Archives for April 2008

More thoughts on Davis

This Week News published a CCP op-ed (link unavailable) on Davis v. FEC.

Highlights of the piece can be found after the jump

Filed Under: Blog

You do SO Need Your Stinkin’ Badges!

The Court handed down the Crawford Indiana voter ID opinion today .  No surprise – requiring a voter to present voter ID is constitutional, overall.

Filed Under: Blog

Clean elections and N.J. – not perfect together

The Record ran an op-ed cowritten by CCP president Sean Parnell on the failure of New Jersey’s experiment with taxpayer-financed political campaigns.

The piece begins:

Try as they might, the lawmakers who created New Jersey’s welfare-for-politicians scheme of taxpayer-subsidized political campaigns can’t hide their failure.

New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission recently issued a report on last fall’s taxpayer-financed experiment that makes it clear that the program achieved no tangible positive results.

The Legislature barred ELEC from drawing conclusions or making recommendations. So, we offer our own assessments based on ELEC’s report and our own analyses.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

What? Me Worry?

McCain’s ambition is apparently to dictate the terms of his presidential victory.  Unfortunately it isn’t that easy.  His campaign may learn this the hard way as they experience the aftermath of his present tirade over outside groups in campaigns.

More after the jump. 

Filed Under: Blog

Forget everything I’ve said!

Over at The Fix, Chris Cillizza has a list of the top ten strategic moves Senator McCain can make to strengthen his candidacy:

9. Stop Criticizing Outside Groups: McCain may not like all of the outside money coursing through the system but in an election where he is likely to be badly outspent by the Democratic nominee and his (or her) allied groups, McCain needs some third party spending on his side as a counterweight. McCain has made his disdain for 527s and 501(c)(4)s clear over the past few years, and the donors who fund these groups know it. Republican strategists worry that if McCain is too tough on these conservative aligned groups the donors may take their money and walk away, a situation that many GOP operatives would equate to fighting the general election with one hand tied behind their backs.

CCP flashback:

"527’s need to be eliminated…these so-called 527’s – 527s are a disgrace and they have to be eliminated because they are a clear violation of the law." – John McCain, October 21, 2007

Filed Under: Blog

Davis and Rational Limits

The Supreme Court’s oral argument in Davis v. FEC raises deeper questions about contribution limits.  Specifically, what are they for?  In the so-called Millionaire’s Amendment context, they adjust to compensate candidates who must raise funding when beleagured by a candidate with money to burn.  Ordinarily, contribution limits are suppose to place a lid on the amount of funding a candidate can take from a single source, to limit the debt – real or imagined by pundits and the public – that the candidate (if elected) will feel toward the donor.  But here?

More after the jump! 

Filed Under: Blog

McCain-Feingold and the “good cop”

How McCain-Feingold allows McCain to be the Good Cop while the GOP can still attack the Democratic candidates

Senator John McCain and the RNC yesterday implored the North Carolina GOP to cease running an advertisement that McCain says does not live up to the "very high standards" he expects and "divides the American people."

Of course, McCain has no control over what advertisements a state party chooses to run. As mentioned on Jonathan Martin’s blog at Politico, such an arrangement allows McCain to play the "good cop" to the state party’s "bad cop."

And through McCain’s financing plan for the general election he may have plenty of opportunities to repeat this role throughout the campaign.

His plan "allows up to $70,000 in individual contributions by channeling the money into different McCain-centric funds. The first $2,300 of that would go to McCain’s primary campaign. The Republican National Committee would receive $28,500 of the donation. The remaining funds would be divided equally, up to $10,000 a piece, among four states the campaign has designated as battlegrounds for November: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico."

Consequently, all money given to the state parties will become the domain of the state party and will be disbursed independent of the McCain campaign.

There is an easy way that McCain could have avoided having to play the good cop role. Simply ease the contribution limits to political parties enacted in McCain-Feingold and amend FECA’s 441a(d) – the section that sets party coordinated expenditure limits.

These two actions would mean that McCain would not have to ask contributors to donate to state party committees, and he would effectively be able to veto an RNC advertisement that doesn’t live up to his "very high standards."

Filed Under: Blog

Davis v. FEC oral argument: first impressions

CCP was present in the Supreme Court this morning for oral argument in the next chapter of the campaign finance reform wars, Davis v. Federal Election Commission.  For those who are not familiar with the case, Davis is a facial constitutional challenge to the so-called Millionaire’s Amendment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which raises the contribution limits of congressional candidates who face well-funded opponents.  As has been the trend in recent cases of this type, Justices Scalia and Kennedy were vocal in citing their concerns about the First Amendment ramifications of the law, while Justice Breyer was in damage control mode.

More after the jump. 

Filed Under: Blog

Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Millionaire’s Amendment

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a campaign finance case, Davis v. FEC, challenging the so-called Millionaires’ Amendment provision of McCain-Feingold.

"This case will go a long way towards determining the future direction of the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence," said Bradley A. Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "If the Millionaires’ Amendment is upheld it would give Congress a new tool that it can use to regulate political speech."

The Millionaires’ Amendment, while a provision of McCain-Feingold, was not challenged in the McConnell case because the plaintiff lacked adequate standing to challenge the provision.

The Millionaires’ Amendment increases contribution limits for candidates facing self-financed opponents by at least 300 percent. The provision also imposes reporting requirements upon the self-financing candidate and relaxes coordination restrictions with state and national political party committees for the self-funder’s opponent.

The Supreme Court case has consistently ruled that government must have a compelling interest – such as preventing corruption – to justify any type of campaign finance regulation.

"But the Millionaire’s Amendment relies on an unrecognized justification – that government can level the playing field between candidates," Smith explained.  "Such a concept is wholly foreign to the First Amendment. Congress is not allowed to tinker with people’s speech rights because it thinks some people are speaking too much, or others not enough."

Filed Under: Blog

Holier than thou

At the close of the Pennsylvania primary, both Democratic candidates are now accusing each other of "maintaining ties to special interests they both claim to reject."

The Associated Press reported that Hillary Clinton’s latest ad declares, "In the last 10 years, Barack Obama has taken almost $2 million from lobbyists, corporations and PACs. The head of his New Hampshire campaign is a drug-company lobbyist, in Indiana an energy lobbyist, a casino lobbyist in Nevada."

Not to be outdone, Obama’s ad said he "’doesn’t take money from special-interest PACs or Washington lobbyists – not one dime.’ Clinton does, it added, accusing her of ‘eleventh-hour smears paid for by lobbyist money.’"

Before going any further down this holier than thou road, both candidates would do well to heed their own past words – words that come closer to speaking the truth.

More after jump.

Filed Under: Blog

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