Daily Media Links 5/6: A Chilling Divestment, Washington Post survey reveals public misunderstanding of super PACs; article reveals the paper shares in that misunderstanding, and more…

May 6, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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In the News
Washington Free Beacon: A Chilling Divestment 
By Lachlan Markay
“The law is very clear: Pension funds must be invested so as to maximize their value and provide a secure financial foundation for retired public servants,” said Allen Dickerson, legal director at the Center for Competitive Politics.  
“There is no indication that this motion was motivated by the economic interests of L.A.’s retirees,” Dickerson explained. “Rather, it reflects a troubling trend toward the politicization of investment decisions.  
The city’s “legal duty,” he added, “is to invest funds with an eye solely to the economic welfare of current and future retirees and leave political points for another venue.”  
Read more…
Media Watch: Washington Post survey reveals public misunderstanding of super PACs; article reveals the paper shares in that misunderstanding 
By Eric Wang
Two days ago, the Washington Post published the results of a survey it conducted, which indicated a majority of Americans could not properly explain what a super PAC is. Ironically, the Post ran a story today on the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race to fill the seat of former Sen. John Kerry, in which it reported, “[Democratic candidate Ed] Markey has accepted more than $3 million from out-of-state super PACs . . . .”  
This is demonstrably false, and it must come as news to Markey’s campaign that it “accepted” more than $3 million from super PACs. Under federal law, it is strictly prohibited for candidate campaigns to “accept” even a penny from a super PAC, whether it is in the form of direct monetary contributions or coordinated advertising. And if a super PAC ad is not coordinated with the candidate, then it is misleading to suggest that a candidate has “accepted” the super PAC’s support.  
Read more…
Two more examples of shareholders’ actual views on mandated political disclosure 
By Brad Smith
The Manhattan Institute’s indispensible Proxy Monitor reports two more overwhelming shareholder votes against disclosure of immaterial political expenditures. At Humana, a union introduced measure got just 20.7 percent affirmative votes; a disclosure proposal fared much worse  at CIGNA, getting just 6.2% support. We’ve been summarizing the votes here. Disclosure measures are now 0-14 when voted on by shareholders, with the average “yes” vote dropping to 18.6 percent. Keep this in mind when you hear claims that the SEC should adopt mandatory disclosure of immaterial political expenditures because “shareholders have been demanding this information” be made public.  
Read more…
CCP Harvard Business Law Review “Using the SEC to Regulate Partisan Politics” 
By Sarah Lee
CCP Founder and former FEC Chairman Brad Smith and CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson currently have a paper up for review to be published in a forthcoming Harvard Business Law Review entitled “The Non-Expert Agency: Using the SEC to Regulate Partisan Politics.”
Read more…

Corporate Governance 

Weekly Standard: The ‘Transparency’ Agenda 
By Michael Warren
Half the companies on the S&P 100 stock market index, the letter said, have “recognized the dangers” and have “demonstrated leadership by disclosing the details of and implementing board oversight of their spending.” The signers added that they “hope” Abercrombie will follow the lead of these exemplary companies.   
None too subtle, the message was: Disclose, or we can make things very difficult for you.


ACLU: Thoughts on the Latest Political Disclosure Proposal
By Gabe Rottman
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) unveiled a new bill this week requiring all groups that spend money independently of campaigns, candidates, or parties to influence a federal election or nomination to disclose their donors. Although we have concerns with the bill, the senators’ hearts are certainly in the right place, and they should be applauded for actively soliciting input during the drafting process from interested parties on all sides of the debate.  


Huffington Post: Campaign Contribution Limits Broken Repeatedly In 2012 Election With No FEC Oversight 
By Paul Blumenthal
A review of campaign finance records by The Huffington Post identified 49 individuals who donated more than $150,000 in the last election cycle, far in excess of the biennial contribution limits. Of the 49 donors, 48 exceeded the PAC and party limit and 32 exceeded the candidate limit. Most of them gave the lion’s share of their contributions to Republican candidates and party committees. Canning gave the most of any donor noted by HuffPost. There are likely more who exceeded the contribution limits, but were not readily identifiable because of multiple problems with the way campaign finance data are collected.  
State and Local
Florida ––  Tampa Bay Times Herald: Gov. Rick Scott vetoes alimony, signs campaign finance and ethics
By Steve Bousquet
The campaign finance bill (HB 569) imposes more frequent reporting deadlines for political candidates and raises the maximum contribution limits for the first time since 1991. The current limit of $500 will increase to $3,000 for statewide candidates and to $1,000 for all other candidates. The increases take effect Nov. 1.  
The bill also requires 24-hour disclosure of contributions and expenditures in the closing days of statewide campaigns and more frequent year-round reporting requirements for candidates and committees. The bill outlaws legislator-controlled slush funds, called committees of continuous existence, but allows lawmakers to create new political committees that can continue to accept unlimited contributions.  
Missouri –– Kansas City Star: Missouri Senate says no to ethics bill, campaign caps  
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate declined to vote on an ethics bill, including a proposal to reinstate campaign contribution limits.  
New York –– Wall Street Journal:Mayoral Candidate Loses Lawsuit Over Contribution Limits 
Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald has lost his lawsuit challenging New York City’s contribution limits, a win for officials at the Campaign Finance Board who argued all candidates must abide by the same rules whether or not they accept matching funds.  
New York –– NY Daily News: Mayoral candidate John Liu knew aides were breaking campaign finance laws: prosecutors   
By Christina Boyle
“It would defeat the whole purpose of the straw donors scheme if the candidate doesn’t know where the money’s coming from,” U.S. Attorney Justin Anderson said, wrapping up the case against Liu’s ex-treasurer Jia (Jenny) Hou and fund-raiser Xing Wu (Oliver) Pan.

Joe Trotter

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