Daily Media Links 2/17

February 17, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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We’re Hiring!

Senior Attorneys – Institute for Free Speech – Washington, DC or Virtual Office

The Institute for Free Speech is hiring three attorneys, including at least one Senior Attorney with at least 10 years of experience and two other experienced attorneys with at least four to six years of experience in an expansion of its litigation and legal advocacy capabilities.

This is a rare opportunity to work with a growing team to litigate a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. You would work to secure legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws and regulations that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and impose heavy burdens on organized political activity.

A strong preference will be given to candidates who can work in our Washington, D.C. headquarters. However, we will consider exceptionally strong candidates living and working virtually from anywhere in the country. In addition to litigation or advocacy-related travel, a virtual candidate would be required to travel for quarterly week-long visits to IFS’s headquarters after the pandemic’s impact has receded.

[You can learn more about this role and apply for the position here.]

In the News

Americans for Tax Reform: H.R. 1 Forces Taxpayers to Fund Campaigns they Do Not Support

By Isabelle Morales

The top priority of Congressional Democrats is H.R. 1, an 800-page bill filled with partisan policies to rig the system in favor of the Left. Along with politicizing the FEC, chilling free speech, and unconstitutionally invalidating state election laws, H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” also provides taxpayer-funding for political candidates…

In reality, taxpayer-funded campaign measures open the door to new kinds of corruption while existing means of corruption still stand. Institute for Free Speech analyses of longstanding tax-financing programs in Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut found that these schemes “fail to reduce special interest influence, fail to reduce the dominance of businessmen and lawyers in politics, fail to increase the number of women elected to legislatures, fail to change legislative voting behavior, fail to make elections more competitive, and fail to increase voter turnout.” 

ICYMI

Alan Gura Joins Institute for Free Speech as Vice President for Litigation

The Institute for Free Speech is pleased to announce that attorney Alan Gura joined IFS today as Vice President for Litigation. In this role, Gura will direct the Institute’s litigation and legal advocacy, lead our in-house legal team, and manage and expand our network of volunteer attorneys.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alan Gura to the Institute for Free Speech. Alan has a well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s best appellate lawyers and is an expert on the First Amendment,” said Institute for Free Speech President David Keating. “We have greatly enjoyed our past experiences working with Alan and believe he will be an excellent addition to our team.”

Gura has extensive experience as a First Amendment and appellate litigator. He has argued and won landmark constitutional cases before the United States Supreme Court. He has also argued cases before ten federal courts of appeals and numerous federal district courts throughout the country. Gura was the founding member of Gura PLLC, where he focused on appellate litigation and constitutional law. In 2013, he was named among the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal.

“As a passionate supporter of free speech, it is a pleasure to join one of the nation’s premier First Amendment organizations. We are at a pivotal moment for these rights, and I look forward to helping the Institute for Free Speech defend them,” said Gura.

Congress

Roll Call: House to vote on HR 1 government overhaul, policing bill first week of March

By Lindsey McPherson

The first week of March will be a big one in the House as Democratic leaders bring two top party priorities to the floor: a government overhaul measure given the coveted bill number HR 1 and legislation named after George Floyd that would overhaul policing laws.

Both bills will be on the floor the week of March 1, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday…

Not a single Democrat opposed HR 1 last Congress, but they knew it was just a messaging bill that would never pass the then Republican-controlled Senate or get support from then-President Donald Trump.

This Congress, the House has Democratic partners to advance their agenda with the party narrowly controlling the Senate and President Joe Biden in the White House. But that makes the vote counting for HR 1 and other party priorities more difficult as the House – where Democrats have a narrow majority with 221 seats – considers how to transform bills written largely for aspirational, messaging purposes into legislation that can become law…

Despite being prioritized behind other bills, HR 1 is still on track to get a floor vote before it did at this point in 2019, on March 8. 

The Courts

The Gazette: Watchdog files lawsuit against group backing Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst

By David Pitt, Associated Press

An election watchdog group has filed a federal lawsuit that claims an Iowa-based nonprofit violated election laws by failing to register as a political committee that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s re-election.

Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group, filed the lawsuit Friday in Washington. It had filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in December 2019 after the Associated Press reported Ernst’s work with Iowa Values to raise money and build an electoral “firewall” potentially violated campaign finance and tax law.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare that Iowa Values became a political committee as of June 2019 and order the group to register, file documents and provide information on fundraising and expenditures.

The lawsuit also seeks a civil penalty against Iowa Values, along with court and attorney fee costs.

Washington Post: Court rules against Arkansas’ Israel boycott pledge law

By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that Arkansas’ law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal judge’s 2019 decision that dismissed the lawsuit by the Arkansas Times challenging the requirement. The newspaper had asked the judge to block the law, which requires contractors with the state to reduce their fees by 20% if they don’t sign the pledge.

The court said the law is written so broadly that it would also apply to vendors that support or promote a boycott.

“The Act prohibits the contractor from engaging in boycott activity outside the scope of the contractual relationship ‘on its own time and dime,'” the court said in its 2-1 decision. “Such a restriction violates the First Amendment.” …

“Arkansas politicians had no business penalizing our clients for refusing to participate in this ideological litmus test,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which represented the Times in the case. “Free speech isn’t a privilege you pay for, it’s a right guaranteed to every Arkansan.”

