Archives for May 2008

I’d like to solve the puzzle

Pat Sajak, known to most as the host of Wheel of Fortune, is also an ardent defender of the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, and petition, and a skeptic of campaign finance regulation.

For your Friday reading pleasure, we present to you an essay by Pat on the role of money in politics.

Click HERE to read his piece.

Filed Under: Blog

Is the Tax-Funded Presidential Campaign System Really Broken?

Is the system for tax financed presidential campaigns "broken?"  All the traditional "reformers" seem to think so.  Common Cause calls it a "broken presidential public financing system."  Democracy 21 agrees.   Surveys show that three out of four name sponsors of McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan think the system is "broken."  The Campaign Legal Center’s Meredith McGeehee thinks it is "broken."  So does ElectionLaw blog’s Rick Hasen, and Michael Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute (who, for good measure, is quoting a bona fide non-reformer, John Sweeney).  If we believe Norm Ornstein, the system is "broken."  We suppose we could go on.

But we wonder if "broken" is really the right word.  In fact, the system works pretty much as intended.  So what is really the problem?  Click the headline for more below the jump –

Filed Under: Blog

Now This is Really Creepy.

One of our top creative artists dies, and the Center for Responsive Politics reacts.

Filed Under: Blog

Appendix 5 – Conclusions and recommendations on New Jersey’s “clean election” experiment

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released today a supplement to a report on New Jersey’s "clean elections" pilot project issued in March by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

ELEC was statutorily barred from making any recommendations on the future of taxpayer-financed political campaigns in their report titled the 2007 Fair and Clean Elections Report. The report also did not directly compare the program’s goals with results.

CCP’s newly released report supplements the 2007 Fair and Clean Elections Report by providing the comparisons and conclusions not included in the original report.

In the policy briefing, CCP compares the stated policy goals of the pilot program with the actual outcomes and draws on the experiences of Arizona and Maine, two states that served as the model for New Jersey’s program, to offer a fact-based analysis of the impact of taxpayer-financed political campaigns in the Garden State.

CCP’s report finds that New Jersey’s "clean elections" experiment came up short on nearly every measurable outcome. The pilot project failed to: "level the playing field"  by making elections more competitive; improve public opinion; reduce campaign spending; increase voter turnout; end negative campaigning; or prevent out-of-state money from influencing New Jersey elections.

"A complete review of New Jersey’s experiment with taxpayer-financed political campaigns finds that it failed to live up to its promises," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "Unfortunately for New Jersey taxpayers, they got stuck footing the bill for these broken promises."

The full report titled "Appendix 5" is available by clicking HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

Appendix 5: Conclusions and Recommendations on New Jersey’s “Clean Elections” Experiment

Conclusions and recommendations on New Jersey’s “clean election” experiment.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, New Jersey

IRS clears the United Church of Christ

Back in February, CCP published a blog post discussing an IRS investigation into whether or not the United Church of Christ engaged in prohibited politicking when it invited Barack Obama to speak before a crowd of nearly 10,000 in Hartford, CT.

At the time, CCP wrote, "Why is the IRS wasting its time focusing on candidate speech in the first place?  The electioneering restrictions on religious (and secular) non-profits are intended to prevent houses of worship from turning into de facto arms of political parties and campaigns.  Congress feared the transubstantiation of holy places into tax-exempt political slush funds, not candidate religious free speech. 

Under anyone’s interpretation, the politicization that Congress sought to prevent was not present in Hartford that day.  The Civic Center was not filled with pro-Obama placards, buttons, signs, or leaflets.  Contributions were not made or solicited on behalf of the Obama campaign. Yes, Obama supporters set up tables outside the arena where he was speaking.  However, that act cannot be fairly attributed to the UCC."

Today, BNA reports that the IRS has cleared the UCC of any improper politicking.

More after the jump.   

Filed Under: Blog

FEC may finally have a quorum

With the pending nomination of Matthew Petersen, the FEC appears set to soon have a full six member body.  Petersen’s nomination should go smoothly, with even the primary objectors to Hans von Spakovsky’s nomination, giving a tepid, initial nod of approval.

Worth noting, in case controversy somehow does manage to arise, is the similarities between Petersen’s resume and that of Democratic nominee Cyndi Bauerly.


Filed Under: Blog

It’s Matthew S. Petersen

Eric Brown reports the new FEC nominee:

"The President intends to nominate Matthew S. Petersen of Utah, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring 04/30/11. Mr. Petersen currently serves as Minority Chief Counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Prior to this, he served as Counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration. Mr. Petersen received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his JD from the University of Virginia."

Filed Under: Blog

Here we go again…

Just when it appeared that a compromise consensus had been reached on reconstituting the dormant FEC, the agreement appeared to break down over the replacement for recently withdrawn nominee Hans von Spakovsky.

At yesterday’s Rules Committee hearing the ranking Republican member expressed implicit displeasure with the squawking of certain advocacy groups over von Spakovsky’s nominee, while the Democratic chairman of the committee ignored the latest round of protestations from these same organizations over the nomination of Don McGahn.

Within 45 minutes of the hearing’s commencement, all three new nominees had breezed through  a Senate committee seemingly uninterested in challenging any of the nominees.

Nonetheless, odds for a reconstituted FEC took a hit yesterday over the sixth nominee, a Republican to replace von Spakovsky.

Roll Call reported that Majority Leader Reid wants sitting commissioner David Mason to remain, an option that the White House quickly dismissed.  Meanwhile, the committee waits for a new nominee from the White House. 

Time will only tell when the FEC finds itself with a quorum. But some important lessons have been made clear in the interim: The world has not ended with a non-functioning speech patrol, and partisan bickering over the policeman is an almost inevitable result of a highly regulated system.

Filed Under: Blog

FEC fighting

Wasting little time, after Hans von Spakovsky withdrew his nomination to the FEC, the Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the nominations of Cynthia Bauerly, Caroline Hunger, and Donald McGahn.

Predictably, so-called "reform" organizations have already set their sights on the new Republican nominee, Don McGahn, while cooler heads offer a more reasoned consideration.

But in a Roll Call op-ed ($), the Campaign Legal Center, seized on the latest developments to argue for a political speech czar.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

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