalition on major legislative priorities. The failure of GOP leadership to whip the necessary votes required for Obamacare repeal in early July likely serves as a signal to special interests that the legislative arena will remain resistant to major breakthroughs for the foreseeable future.
“There’s nothing happening,” Center for Competitive Politics President David Keating told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The fact that nothing is really happening, no legislation is really going anywhere, which means that no one feels the need to ramp up. The biggest bill that came down the pike was the health care bill and nothing came of it.”
By Brendan Kirby
Trump ordered a 90-day pause of travelers from six majority-Muslim nations and a 120-day pause on refugee resettlements to give the government time to implement “extreme vetting” procedures. But appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia, and San Francisco both ruled the executive order unconstitutional and blocked it from taking effect.
The Supreme Court partially reversed that, allowing portions of the ban to take effect. The court has set oral arguments for Oct 10 to consider the underlying merits of the case.
Other briefs filed this month include…
A friend-of-the-court brief by two organizations, the Public Policy Legal Institute and Center for Competitive Politics. They object to the appeals courts assessing motive based on campaign statements: “A judicial review of campaign speech — even speech that sheds light on the reasons for later official action — chills expression and conflicts with numerous long-standing protections for campaign speech.”
By Gordon R. Friedman
A Multnomah County judge heard hours of what he said were “illuminating” arguments Tuesday for why new political campaign spending limits should be allowed or overturned.
Multnomah voters overwhelmingly approved new limits on campaign contributions last year. But the Oregon Supreme Court, citing the state constitution’s strong free speech protections, has largely said no, no, no…
Attorney Owen Yeates, representing the Taypayer Association of Oregon, countered: “It doesn’t matter if 89 or 99 percent of the voters agree to something if it tramples on the rights of voters and of speakers in the county,” he said.
“We have to protect the ability of people to make meaningful communications to the public. And here, that costs money,” said Yeates, of the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia-based group that has argued against campaign finance limits.
Bloch, the judge, promised to provide as a ruling “as quickly as I possibly can.” That’s expected to be before September 1, when the new campaign spending limits take effect.
He said his decision will likely not be the final one, given that both sides have indicated their openness to appeals.