Self-Styled Campaign Finance “Reformers” Jump the Shark

Self-Styled Campaign Finance “Reformers” Jump the Shark Ten Stunts, Antics, and Exploits That Show Many Anti-Free Speech Activists Have Lost It By Luke Wachob Introduction What do activists do when the government isn’t prioritizing their cause? What does the head of a federal agency do when she doesn’t get her way? What do “good government” […]

Filed Under: Amending Press Release/In the News/Blog, Amending the Constitution, Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, FEC, First Amendment, Issues, Money in Politics, Research, Super PACs, Super PACs, "John Doe", Ann Ravel, Democracy Spring, Doug Hughes, ellen weintraub, federal election commission, Gyrocopter, Larry Lessig, Mayday PAC, Udall Amendment, Zephyr Teachout, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Super PACs, Wisconsin

Do State Campaign Finance Reforms Increase Trust and Confidence in State Government?

In this study, CCP Academic Advisor Jeff Milyo, a Professor of Economics of the University of Missouri, tests the hypothesis that restrictive campaign finance laws improve citizens’ perceptions of government. As Milyo explains, the political and legal battle over campaign finance reform hinges on differing views about the importance of such regulations for preserving and […]

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Enforcement, External Relations Sub-Pages, Faulty Assumptions, Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, clean elections, public financing, Contribution Limits, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Contributions & Limits, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns

Delusions about “Dysfunction”: Understanding the Federal Election Commission

Supporters of more regulation of political speech increasingly seek to discredit the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – the agency with exclusive civil enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. The purpose of these attacks is twofold: first, to pressure other federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal […]

Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, FEC, Research, Enforcement, Enforcement

Eternal Inconsistency: The Stunning Variability in, and Expedient Motives Behind the Tax Regulation of Nonprofit Advocacy Groups

In this study, California election law attorney Allison Hayward analyzes the historical roots of the IRS’s recent scandals, and discusses how: The IRS scandal is just the latest in a series of clashes between the agency and nonprofit advocacy groups. Congress writes tax law to address short-term political goals, often ignoring long-term problems. Laws governing […]

Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, First Amendment, IRS, IRS and the Tea Party, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, 1954 Revenue Act, Allison Hayward, Nonprofit Advocacy, Revenue Act of 1934, Social Welfare, Tax Exemptions, Enforcement, First Amendment, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Enforcement, First Amendment, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation

The Non-Expert Agency: Using The SEC To Regulate Partisan Politics

Over the past 15 years, advocates of campaign finance reform, frustrated by the structure and design of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), have attempted to offload the duties of campaign finance regulation to other federal agencies, most notably the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) but also the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Recently, these efforts have expanded […]

Filed Under: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Enforcement, FEC, Research, Federal Communications Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Jr., Lucian A. Bebchuk, Robert J. Jackson, Securities and Exchange Commission, Enforcement, Enforcement

Do State Ethics Commissions Reduce Political Corruption? An Exploratory Investigation

In this UC Irvine Law Review article by Kayla Crider and Jeffrey Milyo, a Professor of Social Science in the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri and Academic Advisor at the Center for Competitive Politics, the authors examine the efficacy of state ethics commissions in reducing public corruption. As Crider and Milyo note, […]

Filed Under: Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Research, Jeffrey Milyo, Kayla Crider, Public Corruption, State Ethics Commissions, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions

What Changes Do Recent Supreme Court Decisions Require for Federal Campaign Finance Statutes and Regulations?

In this article, Allison Hayward notes that the tide may be changing in the world of campaign finance. She discusses the various ways in which new Supreme Court and appellate court decisions will require a fundamental change in the current structure of the campaign finance regime. According to Hayward, the Supreme Court seems poised to offer protection for political speech. Accordingly, she suggests that Congress embrace the opportunity to revise current campaign finance restrictions. Ultimately, the article makes it clear that the Supreme Court and appellate decisions have the capacity to significantly alter current statutes concerning campaign finance.

Filed Under: Research, Allison Hayward, appellate, hayward, Supreme Court, Enforcement, Enforcement

Shade from the Glare: The Case for Semi-Disclosure

In this essay, Bruce Cain takes an interesting look at what many seem to believe is “the most widely embraced element of election regulation”:  disclosure. Recognizing that disclosure is gaining traction in the evolution of election law and enforcement, Cain proposes that legislatures explore an option known as “semi-disclosure.” Essentially, a system of semi-disclosure would assign donor ID numbers to contributors and require full reporting, while making only some campaign donor information publicly available. Then, in the event of a corruption allegation, full disclosure information could be released to the public. In Cain’s view, this system has the opportunity to do the greatest good at reducing the likeliness of quid pro quo corruption while avoiding sacrificing protected political speech. As disclosure requirements continue to be discussed and debated across the United States, the author’s semi-disclosure proposal warrants consideration in policy circles.

For a response to the author’s semi-disclosure idea, please read the essay, “The Costs of Mandating Disclosure,” by John Samples.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Disclosure, Enforcement, Disclosure, Enforcement

The Costs of Mandating Disclosure

In this essay, John Samples argues against the fundamental reasoning underlying campaign disclosure. According to Samples, mandating disclosure “both reflects and fosters the decline of self-government in the United States.” According to the essay, not only does forced disclosure fail to achieve its goals, but it has the opportunity to “raise the cost of political participation through political abuse and economic harms.” Samples also believes mandating disclosure deflects attention from the content of the message and instead undesirably shifts the focus to the source of the message’s funding. He acknowledges that Bruce Cain’s idea for “semi-disclosure” would be a noted improvement over the status quo in disclosure requirements, but ultimately rejects Cain’s idea because of the inability to ensure that disclosure information would not be used for political retribution.

For the original essay that this piece responds to, please read, “Shade from the Glare:  The Case for Semi-Disclosure,” by Bruce Cain.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Disclosure, Enforcement, Expenditure, Disclosure, Enforcement, Expenditure

The Devil We Know? Evaluating the FEC as Enforcer

The Federal Election Commission administers and enforces federal election laws. But campaign finance reformers have argued for years that the FEC does little to stem the exploitation of “loopholes” in election law. This article evaluates the enforcement actions of the regulatory body by exploiting a unique database of legal complaints moderated by the FEC since 1996. The author has coded over 700 complaints on a variety of dimensions, including the issue focus, the characteristics of the complainant and respondent, and the final penalty levied by the Commission. Among the patterns he finds are that regulatory votes are rarely split along partisan lines and that Commissioners levy (some quite substantial) fines in about 30 percent of all enforcement cases. The major theoretical question of this paper is whether the FEC punishes potential violators of election law in a partisan manner, whether they are biased toward candidates, and whether certain structural changes at the FEC influence performance. The evidence suggests an FEC (increasingly) more functional than many often claim, with no slam-dunk patterns suggestive of large-scale bias.

Filed Under: Enforcement, Research, Enforcement, Enforcement

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