Pressure group letter to IRS on Crossroads GPS misstates the law, is inappropriate
Alexandria, VA – In a letter to the Internal Revenue Service sent today, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) criticized a recent letter sent jointly by Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) urging the IRS to deny tax-exempt status as a social welfare group to Crossroads GPS.
CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson writes that the two groups misinterpreted the Federal Election Commission’s response to a complaint filed against Crossroads GPS:
“The CLC-Democracy 21 letter argues that the [FEC] General Counsel’s Report “confirms [the CLC-Democracy 21] position that Crossroads GPS is a political group, not a ‘social welfare’ organization.” But the Report does no such thing. It is merely a staff report that suggests there is sufficient reason to believe that Crossroads GPSmay be inappropriately operating as a political action committee (PAC) to justify opening an investigation. The Report certainly arrives at no legal conclusion that Crossroads GPS is a political committee—and under federal law, the Office of General Counsel (OGC) could not have done so in any event.”
Amending the First Amendment
First Amendment News: The Move to Amend & Leahy’s Upcoming Senate Hearing
By RONALD K.L. COLLINS
Recent efforts to amend the Constitution in light of Citizens United might represent the first time in American history that liberals/progressives have, acting alone, moved to amend the First Amendment in a way that would constrict existing rights.
I say this mindful of the failed proposed amendment in the 1980s offered up by Senators Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and again by them in 1997 by way of bi-partisan proposals urging a constitutional amendment to authorize Congress to set spending limits. The 1997 measure was defeated by a 61-38 vote.
Washington Post: State campaign finance laws are on borrowed time
By George Will
Minnesota says it has 10,000 lakes. The state also has, according to Anthony Sanders, “10,000 campaign finance laws.” He exaggerates, but understandably. As an attorney for Minnesota’s chapter of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm, Sanders represents several Minnesotans whose First Amendment rights of free speech and association are burdened by an obviously arbitrary, notably complex and certainly unconstitutional restriction.
Linda Runbeck is a Republican state legislator who is allowed to spend in her campaign — most spending finances dissemination of speech — only $62,600. She is not challenging this speech limit, although it is so low it prevents her from advertising on this city’s television stations, whose broadcasts reach many of the state’s voters. Rather, she is challenging the “special sources” provision that makes even more onerous the $1,000 limit on what any person can give her.
CPI: Who’s bankrolling secretive liberal group America Votes?
By Michael Beckel
Even as top Democrats denounce Charles and David Koch’s political “dark money” organizations, party operatives have built a secretive nonprofit network of their own — albeit a much smaller one — to advance liberal policies and win votes.
America Votes, which seeks to build “a permanent advocacy and campaign infrastructure” to “promote progressive issues,” raised $12.7 million during its most recent fiscal year, according to new tax documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.
The sources of America Votes’ funding are not clear.
“We do not disclose that information to the public,” said America Votes spokeswoman Liz Accola, adding that her group was “in full compliance” with the law.
Politico: Dick Durbin to Ready for Hillary event
By Kendall Breitman
Durbin will be one of three special guests to appear at a June 5 reception in support of Ready for Hillary, a political action committee created to muster national support for Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential race.
Intelligence Squared: INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO UNLIMITED SPENDING ON THEIR OWN POLITICAL SPEECH
Is independent political speech the linchpin of our democracy or its Achilles’ heel? For democracy to work, some say, citizens (and corporations, and unions, and media outlets, and other voluntary organizations) must be allowed to express their views on the issues, candidates, and elections of the day. This proposition, they say, is exactly why the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and of the press. On this view, restrictions on independent political speech undermine and subvert our constitutional structure. But others take a different view: If everyone can spend as much money as they like to express their political views, then some voices will be amplified, magnified and enhanced — while others will be all but drowned out. On this view, it is this inequality of influence that subverts our constitutional structure — and restrictions that level the playing field actually enhance rather than abridge the freedom of speech.
Politico: Citizens United to sue over donor info
By MAGGIE HABERMAN
“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s constitutional overreach needs to be addressed in a court of law,” Bossie said in a statement. “… Citizens United will fight for our rights set forth by the U.S. Constitution.”
Schneiderman spokesman Damien LaVera said in an email that, “after seeing the growth of 501(c)(4) political spending in New York, [the attorney general’s] office adopted new regulations to require nonprofits that spend more than $10,000 on state and local elections to disclose who funds these efforts and how they spend the money.”
Roll Call: Money Disclosed in Super PACs, Except One
By Kent Cooper
The Super PAC has not disclosed the secret owner, even after a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission last week by the Tea Party Patriot Citizens Fund, a pro-McDaniel group. The complaint was supplemented yesterday charging new violations of federal laws, including failure of Trustmark, a national bank, to identify the owner of the CD that secured the bank loan, as required by the Uniform Commercial Code.
State and Local
Michigan –– Michigan Bar: No Mandatory Dues for Ideology
By Richard D. McLellan
This effort by the State Bar of Michigan is wrong on two grounds. First, the State Bar is a government agency and is im- properly using mandatory dues to engage in a political and ideological campaign to change Michigan’s election laws. Second, the State Bar’s proposed regulation of as- sociational privacy and First Amendment political speech is not the easy straw-man issue—“the right to be free from criticism”— raised by President Einhorn.
New York –– Citizens United: Citizens United v. N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Overview
Citizens United and its sister organization, Citizens United Foundation, have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
New York –– Wall Street Journal: Lawyer Hired for Ethics Panel Disbanded by Cuomo
By Erica Orden
The commission that had been examining public corruption in New York state government before it was shut down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hired a criminal defense attorney as it faces a probe by federal prosecutors, according to people familiar with the matter.
Michael Koenig, a former federal prosecutor, is expected to represent the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption in its dealings with the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the people said. He would function primarily as a replacement for the commission’s inside counsel, advising its commissioners as questions arise about their work, the people said.
Virginia –– AP: Bob McDonnell, wife to be tried together
RICHMOND, Va. — The corruption trial against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is set to go to trial this summer after a judge tossed out a motion to dismiss most of the charges against the couple.
U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer also decided Tuesday that the former first couple should be tried together rather than apart.