Daily Media Links 4/14: Tennessee Teen Skeptical of his Freedom, MRC: Nothing To See Here: ABC, CBS, And NBC’s Sunday Shows Ignore Latest In IRS Scandal, Washington Post: McCain-Feingold’s devastating legacy, and more…

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

Wall Street Journal: The First State’s Free Speech Win

Center for Competitive Politics president David Keating on why a Delaware court struck down a campaign-finance disclosure law.
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Washington Examiner: Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision strengthens First Amendment rights

By Tyler Martinez

A big part of politics is getting together with people who agree with you about government and want to do something about it.

Maybe that’s one reason why the Democrats and Republicans are called “political parties.” A Supreme Court decision last week struck a big blow for your First Amendment right to get together with like-minded candidates.

The case, McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, struck down the aggregate contribution limits — meaning that so long as a contributor stays within the base candidate contribution limits (currently $5,200 per candidate for an election cycle), he may give to as many candidates as he likes.

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News Journal: State to appeal ruling on political secrecy

By Jonathan Starkey

The conservative group Delaware Strong Families, which has organized against same-sex marriage in Delaware and publishes an annual voters guide promoting political candidates, filed the lawsuit, arguing that the law was burdensome and would improperly chill free speech rights.

David Keating, president of the Center For Competitive Politics, which represented Delaware Strong Families, said Friday they expected an appeal.

“Any appeal stands some chance, it’s really hard to predict,” Keating said. “I think the judge did a great job and wrote an excellent opinion that was very compelling. Hopefully the appeals court will agree.”

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Politico: Shaun McCutcheon’s victory lap


It’s that aw-shucks manner that make him such a potent symbol for conservatives. He’s a small business owner — not a Wall Street banker, a Beltway lobbyist or an oil magnate like the GOP mega-donors vilified by Democrats — who was hand-picking candidates to support and argued successfully that the government was infringing on his rights to do so freely.

He’s like “the millionaire next door,” joked David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group supposes fewer campaign finance restrictions. “He’s really an ideal client,” Keating said. “He’s articulate on the issue, he believes in it and he’s willing to put his name on it.”

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USA Today: Supreme Court ruling sets off race for bigger donations

By Fredreka Schouten

In the end, laws in as many as 18 states and the District of Columbia may be vulnerable to challenge – either because they limit how much an individual can contribute to all candidates or parties or impose other restrictions that run counter to the high court’s reasoning in McCutcheon, the Center for Competitive Politics argues in a new analysis. The group favors fewer campaign restrictions.

Writing for the majority in McCutcheon, Chief Justice John Roberts said free speech rights trump concerns about balancing who has a bigger voice in politics.

The government “may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others,” he wrote.

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Tennessee Teen Skeptical of his Freedom

By Luke Wachob

He sums up, “If [forming a Super PAC] is that easy, then there is something wrong with the system in place to get this.”

It is bizarre and sad to see someone arguing against his own participation in politics. Democracy is founded on the notion that all citizens have a voice, yet Grant is worried that his came too easily. This would seem bizarre if he said it about voting – “you mean anyone can do it?!” – but when it comes to Super PACs, which are reported on like super-villains, his opinion is far too common:  these things need more rules!

If he pushed that thought experiment a little further, he would see the downside of regulating speech. As systems become more heavily regulated, it becomes more necessary to have lawyers and accountants to ensure that your activities are legal and properly disclosed. The only people who can speak are those who can afford the cost of complying with the regulations. Is that a good idea? I guess it depends what you see as the bigger problem in American politics:  advantages primarily for the wealthy and politically connected, or a few teens in Tennessee having relatively unfettered free speech.

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MRC: Nothing To See Here: ABC, CBS, And NBC’s Sunday Shows Ignore Latest In IRS Scandal

By Jeffrey Meyer

Over the last seven days, three major revelations have emerged surrounding the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups. Despite the new stories, on Sunday April 13, three of the four Sunday shows,  NBC’sMeet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week, all ignored them, whereas Fox News Sunday was the only program to mention the IRS at all.

On Wednesday April 9, The Washington Times revealed that a Dallas IRS office was covered with Vote for Obama stickers and engaging in campaign cheerleading. On the same day, The Hill broke a story revealing that Lois Lerner fed tax information to Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who sits on the committee in charge of overseeing the IRS investigation. And finally, the House Ways and Means Committee voted last week to refer Lois Lerner for criminal charges, yet the big three didn’t mention any of these stories on Sunday.

When questioned on Fox News Sunday by Chris Wallace, the Associated Press’ Julie Pace defended the lack of IRS coverage, explaining that “We don’t have a lot to work with.“ Fox News contributor Brit Hume shot her down and argued that “The same set of facts…would have touched off in previous days a media firestorm. What we had was kind of a campfire in most of the media, which was doused before very long, and the story has been basically dormant.”

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Independent Groups

Washington Post: McCain-Feingold’s devastating legacy

By Robert Kelner and Raymond La Raja

The 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission passed largely unnoticed in December. Yet it was McConnell, upholding the ­McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, that fundamentally reshaped our political system, far more so than the recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down overall limits on federal political contributions, or the decision in Citizens United.

McCain-Feingold, as the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is known, prohibited large contributions by wealthy individuals and corporations to national party committees, all of whose receipts were publicly disclosed. But, perversely, the ban on “soft money” left individual and corporate donors free to direct their funds to outside groups, where donations are concealed from public scrutiny.

Proponents of McCain-Feingold said the law would restore trust in the political system. Some suggested the parties would “thrive” because they would be forced to rely on small donors. Critics, however, predicted it would precipitate a tectonic shift of political power away from the parties and toward outside groups, which were likely to be far more extreme and far less accountable.

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Times: GOP registers joint fundraising group amid new contribution rules

By Kellan Howell

“We’ve had meetings with the other committees and are moving forward on a joint fundraising agreement with the NRSC and NRCC so we can maximize our donations to help candidates win in November,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told the news agency.

Campaign finance experts speculated that the high court’s McCutcheon v. FEC decision in favor of Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon would result more joint efforts such as the Republican Victory Fund because the removal of donation limits incentivizes committees to band together to increase their fundraising power.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mike Ellis drops out of state Senate race

By Patrick Marley and Jason Stein

Madison — State Senate President Mike Ellis dropped out of his re-election race Friday, two days after the release of a secret recording showed him discussing the creation of an illegal political action committee to attack his challenger.

The Neenah Republican’s decision ends a political career spanning four decades and leaves Democratic state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton as the only candidate in the race. Gov. Scott Walker was just 3 years old when Ellis won election to the Legislature nearly 44 years ago.

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CPI: Mudslinging at the FEC over disclosure

By Julie Patel

Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee Goodman and two of his fellow Republican colleagues skewered Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel — a Democrat — on Thursday because she didn’t vote to defend the agency last month against litigation from campaign finance reform-minded organizations.

“Not only does this effort derail longstanding Commission practice, but more troublingly, it contravenes well-established legal precedents and evinces a flippant disregard for judicial review,” wrote Goodman, along with FEC commissioners Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen.

“Commissioner Ravel has gone to extraordinary and unprecedented lengths to try to censor presentation of the agency’s rationale for its prosecutorial decision in the Crossroads GPS matter,” they continued.

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NY Times: Chiding an FEC Colleague


Our Federal Election Commission colleague Ann M. Ravel would rather grandstand than follow the law and judicial precedent. We enforce the law as written by Congress and construed by the courts, not as our colleague and her “reformer” allies wish it were.  

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For nearly forty years, votes to defend the Commission in cases challenging dismissals of administrative complaints have been routine, pro forma acts. Even when the Commission has split on whether to proceed in an enforcement matter, the decision to defend has been uncontroversial. In recent days, however, our colleague Commissioner Ann Ravel has announced her desire to upend this consensus. Not only does this effort derail longstanding Commission practice, but more troublingly, it contravenes well-established legal precedents and evinces a flippant disregard for judicial review.

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State and Local

New York –– NY Times: Mr. Cuomo’s Gift to the Cynics


Well, Mr. Cuomo stopped fighting. He has pulled the plug on the commission. Its website still promises the delivery of a report or reports by next January, but that’s not going to happen. Whatever records, files and leads it has accumulated over nine months have been taken away in trucks sent by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.  

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Kelsey Drapkin

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