Daily Media Links 6/26: Democrats Are Trying to Rewrite the First Amendment, Obama’s Effort to Dismiss IRS Scandal Backfires, and more…

June 26, 2014   •  By Generic User   •  
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Amending the First Amendment

The American Spectator: Democrats Are Trying to Rewrite the First Amendment

By Josh Blackman

Trumping the cherished ten words, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” the amendment would make the Constitution read, “Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections.” This unprecedented langauge is radically different from the amendments in the Bill or Rights: instead of limiting the power of the federal government, the proposed amendment wouldexpand it. We’ve gone from “Congress shall make no law” in 1791 to “Congress can make any law” in 2014.

That’s not an exaggeration. The wording of the proposed amendment is so broad that it would allow Congress to regulate or even prohibit any communication that mentions or alludes to a candidate for office. All communications at some level cost money. Rather than censoring the speech itself, Congress would be able to simply criminalize spending money—any amount, even a penny—to engage in disfavored speech. The amendment imposes absolutely no limits on Congress. Neither is it in any way restricted to expenditures by corporations, unions, PACs, Super PACs, or other scary-sounding entities. Buying a sign for one’s yard or a bumper sticker to slap on one’s car would now be actions subject to government control.

The proposed amendment does offer a feckless exemption: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” But this carve-out is illusory, as it only applies to those deemed by to be members of “the press”—and the federal government would determine who qualifies. Independent bloggers, tweeters, and pamphleteers could be silenced and chilled by overzealous federal regulators. This very editorial, if published on my personal blog, could be viewed as a form of “sham” issue advocacy, and could be banned by Congress. After all, I oppose the positions of several Democrats up for re-election in 2014. Think about that for a moment.

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Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Effort to Dismiss IRS Scandal Backfires

By Peter Wehner

According to a new Fox News poll, more than three-quarter of voters –76% — think the emails missing from the account of Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the heart of the scandal, were deliberately destroyed. Broken down by parties, we find 90% of Republicans believing the emails were intentionally destroyed, 74 % of independents saying that’s the case, and fully 63% of Democrats saying Ms. Lerner’s emails were destroyed. (Only 12% of voters believe the emails were destroyed accidentally.)

In addition, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed – 74%–say lawmakers should investigate the IRS “until someone is held accountable.” (Among Democrats, 66% feel that way.)

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Roll Call: Camp: Grassley Targeted By Lois Lerner at IRS

By Niels Lesniewski

“We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” Camp said in a statement. “At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights.”

According to the House committee, Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley was suggested for additional scrutiny by then-IRS official Lois Lerner.

“The fact that [the Justice Department] refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law,” Camp said.

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Wall Street Journal: No Confidence

By James Taranto

To be sure, whether people believe the IRS is telling the truth is a different question from whether the IRS is telling the truth. Opinion polls can’t resolve the latter question. But what the Fox survey shows is a broad public distrust of the IRS and, by implication, of the president.

Two developments yesterday suggest the distrust is warranted. The Daily Signal reports that “under a consent judgment [yesterday], the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.”

Meanwhile, David Ferreiro, the U.S. archivist, testified yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He told lawmakers that the IRS did not report the lost emails to the National Archives, as the law provides. A cautious Ferreiro “stopped short of saying the tax-collecting agency ‘broke’ the law, saying ‘I am not a lawyer,’ ” Politico reports. “But when pressed by Michigan Republican Tim Walberg about whether the IRS failure to inform the National Archives when it learned that two years of the former head of the tax exempt division’s email were lost, he said: ‘They did not follow the law.’ “

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Independent Groups

Journal Sentinel: Political action group sues over Wisconsin campaign money limits

By Bruce Vielmetti

A political action committee on Monday sued to prevent enforcement of a Wisconsin law that limits how much money candidates can accept, in total, from all such organizations.

CRG Network claims in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Milwaukee that when it tried to make small donations to three candidates, some or all of its money was returned because the candidates had already met limits through donations by other PACs.

Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws set those limits at $15,525 for state Senate candidates and $7,763 for Assembly candidates. The lawsuit names several Government Accountability Board members as defendants.

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Mediaite: Wealthy Parents Start Super PAC to Fund Millennial Son’s Congressional Campaign

By Tina Nguyen

27-year-old Oklahoma native Mike Turner fits every terrible media definition of an Entitled Millenial: he lives in his childhood home, he has a large trust fund, and his parents are funding his career ambitions. Namely, they opened a super PAC, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, and used the money to buy television ads supporting their son.

According to campaign finance reports, Turner’s parents are the only contributors to the Democracy Values Fund, which has spent $225,693 on ads supporting their son. Turner himself has contributed $625,000 to his campaign — all of it his own money, derived from his stake in the family’s construction business.

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Slate: Does Chief Justice John Roberts show a certain casualness about the truth?

By Richard A. Posner

Which brings me to Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the decision in April that, in the name of free speech, further diminished Congress’ power to limit spending on political campaigns. The opinion states that Congress may target only a specific type of corruption—quid pro quo corruption—that is, an agreement between donor and candidate that in exchange for the donation the candidate will support policies that will provide financial or other benefits to the donor. If there is no agreement, the opinion states, the donation must be allowed because “constituents have the right to support candidates who share their views and concerns. Representatives are not to follow constituent orders, but can be expected to be cognizant of and respon­sive to those concerns. Such responsiveness is key to the very concept of self-governance through elected officials.”*

Can so naive-seeming a conception of the political process reflect the actual beliefs of the intellectually sophisticated chief justice? Maybe so, but one is entitled to be skeptical. Obviously, wealthy businessmen and large corporations often make substantial political contributions in the hope (often fulfilled) that by doing so they will be buying the support of politicians for policies that yield financial benefits to the donors. The legislator who does not honor the implicit deal is unlikely to receive similar donations in the future. By honoring the deal he is not just being “responsive” to the political “views and concerns” of constituents; he is buying their financial support with currency consisting of votes for legislation valuable to his benefactors. Isn’t this obviously a form of corruption?

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Wyoming Liberty Group: WyLiberty Attorneys File Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of State Campaign Finance Law

“Republican and Democratic candidates can raise money for state primary races and, by extension, the general election,” said Steve Klein, WyLiberty staff attorney.  “But candidates like Young, who are nominated through party convention and do not run in a primary, cannot raise a dime until after the primary date. This is censorship, plain and simple.”

A similarly worded Colorado law was recently ruled unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Wyoming.  The new lawsuit also challenges part of Wyoming law that allows major party candidates to raise twice as much money from an individual contributor in a given race.

“A major party candidate can raise up to $1,000 from a contributor for a primary election, then raise another $1,000 from the same contributor for the general election,” said Benjamin Barr, counsel to WyLiberty. “The advantages of identifying with a major party are already staggering, and the law helps protect their monopoly.”

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State and Local

Ohio –– Cincinnati Enquirer: Kasich, Mandel, Husted, DeWine won’t testify in case

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s governor, secretary of state and attorney general are all fighting subpoenas to testify at the federal trial of a northeast Ohio businessman accused of funneling illegal campaign contributions to two Republican politicians.

“I’m not involved in this. This is probably some sort of a fishing expedition,” Gov. John Kasich told reporters Tuesday about his subpoena from attorneys defending North Canton “As Seen on TV” millionaire Ben Suarez. “I may have had a meeting with him or something, long ago, but, no, I’m not involved with this in any way.”

Suarez’s attorneys have also subpoenaed Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, but the treasurer is not fighting the subpoena. An attorney for Mandel told The Enquirer he doubted the treasurer would be called to testify.

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