First Amendment group releases Issue Analysis on corruption and contribution limits

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released an Issue Analysis today showing that campaign contribution limits do not produce less corruption by public officials. CCP Research Director Laura Renz compared Department of Justice data on public corruption convictions to information on contribution limits in all 50 states.

The analysis found no correlation at all between contribution limits and the corruption of public officials, undermining a frequent claim by supporters of campaign finance restrictions that lower contribution limits will somehow inhibit corruption and create good government. States with low limits are found in both the "high corruption" and "low corruption" categories, and states with no or very high limits are also found in both the "high corruption" and "low corruption" categories. The three states with the lowest rates of corruption, Oregon, Nebraska, and Iowa, all have no or very high limits.

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Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

The Good and the Bad in the Maine Legislature (No Ugly, Yet)

Maine State Representative  Richard Cebra has introduced legislation that would repeal the Pine Tree State’s so-called "clean elections"  program. First enacted in time for the 2000 election cycle, the program has failed on nearly every count:

Kudos to Representative Cebra for his efforts to end this wasteful and failed system.

On the other hand, petition circulators in Maine had best beware if Representative Mark Bryant gets legislation through limiting who can ask citizens to sign petitions.

To read more, click on the headline above

Filed Under: Blog

More on Citizens United

Yesterday I noted that our friends at the Cato Institute had filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, joining CCP in weighing in on this important case in defense of the First Amendment 

The Institute for Justice has also filed a brief. From IJ’s web site discussing their brief:

Can the government force political documentary moviemakers to name the names of their underwriters, opening them up to harassment and intimidation?  Or should such practices be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and reviled by the nation?

Click the headline above to read more about IJ’s brief and Citizens United’s own brief

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

“Reformers” Pitch “Pay to Play,” Ignoring Lack of Campaign Finance Connection to Scandals

Nathan Koppel has an article in the Wall Street Journal today on so-called "pay to play" laws. A few key excerpts:

Should free speech be curbed in the name of good government? The debate, which has hovered over U.S. political campaigns for years, has taken on new fervor in the wake of recent political scandals.

Good-government advocates have stepped up their calls for states and the federal government to crack down on money in politics, particularly so-called pay-to-play practices in which businesses give favors or gifts to politicians in the hope of getting some benefit in return. State legislatures across the U.S. are considering laws curbing campaign contributions, efforts that civil-liberties proponents say could threaten free speech.

Click the headline above to read more about the growing threat of "pay to play" laws and why these laws don’t work

Filed Under: Blog

More Citizens United Filings

Earlier today the Center for Competitive Politics filed an amicus brief in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. We are pleased to see our friends at the Cato Institute have also filed a brief in this important case.

Ilya Shapiro of Cato writes on their blog about the importance of this case:

…Testing the bounds of the Court’s landmark decision in Wisconsin Right to Life II (WRTL II), the Federal Election Commission recently sought to apply certain prohibitions and disclosure requirements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 to advocacy group Citizens United’s political documentary, Hillary: The Movie, and to the group’s broadcast advertisements for the film.  Though the FEC conceded that the ads, at least, are not the functional equivalent of express campaign advocacy, as defined in WRTL II, it nevertheless determined that Citizens United must disclose the identities of its contributors. 

Cato’s brief argues that BCRA violates the First Amendment freedom of association belonging to those contributors, which freedom includes the right to associate anonymously and to control the group’s character and message free from government intervention.  For groups engaging in political speech, compelled disclosure of contributors’ identities infringes their freedom of private expressive association, a burden often no less severe than direct restraint of the group’s speech.  This type of government action must be subject to strict constitutional scrutiny-a level of scrutiny that in practice is almost always fatal.  The district court failed to afford sufficient value to associational rights and so failed to scrutinize appropriately BCRA’s unjustified infringement on those rights.

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

Amicus Brief: Citizens United v. FEC

Download Amicus Brief

Filed Under: Citizens United v. FEC, Completed Amicus Briefs, Legal, Legal Center, amicus brief, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Amicus Briefs, Citizens United v. FEC, Completed Cases (Amicus), Amicus Briefs, Completed Cases (Amicus)

First Amendment group files amicus brief in disclosure case

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed an amicus brief today in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a campaign finance case that will be argued before the Supreme Court later this spring. The Supreme Court will decide whether an independent group engaged in non-campaign communications must disclose their donors.

"The government has no anti-corruption or informational interest in the disclosure of non-campaign speech.  Issue discussion among citizens is protected through anonymity," said Stephen M. Hoersting, the Vice Chairman of CCP. "While there is a risk candidates may change positions once elected to reward large contributors, issues don’t change once enacted. Citizens learn nothing about the merits of a filibuster or a tax proposal by knowing if a neighbor donated money to run ads for or against it – and corrupt officials on the opposing side would learn too much."

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Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Press Releases and Blogs, Press Releases

CCP legal director testifies at FEC hearing

Reid Cox, the Legal Director for the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), testified at a FEC hearing today examining the agencies procedures on enforcement and other matters.

"The Federal Election Commission plays a unique role among agencies because it regulates conduct that is not only constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, but also that forms the essential foundation of a healthy democracy – namely, political speech and association," Cox said.

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Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Press Releases

New research from the John Locke Foundation

Fellow campaign freedom fighter Daren Bakst, the Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst for the John Locke Foundation, has released a report on the impact of Davis v. FEC on North Carolina’s misguided proposal for taxpayer-financed campaigns.

The release announcing the report and the full report provide more information.

Filed Under: Blog

More on the insane, troll-like logic of “reform”

It appears I’m not the only one who noticed that the recent undertaking of Lawrence Lessig and Joe Trippi to offer large sums of campaign cash to politicians who pledge to support "reform" is, to borrow from Aud’s old flame, based on logic that is "insane and happenstance, like that of a troll."

Ben Scheffner over at his blog Copyrights & Campaigns writes:

…what’s truly fascinating is the means by which Lessig is attempting to convince Congress to pass his favored legislation: getting supporters to threaten to withhold political contributions to lawmakers who refuse to sign on to the bill, in what he calls a "strike for change."

…So let me get this straight: Lessig doesn’t like the influence of money on politics. So his solution is to have his followers tell legislators: "Support my cause, and I’ll give you money. Don’t, and I’ll cut you off." Um, maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t his tactic increase the influence of money on politics? And smell an awful lot like out-and-out bribery? And what if his "strike" tactic works? Would Lessig feel comfortable with a Senator who said, "Of course I voted for Lessig’s campaign finance bill. It was either that, or my constituents would stop contributing."? Would he feel any differently if the Senator said, "Of course I voted for the MPAA’s copyright bill. It was either that, or the studio execs wouldn’t come to my LA fundraiser."?

One’s mind reels…. The world was so much simpler when campaign finance reformers wanted to ensure that lawmakers weren’t influenced by campaign contributions.

To which I’d add – what if the "strike" tactic doesn’t work? Any chance Lessig and Trippi will conclude that politicians actually do vote based on perceived constituent interests, party affiliation, and ideology, not campaign cash, which is what the research generally shows?

I won’t be holding my breath.

Filed Under: Blog