Archives for July 2010

Fact-checking final DISCLOSE push

As the end-game for the DISCLOSE Act nears, its supporters are engaging in an all-out effort to obfuscate the worst parts of the bill and characterize its opponents as opposed to basic transparency in politics.

The Senate will hold a procedural vote on the DISCLOSE Act at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. Democrats do not yet have a Republican vote for the DISCLOSE Act and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the bill’s sponsor, acknowledged Monday that he’s having trouble holding his own caucus together for the vote.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act, Maine

ACLU weighs in against DISCLOSE Act

The American Civil Liberties Union today sent to the U.S. Senate a letter urging them to vote against the DISCLOSE Act when it comes up for a vote next week (or at least is scheduled to). A few of the key points raised by the letter:

1. The DISCLOSE Act fails to preserve the anonymity of small donors, thereby especially chilling the expression rights of those who support controversial causes.

…Anonymity is important to many supporters of organizations that advocate for both popular and controversial causes. This is the case for even a longstanding and well-known organization such as the ACLU, as it surely is for groups of many other viewpoints, sizes, and histories. The pursuit of anonymity is not merely a matter of preference or convenience for individuals who support controversial movements. The harassment and attacks on members of the civil rights movement, for example, show that anonymity can be a matter personal safety.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

DISCLOSE Act still overwhelmingly favors unions

Yesterday and today have produced the latest round of deception and obfuscation when it comes to the DISCLOSE Act and the privileged status as political speakers that unions would enjoy while much of the business community would be silenced.

Building on Fred Wertheimer’s misleading and since-debunked statements earlier this week, so-called campaign finance “reformers” are now pushing the line that the removal of only one of the many special deals for unions in the DISCLOSE Act somehow means that the legislation now treats both unions and business the same.

Needless to say, this spin is pure nonsense.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act, Maine

FEC frees indy groups to spend in 2010

The Federal Election Commission signed off on the plans of two independent political groups to spend freely on politics yesterday in a post-Citizens United consensus decision.

On a 5-1 vote, the FEC approved two advisory opinions applying the logic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and an appellate court decision in v. FEC. The Center for Competitive Politics, along with the Institute for Justice, represents

Filed Under: Blog

Limits to contribution limits?

Defenders of the regulation of politics, at least since Buckley v. Valeo, have been looking for new and compelling reasons why lawmakers should be able to restrict the political activity of others.  For example, in Randall v. Sorrell the regulators tried to argue that spending limits fulfilled a state interest in giving officeholders more free time.

Out of Kentucky comes a new one, at least one we’ve never seen before: Political speech and association restrictions: They’re for the children. 

Filed Under: Blog seeks cert on campaign finance case

Groups of Ordinary Americans Seek to Speak  As Freely as Corporations and Unions

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In the next landmark case challenging campaign finance restrictions after the historic Citizens United decision, the Institute for Justice and the Center for Competitive Politics today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case challenging federal laws that impose enormous burdens on grassroots groups that simply want to speak out in elections. is a group of citizens who want to defend free speech at the ballot box by running ads that oppose candidates who do not support First Amendment rights. But under federal law, if the group spends more than a small amount of money on ads that call for the election or defeat of political candidates, it must register with the government as a political action committee or “PAC” and be subject to a host of burdensome regulations before speaking., represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), filed its lawsuit in February 2008, arguing that the campaign finance laws that apply to PACs could not constitutionally apply to a group that simply engages in independent political speech-speech that is not coordinated with any political candidates.  After more than two years of litigation, in March 2010, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous, nine-judge decision holding that could accept unlimited donations to fund its political ads.  Unfortunately, the court also held that if chose to speak out it would have to register with the government as a PAC.

Filed Under: Press Releases

Schumer files new version of campaign-finance bill to court centrist votes



Filed Under: In the News

10 states add campaign-finance laws


Filed Under: In the News

Is S. 3628 the last desperate gasp for the DISCLOSE Act?

Word began to trickle out late last night that Senator Chuck Schumer had introduced a new version of the DISCLOSE Act, S. 3628, and was angling to get it on the floor for a vote on Friday, skipping having the bill considered in committee.

This morning we received a copy of the bill, and have just begun to look at it. At 116 pages, it’s unlikely that the bill is much improved.

What is quite likely is that the bill contains all sort of new special deals cut behind closed doors with interest groups, similar to the Shotgun Sellout struck with the NRA by the bill’s House sponsors. What is certain is that by skipping the committee process and trying jam through the DISCLOSE Act in only a few days, it will be almost impossible to find all the new secret deals and hidden exemptions for favored political speakers.

Which is of course typical of the process followed so far for a bill allegedly about transparency and disclosure – write the bill in secret, locking Republicans out of the process while inviting lobbyists for privileged causes to help write the bill, cut special deals behind closed doors with interest groups in exchange for their promise not to oppose the bill, and introduce massive language changes at the last minute in order to avoid careful scrutiny of the bill.

And then the self-styled campaign finance “reform” community wonders why so many Americans don’t trust them and don’t believe that “reform” has anything to do with better government or fighting corruption. As I’ve said often of late, it’s like “reformers” just don’t have any sense of irony.


Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

New version of DISCLOSE Act introduced in Senate

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has introduced a new version of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“The cosmetic surgery Sen. Schumer has performed on the DISCLOSE Act has it looking just as ugly,” said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former Federal Election Commission Chairman. “It contains the same backroom deals for labor unions and large interests such as the National Rifle Association. Senators should filibuster this modern day Sedition Act.”

This bill has been placed on the Senate Calendar and, according to Capitol Hill sources, majority Democrats will try to rush this legislation through without hearings or meaningful debate. DISCLOSE could be on the Senate floor as soon as next week.

“The American people deserve hearings and robust debate on a 116-page bill designed to rewrite campaign finance laws in the midst of a midterm campaign,” said CCP President Sean Parnell. “This effort to ram a bill of speech prohibitions and regulations through under the banner of disclosure is disingenuous and tramples on the plain meaning of the First Amendment.”

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

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