Daily Media Links 4/25: ProxyFacts.org: Debunking Myths About Corporate Political Speech, California Bill Mandating Nonprofit Disclosure Would Chill Speech, and more…

April 25, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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ProxyFacts.org: Debunking Myths About Corporate Political Speech 
By Sarah Lee
…The site, ProxyFacts.org, is a compendium of information on the issue, and includes insight and analysis from experts such as CCP’s founder and former Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chairman Brad Smith, former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, and James R. Copland, Director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy….
California Bill Mandating Nonprofit Disclosure Would Chill Speech 
By Sarah Lee
The bill, which introduces a new reporting regime for donors who contribute $250 or more to newly defined “multipurpose organizations,” is really, according to Nese, “another disclosure Trojan Horse that is so unconstitutionally broad as to be easily misunderstood by ordinary citizen groups.”  
The bill defines a “multipurpose organization” as a “nonprofit organization, a federal or out-of-state political action committee, or a local club focusing on educational or social activities.”
New Website Debunks Corporate Political Spending Myths 
By Sarah Lee
“This site will examine and debunk common myths spread by activists seeking to silence corporations.  The public benefits from more speech and more speakers, and any effort to target and suppress speech by any group should be rejected.  Thus far, the debate has been defined by a small, coordinated group who are using the shareholder proxy process and other tactics to silence corporate speech and achieve their narrow and unrelated public policy goals.  It is time investors and corporate executives had a place to go for the facts surrounding this debate.”  
In the News
Washington Examiner: New study crushes conventional wisdom on role of money in politics
The Buckley decision is the fulcrum of the issue because there the court narrowly defined political corruption as criminal acts like embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of funds and influence peddling. There must be actual corruption or its appearance, often with a demonstrable quid pro quo. The conventional wisdom underlying contemporary campaign finance reform efforts, however, assumes a far broader definition, “wherein money exerts a nebulous corrupting influence on politics,” according to Cordis and Milyo. The court’s view not only affords maximum protection to freedom of political speech, it also imposes on campaign finance reform advocates the burden of proving that their proposals actually prevent political corruption, narrowly defined.  
Cordis and Milyo make it clear that is a burden impossible to carry. Using data obtained from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, as well as multiple federal and state databases, they employ a wide range of statistical analytical tools — Negative Binomial Estimates, Tobit Estimates and Ordinary Least Squares, for example — too complicated for explanation in this space. What counts is their conclusion: “We find no strong or consistent evidence that state campaign finance reform reduces public corruption. This finding is true regardless of whether the reform in question is a limit on corporate or individual contributions or some form of public financing.”  
Read more…
The report by CCP Academic Advisor Jeff Milyo can be accessed here.

Corporate Governance 

NY Times: S.E.C. Is Asked to Require Disclosure of Donations 
…Representative Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the S.E.C., said he had moved to co-sponsor the new legislation after hearing complaints about the proposed disclosure rule from trade groups and businesses in his district.  “The role of the S.E.C. is investor protection, not to engage in a political foray,” he said.  
Article continues: …Virtually no public corporations have spent their own money directly in political campaigns, a practice now permitted under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. And corporations remain banned from giving money directly to federal candidates.  
State and Local
New York –– WSJ: Liu Aide Testifies on Campaign Finance Allegations 
By Sean Gardiner
A close aide of city Comptroller John Liu who now works for his mayoral campaign testified Wednesday that two years ago she solicited donations and then offered to personally reimburse the contributors, an apparent violation of campaign-finance law.  
After saying she asked “some friends and family” to give to Mr. Liu’s campaign then promised to pay them back, Sharon Lee, who once was Mr. Liu’s press secretary, was asked by prosecutor Justin Anderson, “who did you ask?”  
Texas –– Texas Tribune: Disclosure Bill Clears House Committee 
By Chris Hooks
The bill came to the House after an unusual episode in which the Senate passed the measure 23-6 before attempting to recall it, by an equally lopsided vote, a day later. The bill, though, had already been sent to the House, where it was taken up by the House State Affairs Committee. Now, the bill must pass through the House unamended if it is to avoid returning to the Senate. The bill passed out of committee, unaltered, with a 12-0 vote. It will now go to the full House for consideration. 

Joe Trotter

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