Daily Media Links 4/29: First of the spring proxy votes again show little shareholder interest in corporate political disclosure, The Corporate Lobbying Proxy War, and more…

April 29, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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First of the spring proxy votes again show little shareholder interest in corporate political disclosure
By Bradley A. Smith
With corporate shareholders stubbornly refusing to unilaterally surrender in conflicts over public policy, expect these denizens of “shareholder interests” to try to muscle their political disarmament proposals through federal agencies on a partisan basis, and to intimidate interests through investigations and threats of criminal prosecutions. It’s going to be a hot summer, and political speech will be under relentless partisan attack.  
For more info on the effort by partisan political activists to use proxy proposals to silence political speech they don’t like, see our new website at Proxyfacts.org.  
Read more…
Media Watch: “When Regulators are Mocked” 
By David Keating
Left out of the story is that nearly every group (or maybe every nonprofit group – I don’t have time to look up everyone) that ran an independent expenditure (IE) and did not report donors on the independent expenditure form got one or more of these letters and has for almost six years.  It is not just Crossroads GPS.  
Basically, this is the FEC equivalent of a form letter.  It is a routine letter.  You do an IE, don’t list donors on the FEC form for the independent expenditure, and your group will get the form letter.  
Event: CREW: The Future of the Federal Election Commission
The event features CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith and Senior Fellow Eric Wang

Corporate Governance 

Wall Street Journal: The Corporate Lobbying Proxy War 
Liberals claim universal disclosure is right for corporations, but they want a different set of rules for their own donors. Take the liberal outfit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew), which has been resisting an effort to subpoena its donor information. The group, which has lambasted conservative groups for failing to disclose their contributors, claims that its donors are protected from disclosure by the . . . First Amendment.  
Disclosing its donors, Crew wrote in response to the subpoena, runs the risk of “chilling the free exercise of political speech and association guarded by the First Amendment.” The potential harm “arises from the compelled disclosure of “internal communications and communications among [Crew and] various groups” as well as its staff and “others who affiliate with it.”  
All we can say is what a crew. The political left poses as shareholder champions to try to embarrass companies into giving up their free speech rights only to invoke the First Amendment to avoid disclosing which unions or liberal billionaires are financing its campaign of political intimidation. Shareholders who care about political freedom and the health of their businesses should tell corporate boards to fight back against this bullying.  

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

AP: Retiring Dem Senator Holds $4.8 Million In Unused Campaign Money 
Baucus has several options for what he can do with all that cash, according to Federal Election Commission regulations. The only real restriction is that he can’t keep it for himself.  He could transfer any amount to national, state or local Democratic committees. 
He could donate to other candidates — within state and federal contribution limits. He could use some cash to defray travel costs and expenses related to winding down his office. He also could turn his campaign committee into a political action committee.  

Lobbying and Ethics

NY Times Blog: The Shadow Lobbyist 
By Tom Edsall
Lobbyists and their lawyers are capitalizing on arcane gaps in regulatory guidelines. For example, constricted definitions of lobbying contained in Congressional regulations have been construed to exempt from disclosure money spent on grass roots mobilization; on television, digital and social media campaigns; and on public relations efforts to build support among voters and key elites.  


LA Times: Federal Election Commission rules against married same-sex donors 
By Matea Gold
The five-member, bipartisan panel said the 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and woman prohibited the commission from viewing gay couples as spouses, even when they have legally wed under state law.  
State and Local
New Jersey –– Star-Ledger: Campaign finance overhaul by N.J. Senate Democrats would also reform pay-to-play 
By Christopher Baxter
TRENTON — A major campaign finance overhaul to be introduced today by state Senate Democrats would override the confusing patchwork of local pay-to-play laws that critics say allow many companies to make large donations to politicians who award them public contracts, The Star-Ledger has learned.  
New York –– NY Times: Aide Details Offer to Repay Donors to Liu 
The aide, Sharon Lee, began to testify on Wednesday about the offers but was stopped by the judge, who wanted to be sure Ms. Lee understood that she did not have immunity and that her testimony could potentially give her “exposure to criminal prosecution.” Ms. Lee said she understood and was prepared to go forward.  
South Carolina –– Slate: Does Stephen Colbert’s Endorsement of His Sister Violate Election Laws? 
By Megan Wiegand
olbert has twice devoted show segments to his sister’s campaign, including one endorsing her candidacy, and has mocked Sanford on countless occasions. With the show’s nightly viewership of 1.5 million and the documented “Colbert bump” in a politician’s support after an appearance, is Colbert violating election laws by blending his hosting role with his sister’s campaign?

Joe Trotter

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