Archives for February 2009

Senate votes overwhelmingly to adopt DeMint amendment on ‘Fairness Doctrine’

The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to adopt an amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint banning the reinstatement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

The amendment, approved on a 87-11 vote, would prevent the draconian speech control last in effect in 1987 from returning. It still must be approved with a vote on the final Senate bill, which must then be reconciled with the House bill with the provision intact. 

Even if the amendment survives final legislative wrangling, the fight over government control of speech on the airwaves is far from over. Although, the most high profile battle, the Fairness Doctrine — better called the Censorship Doctrine — is a flash point in an overall legislative and bureaucratic struggle that includes more obscure measures such as local control, diversity boards and other hurdles to license renewal.

Filed Under: Blog

Florida mayor-elect seeks to regulate speech to death

A restrictive Florida law regulating “electioneering communication organizations” was enjoined by a federal district judge late last year , but that hasn’t stopped some local officials from trying to find ways to thwart the speech of political opponents.

The incoming mayor of Ft. Lauderdale told The Miami Herald that he’s going to work to regulate speech to death:

“I don’t think we can completely restrict this activity but I do think we can regulate the activity to the point where it becomes unattractive to influence the outcome of elections,” mayor elect Jack Seiler said.

This is yet another example of how campaign finance “reform” often has everything to do with politicians handcuffing their political opponents and almost nothing to do with “good government.”

Filed Under: Blog, Florida

Sen. DeMint offers ‘Fairness Doctrine’ amendment to D.C. voting rights bill

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) applauds Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) for offering the Broadcaster Freedom Act as an amendment to a D.C. voting rights bill in order to put the Senate on record as opposing the so-called Fairness Doctrine, better called the Censorship Doctrine for the impact it would have on political talk radio. The amendment is likely to receive a vote today.

The legislation survived a key Senate vote Tuesday, when lawmakers vote 62-34 to begin debate.

The amendment would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Censorship Doctrine, which was repealed in 1987. President Barack Obama has said he does not support the return of the Fairness Doctrine, but in recent weeks several prominent lawmakers have voiced strong support for the return of a version of the draconian speech control.

"Sen. DeMint’s amendment will ensure that President Obama’s commitment to keeping the airwaves free of government censorship will be the law of the land," said CCP President Sean Parnell. "However, supporters of the First Amendment need to remain vigilant so the FCC doesn’t bring back the Fairness Doctrine by another name – local control boards, diversity mandates or onerous license requirements."

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

Bob Bauer makes a respectable case for “clean elections”

Writing today at his blog More Soft Money Hard Law, uber-campaign finance attorney  Bob Bauer discusses so-called "clean elections" or "public financing" of campaigns, what we here at CCP generally call taxpayer-funded political campaigns or welfare for politicians (sometimes we even use terms like "fraud" and "scam," if the rhetoric from advocates of "clean elections" schemes seems particularly outlandish and unsubstantiated at the moment).

Bob singles out CCP for our critiques of "clean elections" programs, noting our tendency to "dwell on their failure to deliver transformative changes in government." His observation is fully justified, and he himself recognizes why our "dwelling" on this failure is appropriate – because the advocates of these programs almost always sell them as capable of, indeed certain to, deliver "transformative changes in government."

To read more of Bob Bauer’s commentary on "clean elections" click here

Filed Under: Blog

CCP blogs at The Hill on “Clean Elections” campaign donors

On Monday CCP released Special Interests, Partisan Pouts, and the Usual Suspects, our Special Report on donors to New Jersey’s so-called "clean elections" candidates. Yesterday we were asked to blog about it at The Hill, one of the leading political newspapers in Washington, DC. You can read the post at:

"Clean Elections" No Barrier to "Special Interests"

Filed Under: Blog

Campaign Finance Institute analysis shows futility of ‘reform’

Non-profit 501(c) committees and 527 committees spent more than $400 million in the 2008 election cycle, according to a new analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI). The report clearly shows that efforts by those in the so-called reform community to remove money from politics has only shifted money to different areas and trampled free speech rights in the process.

Donors to 527s and 501(c) committees are often the same donors to candidates and PACs, according to the analysis, which CFI suggests undermines "reform" efforts.

"Donors to both political candidates and these independent groups are exercising their First Amendment right to participate in the political process," said CCP President Sean Parnell. "’Reforming’ this system by over-regulating contributions to candidates and political committees is futile and tramples on citizens’ First Amendment rights. It’s time for real reform, which removes needless regulatory red tape from the political process and protects free speech for everyone – including donors who only seek to support those who agree with their beliefs."

Filed Under: Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Research shows interest group support for “clean elections” candidates in NJ

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released a study yesterday analyzing donors to so-called “clean elections” candidates in New Jersey. The study found that donors to candidates funded by taxpayers have strong ties to interest groups, undermining promises by proponents that taxpayer-funded campaigns will eliminate the influence of such groups.

You can read more by going here:

CCP releases study on interest groups and ‘clean elections’

Filed Under: Blog, New Jersey

Testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith to Illinois Reform Commission

Written testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith at a February 23, 2009 hearing of the Illinois Reform Commission on the topic of campaign finance.

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure 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, Comments and Testimony, Illinois

Arizona considers repeal of “Clean Elections”

It’s been clear to most observers for quite some time that so-called “clean elections” programs in Arizona and Maine have failed to live up to their promises. More appropriately considered welfare for politicians, “clean elections” diverts scarce taxpayer dollars from public priorities in a futile effort to insulate candidates from the allegedly “corrupting” influence of citizens who wish to support them.

Arizona first adopted “clean elections” for the 2000 election cycle. In the time since “clean elections” were first introduced, the Copper State has seen:

The number of women serving in the legislature decline

The rate of spending growth increase

The number of legislators from the traditional backgrounds of business and law remain steady

Interest groups become a key component in the program, helping to raise qualifying funds for favored candidates

No noticeable change in the way legislators vote

No discernable improvement in the way government operates (here also: Pew Center on the States)

All of these, needless to say, are the opposite of what “clean elections” advocates predicted. So it should not come as a surprise that legislation has been introduced in Arizona to repeal their “clean elections” program.

Click here to read more about the failure and proposed repeal of “clean elections” in Arizona

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

Special Report No. 1: Special Interests, Partisan Pouts, and the Usual Suspects

A study of donors to New Jersey’s “Clean Elections” candidates in 2007. The study found that donors to candidates funded by taxpayers have strong ties to interest groups, undermining promises by proponents that taxpayer-funded campaigns will eliminate the influence of such groups.

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

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