Daily Media Links 2/1: Neil Gorsuch Named Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Trump Raised Record $6.5 Million in Weeks After Winning Election, and more…

February 1, 2017   •  By Alex Baiocco   •  
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In the News           

Huffington Post: Will Trump Cause Liberals to Rethink Campaign Finance Reform?

By Luke Wachob

Under the Obama administration, many Democrats were confident that regulating politics would serve their interests and promote fairness at the same time. Already suspicious that conservative groups played fast and loose with the rules, they imagined that the brunt of new rules would fall on groups like Americans for Prosperity or the National Rifle Association. They also had faith that public disclosure of support for advocacy groups would allow allies to expose and shame donors whose pocketbooks stood in the way of their vision of the common good.

After Election Day, the landscape looks vastly different. Allegations of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia failed to stop Trump’s rise, and failed to intimidate his supporters. Now, the laws that invade privacy to root out “dark money” could be used to make government lists of supporters of increased immigration, LGBT rights, abortion rights or criminal justice reform. And instead of going after groups like AFP or the NRA, liberals may worry about Trump targeting groups like Planned Parenthood or the Sierra Club.

As Republicans ascend to the White House, here’s hoping liberals return to their roots. If they were to join with conservatives, it’s possible they could make free speech great again.

NPR: South Dakota Lawmakers Set To Repeal Recent Ethics Reforms

By Peter Overby

Voters in South Dakota adopted a package of ethics and campaign finance reforms in November. Now the legislature is declaring a state of emergency in order to repeal it.
(Ed. Note: CCP Research Fellow Scott Blackburn featured at 2:00) 


CCP Applauds Nomination of Judge Gorsuch for Supreme Court

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), America’s largest nonprofit defending First Amendment political speech rights, applauds President Trump’s selection of Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch as a nominee for the Supreme Court.

“Judge Gorsuch’s opinions show an understanding that the role of a judge is not to enact his own preferences, but neither is it to rubber stamp the legislature,” said Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics. “At a time when free speech often seems on the defensive, we are pleased that President Trump has nominated someone who will defend a robust First Amendment.”

CCP previously released three analyses of Judge Gorsuch’s record on free speech rights. The analyses specifically highlighted his pro-First Amendment opinions in Riddle v. Hickenlooper (2014), four media-related cases, and a petition rights case.

Judge Neil Gorsuch: Good Guys, Bad Guys, the Media, and the First Amendment

By David Keating

This post examines four opinions Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote or joined concerning media freedoms under the First Amendment. These cases made either defamation or invasion of privacy claims or both.[1] (For our previous analysis of Judge Gorsuch’s views on free speech, please click here.)

Before I review these cases, I want to note how much I enjoy reading Judge Gorsuch’s opinions. If President Trump selects him, I predict people will admire the rigor and eloquence of his opinions. He thoughtfully considers competing arguments, and he faithfully interprets the law and the Constitution. Fortunately, he also applies rigorous scrutiny in First Amendment speech cases.

In each of the four opinions reviewed here, he sided with the media.

– Bustos v. A & E Television Networks, 646 F.3d 762 (10th Cir. 2011)

– Mink v. Knox, 613 F.3d 995 (10th Cir. 2010)

– Alvarado v. KOB-TV, 493 F.3d 1210 (10th Cir. 2007)

– Anderson v. Suiters, 499 F.3d 1228 (10th Cir. 2007)

Judge Gorsuch authored opinions in the first two cases listed above. His writing and rigor shine in Bustos.

Judge Neil Gorsuch Upholds First Amendment Petition Rights in Kansas Tax Dispute Case

By David Keating

This post reviews a case Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote concerning First Amendment retaliation and the right to petition government.[1]Cases relating to the petition clause are fairly rare, and the lower court dismissed the First Amendment claims. This case exemplifies Judge Gorsuch’s support for a full spectrum of First Amendment speech rights…

From the [Van Deelen v. Johnson] opinion:

When public officials feel free to wield the powers of their office as weapons against those who question their decisions, they do damage not merely to the citizen in their sights but also to the First Amendment liberties and the promise of equal treatment essential to the continuity of our democratic enterprise. “The very idea of a government, republican in form, implies a right on the part of its citizens … to petition for a redress of grievances.”…
Put simply, and taking as true Mr. Van Deelen’s version of the facts as we must, we hold (unremarkably, we think) that a reasonable government official should have clearly understood at the time of the events at issue that physical and verbal intimidation intended to deter a citizen from pursuing a private tax complaint violates that citizen’s First Amendment right to petition for the redress of grievances. 

Supreme Court           

Bloomberg: By Picking Gorsuch, Trump Puts Scalia Disciple on Path to Supreme Court

By Greg Stohr and Joel Rosenblatt

In the weeks after Antonin Scalia’s death last year, Judge Neil Gorsuch hailed the conservative icon as a “lion of the law” who transformed how judges think.

Conservatives are now betting that Gorsuch, the 49-year-old appellate judge who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, will be a worthy disciple to Scalia and won’t veer to the left like some previous Republican nominees…

He would join a Supreme Court that is sharply divided on questions of abortion, racial discrimination, campaign finance and gun rights…

Still, the Colorado native is no “clone” of Scalia, said John L. Kane, a federal district judge in Colorado who was appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Kane says Gorsuch is as intellectually rigorous as any sitting judge.

“Does he come out with decisions that are compatible with what conservative Republicans like? I’d say yes, but that’s not the reason why,” said Kane, who knew Gorsuch’s father and grandfather, both Denver lawyers. “You will see in his opinions both sides, and you will see them expressed better than you will find elsewhere.”

Newsweek: Neil Gorsuch Named Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee

By Michele Gorman

Many analysts say Gorsuch, 49, holds a strict originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution-much like Scalia… 

Critics argue that Gorsuch’s decisions support the interests of corporations over Americans. Tiffany Muller, executive director of End Citizens United, a political action committee dedicated to reforming the U.S. campaign finance system, says the group’s more than 3 million members are prepared to contact their senators to urge them to vote against Gorsuch’s nomination.

“Our concern is that we have seen with this nominee a continuation of the same type of precedent that we saw in Citizens United, and dark money groups are already announcing that they’re going to do big ad buys to prop up this nominee,” Muller tells Newsweek, referencing the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allowed super PACs to spend unlimited money to support or oppose candidates. “Our grassroots members are prepared to take on any of those groups.”

Independent Groups           

Politico: Gingrich, Giuliani to lead group pushing Trump’s agenda

By Alex Isenstadt

Gingrich said in an interview he would help to oversee Great America Alliance, an independent, pro-Trump political nonprofit. It will also be co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, like Gingrich, was an early and outspoken Trump supporter… 

Great America Alliance is one of several outside groups that will support Trump’s policies. Another group that formally launched on Monday, America First, will be overseen by two senior Trump campaign aides, Brad Parscale and Nick Ayers. A third organization, 45Committee, has begun airing TV commercials that promote Trump’s cabinet picks.

Great America Alliance will also be run by two Republican strategists, Ed Rollins and Eric Beach. The two previously led Great America PAC, a super PAC that spent over $22 million in support of Trump’s presidential candidacy…

“Our organization will aggressively promote President Trump’s agenda and help make sure the promises made to the American people during the campaign are kept by Congress,” said Beach. “This will be our top priority and we will oppose all efforts to obstruct these goals, regardless of partisanship.” 

