Another day, another accusation about paid protesters. As the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process moved to its final stages, President Trump took to Twitter to accuse those protesting Kavanaugh’s confirmation of being “paid professionals.” The myth of ready-to-go, paid-for protesters as the people who show up for any particular political cause has been thoroughly debunked over […]
Hosted by Hillary Chabot
Brad Smith, former Federal Election Commission Chair, joins Morning Meeting in studio to talk campaign finance law.
WBUR Boston NPR: Question 2 Wants Mass. Voters To Take A Stand Against Citizens United – If Only A Symbolic One (In the News)
By Quincy Walters
Question 2 asks Massachusetts voters to mandate the creation of a commission that would explore a path to a constitutional amendment that would nullify Citizens United. The ballot measure says the commission would have 15 members. Its goal would be to research how to limit the influence money has in elections, and try to establish that corporations don’t have the same rights as people…
But Bradley Smith disagrees. He’s the founder of the Institute for Free Speech and former FEC chairman.
“We protect corporate rights, because that protects the rights of the individual,” he said.
That includes shareholders, managers and employees, who Smith says benefit from their companies “asserting the rights of the people.”
Smith doesn’t live in Massachusetts, but he’s watching the ballot initiative with concern from Ohio. He believes if it passes, it could send a “dangerous” ripple to the rest of the country.
“Then you’re saying a labor union has no constitutional right to speak on behalf of its members,” Smith said. “You’re saying a corporation has no constitutional right to demand a warrant before police search its premises without reason.”
Ballot Access News: U.S. District Court Judge Enjoins South Dakota Campaign Finance Disclosure Law for Institute for Free Speech (In the News)
By Richard Winger
On October 16, U.S. District Court Judge Roberto Lange enjoined a South Dakota campaign finance disclosure law as applied to the Institute for Free Speech. The Institute wants to publish an analysis of two South Dakota ballot measures on the Institute’s web page. The Institute does not expect to take a position on the ballot measures, which relate to campaign finance. On October 8 it filed a federal lawsuit to protect itself, because the existing law seems to require the Institute to disclose its top five contributors if it publishes commentary about the ballot issues.
Here is the 13-page order in Institute for Free Speech v Jackley, 3:18cv-3017. The order depends on the fact that the Institute would not be spending any money, or virtually no money, just by posting its own analysis on its own web page. To the extent that the Institute wanted to send out a press release to news outlets mentioning its analysis, the cost for that would be virtually nothing as well. The state had argued that the Institute would not be in violation of the law even if it didn’t disclose, but the law itself seems to say that it would be in possible legal jeopardy, so the Institute received judicial relief.
Institute for Free Speech Wins Legal Challenge, Publishes Analysis of South Dakota Constitutional Amendment W and Initiated Measure 24
Alexandria, VA – Following a federal court ruling, the Institute for Free Speech released its analysis of two South Dakota ballot measures that the group says implicate First Amendment rights. The measures – Constitutional Amendment W and Initiated Measure 24 – will go before voters in November. The Institute initially concluded it could not publish […]
PDF of analysis available here By Owen Yeates and Ryan Morrison South Dakotans face many decisions this November, including a proposed statute titled Initiated Measure 24 and a ballot measure to amend the state constitution, known as Amendment W. Both implicate important First Amendment rights. Initiated Measure 24 is an outright ban on speech—if a […]
Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Free speech group can publish ballot information ahead of election, federal judge rules (In the News)
By Danielle Ferguson
A national free speech group suing South Dakota over its campaign finance laws can distribute educational materials about two upcoming ballot issues ahead of the November election, a federal judge ruled this week.
The Institute for Free Speech will be able to distribute an analysis on two ballot issues without fear of the state seeking prosecution for violating a South Dakota law regulating independent communication expenditure in political campaigns, a ruling filed Tuesday says.
“We are grateful for today’s decision, which will allow us to publish our ballot measure analysis,” IFS Legal Director Allen Dickerson said in a statement. “We look forward to addressing the remaining issues in the law as the case proceeds.”
IFS earlier this month asked a federal judge to declare a South Dakota campaign finance law unconstitutional, saying the law regulating independent communication expenditure in political campaigns is “unconstitutionally vague” and a violation of First Amendment rights.
