Daily Media Links 5/1: National Review: Re: Justice Stevens’s Unethical Testimony, Politico: Big donor secrecy: ‘Irony, but it’s not hypocrisy,’ Roll Call: Senator Questions Hatch Act Violation at FEC, and more…

In the News


News Maine: Centre [sic] urges Maine to replace campaign finance laws

By Petra Maria Longewag

David Keating, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics said that laws in Maine restrict the amount individuals can donate to a candidate or campaign. He pointed out that the law is directly contradictory to a recent ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court over the issue.  

Keating wrote a letter to LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills, urging them “to take quick action to respond to the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to ensure Maine does not continue to violate its citizens’ First Amendment rights.”  

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CQ Weekly: Max PACs’ Poised to Exploit Supreme Court Decision on Campaign Finance

By Eliza Newlin Carney

“It’s not going to be quite the game changer that some people think on either side, because there aren’t that many people ‘maxing out’ already,” says Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman who heads the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates less regulation of campaigns. Still, Smith adds, “it will make a difference.”  

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MPBN: Maine Sen. King: ‘Dark Money’ Threatens U.S. Democracy

By Tom Porter

But as the debate over campaign finance picks up steam in Washington, Maine election officials are also confronting the issue. This week, a Virginia-based advocacy group, called the Center for Competitive Politics, sent a letter to state officials, urging Maine to repeal a state law imposing limits on campaign contributions, or risk a lawsuit.

The group’s president, David Keating, says the law is unconstitutional in light of the recent Supreme Court decision known as McCutcheon vs. the FEC, which lifts individual contribution limits.

“We think this is something where the state should move to bring its laws into conformance with the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Keating says.

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Joint Statement of David Keating and Bradley A. Smith to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration

By Bradley Smith and David Keating

The recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission[1] struck down an aggregate limit on how much an individual could give to all federal political candidates and party committees in an election cycle. For this, the decision has actually been called the “worst decision since Dred Scott.”[2] Yes, worse than Buck v. Bell,[3] or Plessey v. Ferguson.[4]

Yet, less than forty years ago, there were no limits at all on individual contributions to candidates, except for limited restrictions on government employees and contractors. The Committee should keep in mind that without limits on speech, voters elected FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson as president. Was major legislation such as the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act the product of a corrupt system, given that individual contributions were not only unlimited in the aggregate, but unlimited to any one candidate? Of course not.

Consider the role of this system that allowed unlimited contributions to candidates and its impact on the 1968 Democratic primary and the debate on the Vietnam War. In late November 1967, Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy decided to challenge President Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic nomination. At first, people thought McCarthy’s campaign would be quixotic. But with no contribution limits, Senator McCarthy assembled a well-funded campaign from a small number of rich donors who shared his opposition to the Vietnam War. McCarthy concentrated on New Hampshire’s primary, and the number one issue in his campaign was to end the war.

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Group urges New York to implement Supreme Court decision in contribution limits case

Alexandria, Va. — A First Amendment advocacy group today urged the governor, Attorney General, and other New York officials to repeal a state campaign contribution limit law and halt its enforcement because the law is likely unconstitutional following the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this month in the case McCutcheon v. FEC.  

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National Review: Re: Justice Stevens’s Unethical Testimony

By Ed Whelan

When Stevens decided to retire from active service, he had two options under 28 U.S.C. § 371: He could fully retire (i.e., “retire from the office”) under subpart (a), or he could “retain the office but retire from regular active service” under subpart (b). As his retirement letter reflects, Stevens clearly chose the second option: “I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 371(b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.” Further, the Supreme Court’s public information office advised me yesterday that he remains retired under subpart (b). Thus, he remains an Article III judge.

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Washington Free Beacon: 134 Times Harry Reid’s Railed Against the Koch Brothers

Harry’s a bit of a one-trick pony. 



Politico: Big donor secrecy: ‘Irony, but it’s not hypocrisy’

CHICAGO — Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers for secretive campaign spending have become a virtual plank in the party’s platform, but it turns out big-money liberals can be just as defensive when their own closed-door activities are put in the spotlight.  

During a gathering here of major Democratic donors this week that has raised more than $30 million for liberal groups, questions about the party’s split personality on the issue were dodged, rejected or answered with an array of rationalizations. That is, when they weren’t met with recriminations or even gentle physical force.

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Post: Why dark money is likely to keep flowing in campaigns, in 1 Senate hearing


The closest the two sides came to finding common ground was when GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas endorsed the idea of immediately disclosing contributions to candidates — but as part of doing away with caps on such donations, an idea that is anathema to advocates of strict campaign finance rules. 

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Roll Call: Senator Questions Hatch Act Violation at FEC

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Roberts asked Ravel, one of three Democrats serving at the evenly-divided FEC, whether the anti-Republican views expressed by the agency attorney in question are common at the commission. A Tuesday Special Counsel release described the employee posting “dozens of partisan political tweets, including many soliciting campaign contributions to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and other political campaigns, despite Hatch Act restrictions that prohibit FEC and other ‘further restricted’ employees from such activity.”  

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PJ Media: Federal Election Commission Lawyer: Politicking for Obama on Taxpayer Time

By J. Christian Adams

Sands is the latest example of federal employees being found to have engaged in prohibited political activity to help Democrats.  It illustrates a significant problem across the civil service that will be difficult to undo even in a Republican administration.  Federal employees donate overwhelmingly to Democrats and view the ministerial state through an activist and ideological lens.  Whether at the IRS, EPA or DOJ, partisans inside government use their power to advance a partisan agenda, and despite the resignation of Sands, few are caught and purged from the civil service.

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