NPR: Trump Political Advisers Now Raising Money For His ‘America First’ Agenda

By Jim Zarroli

President Trump may be breaking many of the rules in Washington, but the tradition of secret-money politics shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

A half-dozen of Trump’s campaign aides have formed a nonprofit group called America First Policies to support and promote the president’s agenda, The Associated Press reported Monday…

The group appears to be a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization. Federal law allows such groups to raise money in unlimited amounts without revealing the donors’ identities. They’re allowed to participate in politics, but it cannot be their primary purpose. In recent campaigns, 501(c)(4)s have become a major conduit for undisclosed money…

“You have a situation in which people who are accurately perceived as key political advisers to a sitting president are going out and raising money for a group that does not have to disclose their donors,” says Meredith McGehee, chief of policy, programs and strategy at Issue One, a nonpartisan group that works to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Candidates and Campaigns         

Politico: Trump raised $11 million in December

By Kenneth P. Vogel

President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts are off to a strong start financially, according to Tuesday evening campaign finance reports showing that Trump’s three committees brought in a combined $11 million last month and finished the year with $16 million in the bank…

Trump’s committees continued paying for the type of services that are necessary to maintain and build all-important databases of donors, volunteers and voters. The committees combined to spend $1.7 million on telemarketing, data, email marketing and fundraising and digital consulting, according to a Politico analysis of reports filed Tuesday by the three committees – Donald J. Trump for President, Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Trump Victory.

As Politico reported this month, Trump plans to keep his Manhattan-based campaign headquarters in operation with a skeletal campaign staff in order to maintain and build his list and raise money during his presidency. That’s something of a departure from other recent presidents, who have tended to roll their political operations into their respective national party committees.   

Bloomberg: Trump Raised Record $6.5 Million in Weeks After Winning Election

By Bill Allison and John McCormick

President Donald Trump’s campaign finished last year with $16.1 million in the bank after pulling in a record $6.5 million after he’d already won, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Trump is still actively soliciting donations via the campaign’s website and targeted text messages during a time when most new administrations pause fundraising and shift to governing. In the final 33 days of the year, Trump’s campaign hawked Christmas ornaments emblazoned with his campaign slogan, as well as other merchandise commemorating his December thank-you tour and January inauguration.

The war chest gives Trump significant financial power for the start of his term. He could use the money in several ways: save it for a re-election bid in 2020; transfer it to the Republican National Committee; dole it out to favored candidates for the 2018 midterm elections; or give it all to a nonprofit that could, for instance, promote his policy agenda.

The States

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan: Deciding IM22: Showdown Set Today For Fate Of Ethics Bill

By Randy Dockendorf

A controversial bill appears headed for a showdown on the South Dakota Senate floor today (Wednesday), seeking to scuttle an anti-corruption law passed by the state’s voters last November.

HB 1069 would repeal Initiated Measure 22 (IM22), which voters passed 52-48 percent. The measure has already passed the House and a Senate committee. If the Senate gives final passage to HB 1069, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has indicated he will sign the bill. An emergency clause would turn the bill into law immediately rather than the normal July 1…

HB 1069 moved quickly through the Legislature and reached the Senate floor last Thursday for the last hurdle. However, a group of senators invoked Rule 5-17, which allows the Senate to delay a bill one legislative day for further consideration when an amendment is added.

The Senate didn’t meet again until this week, making today the next day for consideration.

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: In ethics law debates, authors remain absent

By Dana Ferguson

The architects of a voter-approved ethics law on the brink of repeal by the South Dakota Legislature have yet to make the drive to Pierre to join the debate.

The lack of involvement by the sponsors of Initiated Measure 22 has been a source of frustration for supporters and opponents of the expansive law…

Represent.Us, a Massachusetts group that helped bankroll the campaign, also sent out multiple press releases, bought newspaper and radio ads and launched a social media blitz targeting individual lawmakers.

And that attention to the process but absence from in the Capitol has been noted, especially by those who’ve been the center of the group’s campaigns.

“They apparently think it is so important that they are willing to take out full-page ads in the state’s largest newspaper, they’re willing to produce videos and post them on social media, they’re willing to raise money off of it for their next initiative and they’re willing to attack sitting members of the Legislature with innuendo and ad hominem attacks, none of which have shown to be true, yet it’s not important for them to show up and testify about anything,” said Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls.

“It would have been nice to have them show up and explain to the people of South Dakota why they put our state in this position.”

Alex Baiocco

Alex Baiocco