Daily Media Links 3/29

March 29, 2019   •  By Alex Baiocco   •  
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In the News

National Review: David French and David Keating Warn of Dangers of House Dems’ Election-Reform Plan

By Mairead McArdle

David Keating of the Institute for Free Speech joined senior National Review writer David French Thursday at National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit to discuss the stakes of the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, House Democrats’ campaign-finance-reform plan…

French and Keating warned that it could compromise donor privacy, which is protected under the First Amendment.

The For the People Act should really be called the “For the Politicians Act,” Keating argued.

“Elected officials want less speech,” he said. “When you raise money from people, a lot of people do not want their name on the Internet. They’re going to say, ‘Why should I give money?'” Keating predicted of the plan’s effect. “I think that’s where we’re going to lose speech . . . people are just going to say ‘no.'”

French called the proposal “unfair” and “grotesquely unconstitutional,” adding that it would constitute an “extreme intrusion” into private life and effectively treat political speech as “second-class speech.”

“There are parts of H.R. 1 that are so broad that . . . I call them government doxxing,” French said, before adding that because Americans have grown so cynical about political funding, the dangers of the bill are “not on people’s radars.”

Both French and Keating warned that under the plan, it would not be difficult to make the Federal Election Commission more partisan or ideological.

H.R. 1 passed the House earlier this month, but is not expected to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Detroit News: Liberals declare war on First Amendment

By Ingrid Jacques

The resolution, misleadingly dubbed “For the People Act of 2019,” would “regulate political speech on the internet, violate the privacy of advocacy groups and their supporters, and compel speakers to include lengthy government-mandated messages in their communications,” according to analysis by the Institute for Free Speech. Among other dangerous provisions, H.R. 1 would do the following, as noted by the Institute:

– “Unconstitutionally regulate speech that mentions a federal candidate or elected official at any time under a severely vague, subjective, and broad standard that asks whether the speech ‘promotes,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘supports,’ or ‘opposes’ the candidate or official.”

– “Compel groups to file so-called ‘campaign-related disbursement’ reports with the Federal Election Commission declaring that their ads are either ‘in support of or in opposition’ to the elected official mentioned, even if their ads do neither.”

– “Expand the universe of regulated online political speech beyond paid advertising to include, apparently, communications on groups’ or individuals’ own websites and e-mail messages.”

The ACLU has raised concerns about aspects of the measure that could chill speech, arguing it would “have the effect of harming our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day.”

Democrats are now pushing for the Senate to take up the resolution, but that’s not going to happen under GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But should the Senate flip in 2020, watch out.

The Courts

Courthouse News Service: ACLU Sues to Protest South Dakota’s Anti-Protest Laws

By Levi Lass

South Dakota’s newest law imposes financial punishments on individuals caught “riot-boosting,” a term that encompasses the actions not only of protestors who engage in rioting, but also anyone who “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.”

Governor Kristi Noem signed the bill Wednesday, which took effect immediately due to its emergency clauses.

All this concern over protests comes primarily in response to controversy surrounding TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of South Dakota sued Governor Noem, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom on behalf of organizations planning to protest the 1,179-mile oil line.

According to the 29-page lawsuit, “Plaintiffs must choose between encouraging and advising pipeline protesters, on the one hand, and exposing themselves to prosecution and civil liability under the Challenged Laws, on the other. Refraining from encouraging and advising protesters constitutes self-censorship and a loss of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.” …

“This country has always become better when people have taken to the streets, fields, and halls of injustice,” Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective, said in a statement. The Native American advocacy group is one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit. “This law is so broad and vague that simply supporting people on the ground through donations of supplies, financial assistance, or by organizing support pages on social media could make individuals or organizations subject to criminal or civil penalties if anything deemed as ‘violence’ breaks out at the protest. It wouldn’t matter if the person or organization who made the donation was even at the protest. The state could go after them and this would make a lot of people think twice about supporting or joining a protest.”

Congress

Roll Call: Senate Democrats take up HR 1 battle cry

By Kate Ackley

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a candidate in the party’s contest for the White House, touted the bill’s inclusion of her measure to require new disclosures for political ads that run on social media platforms. Like House Democrats, Klobuchar tied the overhaul of political money and voting laws to myriad other policy issues including gun control, health care and climate change, saying that the political system was skewed in favor of big donors and corporate interests.

“The fundamental thing we can do to fight for the people of America is passing this bill because it literally is dark money, the gerrymandering, the limits on voting – is exactly why we’re not able to move on climate change or gun legislation or doing something further to protection people’s health care,” Klobuchar said. “You see strong unity in the Democratic party on this bill and so this is the bill I think we should use as our talking points across the country when people are running for president or running for Congress.”

McConnell has said he will not bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate…

Udall said Senate Democrats may have some opportunity to force a vote on it through a budget resolution, but that is uncertain…

The Senate’s version of the bill would create a similar public financing system to the House’s bill, but it is not identical. Both versions would set up a voluntary public financing system that would offer a 6-to-1 match for donations up to $200. The House version requires House candidates to forgo donations in excess of $1,000 to participate in the matching program, while the Senate version sets up a state-by-state formula to cap the matching funds, and would not allow donations over $200 to Senate candidates, according to aides working on the bill.

The Media

The Hill: Fox’s Tucker Carlson attacks CNN: ‘It’s a super PAC’

By Zack Budryk

“CNN is not a news outlet, it’s a super PAC. It is running unregulated campaign ads 24 hours a day,” Carlson declared on his show. “Someone ought to call the [Federal Election Commission] FEC about it.”

The States

U.S. News & World Report: Law: No Mandatory Disclosure of Advocacy Groups’ Donors

By Associated Press

A new Mississippi law says government agencies may not require certain types of tax-exempt groups to disclose information about their donors.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1205 on Thursday, and it becomes law July 1.

Bryant says the “threat” of public disclosure “has been used to attempt to silence free speech” of some types of advocacy groups…

Republican Sen. Jenifer Branning of Philadelphia said people should be able to donate to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations without facing repercussions from those who disagree with their views.

Mississippi Center for Public Policy: MCPP Commends Gov. Bryant For Signing Donor Privacy Legislation

By Brett Kittredge

“We are very proud that Gov. Bryant has signed into law a piece of legislation that reinforces the American tradition of anonymous speech and the freedom of association to which citizens are entitled,” said Jon Pritchett, President and CEO of Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “Many on the left oppose this bill because they want to know who funds their opposition so they can bring pressure to bear on them and suppress their speech with coercion and harassment. Mississippi has now proudly defended the rights of citizens to support causes about which they care deeply.”

House Bill 1205, authored by Rep. Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn) and championed by Rep. Mark Baker (R-Brandon), allows a nonprofit to defend itself in court if its confidential donor list is leaked by a rouge government agency or bureaucrat.

“The enemies of free speech and free association are making our political environment toxic by seeking to silence and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them,” said Jameson Taylor, Vice President for Policy for MCPP. “That is why this legislation is so essential and we thank Lt. Governor Reeves and Speaker Gunn for their work to get this important bill to the Governor’s desk.”

Protecting the privacy of those who donate to nonprofits is widely popular across the state with 81 percent of voters, including 91 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents, and 69 percent of Democrats, saying they support a law that protects the personal information of such donors.

Additionally, the polling revealed that 76 percent of Mississippi voters said they would be less likely to give to a charity if they knew their personal information, including the amount of their contribution, would be posted on a government website.

Des Moines Register: Kim Reynolds signs bill requiring Iowa universities to respect ‘free speech’ on campus

By Stephen Gruber-Miller and Aimee Breaux

A new “free speech” law in Iowa will require public universities and community colleges to grapple with what changes, if any, they need to make to uphold the “fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression.”

The law, which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Wednesday, requires state universities and community colleges to adopt policies respecting free speech on campus. But Democrats argued one section in the new law will pave the way for discrimination…

Reynolds, a Republican, said she was proud to sign the Iowa law.

“Our public universities and community colleges should always be places where ideas can be debated, built upon, and creative thoughts flourish without limits,” she said in a news release.

With Reynolds’ signature, Iowa Board of Regents spokesperson Josh Lehman said the university system will begin working out what changes, if any, come to campuses.

“We will take all the necessary steps to make sure that our policies are in compliance with the law,” Lehman said.

Throughout the legislative process, faculty have kept tabs on the bill, according to leadership at the University of Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Katherine Tachau, Iowa AAUP president, said freedom of expression is at the heart of universities. It’s not clear how the law will change their campus, but her organization worries about “undesirable unintended consequences.”

“As a public university we are bound by constitutional law on freedom of expression, so we were not at all convinced that we needed a new law to achieve what we achieve most of the time,” Tachau said.

Alex Baiocco

Alex Baiocco