In the News
By Mark Tapscott
First introduced in its current version in February 2021 by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the DISCLOSE Act provides multiple tax and election law changes that would do serious damage to the free flow of opinion and political debate in the United States, according to Institute for Free Speech (IFS) President David Keating.
“This bill would harm the rights of Americans guaranteed by the First Amendment to freely speak, publish, organize into groups, and petition. These rights are vitally important to Americans who work to advocate for better government,” Keating told the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration during testimony on the proposal on July 19.
“Significant portions of the bill would violate the privacy of advocacy groups and their supporters—including those groups who do nothing more than speak about policy issues before Congress or express views on federal judicial nominees…
Another provision of the DISCLOSE Act that’s drawing serious criticism is one that requires any speech, including print, digital, and broadcast advertising that mentions an incumbent federal official or a challenger to such an official to pass muster “under a subjective and dangerously broad standard that asks whether the speech ‘promotes,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘supports,’ or ‘opposes’ (‘PASO’) the candidate or official.
This standard is impossible to understand and would likely regulate any mention of an elected official who hasn’t announced their retirement,” according to a legislative analysis by IFS Senior Fellow Eric Wang.
The Dom Giordano Program (audio): Pennsbury SD Pays Out After Settling First Amendment Infringement Case
In today’s third hour, Dom welcomes in Del Kolde, Senior Attorney at the Institute for Free Speech, onto the Dom Giordano Program to discuss a big win for the Institute against the Pennsbury School District. For a while now on the Dom Giordano Program, Dom has followed and hosted guests who have faced horrible censorship and silencing when trying to speak out against their local school board. In Pennsbury, Pennsylvania, it was at its near worst, with a solicitor regularly shouting down parents who were speaking of qualms with the board. Kolde discusses the case individually, first talking about the general scene at school board meetings, then telling what would be legally appropriate from the school board when debating tough issues.
By Kyle Mullins
Leadership PACs like Save America are often used by politicians to raise funds for other people seeking higher office. So far, Trump’s group, which had $101 million on hand as of May 31, has spent much of its money on things that look like traditional campaign expenses—buying ads, booking travel and hosting rallies. If Trump announces that he’s running for president again, most experts say those costs would have to be paid by his official campaign committee, not Save America…
It’s not all cut and dried, though. If, for example, Trump hosts a campaign-style rally for another candidate, but the former president spends plenty of time on stage, can Save America pick up the tab? Well, maybe. Saurav Ghosh, who helps dig up campaign-finance violations for a nonprofit named the Campaign Legal Center, admitted that the rules surrounding leadership PACs are “murky.” Bradley Smith, a Republican who served as an FEC commissioner from 2000 to 2005, agreed that they are “a bit of a fuzzy area.”
The five experts Forbes interviewed couldn’t come up with a consensus on a hypothetical like Trump hogging the microphone at a rally technically for someone else. One said the event would be illegal, two said it would probably be legal, and two said its legality would depend on things like whether Trump attended the event as a guest and what he said.
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein is going to federal court to have a 91-year-old state law declared unconstitutional. The suit stems from a 2020 campaign ad challenged as false by Stein’s general election opponent.
The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court suggests that Stein and two other plaintiffs expect authorities to take action against them soon based on the disputed state law. In addition to Stein’s political campaign, the other plaintiffs are his campaign’s media firm and a supporter quoted in a television ad.
By Joe Mueller
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, other Biden administration officials and five social media companies have 30 days to respond to subpoenas in a lawsuit alleging collusion to suppress freedom of speech.
Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry were granted permission to proceed with the discovery phase of the trial last week in a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty.
By Andrew G. Woodson
On June 8, 2022, the Federal Election Commission (FEC or Commission) approved an interim final rule affirming greater disclosure by nonprofits and others making independent expenditures in federal elections. While in some sense the new rule is minimalist and merely codifies judicial precedent, the Commission’s decision to undertake this rulemaking is still an important development in its own right. Moreover, the accompanying policy statement issued by the FEC’s three Republican Commissioners provides some additional clarification, particularly given that Commissioners are still debating how to apply the disclosure requirements in the enforcement context.
Candidates and Campaigns
Reason (“Volokh Conspiracy”): Could Lies in Election Campaigns Generally Be Punished?
By Eugene Volokh
Lies in election campaigns are in some respects especially dangerous, because they often happen shortly before the election, when there is little time to respond. At the same time,
“In a political campaign, a candidate’s factual blunder is unlikely to escape the notice of, and correction by, the erring candidate’s political opponent. The preferred First Amendment remedy of “more speech, not enforced silence,” thus has special force.”
And what is true of factual blunders is likely true of deliberate falsehoods as well.
The cases on the subject are split, but I’m tentatively inclined to agree with the recent state supreme court and federal appellate decisions that conclude that, on balance, allowing prosecutions for such lies is too dangerous. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2015 decision in Commonwealth v. Lucas is the most recent articulation of the argument:
By Makena Kelly
An alleged troll farm operator has received more than $2 million to boost the candidacy of GOP Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — and no one is sure where the money is coming from…
The mystifying donations raise new questions about coordination between the Lake campaign and Turning Point USA, which is forbidden from endorsing candidates except through its political action wing.
New York Times: I Was Wrong About Why Protests Work
By Zeynep Tufekci
Growing up in Turkey, with my childhood under the shadow of heavy censorship, I was fascinated by what new technologies would mean for the world and especially for free speech and dissent. I got into a graduate school in the United States, hoping to study how the internet and the digital transformation were affecting society. I was especially curious about the relationships among technology, dissent and protests.
Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Lifts Contribution Limits and Candidates Take Advantage
By Iris Samuels
Candidates for governor in Alaska took advantage of lifted limits on campaign contributions with six-figure donations from wealthy supporters in the months since strict fundraising limits went away, recent campaign finance reports show.
Republican incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy, independent candidate Bill Walker and Democratic candidate Les Gara all reported large contributions far exceeding the previous donation limit of $500 per individual donor per year, which was lifted earlier this year after a court deemed the limit to be unconstitutional. An effort by state lawmakers to pass new contribution limits failed in the last days of the legislative session, allowing candidates in the state to take in unlimited contributions.