“Senate Does Right by Grass-Roots Lobbyists”

CCP Executive Director Steve Hoersting has an op-ed in Monday’s Roll Call ($), responding to the paper’s claim that the absence of grassroots lobbying disclosure in S.1 is a "major deficiency" in the bill.

We’ve reposted the op-ed for our readers.  Here’s a sample:

Roll Call says the provision may have failed because of “confusion over the wording of the Senate draft bill.” But on the most offensive aspect of grass-roots lobbying disclosure there is no confusion (albeit an apparent lack of understanding), for even Roll Call asserts that the House should “require professional lobbyists who form and manage coalitions to disclose what groups comprise them and how much money they are spending to drum up appeals to Congress.”

Requiring grass-roots organizations to register or compelling lobbyists to disclose when they assist groups in contacting fellow citizens would strip consultants of constitutionally guaranteed anonymity and would deprive organizations championing unpopular causes of skilled representation. This anonymity, long recognized and protected by the Supreme Court, fosters political association, guards against unwarranted invasions of privacy and protects the consultants who assist such groups from possible retribution.

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Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Senate Rejects Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure

PRESS RELEASE:  January 19, 2007

Media Contacts:

Stephen M. Hoersting: (703) 682-9359

Bradley A. Smith: (614) 236-6317 or (540) 287-8954

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Some Thoughts on the Career of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Grassroots Disclosure

CCP Executive Director Steve Hoersting today posts "MLK, Grassroots Lobbyist," at National Review Online. An excerpt:

We can forget that many powerful forces did oppose the civil rights movement; Jim Crow was the law of the land in many southern states. And we can forget that King led Rosa Parks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of Jim Crow in the mid 1950s, for which he had his house bombed and also was arrested. We forget that the FBI wiretapped King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1961 to determine whether he was mixed up with the Communists, and when that FBI rationale evaporated, it still used incidental details caught on tape in an attempt to force him out of the leadership of the organization.

We cannot forget that King was out front on an issue of national importance. We cannot forget his fate, and that it was a tragedy. In such an environment, we might wonder how secure would be his backers and consultants if [they] had had to register with the government, disclose their spending, and report the names of the consultants brave enough to help them.

Read the whole thing here.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Riding Down Paul Revere: Getting at the Grassroots in the 21st Century

Today the Senate will take up an ethics and lobbying reform bill as its first order of legislative business, reports Kenneth P. Doyle in the BNA Money & Politics Report (January 8, 2007).  Senate aides say that a provision to disclose grassroots lobbying will “definitely” be included.

Grassroots lobbying disclosure of the kind Democracy 21 describes is as “harmless” as King George having the foresight to require “horse stable disclosure” in the 18th Century, including information on those who stabled the horse ridden by Paul Revere.

Grassroots lobbying disclosure is getting a free pass because people think disclosure is always a good thing.  This is not so.  Protecting the right to speak anonymously with fellow citizens about issues, even issues of official action or pending legislation, protects citizens from abusive officeholders.

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Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

You Can’t Have Your Cake & Eat it Too

Our reporting on the FEC’s finding of a violation against stock car racer Kirk Shelmerdine for placing a "Bush-Cheney ’04" sticker on unrented space on his race car has created quite a stir.  Even many traditional supporters of "reform," most notably the Washington Post, have now criticized the FEC’s pursuit of Shelmerdine.  But these Johnny-come-lately critics of the FEC’s zealous enforcement of the law seem to want to have it both ways – they want to endorse "reform" while while washing their hands of cases that demonstrate the problems with regulation of political speech, such as the Shelmerdine case.  In fact, the Shelmerdine case is not an aberration; it is not a case of "bureaucrats gone wild."  It is "reform," in all its glory. 

Click the headline for more.

Update (1/3): Check out this column by Ryan Sager of the New York Post.  Money quote: "It seems that, so long as trouble-makers are ready to write up the complaints, the FEC is happy to take any nutball theory for a few spins around the track – no matter how ludicrous the repercussions for free speech in our democracy."

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Coercing ExxonMobil; Constraining CEI: A Harbinger of Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure

Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi has promised to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation," and has included in that program proposals for grassroots lobbying disclosure. 

Before signing on, both Left and Right should look at Sens. Snowe and Rockefeller’s recent treatment of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ExxonMobil.

Click on the title to read more.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, lobbying, lobbyist

Journalists should avoid cliches like the plague

Is the right of potential candidates to consider carefully whether to run for the most powerful political office in the world a "tired cliche?"  It is according to a new column from the Associated Press, ominously titled "With toes in water, hopefuls hide funds".

We think the "tired cliche" is campaign finance reporting that misrepresents the law and evinces a reflexive skepticism towards any unregulated political activity.

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Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Campaign Finance Disclosure – It’s good for what ails ya’

Worthless patent medicines used to be sold as all-purpose remedies.  Got a problem?  Not feeling well?  Try Dr. Smith’s Miracle Elixer. “It’s good for what ails ya’.”  Of course, Dr. Smith’s Elixer was probably little more than alcohol and syrup.  It didn’t really solve anything, but for a short time, at least, you got a pleasant whoozy feeling. 

In campaign finance, disclosure is the Miracle Elixer.  Everyone supports disclosure of campaign finance information.  But does it really solve every problem, or does it just give you a pleasant whoozy feeling?  Click on the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Pennsylvania

The Disclosure Trap

CCP Chairman Brad Smith observed in a recent blog entry, “While some disclosure may be necessary to satisfy compelling government interests, that recognition is a far cry from holding that any and all disclosure must be a good thing.”  Indeed, excessive disclosure can invade privacy and discourage political participation.  An excellent example can be found in a recent case by the Institute for Justice.

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Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Colorado

The License in Licensing

Mr Carlson: I had one of my disc jockeys, Dr Johnny Fever, give me the lyrics to a song. He wants to know if you’d let him play that song on the air.
Dr Bob, reading: “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine no possessions[?] Imagine all the people sharing all the world[?]” That sounds like communism to me: if there’s no heaven, and no religion, then, I assume, no God.
Mr Carlson: There’s not an obscene word in here.
Dr Bob: Not the way I see it.
Mr Carlson: Does it go on your list?
Dr Bob: Arthur, this is typical of the kind of secular, liberal humanist point of view that gluts our airwaves.
Mr Carlson: Yeah, but we’re not talking obscenities here anymore, Bob, we’re talking about ideas — political, philosophical ideas. First you censor a word, and then you censor the idea.
Dr Bob: The idea is man-centered. [A]rthur, this song says there’s no heaven.
Mr Carlson: Ah. No, it says just imagine there’s no heaven.
Dr Bob: That’s blasphemy.
Mr Carlson: On the list or not?
Dr Bob: I have no choice but to say on.
Mr Carlson: That decision was made by one man.

— WKRP In Cincinnati, “Clean Up Radio Everywhere”

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Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Florida, Washington

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