Upcoming Debate: Is Free Speech a Victim of Campaign Finance Reform?

CCP Chairman Brad Smith will be debating Professor of Law and Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice, Burt Neuborne on Monday, October 30th at Fordham Law School in New York City.  The debate is sponsored by the Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation and co-sponsored by the Fordham Law Federalist Society and American Constitution Society.

If you’re in the NYC area, we encourage you to attend.  The debate should be a lively and informative.

Click the headline for more information about the event and how to RSVP.

Filed Under: Blog

Does Money Guarantee Election?

Barron’s is predicting minimal Republican losses this year, based almost entirely on candidate fund raising totals.  How valid is this analysis?  Click the header to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Newsreel IV

West Palm Beach, Fla.–Florida Democrats asked a state court Friday to block Election Day notices at polling places that would inform voters in Rep. Mark Foley’s district that his GOP replacement on the ballot will receive his votes. 

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog, Florida

“Promises About Prop. 89 All a Dream”

The Cato Institute’s John Samples and CCP Academic Advisor Jeffrey Milyo show the puffery in California Prop. 89.

Read “Promises about Prop. 89 all a dream” in yesterday’s San Jose Mercury News

According to Milyo and Samples, “Proposition 89 is a bald-faced attempt to achieve by regulatory fiat what it would be patently unconstitutional to enact in law: a direct prohibition on private campaign contributions.”

Remarkably, Prop. 89’s sponsors fear asking the public to pay for public financing, and would choose instead to place the burden on “corporations and financial institutions.”  But Samples and Milyo warn that California voters should not be fooled.  “Proposition 89 does impose new taxes on the average Californian, even though, at first blush, it does not appear to; [possibly to the tune of] $140 million a year.”

Filed Under: Blog, California

“Best Election Money Can Buy”: Reading the News with a Skeptical Eye

A recent article in the L.A. Times is practically bursting with all the things that advocates of campaign finance “reform” love to hear.  Money is being “poured” into ballot initiatives, voters are being “confused” and “misled” by television advertising, and we are reminded that “often…the politician or proposition with the most money wins.”  Public Campaign, in a blog post titled “Best Election Money Can Buy,” points to this article as proof that something must be done to curb the influence of “wealthy interests [who] are sparing no expense to buy a big bullhorn in the debate.” 

Regrettably, the L.A. Times article is typical of campaign finance reporting, and Public Campaign’s response is typical of the “reform” community’s response.  We view these sorts of stories and the responses they generate with a more skeptical eye.  Even when the facts contained in such stories are accurate, the conclusions that are drawn from them by “reformers” are often marked by muddled thinking and sometimes down-right illogic.

Click the headline to read more

Filed Under: Blog, California

“Relatives have ‘inside track’ in lobbying for tax dollars”

A story in USA Today highlights a true appearance of corruption, and it has nothing to do with financing America’s political campaigns: "Lobbying groups employed 30 family members last year to influence spending bills that their relatives with ties to the House and Senate appropriations committees oversaw or helped write."

Lobbyists defending the practice come off sounding less than credible: "Lobbyist William Clyburn Jr. said he sees no benefit to having family on the Appropriations Committee. The lobbyist is the son of Rep. Clyburn’s first cousin, and Clyburn said he grew up calling the lawmaker ‘uncle.’"

Click here to read the whole story. 

Filed Under: Blog, lobbying, lobbyist

Joyce Foundation/Wisconsin News Lab Report: Where and How Should Voters Get Their Information?

The Joyce Foundation, working with the University of Wisconsin NewsLab, has released a report highly critical of the coverage – or really the lack of coverage – that local news gives to elections and campaigns.  The Joyce folks are very disturbed by this: Vice President  Lawrence Hansen informs us that, "The failure of local television news to foster and encourage informed citizen participation in the political process is scandalous."  At the same time, however, Joyce has played a key role in trying to limit the information voters get from other sources.  So where should voters get their news?  And what, exactly, is the vision of politics that the Joyce folks have?  Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

And now for something completely different…

In recognition that the blog post below is a bit on the "heavy" side, and because it’s Friday, we thought our readers might appeciate something a little lighter (although still campaign related) courtesy of The Daily Show.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

When “Stand By Your Ad” is Irrelevant

The FEC is currently considering alternative drafts of a new Advisory Opinion that asks whether a campaign committee receives a prohibited in-kind contribution if an incorporated television stations charges them the Lowest Unit Charge ("LUC") for advertising time when the committee is not statutorily "entitled" to the LUC because of failure to comply with the "Stand by your Ad" disclaimer requirements. 

We believe believe that this is not a prohibited in-kind contribution, for reasons CCP Chairman Brad Smith expressed while serving as a Commissioner on the FEC.  For those interested in this issue, we offer the text of Commissioner Smith’s dissent in AO 2004-43 (Missouri Broadcasters Association):

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

FEC to be renamed “Ministry of Free Speech”

The term “Orwellian”, which has come to embrace a number of different definitions, sometimes crops up in the campaign finance debate.  This post considers three common definitions ("Big Brother", doublethink, and language manipulation) to see whether they accurately describes some of the problems inherent to campaign finance "reform".

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

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