Bradley Smith, Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech and former FEC Commissioner, discusses whether a crowdfunding campaign by two liberal groups to pressure Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is legal under federal campaign finance laws.
Archives for September 2018
Center for Individual Freedom: Judge Kavanaugh, Crowdfunding and Campaign Finance Laws (Audio) (In the News)
Lexology: “Dark Money” Gets a Little Light: CREW v. FEC and Its Implications for the 2018 Midterms (In the News)
By Tim L. Peckinpaugh, Margaret R. Westbrook, Scott C. Nelson and Eli M. Schooley
One of the longest-standing regulations allowing for “dark money” in federal election law was invalidated by a recent federal court decision, meaning politically active nonprofit organizations that make independent expenditures will now be forced to disclose more of their donors…
Now, politically active nonprofits and social welfare organizations must report the sources of all contributions made over $200 for the general purpose of advancing independent expenditures…
[F]ree speech advocates and others have been disappointed. FEC Chairwoman Caroline Hunter, a Republican, lamented the decision, saying it was “unfortunate that citizens and groups who wish to advocate for their candidate will now have to deal with a lot of uncertainty less than two months before the election.” …
David Keating, president of the Institute for Free Speech, said it was a “real prospect” that groups would “choose silence rather than speech-and there are good reasons why they would do that.” Keating said many groups might find it too risky to continue using already-contributed money for independent expenditures, since donors “gave…money under the assumption they would remain confidential…” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW, the plaintiff in the underlying litigation, predicted the decision would have a noticeable effect on spending in the midterm elections.
On the other hand, others, including Keating, have said that Chief Judge Howell’s decision could only change the route by which “dark money” enters the midterm election campaign, rather than the amount or overall effect of the money. Many have speculated that rather than make the independent expenditures themselves and thus be forced to disclose donor information to FEC, nonpolitical committees will instead take the money they have received and donate it to Super PACs already spending on the issues in question.
Alexandria, VA – A recent district court ruling held that a longstanding Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure regulation violated federal law. The case involved a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Crossroads GPS regarding the group’s “independent expenditures” – ads that urge the support or defeat of a candidate. CREW now misrepresents the ruling, saying that it requires such […]
By Larry M. Elkin
[T]he goal of “one administration at a time” was also easier to achieve in the era when we had political campaigns that ended on election night, followed by a period in which the winner of the election performed the job, eventually followed by another campaign. Now the campaigning never ends. A 2015 report from the Center for Competitive Politics (since renamed the Institute for Free Speech) found that the average presidential campaign from the 1970s onward lasted 484 days, compared to 286 days in the 1950s and ’60s. Congressional campaigns are as bad, if not worse. Literally the morning the election results are announced, jockeying for position begins for the next cycle.
With many members of Congress and nearly every first-term president in constant campaign mode, we should be unsurprised at the results. This is the practice of modern political science in the real world, where in order to have an “us,” it is necessary to have a “them” made up of your electoral opponents. It is how you enlarge and fire up the base: Draw the sharpest possible contrast between your side and the opposition. Your opponents can’t just be misguided or wrong. They have to be witless, evil or some combination of the two. You cannot expect, let alone urge, foreign leaders to respect them when you refuse to respect them yourself. In fact, you have every incentive to undermine foreign respect for the opposing party, even if doing so injures your own.
Filed Under: In the News
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in an attempt to force Crossroads GPS, a conservative advocacy nonprofit, to disclose all contributors who give more than $200 per year to the organization. Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected that demand in a 113-page opinion, ruling that only donors who […]
We write to express our concern over your plans to convene a meeting of state attorneys general later this month “to discuss a growing concern that [operators of popular social media services and search engines] may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” The First Amendment bars the government from attempting to “correct” the first alleged problem, political bias, including through the antitrust laws, and sharply limits how the antitrust laws can be used against anticompetitive behavior beyond editorial bias. Essentially, antitrust law can prescribe anticompetitive economic conduct but “cannot be used to require a speaker to include certain material in its speech product.”
Given these limitations, it is unclear what lawful action could result from your planned meeting. Indeed, we fear that the effect of your inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with editorial judgment.
[The Institute for Free Speech signed this letter.]
Filed Under: Blog