CCP Chairman Brad Smith to testify on grassroots lobbying before House subcommittee

CCP Chairman Brad Smith will testify, March 1, before the House Judiciary Constitution subcommittee on proposed grassroots lobbying disclosure legislation.

From Roll Call ($):

"[Smith] is slated to testify and said he will focus on opposing grass-roots lobbying disclosure on principle. ‘If there’s anything people show they’re concerned about, it’s not that citizens are contacting Washington too much,’ he said. ‘The purpose of disclosure is to inform the citizens of what government is doing — it’s not to inform the government of what citizens are doing.’" 

More information about the hearing (including time & location) can be found here: LINK

Filed Under: Blog

Congressional Chutzpah

One humorous definition of "chutzpah" is the example of the man who kills his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.  Here’s another one from Congress, as reported in The Hill:

"Senate Democrats are considering placing curbs on soft-money 527 groups amid evidence that they are beginning to lose the political advantage these largely unregulated funds have given them over Republicans."

But later in the article…

“We’re going to be looking at a number of issues. The issue [Sen. Dianne Feinstein] is most focused on is high cost of TV advertising in federal campaigns,” [Feinstein spokesman Howard Gantman] said. “Sen. Feinstein believes the airwaves are public airwaves and there should be a way to get more information about candidates to the public.”

If only there were groups of people willing to voluntarily spend their own money to run TV advertising in federal campaigns, informing the public about candidates . . .

Filed Under: Blog

Money follows message

In an announcement met with hand-wringing from the "reform" community, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack dropped out of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination last Friday, blaming his early exit on lack of funds.

"We have everything to win the nomination and general election. Everything except money," said Vilsack.

Over at Real Clear Politics, Terry Michaels, director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, examines the notion that money was all that held Vilsack back.  His response: "Give me a break!"

Money quote: "You are deluding yourself if you insist that dollars are the most important asset, or even of secondary importance, for making a race for The White House.

"Just ask President John Connolly, or President Phil Gramm, or President Ross Perot. Or try to convince yourself that Barack Obama is only viable because Hollywood zillionaires have turned on Bill and Hill."

To read Michaels’ whole response, click here.

Filed Under: Blog

More on Disclosure and Deliberation

We see that OMB Watch has blogged on yesterday’s post.  Unfortunately, they appear to misunderstand our position.  Hopefully, this post will clarify things.

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Disclosure and Deliberation

Writing under the pseudonym "Publius," Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison attempted to convince New Yorkers to adopt the newly proposed Constitution.  They were answered, anonymously, by Agrippa, Brutus, Candidus, Cato, Centinel, John DeWhitt, Federal Farmer, an Old Whig, and others, who expressed their concerns about the document.  Both groups of authors left their mark; the Constitution was ratified, but it was also amended to include the Bill of Rights.

Proponents of grassroots lobbying disclosure often argue that without knowing the identity of the speakers, it will be impossible to reach fully informed opinions on their arguments.  So what happened with the Constitution?  Were we simply lucky, or is it possible that voters actually can evaluate an argument on its merits despite the anonymity of its proponents? 

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Indefensible? Or just silly?

Roll Call thinks it is "Indefensible" ($) that the Senate doesn’t file its contribution and expenditure reports electronically.  It’s certainly cumbersome, and "silly" seems apt, but "indefensible?"  Forgive us, but even as supporters of electronic filing for senators, this seems a bit much.

For a less heated take on this issue and on the supposed value of disclosure more generally, check out this blog post from CCP Chairman Brad Smith, posted the last time this anachronistic filing quick was in the news.

Filed Under: Blog

Amicus Brief: Shays v. FEC

Download Amicus Brief

Filed Under: Completed Amicus Briefs, Legal, Legal Center, amicus brief, Shay, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus), Jurisprudence & Litigation, Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

We have no authority, but we’ll get them anyway (Part II A)

In Part I, we noted that the FEC is expanding its definition of "expenditure."  It also expanding the scope of "contribution."

Click on the title to read more… 

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Reforming Meehan’s War Chest

The Politico asks the question: "Why does Rep. Marty Meehan, the Massachusetts Democrat who hasn’t had a close race since he was elected in 1992, need a $5 million war chest?" 

Not a bad question, and while we don’t know if he "needs" it, we certainly know why he "wants" it: Meehan believes the war chest gives him a strategic advantage, likely by discouraging underfunded challengers.  This discouraging effect is undoubtedly one reason why his supporters continue to give him money.  But does this aggregation of funds square with Meehan’s pro-"reform" rhetoric? 

Click the headline to read more.

Filed Under: Blog

Brad Smith on “Stand by your Ad” extension

Last week we blogged about the extension of "Stand by your Ad" disclosure to the Internet and automated telephone calls.  The Politico has followed up on the story and cites CCP Chairman Brad Smith for the argument against needless disclosure:

"[Smith] disagreed with the premise of Stand By Your Ad in general. Reformers, he explained, want to make it harder to run ads or to dictate what form they could take. The verbal tagline is redundant, he argued, when ads also have to disclose the sponsor’s name in writing. Furthermore, the tagline takes up precious time better spent on the candidate’s message; as an example, he cited Patrick Henry’s famous ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ as the perfect fit for a four-second slot."

Read the whole thing here

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog