The newest variety of bundling disclosure

Bundling disclosure has been getting a lot of coverage recently.  Until recently, it had typically been aimed only at the contributions that lobbyists arrange for lawmakers.  But Tuesday’s edition of Roll Call mentioned ($) a new variety of bundling disclosure that would include "checks lobbyists arrange for outside political action committees, such as those for EMILY’s List or the National Rifle Association."

So what’s it all about?  Click the headline to read more.

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

Vermont Campaign Finance Bill Vetoed

On Wednesday, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas vetoed a bill that would have placed strict new limits on the amount citizens can contribute to political candidates in Vermont.

In his veto message, Governor Douglas said that the bill extends "a form of political protection to incumbents, [and] establish[es] an unfair and nearly insurmountable obstacle for challengers."

He also noted that "unfortunately, this bill has the regrettable appearance of being written by special interest groups with their own self-interest in mind."

The legislature can try to override the veto when they reconvene July 11.

Click the headline to read the full text of Governor Douglas’s veto message.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP in the New York Sun

CCP Deputy Communication Director Michael Schrimpf was quoted in today’s New York Sun.  The article addresses legislation that would severely restrict the amount of money that those who do business with the city can contribute to candidates for city office.

Here is the excerpt: 

"A spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics, Michael Schrimpf, said a contribution cap for those who do business with the city ‘forces people to either make a living or become politically engaged.’

‘It’s all about the First Amendment,’ he said. ‘You have a right, whether you have business with the city or not, to be able to express support for a candidate.’"

You can read the full article HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

Common Cause Names a New President

Common Cause has a new President, former Congressman Bob Edgar (D-Pa).  The hiring is an interesting one for what it can tell us about the "reform" movement.  Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

Unintentional Irony from Public Citizen

Joan Claybrook, president of the pro-"reform" group Public Citizen, has issued a statement about the defeat of grassroots lobbying disclosure in the House:

It is also a disappointment that the House bill, like the Senate bill, omits crucial provisions that would have shed sunlight on the activities of lobbying firms that engage in massive and costly grassroots lobbying and television campaigns. Ironically, a successful stealth effort against disclosure of funding behind grassroots lobbying, funded by these for-profit firms and some ideological groups, brought about the demise of this disclosure provision in both chambers.

Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t see anything ironic about groups using grassroots lobbying to protect their First Amendment right to engage in grassroots lobbying.

Real irony would be a group, like, say, Public Citizen, using grassroots lobbying to promote policies that would chill others’ use of grassroots lobbying.

Also amusing is Publc Citizen calling their defeat the result of a "stealth effort."  Yes, it certainly was "stealthy," how groups like the ACLU, American Target Advertising, and National Right to Life–just to name a few–participated in Capitol Hill briefings and press conferences, issued multiple public statements, published op-eds in Roll Call and elsewhere, issued legislative alerts to large public lists, and were quoted by countless reporters. 

It was undoubtedly this ninja-like stealth and not the public exposure of grassroots lobbying disclosure’s flaws (not the least of which being its unconstitutionality) that led to its defeat.

Filed Under: Blog

The Purpose of McCain-Feingold – From the Horses’ Mouth

Last month, David Vance of the Campaign Legal Center took to the pages of Roll Call to take critics of McCain-Feingold to task in the strongest language.  It was "absurd," he wrote, to think that McCain-Feingold was "intended to remove money from politics."  He suggested that anyone who would say such a thing is ignorant, lying, or must have been "in 8th grade" when McCain-Feingold was debated.  It was "outrageous." It was "propaganda;" it was "revisionist history."

We responded with a Roll Call column noting that McCain-Feingold’s supporters had, in fact, frequently justified it as an effort to get money out of politics, or to reduce money in politics, including just a few of the many specific quotes to that effect. 

We are pleased that Senator McCain has now come out in support of CCP in this little debate.  If you watched the Republican Presidential Primary Debate on Fox News on May 15, you would have heard and seen Mitt Romney take a shot at the McCain-Kennedy Immigration bill by saying he hoped it would turn out better than McCain-Feingold.  And here, given his moment on national television, having to think quick, what was the first thing Senator McCain thought of in defense of McCain-Feingold? 

Is there anyone who believes there’s not enough money washing around money in politics…?

Yes, that was Senator McCain’s immediate defense of McCain-Feingold – it is needed to remove (at least some) money from politics.  Revisionism, anyone?

Meanwhile, we wait with bated breath for Mr. Vance to apologize to the Senator for calling his straight talk, "absurd," "outrageous," "propoganda," and "revisionist history."

Filed Under: Blog

Grassroots lobbying disclosure is “dead”, but Lady Justice is no longer blind

Roll Call ($) reports that grassroots lobbying is "dead", but Tony Mauro reports in Legal Times that the very arguments rejected by Congress may be adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Roll Call notes:

An effort to force lobbyists who engineer grass-roots contact with Congress to register and report their activities–another hotly contested issue that was killed in committee–will stay dead for the remainder of the debate [on H.R. 2316]. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), who crafted the proposal, said he decided against giving it another try on the floor after witnessing its resounding defeat in the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Tony Mauro, however, writes:

Forty-nine years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the government may not force advocacy groups to reveal their membership rolls, because of “the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations.”

Now, advocacy groups are grumbling that the high court is about to require them to do exactly what was prohibited in that 1958 ruling, NAACP v. Alabama.

Under a proposed rule change being considered by the Court, any group that files an amicus curiae brief in support of a party in a pending case would be required to state whether “a party is a member of the amicus curiae or made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of the brief.” If the Snack Food Association, for example, filed a brief on behalf of Frito-Lay, it would have to tell the Court that Frito-Lay is a member.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a deep tradition of keeping the identity of its members private, is preparing comments objecting to the rule change, and may be joined by other groups. 

We’re pleased that Rep. Meehan decided not to pursue this unconstitutional proposal any further.  Despite efforts by "reformers" to portray Meehan’s proposal as vastly different than the grassroots disclosure provisions stripped from S.1 earlier this year, in every constitutionally significant way they were identical. 

The House Judiciary Committee’s refusal to incorporate Meehan’s proposal into H.R. 2316 was a well-deserved rebuke to the real "Astroturf" lobbyists, and this latest development is a victory for the First Amendment.

But we wonder about the latest proposal out of the Supreme Court.  Membership disclosure seems an excessive means of ensuring that parties to the case do not exceed their page limit.

 

Filed Under: Blog

“Reform” word games

TO:                Members of the U.S. House of Representatives

FROM:            Mary G. Wilson, President

RE:                Secret Campaign Contributions

That’s the header of a letter sent by the League of Women Voters to the House of Representatives.  So what are the so-called "secret campaign contributions" they’re talking about?  Are contributions really being made in secret?  

No. 

Click the headline to read more.

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

The warped world of campaign finance

Welcome to the world of campaign finance "reform": Where the standards are meaningless and you are guilty until proven innocent.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire recently found herself in the middle of this warped world. Click the headline to find out what happened.

Filed Under: Blog

Judiciary committee members speak out against grassroots lobbying disclosure

Last week we reported the defeat of Rep. Meehan’s grassroots lobbying amendment in the House Judiciary Committee.  The transcript (.pdf) of that meeting is now available.  But there’s no need to dig through 134 pages of transcript to find the best quotes opposing grassroots lobbying disclosure, because we’ve done it for you.

Click the headline to read statements from Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA).

Filed Under: Blog