Washington Post: The FBI warned about far-right attacks. Agents arrested a leftist ex-soldier.

By Brittany Shammas and Gerrit De Vynck

But the FBI agents who had been monitoring Baker’s social media posts since October described him as being on a “path toward radicalization.” They catalogued his Facebook musing about being “willing to do ANYTHING to ANYONE so I don’t end up homeless and hungry again.” They noted updates about “voting from the rooftops” and hoping “the right tries a coup on Nov. 3 cuz I’m so f—— down to slay enemies again.” A post on his page in December announced, “Trump still plans on a violent militant coup. If you don’t have guns you won’t survive.”

On Jan. 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank agreed that Baker posed a potential threat and ordered him held without bond, writing that the former soldier had “repeatedly endorsed violent means to advance the political beliefs that he espouses.”

Privacy

Forbes: Anonymity More Important Than Ever For Charitable Giving

By Carrie Lukas

Governor Kristi Noem came under attack last week, supposedly for advancing legislation to protect “dark money.” That’s the term used to make anonymous giving to charities sound sinister. 

But Americans ought to appreciate now, more than ever, why anonymity is so important. Today, people routinely lose jobs, positions of influence, and face other forms or social sanction for comments or associations they make, even those that are decades old. To take one recent example, Cara Dumaplin, the woman running Taking Cara Babies, a popular sleep-training service, was exposed as having made a political donation to the Trump campaign. The result? Her copyrighted materials were made public and the social media mob pushed to have her “canceled.” 

Woke progressive may think that Dumaplin deserved it for supporting President Trump. But can they be confident that the donations they make today won’t become cause for cancellation in the future?

The States

KELO: Governor’s bill protecting donors’ privacy in South Dakota wins Senate’s OK

By Bob Mercer

Republican Governor Kristi Noem appeared to be in line for another legislative victory Tuesday, as the Republican-dominated Senate agreed to ban state government employees in the executive branch from disclosing identifying information about people and organizations who donate to charitable trusts and nonprofit corporations.

The 32-3 vote for HB 1079 split along Republican and Democrat lines. The House of Representatives supported a slightly different version 62-8 two weeks ago, also along party lines. The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee amended it February 9, correcting a state-code reference. The bill now returns to the House for a decision whether to agree with the Senate committee’s change.

Missoula Current: Legislators consider bill exempting Montana churches from political disclosure laws

By Alex Sakariassen, Montana Free Press

Montana lawmakers heard arguments Monday on a proposal to exempt churches from state campaign disclosure laws. 

Senate Bill 162 would excuse all religious organizations from having to report the costs of political contributions and election communications made during any election to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. 

Sen. David Howard, R-Park City, told the Senate State Administration Committee that his bill tied back to a 15-year-old legal case involving the Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church. The church had been found in violation of state campaign finance law in 2004 after endorsing a constitutional initiative to ban gay marriage, and the violation was upheld by a federal judge. In 2009, however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, referring to the state’s actions as “petty bureaucratic harassment.” 

Alan Doane testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Montana Department of Justice, explaining that Attorney General Austin Knudsen believes it would be hard for the state to again defend such a lawsuit.

Free Speech for People: Abolish Super PACs, Ban Foreign Corporate Money, State Legislators Introduce Two Bills to Protect Election Integrity in Massachusetts

State legislators have introduced two bills in the Massachusetts Legislature to abolish super PACs and to prohibit spending by foreign-influenced corporations in Massachusetts elections.
State Senator Jo Comerford is the lead sponsor of Senate bill SD 634, State Senator Mark Montigny is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill SD 759, and State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven is the lead sponsor of House bill HD 1031, all of which will require corporations that spend money in Massachusetts elections to certify they are not foreign-influenced, or owned in whole or a significant part by foreign investors. Senator Comerford and Representative Uyterhoeven have also introduced companion bills, SD 635 and HD 1146, and Representative Mike Day has introduced HD 1515, all of which will establish limits on contributions to political action committees, thereby abolishing super PACs in state elections.

Seattle Times: Tim Eyman had said losing his court case would end his career in politics. Now he proclaims: ‘full steam ahead.’ 

By David Gutman

Tim Eyman has spent years vilifying Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, calling him a “fascist,” complaining of persecution and saying the campaign finance lawsuit Ferguson brought against him would essentially bar him from politics forever.

But in the wake of that lawsuit, which last week resulted in nearly unprecedented punishments and restrictions on Eyman’s future political and financial activity, the Republican activist has come to agree with the Democratic attorney general on at least one thing: Eyman’s political career need not be finished.

On Wednesday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled that Eyman’s violations of state campaign finance law, over years, were “particularly extensive and egregious,” and he forbid Eyman from controlling the finances of any political committee.

What does that mean? Well, a lot.

Here is an incomplete list of things Eyman cannot do, per Dixon’s order:

Tiffany Donnelly

Tiffany Donnelly

https://www.ifs.org/author/tdonnelly/

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