In the News
Wall Street Journal: Needed: More Money in Politics
According to a new report by the Center for Competitive Politics, since 2010 13 states have raised contribution limits for statewide races. In 2013 alone, nine states raised their contribution limits, including Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wyoming. At least four others may soon do the same.
Because the High Court freed up independent expenditures, incumbents want to lift the limits to counter outside money. Thus in Vermont, Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill raising the contribution limit for statewide candidates to $4,000 per election cycle from $1,000 and allowed contributions of $10,000 to political parties, up from $2,000. In Minnesota, Democratic state Rep. Ryan Winkler said that while he might prefer to keep the contribution limits low, the effect of doing so was that “the candidate becomes relatively insignificant in their election.”
Illinois changed its law in 2012 to eliminate the $5,300 individual contribution limit if a SuperPac spends more than $100,000 on behalf of a local candidate or $250,000 in a statewide race. The same applies in statewide races when an independently wealthy candidate spends or loans his own campaign more than $250,000, as Republican nominee for Governor Bruce Rauner recently did.
That’s good news for challengers, who bear the greatest burden from individual contribution limits. Without name recognition or a donor network, challengers often need large individual donors to have a chance to beat an incumbent. Flashback for liberals: Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 antiwar challenge to LBJ was financed by a few rich liberals.
Washington Examiner: A funny thing happened to Ohio on the way to judicial review
By Zac Morgan
The First Amendment harm of allowing a state agency to pick and choose which speakers may talk and which speakers ought to be punished is obvious. A straight challenge to the law would likely be quite successful.
But SBA List is not such a challenge. Rather, it is about a much more pernicious harm. The state of Ohio is attempting to use the judicial process itself to evade review of its law, and believes that its law may only be challenged once that process imposes a final penalty on SBA List.
As my organization, the Center for Competitive Politics, pointed out in ouramicus brief: “There is more than one way to impose a First Amendment harm. Ohio’s statute, which criminalizes false speech (as determined by the State), is one way. But even without such a determination, and the criminal sanctions that follow, an organization’s speech can be effectively chilled through judicial process itself.”
Center for Individual Freedom: Donor Disclosure Requirements Infringe on First Amendment Rights
Featuring CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson
Allen Dickerson, Legal Director at the Center for Competitive Politics, discusses why the California Attorney General’s demand for the list of supporters to a non-profit organization damages freedom of association, violates the clear terms of a federal tax law and ignores the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.
Seattle Times: Initiative targets big money in politics
By Jim Bruner
A spokesman for a national group that supported the Citizens United decision said the proposed constitutional amendment backed by I-1329 is worrisome.
“Free speech is free speech,” said Joe Trotter, a spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit that fights campaign-finance regulations.
Legislative Review: 2013 State Legislative Trends – Campaign Contribution Limits Increase in Nine States
By Luke Wachob
As this Legislative Review explains, a Center for Competitive Politics’ survey of 2013 state legislative activity shows that nine states – Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wyoming – raised or eliminated various campaign contribution limits last year. Five states increased their limits by 100% or more, two more increased their limits by 50%, and one repealed its limit on direct corporate contributions to candidates.
Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that allowed trade associations, corporations, and labor unions to spend independently of candidates without limit and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling inSpeechNow.org v. FEC that created Super PACs, 13 states, or over one-third of the 38 states that impose contribution limits on individuals, have increased or repealed contribution limits in some manner. (Twelve states do not limit candidate contributions by individuals). Also in 2013, two more states – Montana and Tennessee – were a gubernatorial veto and two votes short of House passage to a favorable Senate, respectively, of raising their limits. Following this trend, in the first month of 2014, Vermont increased its contribution limits, and Oklahoma appears poised to act too.
While there are many strong First Amendment and pro-competitiveness reasons for increasing or eliminating contribution limits, lawmakers appear to be most concerned with giving candidates and political parties a stronger voice in election campaigns by allowing candidates and parties to raise more funds.
Media Watch: “Clarifying” First Amendment for Supreme Court
By Joe Trotter
Contrary to frequent claims, significant monetary contributions to social welfare organizations are disclosed to the IRS (schedule B). Sure, the disclosed information might not wind up in the hands of anti-speech activists trying to shame people and boycott their businesses for contributing to unpopular causes, but that’s not the point of disclosure. Then, when money is used by either super PACs or social welfare organizations in making independent expenditures, it is publicly disclosed on the FEC’s website.
