The Hill: Facebook and the new Red Scare (In the News)

By David Keating and Paul Jossey
Various interests have seized on Russian chicanery to push “reforms” lacking priority in less neurotic times. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter seeking new rules for online ads. The resulting bill would burden internet speech with suffocating rules, even possibly banning some forms of online speech. Instead of hitting the Russians, the bill instead targets American speech, press and assembly rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In short, despite the dearth of candidate references in the Russian ads, there is already a rush to chill the world’s most dynamic speech forum…
In the rush to respond, we have to remember the most important values, which are our rights to freely speak, publish, listen, read and watch. That’s the real risk of an irrational response, whether the threats come from new laws or more speech cops at Facebook…
The government should focus on ensuring that our voting machinery is safe from foreign hackers. Protection is also needed to prevent foreign agents from stealing internal candidate campaign communications. But when the issue is speech, we must exercise great caution lest zeal to curb foreign influence instead damages our own free speech rights.

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

Is Patagonia Destroying Democracy?

Holiday shoppers visiting the online home of outdoor apparel and equipment retailer Patagonia, Inc. are encountering an overtly political message: “The President Stole Your Land.” That is just the beginning of the company’s advocacy. Upon clicking “Learn More,” visitors are presented with a brief description of what exactly the company is referring to: “In an […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Issues, Bears Ears National Monument, Corporate Advocacy, corporate speech, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Patagonia, Public Lands

Georgetown Public Policy Review: Do Taxpayer-Funded Campaigns Increase Political Competitiveness? (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
Advocates of taxpayer-funded political campaigns often claim that such systems improve the political process by exposing incumbent politicians to more competition and increasing the chance that challengers will defeat them in elections. One such advocate, the Brennan Center for Justice, has argued that tax-financed campaigns “improve competition, and help challengers.”  Lower incumbent re-election rates in states that offer tax-financed campaigns would result, as competition rises.
Evidence shows no such result. The evidence available indicates that, despite claims that this policy increases electoral competition, taxpayer financing of political campaigns does not produce statistically significantly lower re-election rates for incumbent state legislators. A comparison between states with and without such laws suggests that the system of funding campaigns has no effect on re-election rates. Many factors contribute to high incumbent re-election rates across states, such as name recognition, the platform provided by elected office, and voter satisfaction with their representatives. Tax-financing of campaigns is not one of those factors.

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

The Steve Gruber Show: Zac Morgan: No “reasonable expectation of privacy” from your phone’s location data (In the News)

Zac Morgan, is a staff attorney at the Institute for Free Speech and an Opinion contributor to USA Today. The government says you have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” from your phone’s location data. And the government believes that it should be able to get your location history from your phone provider on, more-or-less, its own say-so. 

Filed Under: Broadcast, Video, Audio, In the News

Letter in Support of Repeal of the Internal Revenue Service’s Form 990, Schedule B

PDF of letter available here The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Paul Ryan Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, The Institute for Free Speech[1] writes in support of repeal of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Form 990, Schedule B requirement. Eliminating this mandate is a sensible and much-needed policy that would end the statutory […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, External Relations Comments and Testimony, Federal Comments and Testimony, IRS and the Tea Party, Form 990, Schedule B

Political Contributions are Speech: Jeff Flake Edition

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake recently made a $100 contribution to Alabama’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Doug Jones. Along with the donation, Flake sent out this tweet: Country over Party — Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 5, 2017 Why’d Flake do this? To make a political statement. From Flake’s perspective, the message is: I […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Doug Jones, Jeff Flake, Alabama, Arizona

No, “Big Donors” Aren’t the Only Ones Who Want Tax Reform

A perennial tactic in political debates is to oppose legislation not just in terms of ideology or policy soundness, but also to attribute the worst intentions to your rivals. The simplest way to do so is to call the other side “corrupt.” When you are so certain that your worldview is self-evidently correct, surely nobody […]

Filed Under: Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Donors, Small Donors, Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, Tax Reform

Urban Family Talk: Stacy on the Right (Audio) (In the News)

Institute for Free Speech Attorney Zac Morgan discusses the Fist Amendment implications of the Supreme Court case Carpenter v. United States (beginning at 19:00).

Filed Under: Broadcast, Video, Audio, In the News

NBC Chicago: Current and Former Lawmakers Ask High Court to Hear Blagojevich Case (In the News)

By Phil Rogers
Emphasizing they take no position on Blagojevich’s guilt or innocence, the lawmakers emphasize the need to clarify once and for all the vagueries of campaign finance law in the United States.
“This court’s guidance is needed to distinguish the lawful solicitation and donation of campaign contributions from criminal violations of federal extortion, bribery, and fraud laws,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief filed Monday, noting that the court’s landmark McCormick decision stated flatly that political candidates can’t “realistically avoid soliciting campaign funds from the very constituents whose interests they may later advance through the support of specific legislation.” …
In a second brief filed in support of Blagojevich getting his day before the high court, the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers agreed that the current rules surrounding campaign finance are confusing at best.
“A correct determination of what words and actions are legal and what are not legal is absolutely critical,” the defense lawyers wrote…
Two other groups also filed amicus briefs in support of the court taking Blagojevich’s case, the Institute for Free Speech, and the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law.

Filed Under: In the News

Brace Yourself for the Tax Ads, You Just Might Learn Something

As the end of the year approaches, legislation that amends portions of the federal tax code is moving quickly through Congress. Unsurprisingly, over the past couple of weeks, this effort has dominated the news cycle. As new amendments are penciled in every day, those in favor, those opposed, and those who fall somewhere in the […]

Filed Under: Blog, Ads, Advertising, Tax Reform

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