Archives for June 2007

How much is too much?

A constant cry of the campaign finance regulation crowd is that there is too much money being spent on politics.  But what does "too much" mean? 

Well, let’s put things in context.

In the 2006 midterm elections, federal candidates spent about $860 million running for office.  Now, that is not exactly pocket change but it’s a fraction of the $4.9 BILLION spent by Proctor and Gamble last year to advertise their soap, toothpaste, razors, and other goods.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone complain that America spends an "obscene" amount of money on political campaigns.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP Chairman Brad Smith in the news

CCP Chairman Brad Smith’s op-ed "A free-speech salve" appears in today’s Washington Times.  Click HERE to read Professor Smith’s piece.

At 11:00 PM (EDT) tonight, Professor Smith will be on "Extension 720" with Milt Rosenberg on WGN radio. You can listen to the show live by clicking HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

Spinning Failure

Growing up, I occasionally thought I might try to get into writing satire. I was an avid reader of Mad Magazine, and thought being a writer for them, Saturday Night Live, or some similar production might be fun.

I bring this up because it just became clear to me that I wouldn’t have stood a chance as a satire writer, not given the amount of talent out there. Some minds are able to look at one set of facts, or a given situation, and come up with a completely off-the-wall, bizarre, and hysterical scenario or interpretation that leaves people in stitches. Think of the folks that wrote Wedding Crashers. No way I could compete with that sort of satirical and hilarious writing.

Or, a bit closer to home, this GEM.

This is the report of the Eagleton Institute of Politics on New Jersey’s experiment with government financing for state legislative races. The report is satire at it’s best – I don’t think that in my wildest and most unhinged writings I could have written a report with 18 key findings, categorized as follows:

Finding 1 states the experiment was a success and should be continued (they know it was a success because the candidates who got government money said it was a success).

Findings 2-14 document the problems and failings of the program, such as being too bureaucratic, penalizing candidates who fail to get government money, and generally being cumbersome and difficult for candidates.

Findings 15-18 explain continued need to fund the program and keep in place the bureaucracy that runs it.

Priceless stuff, Lorne Michaels and William Gaines have nothing on these guys!

Filed Under: Blog

The ultimate minimalists

Chief Justice Roberts has been both praised and scorned for his "minimalist" approach to constitutional decision-making.  But Roberts’ minimalism is nothing compared to that displayed by the Campaign Legal Center in their analysis of the Chief’s opinion in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.

Click the headline to read more. 

Filed Under: Blog

CCP Chairman Brad Smith in the Wall Street Journal

CCP chairman Brad Smith’s op-ed "The Speech Police" appears in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Click HERE to read Professor Smith’s piece about the true motives of the so-called "reform" community and how campaign finance regulation impedes average Americans from participating in the democratic process.

Filed Under: Blog

Campaign Finance Law Hurts New Yorkers

Today, New York City council considers a proposal to overhaul New York City’s campaign finance laws that will create second class political citizens and greatly expand taxpayer subsidies of campaigns.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Contribution Limits State, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing

Subtle argument for repealing contribution limits

In the Washington Post, David Lebedoff makes the case that the WRTL decision will help self-financed candidates like Michael Bloomberg by allowing millionaire billionaire candidates to have greater control over their campaign message than candidates who must raise money in small increments.

In analyzing the advantages that the ruling may provide Bloomberg, Lebedoff is subtly stating the case for repealing contribution limits for all candidates. 

Lebedoff says:

The forgotten people in this process — the candidates themselves — can raise money from individuals in relatively small amounts and buy their own ads. But their commercials are likely to get lost amid the din of unaccountable distortions made possible by bad legislation and worse judicial interpretation of it.


The obvious solution? Allow candidates to raise money in larger amounts.

Filed Under: Blog

“Enough is enough”

UPDATED (11:40 AM) 

So declared Chief Justice John Roberts in yesterday’s decision in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life.  CCP Chairman Brad Smith has posted his thoughts on the case over at RedState.   Says Smith:

Monday’s Supreme Court decision in Federal Election Commission v Wisconsin Right to Life is cause for a little celebration. It’s not a great day for Free Speech, but it’s a pretty darn good one.

This decision does not mean the death of "campaign finance reform." It does not mean the death of McCain-Feingold. It does not even mean the death of McCain-Feingold’s hated ban on most independent broadcast ads that merely mention a candidate by name with 30 days of a primary of 60 days of a general election. But it does open a significant exemption to that ban. The reformers are freaking out, frankly.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Prof. Smith was also quoted in Roll Call ($) and the New York Sun discussing the implications of the Court’s decision for the FEC and for groups that wish to run ads in the future.


An impressive number of newspapers ran editorials praising the decision.  The most notable are listed below:

Rocky Mountain News

Los Angeles Times

Chicago Tribune

Orange County Register

New York Post

Filed Under: Blog

Breaking News: Victory in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life!

From SCOTUSblog:

Completing a day of 5-4 decisions, the Court issued its fifth ruling of the day, concluding that a Wisconsin abortion rights group had a First Amendment right to aid during election season campaign ads that named a candidate running for the Senate. Three of the five Justices in the majority urged the Court to overturn the part of a 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections. The Chief Justice’s main opinion, joined fully by Justice Alito, said the case did not provide an occasion to revisit that ruling. Justice Souter recited at length from the bench for the four dissenters — who were in the minority on each of the day’s rulings.

The full opinion is available here

Analysis to follow.

Filed Under: Blog

Supreme Court Upholds Rights of Citizen Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a major victory for First Amendment political rights, the U. S. Supreme Court today ruled that grassroots organizations are free to engage in issue advocacy, even when that advocacy occurs close to an election.

Today’s decision allows citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy close to an election, but it does not expressly overturn the portions of Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("McCain-Feingold") that regulate the speech of citizen groups.  However, the decision indicates that the Supreme Court is skeptical of these portions of McCain-Feingold.

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

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