Daily Media Links 6/13

June 13, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Covington (Inside Political Law): FEC Commissioners Issue New Guidance on Donor Disclosure for Groups Paying for Political Advertisements

By Zachary G. Parks, Kimberly Railey and Derek Lawlor

Trade associations, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, other outside groups that pay for political advertisements, and their donors now have more answers to long-running questions regarding when donations to these groups are publicly reportable. After postponing consideration of the issue during its previous meeting, the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) approved Wednesday an interim final rule on donor disclosure. The interim rule amends the federal regulations that describe when outside groups that pay for independent expenditures — advertisements that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate — must publicly disclose on FEC reports the names of their donors. The amended rule will take effect 30 legislative days after the FEC transmits the new rule to Congress, which the FEC anticipates will be September 30, 2022.

Washington Post: Watergate happened 50 years ago. Its legacies are still with us.

By Dan Balz

On Friday, America will mark the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in…

The post-Watergate years of the 1970s saw a flurry of new laws designed to address issues raised by the scandal.

In 1974, Congress amended campaign finance laws after revelations about the abuses of money by Nixon’s reelection committee — thousands of dollars stuffed in safes and used for hush money, and illegal contributions solicited from major corporations. The new law put caps on how much people could contribute to candidates and how much federal candidates could spend, created partial public financing through matching funds in presidential campaigns and established the Federal Election Commission.

Over time, the reforms were weakened both by Supreme Court rulings and by workarounds campaign lawyers devised. A major change came in 2010, when the high court gave corporations and other outside groups the authority to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence campaigns. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision resulted in a proliferation of so-called super PACs and independent committees and the use of “dark money” (funds in which donors are not disclosed), leading advocates to say that a decades-long effort to reform campaign finance had failed.


Jonathan Turley: Court Rules for Home Depot in Barring Black Lives Matter Imagery

In January, I wrote a column criticizing the legal position of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in favor of Whole Food workers seeking to wear Black Lives Matter (BLM) symbols or clothing at work. Now a judge has rejected a similar claim brought by employees at Home Depot despite a decision in their favor earlier by the NLRB General Counsel.

Political Spending

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Practical Stake

By Bruce F. Freed and Karl J. Sandstrom

The Center for Political Accountability addressed these fundamental issues in a recently issued report on corporations, political spending and democracy entitled Practical Stake. The title was deliberately chosen to emphasize the stake that companies have in a healthy, well-functioning democracy and contrast that with the role their political money has played in enabling the attack on democracy and creating the climate of intimidation that presents a grave threat. The report concluded by laying out what businesses should do to protect themselves and democracy.

Here are the report’s key points:

The States

Politico (Florida Playbook): DeSantis to pull in public money for his campaign

By Gary Fineout

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to make sure he has every advantage heading into his fall reelection. And that apparently includes taking what some Republicans have called “welfare for politicians.”

DeSantis on Thursday filed all his campaign-related paperwork to qualify for reelection, and that included — surprise — a request to accept public matching funds. It’s a move that will probably result in the GOP governor receiving millions in added financial help. (DeSantis got $3.2 million in his initial campaign for governor.)

Wait, you ask — how can someone who has raised in excess of $113 million so far (a figure that will go up even more today when May reports are filed) get taxpayer help? Well, because he can…

But here’s the deal: Public financing doesn’t take into account the reality of what’s going on — or the loopholes in Florida’s campaign finance law. Most of what DeSantis has raised has been through a separate political committee. Now, that committee can’t spend money on ads that tell people to “vote for” DeSantis or “vote against” say Nikki Fried. But it can run ads generally trash his opponents or talk about what a great job DeSantis has done. The committee, which can fully coordinate its actions with his reelection campaign, can also give the money to the Republican Party of Florida.

Washington Post: A test in Virginia of the right to remain silent

By Becky Dummermuth and Adam MacLeod

We Americans have historically held the right to free speech dear. We call it to mind often and pride ourselves in its robust protections. Few of us ever think of its companion: the right to silence. But, as Peter Vlaming learned, the right to silence is just as critical to freedom as its noisier counterpart.

Vlaming was a well-loved French teacher at West Point High School in West Point, Va. When a transgender student started identifying as male, Vlaming used the student’s newly chosen name. But, given his religious convictions, he avoided either male or female pronouns in class. Eventually, the superintendent said Vlaming could teach only if he would use the student’s preferred pronouns. Unwilling to compromise his beliefs, Vlaming was fired — not for what he said but for what he didn’t say.

Claiming, among other things, violations of his rights to free speech and freedom of religion under the Virginia Constitution, Vlaming sued the school district. After he lost in the trial court, the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal. Recently, First Liberty Institute submitted a friend-of-court brief on behalf of the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy and 18 scholars. The brief argues that the right to silence is fundamental to our legal system and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Tiffany Donnelly

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