“South Dakota laws pose a trap for the unwary,” the group’s petition said.
The court did not declare the law unconstitutional, but granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from prosecuting IFS for posting the analysis.
IFS wants to publish an analysis on two upcoming ballot issues: Amendment W, which would impose more campaign finance requirements and lower contribution limits for candidates and political parties; and Initiated Measure 24, which would ban out-of-state donations to committees sponsoring statewide ballot issues…
IFS said in its complaint that it wanted to distribute “educational publications” about the ballot measures but couldn’t because of the vagueness of South Dakota law, saying it is “noticeably silent in protecting from criminal liability.”
Idaho Press-Tribune: Lawmakers debate free speech, privacy, transparency, as they craft campaign reforms (In the News)
By Betsy Z. Russell
Concerns about free speech, privacy and transparency clashed at a legislative committee meeting Tuesday, as Idaho lawmakers on the Campaign Finance Reform Interim Committee tangled over proposed new disclosure rules for independent campaign expenditures…
“I want as much transparency as we can possibly have, while protecting people who might want to donate to a cause, a 501c3 or a 501c4, and it may be a controversial topic,” said Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, who opposed the change. “I would be very hesitant to open them up to harassment, retaliation, all those things.”
She read from a letter submitted to the committee by the Institute for Free Speech, based in Alexandria, Va., saying, “The First Amendment will not tolerate a system where citizens must give the government mountains of information in order to speak about important issues of the day.”Rep. John VanderWoude, R-Nampa, sided with Souza. “To try to restrict free speech over that long of a time period … we could run afoul of the courts,” he said…
Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, said he worried that the proposal would classify some “accountability” mailings as electioneering, like a flier a group sent out criticizing a policy position he took. “If we go down that road, I think we run the risk of ending up in court with this,” he said.
Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, said, “Transparency is imperative in our system, but so is protecting the individual and not subjecting them to fear of reprisal.” The committee will meet again in the coming weeks and review options on independent expenditures and electioneering communications, as well as the final wording of the already agreed-upon legislative changes, so they can be drafted and presented to lawmakers in the first week of the 2019 legislative session.
By Anna Peters
A judge has decided a national non-profit can let you know about two measures on South Dakota’s November ballot that it claims violate First Amendment Rights.
As we told you last week on KELOLAND News, The Institute for Free Speech sued Attorney General Marty Jackley and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. The judge heard the case on Friday.
Amendment W and Initiated Measure 24 are the measures in question.
The federal judge decided that the group could face state charges if it distributes pamphlets in South Dakota. But he says the group can share the information on its website. It can also send out a news release to the media.
Soapbox Cincinnati: Civics Essential: How dark money, negative ads & campaign finance impact Ohioans at the ballot box (In the News)
By Jim DeBrosse
More Dark Money donors may have to be revealed shortly after a recent federal court ruling on a lawsuit involving another Ohio campaign. The suit was filed after the nonprofit organization known as Crossroads GPS spent $6 million in television ads in Ohio to defeat Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in the 2012 election. When the Federal Elections Committee deadlocked on whether Crossroads should be forced to identify its donors, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a campaign-finance-reform group, filed suit against the FEC and Crossroads…
[A] federal judge in Washington ruled in favor of CREW…
Advocates for disclosure hailed the ruling but were cautious in estimating its impact. The court decision “does not solve all the current disclosure problems, but this is a victory for transparency,” Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine, wrote…
Advocates for free speech, on the other hand, fear the disclosure ruling will put a damper on political donations and provide voters with fewer ads and less information. The Institute for Free Speech expressed concern on its website that “the decision may not receive the attention it deserves or, more troublingly, be read broadly to chill independent speech… It is unclear whether definitive answers will emerge in the remaining days in the 2018 election cycle.” …
[A]dvocates of free speech argue that government limits on spending for independent political speech, including attack ads, is a violation of the First Amendment. “The right to free speech, including the right to speak out about who should be elected to public office, is a fundamental American right that is essential to democratic debate,” The Institute for Justice argues on its website. “Similarly, the right of individuals to band together and pool their resources to make their advocacy more effective is another fundamental American right.”