Daily Media Links 10/3: Could a Four-Second Mistake Cost a Candidate Thousands of Dollars?, Court to consider rules on judicial campaign cash, and more…

October 3, 2014   •  By Scott Blackburn   •  
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CCP

New proposed “pay-to-play” rule draws criticism from free speech group 
Alexandria, VA – The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) today announced that it filed comments critical of a newMunicipal Services Rulemaking Board proposal to expand so-called “pay-to-play” rules.  The draft amendments to what is formally known as Rule G-37 would in many cases ban certain investment managers from making campaign contributions to candidates for a range of vaguely defined offices.
“The proposed rule is too vague, too broad and tramples on the vital First Amendment right to contribute to candidates,” said CCP President David Keating. “The MSRB needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with an alternative that addresses pay-to-play concerns while protecting First Amendment rights.”
CCP says the proposed rule is unclear about what persons and candidates are covered by its provisions. For example, the proposed rule would reach candidates for any elective office that “has authority to appoint any person who is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of” hiring a dealer for municipal securities business or an advisor for municipal advisory business. Yet the rule fails to say what qualifies as “indirect responsibility” or “indirect influence.”
Allen Dickerson, CCP’s Legal Director, explains in the comments that “This lack of clarity will inevitably mean that some contributions that would otherwise be made, and which pose little to no danger of pay-to-play corruption, will not be made. That is itself a substantial First Amendment harm.”
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SCOTUS/Judiciary

AP: Court to consider rules on judicial campaign cash 
By Sam Hananel
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Thursday it will resolve a growing debate over whether states that elect judges can stop candidates from directly seeking campaign contributions.
In a case that could affect hundreds of judicial races around the country, the justices will hear an appeal from a Florida judicial candidate who argues the state’s ban on personal solicitation of campaign funds violates her First Amendment free speech rights.
The Florida Supreme Court upheld the ban in May, saying it was justified because such conduct raises an appearance of impropriety and may lead the public to question a judge’s impartiality. The state court reprimanded Lanell Williams-Yulee for signing a mass-mail fundraising letter in 2009 announcing her candidacy for county court judge in Hillsborough County, Florida, and seeking donations for her campaign.
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Legal Newsline: Target of Wis. investigation accuses DA of criminal abuses of power 
By Stuart Taylor, Jr.
MILWAUKEE (Legal Newsline) – Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm faces a deadline of Oct. 12 to decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate his own conduct.
Whatever Chisholm decides will complicate the re-election bid of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is locked in a tenacious battle with Democrat Mary Burke. The carefully written, eight-page petition for a special prosecutor was filed by Eric O’Keefe, a free market activist at the center of Chisholm’s criminal probe of Walker and 29 allied conservative groups.
O’Keefe filed his petition on Sept. 26 and made it public on Monday. It alleges that there is evidence that Chisholm has criminally abused his powers for partisan, personal and financial gain. If Chisholm fails to respond by O’Keefe’s deadline, Wisconsin’s “John Doe” law appears to allow O’Keefe – or any other Wisconsinite – to petition any judge or district attorney in the five counties covered by Chisholm’s criminal investigation to appoint an independent prosecutor.  
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Subject in Doe probe says prosecutors engaged in “domestic spying” 
By Patrick Marley and Daniel Bice 
As a sixth lawsuit was filed Thursday connected to an investigation of Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative allies, the leader of one group being probed took to the airwaves to accuse Milwaukee’s district attorney and state election officials of engaging in “domestic spying.”
“We have in Wisconsin a taxpayer-funded domestic spying operation of over three years’ duration conducted by the Milwaukee County DA, John Chisholm, and now in concert with Kevin Kennedy at the Government Accountability Board, which is corrupt and so is Kennedy,” said Eric O’Keefe, one of the directors of the Wisconsin Club for Growth.
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Disclosure

