Archives for September 2007

Gingrich won’t run – cites campaign finance laws

After considering a presidential run, former House speaker Newt Gingrich anounced on Sunday that he was no longer considering a White House bid. Gingrich cited campaign finance laws, which precludes "a middle class candidate" as the reason he decided not to run.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

If Money is Property, Does the First Amendment Still Matter?

Many proponents of campaign finance regulation reject the fundamental idea that political contributions and spending should be protected under the First Amendment.  "Money," they say, "is not speech, it is property."  Or as John McCain said recently, "I’ve never believed that money was speech. I believe that money is property."  They then equate that as something the Supreme Court has said, and well, since money obviously is property, not speech, opposition based on the First Amendment does look a tad silly, no?

Of course, the Supreme Court has never actually said that "money is speech."  What it has said is that spending money is often instrumental to the ability to communicate one’s message.  So of course restricting campaign spending and contributions restrict speech. 

The simple question for Senator McCain is this:  OK, we agree – money is not speech.  Money is property.  Does that mean that Congress can make it illegal for the New York Times corporation – or anybody – to use property to publish a newspaper?  Is it constitutional to prohibit the use of property to publish books or make movies?  Does the First Amendment have nothing to say if Congress passes a law making it illegal to rent a hall (the use of money – property – to purchase the use of more property) to have a campaign rally?  Can Congress make it illegal for Senator McCain to hire speech writers, or to use property (planes and such) to travel to deliver a political speech?

The answer, of course, is that a law prohibiting the use of property to engage in speech or publication clearly implicates both the right to property and the right to speech.

Call it property, call it speech.  Clearly Constitutional rights are implicated.  A rose by any other name will smell as sweet.  And a  turd by any other name will…


Filed Under: Blog

Cause celebre

The Los Angeles Times ran a story Friday that explores the possibilities that YouTube makes available for celebrities who are interested in politics.  CCP has already highlighted a few instances (HERE and HERE) in which citizens have used YouTube to disseminate their messages.

But as the LA Times points out: "Anybody can post, but being discovered is usually a matter of luck. Politically active stars have a clear advantage: They’re bound to get noticed simply on name recognition alone."

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

Edwards and public financing

Yesterday, John Edwards revealed he would accept government subsidies for his presidential campaign.  An excellent Politico story on Edwards’ decision highlights the political implications of the decision while exposing some of the problems with so-called "voluntary" public financing.

Update (1:55 PM): Politico has the memo from Edwards’ campaign manager David Bonior explaining the decision.  According to Ben Smith:

"The memo also suggests that, if he wins the Democratic nomination, the Democratic National Committee can raise and spend money on his behalf during the five months in which his campaign is broke due to the primary spending cap.

This is plausible. And 527s and other independent allies could chip in as well, though the campaign loses some control of its message."

Click HERE for the memo and the headline for more analysis on the decision.

Filed Under: Blog

John McCain: “I’ve never believed that money was speech.”

MSNBC reports that yesterday Senator John McCain defended the speech-suppressing "McCain-Feingold" campaign finance law by saying, "I’ve never believed that money was speech. I believe that money is property."

Extending the argument that money does not equal speech to other areas of life exposes the illogical reasoning behind the assertion.

Click the headline to find out how.


Filed Under: Blog

Go, exercise your First Amendment rights, maybe

Back in January, CCP wrote about a California church, All Saints, that was under investigation by the IRS for potentially violating the tax code when its pastor, Reverend George Regas, delivered a sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election in which he imagined Jesus participating in a debate with John Kerry and George Bush.

At the time, CCP predicted that "All Saints [probably won’t] lose its tax-exempt status, but it is a mistake to conclude [as a USA Today editorial did] that All Saints has suffered no consequences.  All Saints has been incurring legal bills in connection with this investigation since 2004.  And thanks to the hopelessly abstruse ‘facts and circumstances test’ used by the IRS to evaluate political intervention, it is unlikely that the conclusion of the investigation will leave All Saints with any better idea of how to avoid investigation in the future, other than to avoid all discussion of political issues."

Click the headline to find out if we were right.

Filed Under: Blog

“In defense of lobbying”

This morning, USA Today published a column by Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker "in defense of lobbying."

The piece begins "This country’s Founders actually set up a system to encourage the petitioning of government. And yes, like it or not, that means lobbyists have the same claims to the First Amendment as our free press does."

Click on the headline for more highlights of the column.

Filed Under: Blog

Coverage of Senate hearing on FEC nominations

CCP chairman Bradley Smith was quoted in various news accounts of the Senate Rules Committee hearing to consider nominees to the FEC.

 Click HERE for the Washington Post article and HERE for a longer article from The Hill.

Filed Under: Blog

Hearing on FEC nominations

This morning at 10:00 AM, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will consider the nominations of Steven Walther, David Mason, Robert Lenhard, and Hans von Spakovsky to be members of the Federal Election Commission.

You can watch the hearing live by clicking HERE.


The Committee passed all four nominees out of committee without recommendation.

Filed Under: Blog

Campaigning for charity

The Associated Press reports an innovative charity fundraiser that involves bidding on access to Elizabeth Edwards on the campaign trail.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

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