Testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith to Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Written testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith at a March 10, 2010

Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony

Testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to Maryland House Ways and Means Committee

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz at a March 9, 2010 hearing of the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee on the topic of campaign finance.

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony, Maryland

Campaign Support, Conflicts of Interest, and Judicial Impartiality: Can the Legitimacy of Courts Be Rescued by Recusals?

Many legal scholars and observers perceive elected state courts in the U.S. as under siege by the politicization of judicial elections – most offensively, by accepting campaign contributions and support from organizations litigating before the very judges these groups helped elect. As such, the authors investigate citizen perceptions of the impartiality and legitimacy of courts. They focus on the residents of West Virginia, because that state has recently been a battleground for intense conflict over campaign support and perceived conflicts of interest and loss of impartiality. Through a representative sample of West Virginians, the authors test the hypothesis that recusals can rehabilitate a judge and/or court from perceptions of conflict of interest. Their findings were surprising, particularly in that contributions offered but rejected by the candidate have similar effects to contributions offered and accepted. To conclude, the authors’ apply their findings to the recently decided Caperton v. Massey case. They find that several of the assumptions of the majority in the case are empirically inaccurate, at least from the viewpoint of the citizens of West Virginia.

Filed Under: Faulty Assumptions, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Contributions & Limits, Jurisprudence & Litigation, West Virginia

Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Finance Reform

In Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Finance Reform (Washington, D.C.:  American Enterprise Institute Press, 2009), authors Joel M. Gora and Peter J. Wallison conduct a significant survey of campaign finance regulations beginning in the early 1970’s.

The authors assert that most of the provisions enacted over the past several decades have failed to achieve their goal of limiting corruption and instead have acted to strengthen the incumbency advantage. According to Gora and Wallison, “the current campaign finance system works to assist the campaigns of those who created it.”

After their exhaustive look at the history of campaign finance reform measures, Gora and Wallison examine past and current alternatives to remedy the broken system. They conclude that most reform schemes further the incumbency advantage, with taxpayer financed campaigns and contribution limits being the biggest offenders in this regard.

To remedy this issue, the authors demonstrate that the best and most effective way to fix the current incumbent-advantaged system would be to ease the coordination restrictions on parties, allowing them to become the principle campaign financier. Ultimately, the authors argue that this single change in the current system would have substantial benefits for the American election model.

Filed Under: Coordination, Political Parties, Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Coordination, Political Committees & 527s, Contributions & Limits, Coordination, Political Committees & 527s, Political Parties

Testimony of CCP Research Director Laura Renz to the Illinois Joint Committee on Government Reform

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz at a March 16, 2009 hearing of the Illinois Joint Committee on Government Reform on the topic of campaign finance regulation.

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony, Illinois

Issue Analysis 5: Do Lower Contribution Limits Decrease Public Corruption?

This CCP study shows that campaign contribution limits do not produce less corruption by public officials. CCP Research Director Laura Renz compared Department of Justice data on public corruption convictions to information on contribution limits in all 50 states.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits

Dissenting Opinion of Chairman David Mason

Dissenting opinion of Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason in the draft advisory opinion for SpeechNow.org.

Filed Under: Uncategorized, campaign contributions, Contribution, Completed Cases (Litigation), Completed Cases (Opinions), Litigation, Opinions

Buying Time in the Connecticut Legislature Before Clean Elections

The authors investigate a simple question: what does money contributed to legislators buy? Evidence that money buys votes (and theoretical explanations for why we should expect such a relationship) is thin at best. A more compelling explanation of what money buys argues that money buys legislators’ time. Using a research design similar to that employed in previous academic studies, the authors investigate the impact of campaign contributions, institutional position, legislative experience, and constituency interest on rates and types of participation in committee by Connecticut state legislators before the implementation of public financing in that state. This paper is part of a larger research project on the impact of taxpayer financed elections on electoral and legislative politics in the states. While the current analysis is limited to a rather small sample of legislation that meets the criteria necessary to execute this design, their findings are encouraging. The authors emphasize three here: (1) campaign contributions from interest groups (in this case, labor unions) are positive predictors of legislators’ participation in committee-level deliberations over legislation in which the group has a strong stake; (2) one’s status as a party leader depresses one’s level of participation in committee deliberations, as does being a first term legislator; and, (3) the relationship between contributions and participation emerges only on the committee of primary referral.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Connecticut

The Perverse Effect of Campaign Contribution Limits: Making the Amount of Money that can be Offered Smaller Increases the Likelihood of Corruption in the Federal Legislature

Corruption is an important issue, which poses a special threat to the democratic institutions and integrity of the United States. The purpose of campaign finance regulation is to reduce or eliminate corruption. Congress has enacted substantial legislation for this purpose, yet corruption flourishes. This paper suggests that the campaign finance laws fail to take into account the actual decision-making process of a legislator contemplating a corrupt act. By diagramming that process, this paper demonstrates that the legislation, which focuses on limiting the size of individual campaign contributions, actually increases the likelihood of corruption. An understanding of the decision-making process points to other directions for meaningful regulation of campaign finance.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Contributions & Limits, Jurisprudence & Litigation

Regulating Political Contributions by State Contractors: The First Amendment and State Pay-to-Play Legislation

In this article, Melanie D. Reed analyzes a legislative trend in which states are increasingly enacting broad contribution restrictions on state contractors, known as “pay-to-play” laws, in response to corruption allegations against elected officials. Reed asserts that these laws may actually go overboard, restricting individuals’ constitutionally protected First Amendment right to participate in the political system. Her article challenges the perception that broad restrictions will accomplish their intended goal of reducing corruption in the bidding process on government contracts. She concludes by suggesting that, “states passing pay-to-play laws should tailor the reach of such laws to focus on those contributors and recipients closely related to state contracts.” According to Reed, it is important that legislation focus on increasing the competitiveness of the contract bidding process, which should result in increased public confidence in government.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Pay to Play, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Pay to Play, Contributions & Limits, Pay to Play

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