Archives for January 2011

Carey v. FEC Complaint

The federal suit, Carey et al v. FEC, asks the FEC to acknowledge what the courts have already decided: that any political action committee may make contributions to federal candidates using limited funds while also engaging in independent expenditures using segregated funds raised for that purpose. The FEC has demanded that grassroots organizations jump through burdensome […]

Filed Under: Carey v. FEC, Legal, Legal Center, All CCP Legal Documents, Carey v. FEC, Completed Cases (Filings), Completed Cases (Litigation), Completed Cases (Opinions), Filings, Litigation, Opinions

Lesson from list of politicians who’ve done time

There’s an interesting lesson to be drawn on the subject of so-called campaign finance “reform” from a recently released list of some corrupt politicians titled “10 Politicians Who’ve Done Time.” Compiled by a web site called, the list includes:

1.       Bob Ney

2.       Bill Janklow

3.       Jim Trafficant

4.       George Ryan

5.       Dan Rostenkowski

6.       Pat Swindall

7.       Don Siegelman

8.       Fred Richmond

9.       Duke Cunningham

10.     Edwin Edwards

Worth recognizing is that in only two out of the ten cited were campaign contributions a notable part of the corruption, Ney and Siegelman.

But Ney’s corruption went much deeper than tawdry campaign-cash-for-favors, including gambling sprees and lavish trips, suggesting that mere campaign contributions weren’t sufficient to induce his criminal behavior.  

And Siegelman’s case is illuminating as well. Accused of trading contributions for appointments to important state regulatory boards (not for Siegelman’s own campaign though, instead for an effort to promote a state lottery in Alabama), Siegelman’s prosecution and conviction are viewed by many on the left as a wrongfully manufactured case driven by the Bush Administration’s political team.

In fact, leading campaign finance “reform” group Common Cause apparently doesn’t accept the contributions-for-favors allegations against Siegelman, believing instead that the prosecution was “politically motivated.”

The ten politicians singled out for attention here follow the trend that we at the Center for Competitive Politics have long noted: that corruption and malfeasance in government and by elected officials is rarely connected to campaign contributions, despite the allegations and hysteria over the subject raised by self-styled “reformers.” Instead, it is directly the result of the personal failings and frailties that politicians are subject to no less than those of us in private life.

Filed Under: Blog

A protest against others’ First Amendment rights

A Sunday conference hosted by Charles and David Koch, who run a Kansas-based energy firm and generously support libertarian and conservative organizations, featured an ironic spectacle: a few hundred protesters, organized by incorporated groups, demanding restrictions on the First Amendment rights of other associations.

Filed Under: Blog, California

The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion

Filed Under: In the News

Protesters Take On Conservative Retreat

Filed Under: In the News

Common Cause’s campaign to chill speech in Minn.

Prof. Eugene Volokh flags an interesting chapter of Common Cause Minnesota’s campaign to chill speech in the already frigid confines of Minnesota:

Certain kinds of electioneering materials may be banned at and near polling places on election day; that’s what the Court held in Burson v. Freeman (1992). But does this allow restraints on distributing such material at other times and places, on the theory that recipients will display (or are even intended to display) such material in the prohibited places? That’s what Common Cause Minnesota apparently argued, but a Minnesota Administrative Law Judge rejected that claim, in Common Cause Minnesota v. Minnesota Majority (Minn. Ofc. of Admin. Hrgs. Oct. 29, 2010)…

Filed Under: Blog, Minnesota

Public Citizen defends anonymous political speech

From a New York Times post about a dispute between Koch Industries, Inc. and a Public Citizen-allied group:

“Although this case arises out of a harmless prank, it raises serious constitutional issues,” said Deepak Gupta, a Public Citizen attorney, in the release posted at the organization’s Web site. “The First Amendment protects the right to engage in anonymous speech, especially political speech. Koch should not be able to unmask its political critics just because it can hire lawyers and file a lawsuit. The court should put a stop to Koch’s intimidation tactics.” [emphasis added]

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

Public funding of presidential campaigns: a Nixon legacy

Earlier today I commented on the apparent detachment from reality of those opposing repeal of the presidential campaign financing system, noting how their arguments seemed divorced from today’s realities and consisted primarily of assertion unsupported by even anecdotal evidence.

Now, post-vote, Meredith McGeehee, a lobbyist for the Campaign Legal Center, has a blog post up that asserts, again with no evidence, that “repeal [of] the Presidential Public Financing system is a setback for our democratic process.”  Even more interesting, McGeehee argues that today’s vote, “was a vote of the party of Nixon, not the party of Lincoln… .” 

Hmmm. We don’t recall Abe Lincoln being elected with tax subsidies.  In fact, Lincoln was elected at a time when there were no federal campaign finance laws, and Lincoln often engaged himself in anonymous political speech.  As for Nixon?  Well, he was the President who signed the Revenue Act of 1971, creating the tax funding system that the House today voted to repeal.

Detached from reality, and from history, it seems.

Filed Under: Blog

Bipartisan House majority votes to end tax funding of campaigns

A bipartisan and substantial majority of the House has voted to end tax funding of campaigns and political party conventions.  CCP has long argued that tax financing of campaigns fails to acheive its objectives.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will not allow debate on the measure in the Senate.

Filed Under: Blog

The debate on repealing public financing

Listening to the debate on C-SPAN this morning, I cannot help but notice the disconnect between the Democrats, arguing in opposition to H.B. 359 and for keeping tax financing of elections, and reality.  Every Democrat to speak so far has complained about Citizens United, and complained about lack of disclosure, even though, as lead sponsor Tom Cole has commented, Citizens United is a Supreme Court decision, and the bill does not change any of the current disclosure provisions in the law.

At a larger level, several opponents of the measure, including Jim McDermott, David Price, and Lynn Woolsey, have commented about Watergate. Each repeats the reform mantra, “the system has served the nation well,” sounding a bit like the brainwashed soldiers in The Manchurian Candidate. As Dan Lundgren has pointed out, there is no evidence that government financing has increased confidence in government or prevented scandal. The opposition seems to be living in another world—a world in which there are still no spending choices to be made, and in which the value of a bill is measured not by any real world metric, but by free-floating ideology detached from the observable realities of the world around us.

I’m also chuckling now as Nancy Pelosi argues that DISCLOSE had “bipartisan support” in the House in the last Congress. Two Republicans (Mike Castle and Joseph Cao, both defeated last year) voted for it; 36 Democrats voted against it. That’s her idea of bipartisan support, I guess. Pelosi is also saying that repealing public funding allows for more “foreign” participation in U.S. campaigns, a flatly untrue statement. Pelosi has also said that repeal will not reduce the deficit. Hmmm… so not spending money won’t reduce the deficit?

The debate from the opposition side is simply surreal—totally disconnected from the actual bill before the House, or from presenting any actual facts in favor of the program.

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

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