Washington Examiner: Gov. Steve Bullock’s nosy lawsuit to make the IRS collect more of your data By Allen Dickerson As the Supreme Court noted in 1976, when the government demands to know “the giving and spending of money” our freedoms are threatened, “for financial transactions can reveal much about a person’s activities, associations, and beliefs.” It […]
Washington Examiner: Gov. Steve Bullock’s nosy lawsuit to make the IRS collect more of your data (In the News)
By Ed Whelan
I am compiling this ongoing compendium of materials on the Kavanaugh nomination in order to give the interested reader guided access to selected items that I consider worth reading. I have not attempted to be exhaustive, nor does my inclusion of an item mean that I necessarily agree with it…
– Ken White reviews Judge Kavanaugh’s free speech decisions on the DC Circuit.
– Institute for Free Speech posts a four-part series exploring Judge Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence in the sphere.
– Brian Miller notes how Judge Kavanaugh is impartial in his support of free speech…
– The Institute for Free Speech analyzed Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings in five campaign finance cases.
Filed Under: In the News
Rob discusses Measure One on the state wide ballot with Eric Wang, a senior fellow at the Institute for Free Speech …
Meriden Record-Journal: Markley, Sampson continue to fight SEEC fine after judge dismisses appeal (In the News)
By Mike Savino
Republican lawmakers Joe Markley and Rob Sampson continue to fight fines resulting from a 2014 election complaint, and are considering a federal lawsuit just as their 2018 campaigns are about to hit high gear.
Markley and Sampson said Friday they are working with the Institute for Free Speech on a federal lawsuit challenging the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s interpretation of a state law requiring a candidate to only use campaign funds to further their own election.
Separately, the two politicians also plan to appeal a New Britain Superior Court judge’s Aug. 2 decision…
The SEEC in February imposed fines of $5,000 for Sampson and $2,000 for Markley after determining that in 2014 they improperly funded ads that included Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The SEEC determined that Sampson and Markley should have sought payment from Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley…
Judge Joseph M. Shortfall dismissed the appeal, though, saying Sampson and Markley took longer than the allowed 45 days to file it. Agencies have 25 days to act on a request to reconsider, after which time the request is automatically rejected.
Sampson and Markley filed their request on February 14, but the SEEC failed to take action until March 23. Shortfall said the request was automatically rejected in early March, when the 25-day window came and went, meaning Sampson and Markley had until late April to file their appeal.
They maintain that the March 23 decision should start the clock…
[T]he two are also working with IFS on a federal lawsuit in hopes of getting a federal judge to stop SEEC from imposing its interpretation of the law.
Say Anything Blog: Free Speech Group Says Ethics Ballot Measure May Violate the 1st Amendment (In the News)
By Rob Port
“North Dakota’s current campaign finance and lobbying laws are already unclear. The initiative could raise serious First Amendment concerns because of the additional vague rules it appears to impose on citizens and groups that wish to speak about public matters and state government,” says Eric Wang, a senior fellow at the Institute for Free Speech.
Wang is talking about the ballot measure to create an ethics commission which will be Measure 1 on the statewide ballot in November. He notes in a thorough analysis of the measure that, in addition to creating an ethics commission, it would also institute a host of new restrictions and regulations on political speech which probably aren’t in keeping with the 1st amendment…
One notable criticism Wang has of the measure is this passage from Section 1: “The legislative assembly shall implement and enforce this section by enacting, no more than three years after the effective date of this article, laws that require prompt, electronically accessible, plainly comprehensible, public disclosure of the ultimate and true source of funds spent in any medium, in an amount greater than two hundred dollars, adjusted for inflation, to influence any statewide election, election for the legislative assembly, statewide ballot-issue election, or to lobby or otherwise influence state government action.” …
“Such a law appears to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad,” Wang writes. “The initiative’s reporting requirements would also appear to require filings by media organizations for any news reporting or opinions that could ‘influence any …election’ or ‘state government action’,” he continues.
Slate: The Chance of Michael Cohen Facing Criminal Campaign Finance Charges Just Went Up (In the News)
By Richard L. Hasen
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal issued a new report about former Donald Trump attorney Michel Cohen and the 2016 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels: Cohen initially rejected the request for money from Daniels’ attorney, but changed his mind after the “Access Hollywood” tape came to light.
The new revelation about Cohen refusing to pay Daniels in September 2016 is big, circumstantial evidence that could further open up Cohen to facing criminal campaign finance charges. This could also reach all the way to Trump himself…
Two important Republican election lawyers have attempted to set a high bar for how to tell when a payment in this context might be campaign-related rather than personal. Charlie Spies told the Journal in February that the payment to Daniels was “an expense that would exist irrespective of whether Mr. Trump was a candidate and therefore should not be treated as a campaign contribution.” And former Federal Election Commission chair Brad Smith wrote in an April op-ed in the Journal that “FEC regulations explain that the campaign cannot pay expenses that would exist ‘irrespective’ of the campaign, even if it might help win election. At the same time, obligations that would not exist ‘but for’ the campaign must be paid from campaign funds.”
Even under these tough standards for what counts as campaign-related, the proof of the timing would be damning for Cohen.
Filed Under: In the News
USA Today: Money spent in Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation battle is good for democracy (In the News)
USA Today: Money spent in Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation battle is good for democracy By David Keating America enters a generational Supreme Court nomination battle divided. But one aspect of the fight over nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh shows our democracy is as vibrant as ever: the effort to persuade Americans reflects the unique speech bazaar […]
Initiative Could Require News Media to File Reports with the State; Contains Potentially Vague and Overbroad Provisions Alexandria, VA – The Institute for Free Speech released an analysis today of a proposed North Dakota constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that says the initiative could create new risks for individuals and groups who speak about […]
By Peter Overby
Chief Judge Beryl Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, threw out a regulation adopted by the Federal Election Commission in 1980. The rule said that “non-political” groups, such as 501(c) nonprofit organizations, could ignore a disclosure law if donors’ contributions were not earmarked for specific advertisements – an exception that wasn’t in the law passed by Congress.
Howell’s decision was issued Friday evening.
She listed ways in which the regulation undercut the transparency principles of campaign finance law: “including informing the electorate, deterring corruption, and enforcing bans on foreign contributions being used to buy access and influence to American political officials.” …
It also leaves question marks for 501(c) groups active in the midterm elections, using money raised under the old rules.
“The thing I’d be most concerned about is protecting the donors who gave in good faith,” said David Keating, president of the conservative Institute for Free Speech.
Howell set a 45-day deadline for the FEC to replace the invalid regulation. FEC commissioners had no comment Monday on how they would respond and whether they would seek to appeal the ruling. An appeal is considered unlikely because it would require all four votes on the commission, a six-member panel with two vacancies…
CREW’s lawsuit focused on FEC treatment of spending by the 501(c)(4) group Crossroads GPS, and Crossroads intervened as a defendant. Spokesman Chris Pack said Monday evening, “This was wrongly decided and we will proceed accordingly after reviewing an array of legal options.”
Republican National Lawyers Association: The Importance of Protecting the Privacy of Non-Profit Donors (In the News)
By Josh Goodman
The IRS recently defended the privacy rights of non-profit organizations by declaring they would no longer collect the names and addresses of donors. Detractors of this new policy, mainly coming from the far-left, argue this will lead to an increase in foreign spending and so called ‘dark money’ in American politics. The Institute for Free Speech’s Luke Wachob explains in The Hill why this complaint is not based in reality.
“First, nonprofits can accept money from foreign sources, but they are legally prohibited from using it to support the election or defeat of candidates. The ban also applies to broadcast ads that mention the name of a candidate in the time near an election.
Second, a donor name and address does not tell you whether it is a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Many Americans live abroad, and many people in the United States are not citizens or legal permanent residents.”