Daily Media Links 1/22

January 22, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
Default Article

The Courts

Courthouse News: A Free Speech Chill? Donor Disclosure Rules Debated at 10th Circuit

By Amanda Pampuro

A conservative think tank on Thursday asked a 10th Circuit panel to revive its claim against a city’s requirement that donors contributing over $250 to ballot measure campaigns must be disclosed.

As a super-sized debate bubbled up around a proposed soda tax in 2017, Albuquerque-based Rio Grande Foundation sued the city of Santa Fe over an ordinance requiring donor disclosure by groups spending more than $250 to advocate for ballot measures.

With proponents of the proposed 2-cent-per ounce tax on sugary beverages backed by billionaire Mike Bloomberg, groups on both sides spent nearly $2 million. Ultimately voters rejected the measure by more than 15 points.

In voicing opposition of the proposal, the Rio Grande Foundation launched a website and videos under the campaign slogan “No Way Santa Fe.” Estimating the nonprofit spent more than $7,000 on the issue – well over the threshold – the Santa Fe Ethics and Campaign Review Board asked for the donors to be disclosed.

Alamogordo Daily News: Federal judge tosses Cowboys for Trump suit seeking cover for financial backers

By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday from the jailed founder of Cowboys for Trump, tossing the effort to block or avoid possible financial disclosure requirements as a political group in New Mexico.

The lawsuit filed in June 2020 from Couy Griffin and Cowboys for Trump was in response to mounting pressure on the group to register as a political committee in New Mexico and possibly disclose information related to independent political expenditures and contributions…

In the lawsuit on financial disclosures, Griffin and Cowboys for Trump argued that they don’t engage in the type of independent political spending that triggers registration in New Mexico as a political committee.

A judge found there was no reason for the federal court to intervene.

“Cowboys for Trump’s donors have not suffered any injury in fact and are never expected to suffer any such injury,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Fouratt wrote. “The refuge offered by the federal court is not a forum for the general airing of miscellaneous political grievances a citizen or group of citizens may wish to air about the regulatory efforts of a government actor.”


HuffPost: Senate Democrats Announce First Order Of Business For New Majority: Fixing Democracy

By Paul Blumenthal

These nearly identical bills contain a suite of policies to protect, enhance and expand democracy, according to supporters. These policies would institute national standards for expanded voting rights, create a system for publicly financed congressional elections, ban undisclosed “dark money” and forbid partisan gerrymandering…

Democrats do not intend to waste time. The House bill, introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) on Jan. 4, could get a floor vote as early as Jan. 28, according to a congressional aide. But it may take longer for the bill to move on the Senate side…

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the outgoing majority leader, attacked the 2019 bill as “socialist” as he blocked consideration in the Senate. But with a new majority soon to be in place, the legislation can get full consideration, although Senate Democrats will need to hold hearings first in the relevant committees and then the Rules Committee before advancing the bill to the floor. But it may need to wait until after Congress passes another round of COVID-19 relief.

The bill would need to receive 60 votes to prevent it from being blocked by a Republican filibuster on the floor. That is unless Democrats decide to end the use of the filibuster entirely or on a case-by-case basis. Though such considerations have been discussed, there remains no consensus on how Democrats will approach the filibuster in the coming months.

Raw Story: ‘A big deal’: Democrats reintroduce Constitutional amendment to overturn one of the Supreme Court’s most damaging rulings

By Common Dreams

In a bid to reverse the outsize influence of corporations and the wealthiest Americans over the nation’s electoral process, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The reintroduction of the Democracy for All Amendment in the 117th Congress-led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)-occurred on the 11th anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, a 5-4 ruling which affirmed that corporations are legal persons and that they, labor unions, and other outside groups could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of U.S. elections.

The amendment, which has been introduced in every Congress since the 113th, grants the states and the federal government the ability to limit how money is raised and spent in U.S. elections. It also grants the states and Congress the power to differentiate between natural and corporate persons.

A separate but related measure, the We the People Amendment, has also been reintroduced in each successive Congress since the 113th, most recently by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) in February 2019. The amendment would preclude artificial entities such as corporations and limited liability companies from enjoying constitutional rights, which would be reserved for natural persons.

The Verge: Dems push Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for anti-radicalization changes after Capitol attack

By Makena Kelly

Only hours after gaining full control of Congress, House Democrats are going after FacebookTwitter, and YouTube for the platforms’ perceived roles in inciting violence at the Capitol earlier this month.

In letters addressed to the chief executives of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), along with dozens of other members, called for the companies to make sweeping changes to their platforms to curb violent and extremist activity on their networks.

The lawmakers accused the companies of using certain product features and algorithms that boost content that evokes extreme emotions as a means of increasing engagement, pointing out specific features they want to see changed on each platform. For YouTube, lawmakers said they would like to see the company disable auto-play and stop recommending any conspiratorial content alongside videos or on users’ homepages. Facebook was asked to start a “fundamental reexamination” of its use of user engagement “as the basis of algorithmic sorting and recommendation.” Lawmakers also asked Twitter to begin prompting users to quote-tweet tweets instead of automatically retweeting them when the retweet button is selected.

Washington Post: House Oversight Committee chairwoman requests FBI probe of Parler, including its role in Capitol siege

By Tom Hamburger and Craig Timberg

The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the FBI to conduct a “robust examination” of the alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege of Parler, the now-disabled social media site that bristled with violent chatter before and after a mob stormed the Capitol in a rampage that left one police officer and four rioters dead.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman, said the request is a step toward opening a formal committee investigation into sites that may encourage violence, including Parler… 

She said the committee will begin its own formal investigation of Parler and similar sites, and that it was a “top priority” for her to learn answers to a range of questions about Parler, including its alleged ties to Russia, as documented in news reports. Her letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Thursday singled out Parler’s use of a Russian-owned Web services company, DDoS-Guard, that also has Russian government clients and may leave Parler vulnerable to data requests by Russian agencies.

“I am going to get to the bottom of who owns and funds social media platforms like Parler that condone and create violence,” Maloney said in an interview with The Washington Post.

The Media

Axios: Media trust hits new low

By Felix Salmon

Trust in traditional media has declined to an all-time low, and many news professionals are determined to do something about it…

For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media, according to data from Edelman’s annual trust barometer shared exclusively with Axios. Trust in social media has hit an all-time low of 27%.

56% of Americans agree with the statement that “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

58% think that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”

When Edelman re-polled Americans after the election, the figures had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans…

As vaccine rumor hunter Heidi Larson puts it, “we don’t have a misinformation problem, we have a trust problem.”

News organizations have historically relied mainly on advertising income, and as those dollars flow increasingly to Google and Facebook, that has created institutional weakness that shows up in trust data.

Online Speech Platforms

Wall Street Journal: Facebook Refers Trump Account Suspension to Oversight Board

By Sarah E. Needleman

Facebook has referred its decision to indefinitely suspend the accounts of former President Donald Trump to its outside oversight board, as the company grapples with how to treat one of its highest-profile users after his exit from public office.

Earlier this month the social-media giant moved to disable Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts for at least two weeks, after he encouraged protests of the election results and his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a Jan. 6 attack that left five dead. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that the risks of Mr. Trump’s use of the platforms through Inauguration Day were too great.

“We believe our decision was necessary and right,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s communications and policy chief, in a blog post Thursday, one day after the swearing-in of President Joe Biden. “Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”

Techdirt: Inauguration Has Happened, Google And Facebook Should End The Ban On Political Advertisements

By Eric Peterson

In light of the events at the Capitol, social media and other online companies have been reevaluating who they let speak on their platforms. The ban of President Trump from Twitter, Facebook, and various other platforms has sparked fierce debate over moderation and free speech. But Google’s recently reinstituted ban on political advertisements until at least inauguration day and the continued ban from Facebook are silencing voices that need to be heard the most – those speaking about state and local political issues…

Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz, while certainly benefiting from social media, can reach an audience without these platforms. But many other speakers who want to speak to local audiences about important political issues have come to rely on them…

Want to inform your neighbors about a city board meeting over a key issue for your community? Want to build a coalition of people to support or oppose an issue at your state capitol? Facebook and Google can do so more successfully, and at a fraction of the cost [of other methods.]

This is often the most important kind of political engagement – forming relationships with your fellow citizens to make your voices heard on issues that carry major personal impacts and are far too often under-reported and less understood.

The States

Standard-Speaker: Finance bill needs passed

[Pennsylvania] has some of the nation’s worst state-level campaign finance laws. There are no contribution limits, and an array of procedural loopholes allows candidates to delay and obscure disclosures. Now, responsible state legislators should use revulsion over the Jan. 6 attack on democracy as a catalyst to reform campaign finance laws.

Sen. Jay Costa, the state Senate minority leader from Allegheny County, has introduced a bill that would require corporate campaign giving, which was authorized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-considered Citizens United decision in 2010, to be treated like political action committee contributions for reporting purposes.

The bill also would require any corporate contribution of more than $10,000 to be approved by shareholders.

And in response to news reports last year that uncovered some politicians’ use of campaign funds for dubious purposes, the bill would require detailed reporting of every expenditure and preclude the use of credit cards to obscure the expenditures.

Tiffany Donnelly

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap