Daily Media Links 6/16: The Climate Police Blink, Why a campaign finance pledge hasn’t gone far in US House race, and more…

June 16, 2016   •  By Brian Walsh   •  
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In the News

Daily Caller: Supreme Court Should Take Voter Guide Case

Luke Wachob

The law has no benefits to justify these extreme costs. Voters gain nothing from knowing the identities of donors to groups that do not support candidates. These are not campaign donations. Without a link from money being spent to a candidate being benefitted, there’s no value in the data.

Delaware likely knows that it’s not actually shedding light on politics by cracking down on nonpartisan voter guides. On the same day that the Delaware Elections Disclosure Act was signed into law, Governor Jack Markell also signed a separate bill that increased the noncompliance penalty to $50 per day. This is a conscious effort to silence nonprofits with burdensome regulations and harsh penalties.

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Letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Constitutional Issues with Executive Order No. 157

David Keating and Bradley A. Smith

[The Executive Order] goes further, however, by specifically basing state investment decisions not only on whether a company or other institution complies with state laws, but on a company’s or institution’s willingness to surrender its First Amendment rights as a condition of state investment. Indeed, under the Order, an institution … must refrain not only in its own actions, it may not even “promote others” to engage in certain activities pertaining to the state of Israel…

The Order’s breadth is, we believe, unprecedented, applying not only to “any activity” but to merely “promoting” others to engage in certain lawful, indeed Constitutionally-protected, activities. Mere criticism of Israeli government policies, even those unrelated to the issues motivating the so-called “BDS” campaign, could be deemed to fall within the Order….[T]he very judgments involved in determining which companies and institutions have “promote[d] others” to engage in BDS activities … will broadly chill public discourse….

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Petition for Rulemaking to Strengthen Political Parties

Sandler Reiff

State and local party committees play a critical role in the American political system. First, they play an important role in our democracy by pursuing political goals that a majority of Americans support. Second these committees are well situated to perform grassroots political activity in order to support the party’s national political and electoral interests, which can help ensure consistency and cohesion in party goals. While it used to be common practice for state parties to pay for communications featuring candidates from the top to the bottom of the party ticket, these are now largely replaced by single candidate communication – and only when the party is able to allocate their scarce resources to the cause. Third, state parties have traditionally worked to increase voter turnout through voter contact methods such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote.


Independent Groups

International Business Times: Money In Politics: 10 Dark Money Groups Face Criminal And IRS Complaints Filed By DC Watchdog Group

Clark Mindock

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington government watchdog group, filed complaints against 10 so-called dark money groups this week, alleging that the nonprofit organizations have been “significantly underreporting their political activity.” The groups, which can opt to not disclose their donors, are limited in the percentage of their expenditures that can be spent for overt political purposes.

The list includes organizations that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political advertising or have donated to super PACs supporting mostly conservative candidates across the country. CREW filed criminal complaints with the Department of Justice concerning six of those groups, asking that the FBI and the Justice Department investigate whether the groups’ IRS tax filings misrepresented the amount of money spent on political activity.

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Free Speech

Wall Street Journal: The Climate Police Blink

Editorial Board

Consider Mr. Walker’s recent retreat in District of Columbia superior court. In April he issued a sweeping subpoena to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, demanding a decade of emails, policy work and donor names. The goal is to intimidate anyone who raises doubts about climate science or the policy responses.

CEI fought back. It ran a full-page newspaper ad highlighting the Walker-Schneiderman effort to criminalize speech, and it counter-sued the Virgin Islands, demanding sanctions and attorneys fees…

Mr. Walker quietly withdrew his subpoena on May 20 (though retaining the right to reinstate it). CEI is pressing ahead with its suit anyway, and in an extraordinary filing on June 2 Mr. Walker essentially said “never mind.” He asked the court to dismiss CEI’s motion for sanctions and fees, writing that the think tank had “wasted enough of [his office’s] and the Court’s limited time and resources with its frivolous Anti-SLAPP motion.”

So having violated CEI’s First Amendment rights, subjected the group to public abuse and legal costs, and threatened its donors, Mr. Walker blames CEI for burdening the courts.

