Misleading Vermont

On Thursday, Vermont Secretary of State wrote an op-ed that appeared in both the Rutland Herald and the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus about the Vermont campaign finance bill that was recently vetoed.

In her commentary, Secretary Markowitz states that "Citizen confidence in our political system is the cornerstone of our democracy" and "As long as people still believe that big money drives politics, we will all lose."

Unfortunately, her comments between these two points only contribute to further misunderstanding and confusion on the issue.

Click the headline to read how Secretary Markowitz adds to the confusion.

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The Functional Equivalent of Express Advocacy is not a kind of Express Advocacy

Well, Jim Bopp, Rich Coleson and the James Madison Center have finally done it; they’ve wrestled the FEC to the ground in the latest round of grassroots lobbying ads.  In just a few weeks the FEC has agreed not to choose district courts as the place to wrestle further over the contours of FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL II), or the arguably broader set of ads in the related case, Christian Civic League of Maine v. FEC (CCLM).  The FEC has announced it will open a rulemaking, read the Supreme Court opinion for itself, and shape the contours of a conforming exception to BCRA’s electioneering communications provisions.

Click on the title to read more. 

Filed Under: Blog

Government in the newsroom

Yesterday, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Dennis Patrick delivered a provocative lecture on the origins, abolishment, and future of the Fairness Doctrine at the National Press Club.

CCP was fortunate enough to have a front row seat for the lecture.  Throughout the talk, CCP couldn’t help but notice the eerie similarities between regulating speech with the Fairness Doctrine and regulating speech through campaign finance regulation. Namely, Patrick highlighted the fact that all regulations have unintended consequences and that the true motives behind regulation is often not the "public good", but rather it is to protect officeholders from speech they don’t want to hear.

Click the headline for other highlights of the speech.

Filed Under: Blog

Political Regulation will hurt New York

Today, Sean Parnell, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), a pro-First Amendment reform organization, issued the following statement in response to the reported deal on campaign finance regulation agreed to by political leaders in Albany:

Filed Under: Blog

CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting at NABPAC

Skim CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting’s speech to NABPAC at its 2007 PAC Management Conference.

Click on the title to read more. 

Filed Under: Blog

Plan is Welfare for Politicians

CCP President Sean Parnell sees bad policy headed for North Carolina.  As Parnell says, in the Fayetteville Observer:

Proponents of government financed elections are trying to pull a fast one on the citizens of North Carolina. Their game plan is simple. Start with a “pilot program” … .  Later, expand government financing to other offices and subtly complete the socialization and bureaucratization of all campaigns in North Carolina.

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North Carolina’s voters and taxpayers don’t need to provide welfare to politicians in order to have clean, honest government, and should be concerned about this attempt to reduce politicians’ accountability to voters.

Read the whole thing here.

Filed Under: Blog

Becoming President isn’t incentive enough?

In his column "Small money vs. big money" E. J. Dionne says, "Reformers need to be creative on the supply side of political money. There still are not enough small donors to counter the influence of the big ones. But that day could come — and it should."

His solution is to "give candidates strong new incentives to raise small money rather than big money" by socializing our federal campaign finance system by offering matching funds, at a 5 to 1 ratio, on all private contributions up to $100.

Candidates, though, do not need any more incentives to reach out to small donors.  To understand why, all we need to do is look at the fundraising success of Barack Obama.

Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog

How much for yard sign express advocacy?

In the case of stock car racer Kirk Shelmerdine, we learned that if you drive cars for a living the FEC won’t allow you to put a bumper sticker on your car. Today, we learn that if you own personal property that happens to have advertising value and you slap up what are essentially oversized yard signs that too must be regulated.

On July 11, the FEC announced that it filed a civil enforcement lawsuit against Stephen Adams for failing to "report and provide proper disclaimers on $1 million worth of billboard ads supporting President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign." ( BNA $ )

Now, independently putting up billboards may, in fact, be a form of express advocacy that can "legitimately" be regulated but it started us thinking who’s express advocacy is "worth" more.

Click the headline for more

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FEC concedes Christian Civic League ads are genuine

 On Friday, the FEC declared that advertisements run by the Christian Civic League that criticized Senators Snowe and Collins are protected as genuine issue ads in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in WRTL v. FEC.  This is an obvious and correct extension of the ruling in WRTL II. 

Until now, members of the "reform" community argued that the as applied exemption should apply only to ads that shared ALL the features present in WRTL’s ads, a position with which CCP disagreed.

According to Attorney Jim Bopp’s press release, the CCL ads differed from the WRTL ads in two additional elements.  "First, the ad states the position of the public official being lobbied on the issue involved. Second, it criticizes the legislator’s position on the issue by characterizing it as "unfortunate."  

Filed Under: Blog

Maine Elections Get “Dirty,” and the Feds Get Broke

Having the taxpayers pay for elections is the last, desperate gambit of the speech regulators.  Sure, McCain-Feingold has failed, just as the Federal Election Campaign Act failed before it.  But if we could just stick taxpayers with the election tab, then finally government would be free of "special interests."

Of course, it doesn’t seem to work out that way, and faith in taxpayer financing really is just that – faith.  This week brings two interesting stories of failure, including a neat little scheme from Maine that almost magically turns tax dollars into private dollars, from two very different types of taxpayer financing plans.  Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog