Daily Media Links 10/28: President Obama heads into intensive fall fundraising stretch, Gap Clothing Chain Founders Were Behind California ‘Dark Money’ Campaign Posted, and more…

October 28, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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In the News

Delmarva Public Radio: Election Disclosure Law for Advocacy Groups Challenged in Delaware  

By Don Rush
The conservative group Delaware Strong Families has filed a federal lawsuit that challenges a new election law that requires advocacy groups to disclose donors behind political ads.
The group publishes a voter guide during elections.
Under the law third-party groups and individuals must reveal their donors to the state elections commissioner if they publish ads or other communications that refer to a candidate in an election.
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CPI: Business groups assail political transparency 
By Dave Levithal
As nonprofit trade associations organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Service code, the three groups are not by law required to reveal their funders.
Nor are corporations legally compelled to publicly disclose any money they give to politically active nonprofit groups, which likewise aren’t required to disclose their donors and have together poured hundreds of millions of dollars into U.S. politics at the state and national levels. Still, some choose to do so anyway.
The trade associations’ letter coincides with an anti-disclosure op-ed piece Monday in the Wall Street Journal by Yale Law School professor Jonathan Macey and the launch of a public relations campaign (including Facebook ads) by the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit group which is largely opposed public disclosure of political contributions.
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Independent Groups

Roll Call: Club for Growth Action Adds More $100,000+ Donors 
By Kent Cooper
The Club for Growth Action, a Republican-oriented super PAC, reported it had receipts of $282,433 and disbursements of $118,336 during September, leaving $1,572,554 cash on hand as of 9/30. For the year, the PAC reported receipts of $2,005,951.  
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NY Sun: Second Circuit to the Rescue 
What an amazing ruling from the federal appeals court lifting the roadblocks to full participation by New Yorkers — and other Americans — in the debate over New York’s next mayor. It wasn’t just the substance of the ruling, though that was splendid. A panel of appellate judges who ride the Second United States Circuit ordered unanimously that neither New York City nor State could enforce a law limiting big donations to the New York Progress and Protection Political Action Committee, which has been in a race against the clock to marshal money to advocate for Joe Lhota’s underdog candidacy for mayor.
The substance of the Circuit Court’s ruling was not just a resounding defeat for the Democrats but a vote of confidence in the First Amendment, which prohibits abridging freedom of speech or the press. That was predictable. What strikes us as newsworthy is the remarkable dispatch with which the court acted. The hapless lower-court judge, Paul Crotty, who had ruled against supporters of Mr. Lhota, barely had a chance savor the thought of a celebratory drink with editors of the New York Times — no doubt at the Death of Liberty Saloon — than the appeals court assembled a panel, reasoned out the case, and over ruled him.
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NY Times: Even More Money Coming to an Election Near You 
Shaun McCutcheon, who is at the center of a Supreme Court case challenging limits on campaign donations, issued a statement Thursday that said he is “very pleased that another court has decided to rule in favor of free speech.”  
Actually it ruled in favor of giving the rich more influence than they already have over who wins public elections. 
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Independence Institute: Rebutting the Claim that an “Anti-Corruption” Principle Should Re-Write the First Amendment 
By Rob Natelson
I’ve been chagrined to see my own writings cited in some articles promoting the “anti-corruption principle” claims—most often my 2004 article, The Constitution and the Public Trust. Its heavily-documented thesis was that the Founders believed that government should be conducted on fiduciary principles, and that the Constitution’s phrases should be read with that understanding. But I never suggested those principles should trump constitutional text. 
Anyway, trust principles actually cut against congressional campaign finance regulation, not in favor of it. This is because it is a clear conflict of interest for a Congress of incumbents to regulate the campaigns of candidates running against them. 
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National Journal: Why Conservatives Don’t Want to Identify Political Donors
By James Oliphant
Thomas’s view was an outlier. It broke with the then-prevailing consensus among conservatives on the Court that the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit mandatory public disclosure. No less an eminence than Antonin Scalia, typically Thomas’s brother-in-arms, wrote in a separate opinion that “requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.” And even in the pages of the highly charged Citizens United ruling, in which the Court’s conservative majority loosened restrictions on corporate political activity, the justices wrote that “transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”
That was then. Now Thomas’s contention that public disclosure chills free speech is becoming an article of faith among the hard Right, which sees disclosure requirements as a threat to personal liberty. Ted Cruz, who knows a thing or two about standing up in public after his crusade against Obamacare on the Senate floor, is a subscriber. The Texas Republican is holding up the confirmation of Thomas Wheeler, President Obama’s choice to chair the Federal Communications Commission, over the issue.
Specifically, Cruz is concerned that Wheeler will use the FCC’s administrative power to compel groups that buy political ads on TV and radio to release the names of their donors. Under current law, “social-welfare groups” organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code (American Crossroads GPS, created in part by Karl Rove and dedicated to electing Republicans, is one of many, many examples) can keep the identities of their contributors secret. The commission, Cruz argued at Wheeler’s confirmation hearing this summer, lacks the authority “to regulate political speech.” Wheeler demurred on the subject.
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Huffington Post: Gap Clothing Chain Founders Were Behind California ‘Dark Money’ Campaign Posted
By Paul Blumenthal
Members of the Fisher family, founders of the Gap clothing chain, plowed more than $8 million into a dark money campaign in California’s 2012 elections, partially redacted documents show. The money went toward defeating Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase, Proposition 30, and supporting the anti-union Proposition 32, according to the documents, which list donors to Americans for Job Security, a group that handled contributions in the campaign.  
Those documents also show that Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab Corp., donated $6.4 million through Americans for Job Security. Philanthropist Eli Broad, who publicly backed Brown’s tax increase proposition, made a $500,000 contribution, according to the documents. Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave a combined $500,000. Crossroads GPS, the dark money nonprofit founded by Karl Rove, chipped in $2 million.  
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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Post: President Obama heads into intensive fall fundraising stretch

By Matea Gold
President Obama is setting off on a national fundraising tear to collect money for the three Democratic Party committees, scrambling to pack in events that had been delayed by the government shutdown and a series of foreign policy crises earlier this year.
Obama is cramming at least nine fundraisers into a one-month period to benefit the Democratic National Committee and the two congressional campaign committees, beginning Thursday night in Washington, when he attended the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum at the Jefferson Hotel, his go-to spot to meet with donors while in town. About 30 contributors attended, paying as much as $32,400 each.
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Joe Trotter

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