It’s truly scary that those who manage to twist the definition of “unregulated” into, essentially, “doesn’t give me all the information I want when I want,” thinks that they should “clarify” the meaning of our first, and arguably most important, enumerated protection against tyranny to the greatest legal minds in our country.
National Law Journal: New Study Revisits Scalia-Posner Feud
By Tony Mauro
Legal writing expert Bryan Garner today launched the latest round in the long-running feud between federal appeals judge Richard Posner on one side and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Garner, his friend and co-author, on the other.
The new development came in the form of a detailed examination by a San Francisco lawyer, commissioned by Garner, of a dozen criticisms Posner made of Scalia and Garner’s 2012 book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
Election Law Blog: Ninth Circuit Issues Split Decision on AZ Judicial Candidate Speech Code
By Rick Hasen
The majority opinion begins:
A state sets itself on a collision course with the First Amendment when it chooses to popularly elect its judges but restricts a candidate’s campaign speech. The conflict arises from the fundamental tension between the ideal of apolitical judicial independence and the critical nature of unfettered speech in the electoral political process. Here we must decide whether several provisions in the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct restricting judicial candidate speech run afoul of First Amendment protections. Because we are concerned with content-based restrictions on electioneering-related speech, those protections are at their apex. Arizona, like
Washington Post: Wis. prosecutors abuse the law for partisan ends
By George Will
U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, revolted by the police-state arrogance of some elected prosecutors, has stopped a partisan abuse of law enforcement that was masquerading as political hygiene. Last Tuesday, Randa halted the corruption being committed by people pretending to administer campaign regulations — regulations ostensibly enacted to prevent corruption or the appearance thereof. The prosecutors’ cynical manipulation of Wisconsin’s campaign laws is more than the mere appearance of corruption.
Eric O’Keefe’s refusal to be intimidated by lawless law enforcement officials produced Randa’s remarkably emphatic ruling against an especially egregious example of Democrats using government power to suppress conservatives’ political speech.
Wisconsin’s sordid episode began, appropriately, with a sound of tyranny — fists pounding on the doors of private citizens in pre-dawn raids. While sheriff’s deputies used floodlights to illuminate the citizens’ homes, armed raiders seized documents, computers, cellphones and other devices.
CPI: Tobacco money fuels gay Republicans, business organizations
By Michael Beckel
The flagship nonprofit of Charles and David Koch’s political network.
A group that’s been called “a secretly funded arm” of New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez’s re-election campaign.
The nation’s largest GOP organization devoted to gays and lesbians.
What do they have in common?
Politico: Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity plans $125 million spending spree
By Kenneth P. Vogel
The Koch brothers’ main political arm intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group.
The projected budget for Americans for Prosperity would be unprecedented for a private political group in a midterm, and would likely rival even the spending of the Republican and Democratic parties’ congressional campaign arms.
State and Local
Colorado –– NY Times: Colorado Lawmaker to Accept Donations in Bitcoin
By RACHEL ABRAMS
Jared Polis may be the first politician to accept campaign donations in Bitcoin.
Mr. Polis, a former technology entrepreneur and a current congressman from Colorado, has wasted no time in making his campaign more accessible to virtual currency enthusiasts. On Thursday, the same day that the Federal Election Commission said that it would allow such donations, his office announced that supporters could use Bitcoins to donate to Mr. Polis’s campaign for re-election in November.
New York –– Syracuse.com: Antonacci would be first to use public money in statewide campaign against Comptroller DiNapoli
DiNapoli said he would not accept public money for his campaign.
After advocating for some version of public financing, DiNapoli told the New York Times the law that passed was sloppy and rushed into effect.
Antonacci said he thinks Senate Republicans are opposed to public financing because of the fear of fraud.
Texas –– KHOU: Ft. Bend ISD board member accused of stealing political signs
By Marcelino Benito
But whoever was stealing those signs was in for a surprise. No one knew Kris Allfrey had installed a camera up in a tree, and it was aimed right at his signs.
The camera caught an unlikely person snatching the sign, current FBISD trustee Bruce Albright.
“It was totally shocking,” said Allfrey. “He was the one taking my sign.”