The Real Truth About Obama, Inc v. FEC and DOJ

Jim Bopp filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of "The Real Truth About Obama, Inc" (RTAO) "against the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice to enjoin them from enforcing various FEC rules in order for it to engage in issue advocacy about Barack Obama’s position on abortion and other issues."

This morning, Bob Bauer weighed in.

CCP’s own Steve Hoersting has previously written a series of blog posts that examine some of the issues that the government may have to address in the RTAO lawsuit. Note: The posts explore some of the legal issues facing groups whose ads meet the "no reasonable interpretation test" of FEC v. WRTL (II), a predicate yet to be determined in the RTAO case.

Links to Steve’s posts are after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

NC campaign finance law uncobbled

Last year, CCP told the story of a campaign finance law that was crippling the ability of grassroots organizations in North Carolina to raise money.

We wrote: "For years the Henderson County Republican Party raised funds by selling apple cobblers at the community Apple Festival.  But thanks to a state campaign finance law passed in 2006 that requires every penny taken in by a political party to be attached to personal information the local party has ended its fundraising tradition.

The public isn’t interested in giving you that kind of information for $3 worth of apple cobbler,’ said Henderson County Republican Party Chairman Spence Campbell.  ‘I don’t think they (lawmakers were thinking about grassroots operations who depend on that kind of fundraising to pay their bills’."

CCP is happy to now report that "North Carolina legislators modified campaign finance laws, allowing local GOP members to sell apple cobbler as a fundraiser at the Apple Festival without being required to solicit each buyer’s name.

The party planned to sell the cobbler even before the law changed, Henderson County Republican Party Chairman Robert Danos said, but he was pleased because ‘the party volunteers and the party treasurer would have been dealing with mounds of paperwork.’"

Filed Under: Blog

Using disclosure to “vet” DOJ Hirings

CCP has often highlighted some problems with compelled disclosure – from the plight of Gigi Brienzi, to lessons from the reform movement’s founding father, Ben Tillman, and the importance of NAACP v. Alabama –  on our website.

The recent reports on the hiring practices at the Department of Justice add yet another reason to be wary of disclosure.  The Washington Post reports that as part of a larger strategy to hire conservatives for career civil service positions at the DOJ, agency officials examined the financial contributions of potential hires in an effort to better gauge their political leanings.

So, to recap – disclosure has long been used to intimidate political opponents and detract from legitimate political messaging.

Now you can add another use for disclosure: to exacerbate unscrupulous hiring practices.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP: California public financing bill poses serious First Amendment concerns

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) highlighted serious First Amendment concerns in Assembly Bill 583, which would establish a plan for the public financing of campaigns for the 2015 Secretary of State campaign, in a letter the educational group sent today to state senators.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill August 4, 2008.

If enacted, the bill would undermine "the First Amendment guarantees of unhindered and robust political speech," writes CCP president Sean Parnell.  "The program essentially puts the government in the business of deciding when California voters have ‘heard enough,’ a notion entirely at odds with the First Amendment."

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

FEC offers no relief from redundant disclaimer requirements that drive up cost of citizen speech

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) rejected today a request to exempt brief television advertisements from spoken portions of the "stand by your ad" disclaimer requirements mandated by federal election law.

The Club for Growth had asked whether or not it could be exempt from the full-spoken disclaimer for 10 and 15 second television advertisements it planned to air during the 2008 election cycle.  The advertisements would include two written "stand by your ad" disclaimers.

The Club argued that the spoken disclaimers take up approximately 24 percent of the available time in a 15 second advertisement and 31 percent in a 10 second advertisement.

"The redundant ‘stand by your ad’ requirements needlessly reduce the amount of time that citizen groups can spend communicating with their fellow citizens," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "Instead of substantive political messages like ‘no taxation without representation’ citizens are left to hear that the organization paying for the ad, in fact, approves of it."

Federal code allows the FEC to make exceptions to the disclaimer requirements if, "the inclusion of a disclaimer would be impracticable."

"There should be little doubt that forcing groups to spend one-third of their advertising budget on government disclaimers is impracticable," Parnell reasoned.  "The disclaimer requirement simply raises the cost of advertising."

Filed Under: Blog

Duke v. Leake cert petition

The James Madison Center filed a cert petition with the Supreme Court in the case Duke v. Leake, challenging North Carolina’s system of publicly financed elections.

Filed Under: Blog

Documents of interest

CCP has tracked down two documents that may be of interest to readers of this blog.

The first is a bill passed by the North Carolina legislature in response to the Leake decision.

The second is an opinion by New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services finding that "rescue funds" in the state’s taxpayer-financed campaign system are unconstitutional in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Davis v. FEC.

Filed Under: Blog

New Jersey Opinion that Rescue Funds are Unconstitutional

An opinion by the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services finding that taxpayer-financed campaign’s “rescue funds” are unconstitutional.

Filed Under: Legal, Legal Center, Completed Cases (Litigation), Completed Cases (Opinions), Litigation, Opinions, New Jersey

The fix is in

In May, New Hampshire established the "Public Funding of Elections Commission" to "study the feasibility of public funding of state election campaigns."

Typically, one might assume that such a commission might be comprised of both proponents and skeptics of taxpayer-financed political campaigns. Unfortunately, we still can’t say that we were surpised when we found out that all seven members of the commission are advocates of government-financed elections.

Any guesses as to what the commission will conclude?

Filed Under: Blog

Political Raffle Follow-up

After posting yesterday about the perils of using raffles as campaign fundraisers in Florida, I was contacted by Jessica Robinson – associate general counsel at AFSCME (and perhaps the nation’s foremost expert on raffle laws) – who offered more insight into the legalities of raffles.

Jessica’s insights can be found after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog