Daily Media Links 8/21: Follow the Money, but How Far?, The Interest in Speech about Politics v. the Interest in Political Speech, and more…

August 21, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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In the News
NCSL: Follow the Money, but How Far? 
By Julie Lays
…Brad Smith from the Center for Competitive Politics. He took issue with the common perception that the ruling was wrong and that legislators should look for other ways to limit the influence of money on political campaigns. Since the ruling, about half the states have strengthened their disclosure laws, according to NCSL’s expert, Karen Shanton.
Smith advised lawmakers, with regards to disclosure laws, to weigh the benefits against the costs. And he wasn’t talking only about financial costs. He described some incidents of harassment of contributors (boycotting businesses, picketing in front of homes) by those who easily found personal information because of disclosure laws. If states decide to require more transparency, they should consider carefully who must report, and how far back in the money chain to go, he said.
Read more…
More Soft Money Hard Law: The Interest in Speech about Politics v. the Interest in Political Speech
By Bob Bauer
The SCOTUSblog symposium on the McCutcheon case continued with postings on various aspects of the speech and government interests involved in the contribution/expenditure distinction. Justin Levitt argues that overall, in granting more protection to expenditures, the distinction correctly ranks the speech values. The independent expenditure is pure self-expression, the spender’s “unique” view; the contribution helps the candidate’s speech, and as he may speak as he pleases, the message he communicates and the “unique” view of the contributor may well diverge. Tamara Piety affirms the Court’s view that “the expressive interests of contributions are minimal” and that restrictions on them may be necessary to protect against loss of public confidence in government, to enhance the competitiveness of elections, and to focus governmental energies on voters and not contributors. 


NY Times: Nonprofits Are Balking at Law on Disclosing Political Donors
In Albany, where even transparency is discussed in secret, the state ethics commission voted behind closed doors to grant an exemption to Naral Pro-Choice New York, a prominent abortion rights group. That lone exemption has prompted Republicans to accuse ethics regulators of favoring liberal organizations.
The application by Naral was followed by requests from at least four other groups — two more supporting abortion rights, a group opposing abortion andsame-sex marriage, and the New York Civil Liberties Union.


NY Times: A New Danger to Campaign Law 
Predictably, Mr. McGahn is muddying things by suggesting darkly that F.E.C. staff members may have conspired with the Internal Revenue Service in its investigation into right-wing political groups seeking tax exemption. There is no evidence that they did, but that has not deterred Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House oversight committee, from lending loud support to Mr. McGahn’s crusade.  
State and Local
Kansas –– Huffington Post: Kris Kobach Considered Unlikely To Implement Citizens United Disclosure Rules In Kansas 
By John Celock
Kansas political observers told The Huffington Post that they do not think Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) would use his authority to compel outside political groups, formed under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code, to disclose their political spending. Kobach’s authority came to light in a report, released earlier this month by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D), that identified 28 states with laws in place that would allow a single official to write regulations to force disclosure. The de Blasio report targets state laws regarding such groups, which have spent unlimited amounts of money to influence elections since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.  
Montana –– AP: Montana judicial candidates can receive political endorsements, money
HELENA – An appellate court panel’s decision to allow political parties to endorse candidates and make expenditures in Montana’s nonpartisan judicial elections will stand, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.  
New York –– WSJ: Plea to CBS, Time Warner Cable Over Debate Coverage 
The ongoing blackout of the CBS CBS +0.90% network to homes subscribing toTime Warner Cable Inc. TWC +0.12% could block hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from watching the upcoming debates for mayor and comptroller, the Campaign Finance Board wrote in a letter asking both companies to set aside the dispute for the public good.
Texas –– KWTX: Special Prosecutor Named To Review Perry Ethics Complaint
The watchdog group says Perry abused his power when he threatened to cut funding to the Public Integrity Unit if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg didn’t resign after she pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.  

Joe Trotter

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