“What if We’re to Blame?”

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Robert J. Samuelson considers whether public opinion is to blame for the problems in American democracy.  One observation stands out:

"[O]ur politicians are slaves to public opinion.  Superficially, this should be reassuring.  Democracy is working, because public attitudes remain the dominant influence–not "big money" or "special interest," as many believe.

"But it is not reassuring.  The trouble is that public opinion is often ignorant, confused and contradictory; and so the policies it produces are often ignorant, confused and contradictory–which means they’re ineffective."

Some may read this as an indictment of the public, but we read it as an indictment of campaign finance "reformers" and their quixotic efforts to "get money out of politics."  

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Filed Under: Blog

Complicated, but not Comprehensive

Thanks to advocates of campaign finance “reform”, the enterprise of political speech in America has become complicated business.  But while the regulatory regime advanced by reformers is incredibly complicated, it is not comprehensive; there are gaps.  Reformers call these “loopholes,” although we prefer to call the absence of regulation “freedom”.

As freedom becomes harder to find in the morass of campaign finance regulation, claims to have discovered some are met with a reflexive sort of skepticism.  Surely, it is thought, in a code this complicated there must be some applicable regulation.  In a recent draft Advisory Opinion, AO 2006-30 (ActBlue), the FEC’s Office of General Counsel appears to have fallen into this trap.  We at CCP would like to help pull them out.

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Filed Under: Blog

Campaign Finance Disclosure – It’s good for what ails ya’

Worthless patent medicines used to be sold as all-purpose remedies.  Got a problem?  Not feeling well?  Try Dr. Smith’s Miracle Elixer. “It’s good for what ails ya’.”  Of course, Dr. Smith’s Elixer was probably little more than alcohol and syrup.  It didn’t really solve anything, but for a short time, at least, you got a pleasant whoozy feeling. 

In campaign finance, disclosure is the Miracle Elixer.  Everyone supports disclosure of campaign finance information.  But does it really solve every problem, or does it just give you a pleasant whoozy feeling?  Click on the headline to read more.

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

Comments on Draft AO 2006-30 (ActBlue)

CCP comments on Draft Advisory Opinion 2006-30 (ActBlue). Associate Director Paul Sherman recommends that prospective candidates not be treated as actual candidates for purposes of forwarding and depositing donations of federally eligible funds.

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

“Trick or Treat[?]!”

We forget that “Trick or Treat?” is not a salutation but a question, an implied threat made cute by the passage of time.

It is time to discover that campaign reform is a cute remedy made threatening by the passage of time.

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Filed Under: Blog, Alabama

All the Inaccuracy That’s Fit to Print: The New York Times Strikes Again

The wonderful thing about the New York Times editorial board is the way they can be so indignant, while having their facts (we won’t even discuss their opinions) so wrong.  Behind the fold, CCP Chairman Brad Smith discusses the errors in the latest outraged Times editorial on campaign finance.

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Filed Under: Blog

“Justice Breyer’s Party”

CCP Academic Advisor and the host of Skeptic’s Eye, Allison Hayward has released a new working paper that examines the role Justice Breyer has played in the regulation of political party committees as compared to outside groups.  Her conclusion: 

"If political association is protected by the First Amendment–and either a "negative" or "active" view of liberty should hold it is–judges and Justices should take seriously their role to police incursions on political liberty by a self-interested power-maximizing Congress.  It is heartening that Justice Breyer…views parties with the regard he does.  For greater clarity and consistency, he and his colleagues could consider extending due regard, and closer examination of Congressional regulation, to other political groups."

Click the headline to read an abstract of the paper and for information on how to download it.

Filed Under: Blog

“Cover for Corruption”

CCP Chairman Brad Smith notes the Wisconsin corruption that is covering for Wisconsin corruption, in yesterday’s Roll Call.

UPDATE: The Supreme Court of Wisconsin will not hear Green’s appeal before the election.  The case, says dissenting Judge Jon Wilcox, “raises questions about retroactive rulemaking by a government agency, the right of free speech and the right to due process.”  


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Filed Under: Blog, Wisconsin

Is Air America an Illegal Campaign Committee?

Air America, the liberal talk radio network, recently declared its bankruptcy.  Unremarked upon, however, is the prospect that Air America was merely "circumvention" of the campaign finance laws.  And, if we accept the premises of major campaign finance "reform" organizations, perhaps not even legal circumvention, at that.  As CCP Chairman Brad Smith and SUNY-Binghamton Professor John Lott note in this column in today’s Washington Times, "there is no way that … wealthy Democratic donors could have legally given such large sums directly to Democrats. But Air America provided a vehicle for their multimillion-dollar political campaigns."  For the general circulation Times, Lott and Smith don’t go too deep into the legal morass, but for readers of this blog, we add a bit more legal analysis below the fold – click on the headline to read it all.


Filed Under: Blog

Free Exercise Where the Activity is Free

If drinking hoasca is okay, what is the result under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when churches’ sincere religious beliefs involve unpaid politics, and not peyote?

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Filed Under: Blog

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