Roll Call: Could a Four-Second Mistake Cost a Candidate Thousands of Dollars? 
By Nathan L. Gonzales
A disclaimer may seem like a rote few seconds in a campaign ad, but failing to follow the specific guidelines could have costly consequences for a candidate.
On Sept. 16, former Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., aired a 30-second ad titled, “How Could You?” that accused Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of cutting benefits for military veterans. Democrats promptly sent a letter to television stations in Illinois’ 17th District, taking issue with the disclaimer on Schilling’s ad and arguing the Republican forfeited his right to the lowest unit charge for the remainder of the race.
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Koch/ALEC Obsession
 
Acton: Provoking Backlashes to Shut Down ALEC, Political Debate
By Bruce Edward Walker
ALEC Chief Executive Officer Lisa B. Nelson appeared on the program and predictably endured rude interruptions from her host, and comical charges from fellow guests, Tom Hamburger, Washington Post national desk reporter, and Miles Rapoport, president of the progressive advocacy group Common Cause. Of course, the program featured a plethora of outraged NPR junkies who apparently have nothing better to do during the workday than burnish their liberalism on a publicly funded broadcast.
Boy, do progressives despise ALEC and the Kochs! For those in doubt, I recommend reading the shareholder resolutions submitted on an annual basis by religious activist investment groups Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow (many authored by the Center for Political Accountability’s Bruce Freed, who also authors the annual CPA/Zicklin Index).
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State and Local

Colorado – Colorado Independent: Colorado judge: State political parties can form Super PACs  

By Tessa Cheek
The Colorado Republican Party won the campaign finance lottery this week when it got the go ahead to form an independent expenditure committee, or Super PAC, from Second District Court Judge Robert McGahey. The ruling means the party can continue operating CORE, a Super PAC designed to “raise and spend unlimited funds to aid in electing Republican candidates.”
McGahey asserted that, because Colorado state law can be interpreted to include political parties as “persons,” the parties have the right, as individuals do, to set up Super PACs in Colorado.
 
Maine –– Bangor Daily News: Barely half of Maine’s legislative candidates tap public campaign fund, a record low since Clean Election Act passed  
By Mario Moretto
AUGUSTA, Maine — The steady, precipitous decline in participation in Maine’s publicly funded election program continues this year, with only about half of all legislative candidates opting to forgo private campaign contributions.
After bipartisan participation that surpassed 75 percent during the 2000s, more Maine legislative candidates in 2014 are turning away from the state’s public campaign financing program — in part because they fear being swept to defeat by a deluge of outside spending that publicly funded candidates can’t match.
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Rhode Island –– Washington Examiner: Rhode Island GOP files official complaint against Dem gubernatorial candidate 
By T. Becket Adams
The Rhode Island Republican Party filed a complaint with the state’s Board of Elections this week, alleging that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo violated campaign finance law by coordinating with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., to star in a pricey election ad.
The TV spot in question, a commercial titled “Working Together” that the state Democratic party is spending $90,000 to run, touts Raimondo’s jobs plan and ends with Sen. Reed “approving” of its message.
The problem with the ad, according to Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Mark Smiley, is that it clearly violates the the state’s $25,000 limit on coordinated ads for candidates for state office.
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Virginia –– Washington Post: McAuliffe aide suggested job for senator’s daughter if he remained in his seat  
By Laura Vozzella
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s chief of staff left a voice-mail message for a Democrat who was on the verge of quitting the General Assembly in June, saying that the senator’s daughter might get a top state job if he stayed to support the governor’s push to expand Medicaid, according to descriptions from three people who heard the recording.
Then-Sen. Phillip P. Puckett wound up resigning, flipping control of the chamber to Republicans and thwarting McAuliffe’s signature goal of expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Puckett’s abrupt exit came amid accusations that Republicans had enticed him to leave with job offers for himself and his daughter, triggering an ongoing federal investigation and inflaming partisan passions in Richmond.
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Scott Blackburn

Scott Blackburn