NY Times: Donations From the Family
By Paul Sherman
For decades, the United States Supreme Court has held that the only reason for limiting campaign contributions is to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. But nobody could seriously believe that it is corrupt to support a family member’s election. Are we actually concerned that candidates will be in the pocket of Big Mom and Dad?
It’s time to get over knee-jerk hostility to the private funding of political campaigns. Contributing to a political candidate is a venerable form of peaceful political association. When those contributions come from family members, it is also an act of love and familial support, not an act of corruption.
Washington Times: Harry Reid breaks the bank to save Democrats’ Senate majority
Senate Majority PAC, far and away the biggest-spending super political action committee of the election cycle — at nearly $25 million — has begun pouring millions of dollars into Michigan, Iowa and Colorado, signaling just how quickly Democrats have shifted to defense heading into November’s elections.
The super PAC, which has deep ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is increasingly limiting its offensive efforts and is instead trying to create a firewall in Colorado, Michigan and even New Hampshire, hoping to halt a potential GOP wave that would net Republicans the six seats needed to capture the chamber and remove Mr. Reid from his leader’s post.
Gov. Rick Perry Indictment
Slate: Just because politics can be ugly doesn’t make it a crime.
By Rick Hasen
It’s not that we want prosecutors to stop investigating elected officials for corruption. Such investigations are necessary to ferret out self-interested deals like former member of Congress Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who took a yacht from a defense contractor with business before his committee, or former member of Congress William Jefferson, who took cash in exchange for steering business toward those who were bribing him.
But we need to look very skeptically on indictments where the main allegation is that the politician engaged in perfectly legal hardball politics.
We already inject the legal system into so much of our political campaigns. We should reserve the machinery of criminal law for only the most egregious cases of self-interest and personal benefit. For everything else, we should leave it to the power of legislatures to impeach or remove members, and for the outraged public to throw the bums out.
Wall Street Journal: Dipso Jure
By James Taranto
At least as a formal matter, Lehmberg was not involved in Perry’s indictment. A left-liberal outfit styling itself Texans for Public Justice filed an ethics complaint against the governor, a judge appointed a special prosecutor, and a grand jury delivered his ham sandwich Friday.
Whether or not Perry’s motives are pure, his position in this matter is an eminently reasonable and public-spirited one: Why indeed should an official who has broken the law and attempted (if unsuccessfully) to abuse her authority continue to hold such a powerful position?
That of course is a separate question from whether Perry’s actions ran afoul of the law. But there is ample evidence that he did not–that the special prosecutor has misapplied a criminal statute in a way that is offensive to both the Texas and U.S. constitutions.
Washington Post (Volokh): Is the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry inconsistent with a Texas Court of Appeals precedent (as to the ‘coercion’ count)?
By Eugene Volokh
The Hanson court did note that the relevant subdefinition of “coercion” was amended, effective 1989 — before the court decision but after Judge Hanson’s conduct — to apply only to “a threat, however communicated … to unlawfully take or withhold action as a public servant, or to cause a public servant to unlawfully take or withhold action.” But it turns out that, after the Hanson decision, the definition was amended back (effective 1994) to remove the “unlawfully.”
Now maybe this could be read as making the statute no longer vague, by implicitly making it clear (given the addition and then removal of the “unlawfully”) that threats of lawful action as a public servant would indeed be a crime. Yet this would leave the statute as unconstitutionally overbroad, given the court’s statement that “Coercion of a lawful act by a threat of lawful action is protected free expression,” at least in a context such as Hanson’s — or Perry’s.
Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties
Politico Magazine: The Age of Incumbency
By KYLE KONDIK
You read POLITICO. You’ve seen the polls—Congress is about as popular as root canals, taxes and North Korea. You’ve probably followed the stories about the “civil war” between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party, heard about all the shadowy groups pouring money into races across the country. You were stunned when Eric Cantor, the ultimate Capitol Hill insider, was bounced out of office by a no-name economics professor—but nodded as pundit after pundit warned of a coming anti-incumbent wave.
Well, smartypants, riddle me this: If Congress is so unpopular, why do so many incumbents keep getting re-nominated and re-elected?
As we reach the end of another primary season, it’s an important question to ask. With just nine state primaries to go this year (depending on whether you count Louisiana’s unusual Nov. 4 primary), incumbents are absolutely killing it. House incumbents are 332 for 335 in their bids for re-nomination, and Senate incumbents are a perfect 22 for 22, with a race yet to be completed in Hawaii. That’s well within the historical norm, and this might actually end up being an above-average year for incumbents.
NY Times: New Republican Leader Finds New Friends, and Quick Cash
By Derek Willis
That money follows leadership positions is not a surprise in Washington; elected leaders are expected to raise large sums to help their colleagues and Republican causes. After Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican who is resigning from Congress today after losing his June primary, became whip in late 2008, his fund-raising jumped almost immediately. But the amount of money he raised from PACs that had not been previous donors was relatively small: In the first three months after taking the post, Mr. Cantor got $29,600 from such committees.
Mr. Scalise’s larger bump is a result of two factors: Mr. Cantor had been a prolific fund-raiser even before joining leadership, meaning there were fewer active committees that had not already established a donor relationship with him, and Mr. Scalise’s elections did not require a large war chest.
State and Local
California –– Paradise Post: Decision to remove Proposition 49 was the right call
Prop. 49 had no real force of law and was simply a massive poll, prompting one justice to say that if the state wants to conduct such a poll by hiring a polling firm, have at it.
New York –– Capital New York: Cuomo campaign files Teachout appeal
Martin Connor, the lawyer who brought the Cuomo campaign’s residency challenge against primary challenger Zephyr Teachout, filed his appellant’s brief Thursday afternoon, alleging Teachout “retroactively” changed her residency.
Last week, a state judge denied Connor’s petition to remove Teachout from the ballot.
Virginia –– AP: Witness: Bob McDonnell tried to rein in wife
But Kelly said she had known about Maureen’s “challenging behavior” for years and that she took the job as secretary of the commonwealth only after receiving assurances she wouldn’t have to deal with Maureen.
She eventually agreed to have contact with her, she testified, when she learned that Maureen McDonnell was yelling at her husband nightly about the sorts of issues that Kelly had been ducking.
Kelly and other staffers intervened to thwart a mass resignation of the mansion staff, in which they wrote a joint letter stating that “to be treated like naughty children any time something doesn’t suit you is completely unacceptable.”