Daily Media Links 2/14: National Review: The Continuing Battle for Free Speech, NPR: ‘Citizens United’ Critics Fight Money With Money, Powerline: Taking Down D’Souza, and more…

February 14, 2014   •  By Kelsey Drapkin   •  
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In the News

National Review: The Continuing Battle for Free Speech

By Joe Trotter

By 2011, the war on corporate speech had taken a decidedly personal turn, with the IRS singling out donors to the conservative nonprofit Freedom’s Watch for audit. The IRS also decided to impose gift taxes on the donors’ contributions, something the agency hadn’t done with such groups in over 20 years. The agency backed off of this course only after an outcry from a bipartisan group of nonprofit tax lawyers.

With the assault against recipients of donations in full swing, other groups of anti-speech activists decided to attack political money on another front.

Though they are unable to impose legislative limits on corporate nonprofit donors, coalitions of investors, academics, and activists use a stick-and-carrot approach to discourage public corporations from engaging in politics. It goes like this: Groups go to corporations with the message that engaging in political activity can be harmful to shareholder value, and therefore the corporation should disclose its political activities to the public. The more the corporation complies with the request, the higher it ranks in studies of political accountability and the more it is publicly lauded by activists. If the corporation does not comply, it ranks lower in the studies and is subjected to a negative media campaign by the activists.

But even if a corporation complies with the initial demands, the campaign doesn’t end there. The studies change their criteria year to year in order to gradually draw greater concessions from previously targeted companies.

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NPR: ‘Citizens United’ Critics Fight Money With Money 

By PETER OVERBY 

David Keating, on the other side of the debate, calls it futile. Keating is president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for fewer limits and no new disclosure requirements.

He says polls over time show that Americans are leery of politicians who want to regulate political speech, including political money. He also says the Citizens United ruling seems to benefit liberals and conservatives alike.

“I think more people are getting used to the new system — the new freedoms that we have from recent Supreme Court decisions,” he says.

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Powerline: Taking Down D’Souza

By Scott Johnson

Professor Smith brings his expertise on campaign finance law and regulation to bear on the prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza in “Taking D’Souza down and other abuses of power.” Professor Smith frames his column on the kind of alternate history with which so many of us have occupied ourselves in the Age of Obama. This one somehow exceeds the bounds of imagination. Indeed, it may induce a cerebrovascular accident among unwary conservative readers:  

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Independent Groups

National Journal: Ed Gillespie, Co-Founder of Crossroads, Gets His Own Super PAC

By Shane Goldmacher

Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, who helped co-found the American Crossroads super PAC with GOP strategist Karl Rove, won’t be relying on Rove’s group as his chief outside booster in his Virginia campaign.

He’s getting a super PAC of his own.

Allies of Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman, have created the We Can Do Better PAC, National Journal has learned. A fact sheet distributed to donors lists veteran Republican strategist Paul Bennecke, a former political director of the Republican Governors Association, as the senior adviser to the super PAC.

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Disclosure

Daily Caller: Tea party groups are making and spending millions, but not on candidates   

By Alexis Levinson

Two well-known tea party groups spent more than 80 percent of the money they raised in 2013 not on the causes and candidates that they say it is their mission to support, but on operating expenditures, like paying consultants, companies who produce mailing materials and renting mailing lists.

The new Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund and the independent expenditure arm of Tea Party Express — the Our Country Deserves Better PAC — spent a majority of the money they raised on things other than political expenditures.

The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund has been raising money since early last year. The goal of the super PAC, said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin in a statement posted to the website, is to be a “community organizing for conservatives,” that will help “provide activists with resources… to organize friends, neighbors, and communities around a freedom agenda in an effort to put people in office who will be true representatives of the people.”

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Lobbying and Ethics

Politicker: Former Michael Grimm Fund-Raiser Arraigned in New York 

By ROSS BARKAN

Offering what appeared to be a defense of Mr. Grimm’s role in the case, Mr. Kaplan also said the Republican lawmaker was a “stickler” who scrutinized his contributions. He said Ms. Durand has not been in contact with Mr. Grimm since the arrest and said no evidence existed that the congressman had directed Ms. Durand to perform any of the “behavior” she was charged with.  

Mr. Grimm’s attorney, William McGinley of Patton Boggs LLP, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Previously, Mr. McGinley has pushed back against the federal prosecutors, telling The New York Times: “We are saddened that the government took the extraordinary step of arresting a single mother on these allegations, and hope the matter will be resolved quickly.”  

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State and Local

Montana –– Flathead Beacon: Witch Hunter? Or Not? 

By David Skinner

Since taking office June 10, Mr. Motl has been rather busy, moving over 40 cases from investigation to conclusion/prosecution. Many of Motl’s decisions have a common thread: They concern complaints against candidates that were “helped” by an anonymously funded, conservative political entity known as Western Tradition Partnership-then-American Tradition Partnership, or WTP/ATP, which was active in Montana and Colorado.

The plaintiffs tend to be either Democrats, or “moderate” Republicans, while the defendants are almost all members of the “conservative” faction of Montana’s GOP.

How could Motl hit the ground running so fast? Well, as I wrote last year, Motl has had access to scads of private WTP/ATP documents that “mysteriously” (as Lee reporter Mike Dennison puts it) showed up at the COPP offices. 

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Kelsey Drapkin

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

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