Members of Congress Renew Proposal to Kill Bipartisan FEC

The bipartisan makeup of the Federal Election Commission is coming under fire yet again. A House bill (H.R. 2034) would effectively disband the FEC and replace the agency with a new, partisan model of campaign finance law enforcement. Perhaps recognizing how unpopular this idea would be if put in plain English, the proposal’s backers couch […]

Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, IRS and the Tea Party, Issues, Derek Kilmer, FEC, federal election commission, HR 2034, Jim Renacci, Restoring Integrity to America's Elections Act, richard nixon, Watergate, Montana, Wisconsin

Self-Styled Campaign Finance “Reformers” Jump the Shark

Self-Styled Campaign Finance “Reformers” Jump the Shark Ten Stunts, Antics, and Exploits That Show Many Anti-Free Speech Activists Have Lost It By Luke Wachob Introduction What do activists do when the government isn’t prioritizing their cause? What does the head of a federal agency do when she doesn’t get her way? What do “good government” […]

Filed Under: Amending Press Release/In the News/Blog, Amending the Constitution, Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, FEC, First Amendment, Issues, Money in Politics, Research, Super PACs, Super PACs, "John Doe", Ann Ravel, Democracy Spring, Doug Hughes, ellen weintraub, federal election commission, Gyrocopter, Larry Lessig, Mayday PAC, Udall Amendment, Zephyr Teachout, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Super PACs, Wisconsin

Do State Campaign Finance Reforms Increase Trust and Confidence in State Government?

In this study, CCP Academic Advisor Jeff Milyo, a Professor of Economics of the University of Missouri, tests the hypothesis that restrictive campaign finance laws improve citizens’ perceptions of government. As Milyo explains, the political and legal battle over campaign finance reform hinges on differing views about the importance of such regulations for preserving and […]

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Enforcement, External Relations Sub-Pages, Faulty Assumptions, Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, clean elections, public financing, Contribution Limits, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Contributions & Limits, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns

Delusions about “Dysfunction”: Understanding the Federal Election Commission

Supporters of more regulation of political speech increasingly seek to discredit the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – the agency with exclusive civil enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. The purpose of these attacks is twofold: first, to pressure other federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal […]

Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, FEC, Research, Enforcement, Enforcement

Eternal Inconsistency: The Stunning Variability in, and Expedient Motives Behind the Tax Regulation of Nonprofit Advocacy Groups

In this study, California election law attorney Allison Hayward analyzes the historical roots of the IRS’s recent scandals, and discusses how: The IRS scandal is just the latest in a series of clashes between the agency and nonprofit advocacy groups. Congress writes tax law to address short-term political goals, often ignoring long-term problems. Laws governing […]

Filed Under: Blog, Enforcement, First Amendment, IRS, IRS and the Tea Party, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, 1954 Revenue Act, Allison Hayward, Nonprofit Advocacy, Revenue Act of 1934, Social Welfare, Tax Exemptions, Enforcement, First Amendment, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Enforcement, First Amendment, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation

The Non-Expert Agency: Using The SEC To Regulate Partisan Politics

Over the past 15 years, advocates of campaign finance reform, frustrated by the structure and design of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), have attempted to offload the duties of campaign finance regulation to other federal agencies, most notably the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) but also the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Recently, these efforts have expanded […]

Filed Under: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Enforcement, FEC, Research, Federal Communications Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Jr., Lucian A. Bebchuk, Robert J. Jackson, Securities and Exchange Commission, Enforcement, Enforcement

Do State Ethics Commissions Reduce Political Corruption? An Exploratory Investigation

In this UC Irvine Law Review article by Kayla Crider and Jeffrey Milyo, a Professor of Social Science in the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri and Academic Advisor at the Center for Competitive Politics, the authors examine the efficacy of state ethics commissions in reducing public corruption. As Crider and Milyo note, […]

Filed Under: Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Research, Jeffrey Milyo, Kayla Crider, Public Corruption, State Ethics Commissions, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions, Enforcement, Faulty Assumptions

The Michigan Auto Dealers Prosecution: Exploring The Department of Justice’s Mid-Century Posture Toward Campaign Finance Violations

In this article, Allison Hayward examines the impetus behind a 1948 decision by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute a Flint businessman for making illegal corporate contributions and the legacy of what transpired. Ultimately, lawyers on both sides questioned the legality of the “corruption” laws, and the case ended without a single conviction. The tenacity of the DOJ in its quest to make convictions is of great interest to Hayward throughout this piece, which she eventually proves was unwarranted. The results beg the question:  why weren’t campaign finance laws enforced before the Voter Registration Act of 1974? Using this case as context, Hayward thoroughly overviews campaign finance regulations before 1974 and provides an interesting look at campaign finance regulation in its infancy.

Filed Under: Enforcement, Research, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation

The Devil We Know? Evaluating the FEC as Enforcer

The Federal Election Commission administers and enforces federal election laws. But campaign finance reformers have argued for years that the FEC does little to stem the exploitation of “loopholes” in election law. This article evaluates the enforcement actions of the regulatory body by exploiting a unique database of legal complaints moderated by the FEC since 1996. The author has coded over 700 complaints on a variety of dimensions, including the issue focus, the characteristics of the complainant and respondent, and the final penalty levied by the Commission. Among the patterns he finds are that regulatory votes are rarely split along partisan lines and that Commissioners levy (some quite substantial) fines in about 30 percent of all enforcement cases. The major theoretical question of this paper is whether the FEC punishes potential violators of election law in a partisan manner, whether they are biased toward candidates, and whether certain structural changes at the FEC influence performance. The evidence suggests an FEC (increasingly) more functional than many often claim, with no slam-dunk patterns suggestive of large-scale bias.

Filed Under: Enforcement, Research, Enforcement, Enforcement

Deadlocked Votes Among Members of the Federal Election Commission: Overview and Potential Considerations for Congress

This research examines the structure of the Federal Election Commission in light of criticism that the agency is often unable to achieve its mission because of deadlocked votes, in which matters of law of regulation may be left unresolved.  This report asks whether deadlocks are as common as popular wisdom suggests and whether deadlocks fall along party lines.  It concludes that although deadlocked votes do occur, they represent a minority of the agency’s votes during the period covered under the study.  The study also notes that the issues on which deadlocks occurred often features staunch disagreement among Commissioners and reflected unsettled positions on some major policy questions.

Filed Under: Enforcement, Research, Enforcement, Enforcement

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