Archives for November 2011

Florida: Where the First Amendment Goes to Die , Part II: First Dollar Disclosure

Last week, I wrote about Florida’s speech stifling contribution limits, a law that is probably unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in Randall v. Sorrell.  Unfortunately, Florida’s contribution limits are only one piece of the First Amendment drowning puzzle on the books in Tallahassee.

Earlier this year, Allison Hayward of CCP, focused on the inanity of Florida’s first dollar disclosure laws.  Every dollar donated to a Florida candidate (from $1 to $500) is posted online for anyone to view, and the online database is searchable all the way back to the dark days of 1996.


Filed Under: Blog

Limiting Money, Limiting Speech

This is the third in a series of posts on corporations adapted from CCP Founder Brad Smith’s comments on an article that appeared in The Frum Forum on Tuesday, October 27th. Some of the information provided by Brad in the comments section was so informative, we made the decision to appropriate the text and repurpose it as a series of blog posts. 

Imagine, for example, if the government said you could not spend any money to travel – would that limit your right to travel? Suppose the government said you could not contribute money to churches: would that limit your right to practice religion? Suppose the government said you could not spend money to buy property: would that restrict your right to acquire property? Surely the answer to all three questions is yes.

Now suppose the government said the New York Times could only spend $120,000 a year to publish (a little more than the limit on total political contributions at the federal level): would that limit the Times’ First Amendment rights? Of course it would (the Times, if you don’t know, spends way more than $120K per year to publish).


Filed Under: Blog

Comments of CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson on Representative Christopher Van Hollen’s Petition to the FEC

On August 22, 2011, CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in opposition to a Petition for Rulemaking filed with the FEC by Representative Christopher Van Hollen on April 21, 2011. CCP believes that Congressman Van Hollen’s petition misinterprets existing law while inappropriately attempting to enact by regulatory action […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure Federal, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, Comments and Testimony

In the News: USA Today: Lobbyists aren’t the problem

Lobbyists aren’t the problem By Bradley A. Smith Say this much for convicted felon Jack Abramoff — he’s still out there pushing the envelope. But his onetime associate Neil Volz — who also pleaded guilty to bribery — has a much more thoughtful take on the issue of lobbying. Recently Volz, who unlike Abramoff seems […]

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles

Florida: Where the First Amendment Goes to Die: Part I-Contribution Limits

For most of us, Florida brings images of flamingos, mojitos, good fishing, and retirement.  For those of us defending the First Amendment, Florida is a constitutional wasteland.  In a good faith effort to regulate campaign finance, Florida has managed to build a system that, nigh-wholly root and branch, cannot exist in concert with the First Amendment.  This post is the first in a series analyzing the constitutional deficiencies of Florida’s regulations. 

In 2006, the Supreme Court held that Vermont’s contribution limits were so low  that were actively styming effective political competition and de facto suppressing the speech of political challengers.  The dollar amount considered too small? $400 for the governor’s race.  In Florida, a state with a population of 18.5 million, or about 30 times the size of Vermont, the maximum contribution to a statewide candidate in a primary or general election campaign is a paltry $500. 


Filed Under: Blog

Activist Investing in Post-Citizens United America

In the wake of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the scope of political speech protected under the First Amendment has substantially expanded. Whereas corporations and unions were previously prohibited from directly advocating for and against political candidates by spending funds from their general treasury, the Supreme Court has now […]

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Disclosure, Issue Advocacy, Research

FEC Ruling Just in Time For Christmas

We at the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) are keeping a weather eye on this quiet little ruling yesterday by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) whereby they granted a California-based company approval to provide its users with a searchable database of political campaigns and committees, as well as the ability to transmit direct contributions and affiliate shopping rebates to the political campaigns and committee(s) of their choice.” From Campaign Insider:

The launch of GivingSphere, founded by Silicon Valley-based Social Financial Inc., could multiply the number of small donors engaged in the political process. The website allows shoppers to earn cash rebates on purchases at participating retailers and use those funds for political contributions, according to a release. GivingSphere is “a hub where donors can search, bookmark and donate to their own personal ‘portfolio’ of causes.”

Filed Under: Blog

Corporations and associations between individuals

This is the second in a series of posts on corporations adapted from CCP Founder Brad Smith’s comments on an article that appeared in The Frum Forum on Tuesday, October 27th. Some of the information provided by Brad in the comments section was so informative, we made the decision to appropriate the text and repurpose it as a series of blog posts. 

As mentioned in the previous post in this series on corporate rights, corporate personhood does not mean corporations are literally considered persons. It simply means that corporations exercise all the rights that we can exercise in association with others. Thus, a corporation cannot vote – voting is an individual act, that you do singularly, not with another. It cannot hold office, just as Joe can’t act as Senator on weekdays and Jill as Senator on weekends, holidays, and for one month during the summer. Corporations cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, just as if you and I conspired to commit a crime together, I could not waive your Fifth Amendment right, or prohibit you from exercising it. But corporations can, as noted, contract, own property, commit torts, and yes, speak as a group.

However, opponents of “corporate personhood” argue that corporations give up their rights by incorporating and “accepting” limited liability.


Filed Under: Blog

Media Hits for The Center for Competitive Politics

The Center for Competitive Politics has a spate of recent mentions and/or full op-eds in traditional or online media outlets the past few weeks. A roundup of the most recent follows, including an op-ed that appeared recently in The Wall Street Journal, penned by CCP founder Brad Smith, on the folly of investor activism.

WSJ, Brad Smith: Another Union Attack on Corporate Speech

The latest ploy is an effort to convince American businesses to voluntarily disarm and leave the playing field to unions and foundation-funded lobbying groups. Leading this effort is an organization called the Center for Political Accountability (CPA).  

Read the article here.


Filed Under: Blog

Colbert proves that corporate spending fosters grassroots involvement

It’s more or less official: “Colbert has proven that corporate funded speech can spur valuable grassroots activism. That’s pretty much the holding in Citizens United.”

Filed Under: Blog

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