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People’s Pledge

KUOW Seattle: Why a campaign finance pledge hasn’t gone far in US House race

Paige Browning

Jayapal says she doesn’t plan to sign, and calls the pledge a gimmick. She says “We don’t control independent expenditures, the whole point of it being called an independent expenditure is that candidates don’t know anything about them. And so the People’s Pledge, while I understand the intent of it, it really has not worked when it’s been used in other places.”

Western Washington University political science professor Todd Donovan agrees the pledge is a bit of a gimmick. He says candidates can’t control who donates that type of advertising, though he says the pledge may have symbolic impact.

There are currently no reported independent expenditures in this race. In 2012, independent expenditures in Washington state’s Congressional races amounted to $2.3-million.

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Effects of Campaign Spending

Bangor Daily News: Where political cash bought a whole lot of nothing Tuesday

Darren Fishell

Let me put it this way: Candidate Diane Russell’s campaign spent about one-third of the entire amount spent statewide on Democratic primary races, to no avail…

That’s what’s peculiar about the Senate 27 Democratic primary, where the huge money advantage landed Russell in third and made for a quite dramatic look at one of my less credentialed but favorite post-election metrics: dollars per vote…

The money in that race is fascinating — not just because it contradicts a notion that state elections can be bought outright — but because it for a moment puts the money in relief with the other elements of political power, giving us a brief view of some of its secrets.

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The Media

The Hill: Networks drop Trump rally for Clinton speech

Jesse Byrnes

Fox, CNN and MSNBC carried Clinton’s remarks at a discussion on national security in Hampton, Va., over Trump’s speech at a rally in Atlanta.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, knocked Trump’s response to the shooting attack in Orlando during the several minutes of her remarks carried live by the networks.

Trump’s high-profile events are rarely supplanted on live television, something immediately noted by journalists.

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Tampa Bay Times: Gyrocopter pilot reports to Miami prison to do time for protest in Washington

Ben Montgomery

For his brash act of telling the United States government that it has been corrupted by the influence of big money in elections, albeit by landing his gyrocopter on the green grass in front of the U.S. Capitol building, Doug Hughes turned himself in Tuesday to the Federal Detention Center in Miami, where he’ll serve four months of hard time.

The former letter carrier from Ruskin maintained that he was worried about life in prison, but endured zero regrets.

“I was prepared to die in the flight,” he said, “so I’ve already skipped the death sentence.”

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Candidates and Campaigns

Politico: Trump’s relationship with RNC sours

Kenneth P. Vogel, Eli Stokols, and Alex Isenstadt

Donald Trump is relying heavily on the Republican Party to bolster his skeletal operation, but his campaign’s relationship with the Republican National Committee is increasingly plagued by distrust, power struggles and strategic differences, according to sources in both camps.

In recent days, RNC chairman Reince Priebus has privately grumbled that his advice doesn’t seem welcome with Trump, according to one RNC insider. Other party officials have expressed frustration that Trump’s campaign is trying to take too much control over a pair of fundraising committees with the party while adding little to the effort, according to campaign and party officials familiar with the relationship.

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The States

Syracuse Post Standard: NY Assembly may vote to strip pensions from corrupt public officials

Mike McAndrew

The New York State Assembly may vote Thursday to approve a bill that could lead to convicted corrupt public officials like Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos losing their state pensions.

Under withering criticism from government watchdogs for failing to pass any ethics reform laws this year, the Assembly judiciary committee voted 21-0 in favor of the same pension forfeiture bill that the state Senate passed in 2015.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein told reporters Wednesday they were optimistic the full Assembly would vote on the legislation.

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Syracuse Progressive Examiner: NY becomes 17th state to call on Congress to pass amendment to overturn CU

Victor Tiffany

Only one other Republican signed the letter to Congress, but that was enough to provide the 32 signatures in the NY Senate to establish majority support. Four Republicans in the NY Assembly signed the letter. Conservatives, liberals, libertarians and progressives want democratic order legalized and oligarchy outlawed. Unfortunately, too many of our so-called representatives embrace the current system of campaign finance anarchy which benefits them personally.

Although the Citizens United ruling was extremely damaging, it brought about something positive: an impassioned, national grassroots movement that is determined to restore the people’s place in this democracy.

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Brian Walsh

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