Super PACs

Profiling our allies

A pair of CCP friends and allies, Jim Bopp (aka “the Big Bopper”) and Chip Mellor of the Institute for Justice have been the subject of favorable profiles in the press this past week.

The effort to roll back restrictive speech regulation is a huge one. It is a good thing to have such talented allies in the fight, and the recognition they receive is indicative of the progress we’ve made in this fight since CCP was founded six years ago. It’s great to see both Jim and Chip and IJ get such well-deserved recognition.

Filed Under: Blog, Super PACs

Never trust an unsigned legal opinion

The folks over at Democracy 21 have issued a report concerning the role of independent-expenditure-only committees (i.e., Super PACs) in this year’s presidential race. The report is modestly titled: “Leading Presidential-Candidate Super PACs and The Serious Questions That Exist About Their Legality.” 

As a general rule, I wouldn’t comment on something this hysterical (words like “monstrosity” and “eviscerate” are thrown about with abandon). But this paper claims that specific people are violating the law, which is not the sort of charge that should ever be made lightly, no matter how upset Democracy 21 may be about the Supreme Court’s First Amendment rulings.

Briefly, the report makes two major legal errors – errors I would expect seasoned election lawyers to have immediately noticed.


Filed Under: Blog, Super PACs

Raising Contribution Limits Give Candidates a Voice


The Wall Street Journal has an article yesterday detailing a tiff between presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s Super PAC.  Or, a tiff with Mitt Romney; Newt isn’t really distinguishing between the two (Wall Street Journal, Gingrich Wants Ads Pulled):

The Super PAC backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which has blistered Newt Gingrich in this state, became the center of controversy on Tuesday, when Mr. Gingrich demanded its attack ads be pulled and said Mr. Romney was being “purely dishonest” in his refusal to intervene.  Mr. Romney insisted the television ads were out of his control, and that coordinating with the group backing him would violate campaign-finance laws. “My goodness, if we coordinate in any way, shape or form, we go to the big house,” the former Massachusetts governor said.


Filed Under: Blog, Super PACs

Colbert Shining a Light on Himself

Politico has a piece in today’s edition mentioning the “love” that comedian Stephen Colbert has been getting from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for shining a little light on this obscure corner of the federal government.”

Stephen Colbert got some love from the Federal Election Commission Thursday for bringing public attention to a wonky campaign finance issue.

By asking his supporters to weigh in on a request from the Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads to “fully coordinate” political ads with candidates without violating laws that prohibit coordination, the comedian helped generate more buzz around the issue than the FEC is used to seeing.


Filed Under: Blog, Money in Politics, Super PACs

SuperPacs, Earl Pomeroy, and the Beau Brummels

Over at the Politico, former Representative Earl Pomeroy is complaining today about how “SuperPACs” did him in in 2010. Yet Pomeroy, in addition to all the advantages of incumbency, outspent his opponent by nearly $1.6 million dollars in 2010.

Cue the Beau Brummels.

Filed Under: Blog, Super PACs

Unfounded Fears: the 501(c)(4)/SuperPAC Connection

It would appear that there’s a new worry on the block for campaign finance reformers. A piece inProPublica gives voice to what is undoubtedly the next big scare as SuperPACs continue to dominate headlines in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election: will 501(c)(4) organizations be created and used as a way to funnel unlimited amounts of money to candidate-related SuperPACs as an end-run around disclosure legislation? Reporter Marian Wang propses the following scenario:

[Texas Governor Rick] Perry’s allies also just launched a new nonprofit, Citizens for a Greater America, which will also be able to take in unlimited funds while keeping donors secret. iWatch News posted a fact sheet on the new group that it traced to a Perry fundraiser who had received it from Mike Toomey, Perry’s close ally and former chief of staff.

The efforts could be the start of a new trend in campaign finance — nonprofits started by allies of a specific candidate that can be used as conduits for undisclosed donations. Together with those so-called candidate-specific super PACs, the two groups make a powerful pair, allowing supporters to donate to support specific candidates with few restrictions and, if so desired, with no disclosure.  

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

There are No Shadow Groups to Fear

The New York Times has a piece in today’s paper parroting the hysteria surrounding outside groups and their ability to fund ads to affect campaigns through the use of SuperPACs. While the paper gets the basic facts straight, they seem intent on pushing the meme that outside groups creating ads and supporting candidates will lead to a situation that will somehow weaken democracy in general.

These groups, which are not supposed to coordinate with candidates’ campaigns or the political parties, are called Super PACs, but the label doesn’t much matter. The point is that in the past several years outside groups — using various types of financing vehicles — have accounted for a growing share of the money spent in federal elections.


Filed Under: Blog, Super PACs

Colbert Is Funny, Our Disclosure Laws Are Not

As any fellow members of the Nation are doubtless aware, the latest way for college kids to get their name on television is to donate cash to Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Super PAC.  If you do so, your name will scroll at the bottom of the screen as one of the Super PAC’s “Heroes”.  It’s a nice way for a 19-year old GW student to get a new Facebook picture, and everybody who is giving is in the on the gag.  (D.B. Cooper also apparently gave.) All well and good.

Of course, Colbert could have done more than just scroll the names of the Super PAC’s donors.  He could have hunted the FEC database for those who gave more than $200 to candidates other than “Rick Parry” (with an A for America) and posted their names, addresses, employers and job titles on his website or scrolled the information on his show.  Not so funny anymore.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Super PACs, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

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