Daily Media Links 6/10

June 10, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Policy Statement of Chairman Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor, III Concerning the Application of 52 U.S.C. § 30104(c)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. FEC (“CREW”) invalidated the longstanding regulation governing disclosure of contributions received by organizations other than political committees (“non-committee organizations”) that make independent expenditures. Since then, the Commission has not proffered clear guidance on how those organizations should report contributions “earmarked for political purposes,” in accordance with CREW’s holding. And although the Commission has acted to excise the unenforceable language from its regulations, the amended regulatory text fails to provide a definitive standard for the statute’s application.

The resulting uncertainty has created a chilling effect on individuals’ and organizations’ First Amendment rights to engage in free speech and free association. The absence of regulatory guidance also raises significant due process issues. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the Commission to provide what public guidance it can concerning its interpretation and future enforcement of 52 U.S.C. § 30104(c).

Therefore, we are providing this interpretive and policy statement on the proper scope and enforcement of § 30104(c) following the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision in CREW. Our intent is to supply some level of notice as to three Commissioners’ understanding of the obligations of non-committee organizations under 52 U.S.C. § 30104(c)(1) and (c)(2)(C) until such time as the Commission promulgates an appropriate regulation.

The Courts

Courthouse News: Sixth Circuit hears campaign finance case against Michigan governor

By Kevin Koeninger

A war chest of over $3.7 million in political donations to Governor Gretchen Whitmer – over 95% of which was later given to the Michigan Democratic Party – was amassed in violation of state campaign finance laws, the Michigan GOP argued Thursday before a federal appeals court panel.


Daily Caller: GOP Senators Release Documents Showing Biden Admin Lied About Disinfo Board

By Michael Ginsberg

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Charles Grassley of Iowa released a series of documents on Wednesday showing that the Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board was intended to have a domestic focus, despite promises from administration officials…

The leaked documents show that the Biden administration expressed particular concern about “conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections,” “disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks,” and “falsehoods surrounding U.S. government immigration policy.” Notably, the document listing the topics of concern does not stress the sources of the alleged disinformation, only that the issues “must not be politicized.”

Another document reveals that DHS hoped to create a public-private partnership with Twitter to target disinformation on the site. The document, a scheduling memo, shows that DHS viewed Mayorkas’ meeting with two top social media executives as an opportunity for Twitter to “become involved in Disinformation Governance Board Analytic Exchanges.” Mayorkas was also instructed to offer data to Twitter that would better allow the company to target content for removal.

Biden Administration

Axios: Top Biden aide prods big tech to crack down on climate change misinformation

By Ben German

Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s top domestic climate adviser, said tech companies should do more to prevent the spread of inaccurate information about climate change and clean energy.

Driving the news: “The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation,” she told Axios’ Alexi McCammond at a virtual event that aired Thursday.

“We need the tech companies to really jump in,” McCarthy said…

“Now it has moved from denial, but the dark money is still there. The fossil fuel companies are still basically trying their best to make sure that people don’t understand the challenge of climate,” she said.

Online Speech Platforms

NBC News:  Facebook’s 2018 algorithm change boosted local GOP groups, research finds

By Brandy Zadrozny

A change to Facebook’s recommendation system likely accounted for a disproportionate boost in visibility and engagement to conservative political groups on the social media platform starting in 2018, according to research published Wednesday

AP News: Facebook fails again to detect hate speech in ads

By Barbara Ortutay

The group created 12 text-based ads that used dehumanizing hate speech to call for the murder of people belonging to each of Ethiopia’s three main ethnic groups — the Amhara, the Oromo and the Tigrayans. Facebook’s systems approved the ads for publication, just as they did with the Myanmar ads.

The States

Washington Post: DeSantis attacks the Rays — and free speech

By The Editorial Board

Florida’s Republican governor last week vetoed $35 million in state funding for a new training and youth sports facility in Pasco County, Fla., in part because the baseball team denounced the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex., and pledged $50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-violence prevention organization…

Mr. DeSantis’s jab at the Rays makes only clearer his disregard for freedom of speech, a right the governor appears to respect only when organizations express views with which he agrees.

Mr. DeSantis explained that he doesn’t want public money to “subsidize political activism of a private corporation.” Yet he and his party did not complain — let alone move to rescind state financial benefits — when companies such as Disney and the Rays donated to GOP campaigns. It is one thing to decry corporate influence in politics. It is another to selectively revoke state benefits when companies disagree with the governor.

Spotlight PA: Pa. lawmaker wants more state control over millions in outside spending on federal elections

By Jaxon White

Over the past few years, megadonors and special interest groups have flooded Pennsylvania campaigns with millions of dollars in contributions.

One Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to change that, and plans to advance a resolution petitioning Congress to give state lawmakers more power to regulate the influx of outside cash in federal elections.

But the push for more local control by state Rep. Meghan Schroeder (R., Bucks) is likely to face an uphill battle with fellow legislators. Pennsylvania has some of the laxest state campaign finance rules in the country, and calls to tighten them have been ignored for decades in the legislature.

Schroeder’s resolution urges Congress to enact a “For Our Freedom” amendment to the U.S. Constitution to give state lawmakers the “authority to regulate [independent political spending] as they see fit in their respective jurisdictions,” according to a memo she circulated earlier this week to colleagues.

Tiffany Donnelly

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