Using disclosure to punish political opposition in San Francisco

CCP is occasionally asked and often criticized regarding our position on disclosure of contributions in the political world. As we’ve made clear in the past, there may be some benefit to the disclosure of contributions made directly to political candidates and parties, as well as those made to entities that themselves contribute directly to candidates and parties.

As for disclosure in other areas, we generally regard the benefits as minimal and the costs as high. This morning I stumbled across a news story a few months old that demonstrate exactly why we’re not fans of disclosure outside of the candidate-related realm. From the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle, circa July 19 of this year:

Labor play: San Francisco labor leaders are asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put the squeeze on the main backer of a measure headed for the city’s November ballot that would change the public worker pension system.

The target: British-born billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz. He and his wife, Harriet Heyman, have contributed $245,000 to help qualify the initiative being put forth by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

…The labor play: a forthcoming resolution asking Pelosi to oppose any federal funding to companies owned by Moritz’s venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital. Labor leaders estimate that Sequoia-backed businesses have received no less than $250 million in federal contracts, mostly through the Energy Department.

Filed Under: Blog, California

J Street’s disclosure

J Street, a liberal public policy organization focused on Arab-Israeli issues, faces a firestorm of criticism after The Washington Times reported that George Soros contributed to the group.

The issue with J Street is somewhat unique, as the organization flat-out lied that Soros had donated to the group, but this controversy raises an interesting issue about disclosure to nonprofit groups that engage in political activity.

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

“Sally, calm down, we figured out a sure-fire way around the First Amendment”

Check out this new video from the Institute for Justice…

Filed Under: Blog

KeatingNow.wha?

Monday, the Solicitor General/Federal Election Commission filed its brief in petition for certiorari in what is commonly known as SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission.

According to the government, this case has morphed into Keating et al v. Federal Election Commission, placing our friend David (and his four fellow travelers) into a pantheon of named parties in FEC matters that includes Senator Mitch McConnell, Francis Valeo, and, of course, Sen. James Buckley—and also bringing together a very different Keating Five.

But, since the case was captioned below as SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, it seems a little strange (not to mention confusing) to insist that David Keating assume the mantle of named party and the immortality that comes with it as an individual—when the argument is about committee status. But, whatever. Maybe the Solicitor General is just feeling generous these days.

Filed Under: Blog

Baucus seeks probe of GOP groups

Filed Under: In the News

Ad buyin’ and drug dealin’

In recognition of David Simon, creator of HBO’s The Wire, who today was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant, I offer this parody summary of a long-lost episode of The Wire:

The first scene opens with D’Angelo in the project’s courtyard, watching business from the couch. In the background, two younger gang members argue about whether corporations should be treated like people.  One notes sagely that it is hard, if not impossible, to bust a corporation upside the head. They debate the proprieties of referring to fictitious persons as “n*gg@$.”

D’Angelo breaks up the heated argument as he sees unmarked patrolmen cruise pass the projects. He pages Avon, the gang leader, and sets off to a meeting with Avon and his lieutenants.

Avon announces that the mutha$fu#$ng D.A. needs to be taught a thing or two. D’Angelo fears he knows where this is leading. Avon confirms his worst suspicions.

“Yo, we takin’ it to the airwaves, bro. We need to bust up some independent expenditure sh#t on this b*tch’s @$$.”

Filed Under: Blog, Maryland, Oregon

AP News Flash: Citizens United equalizes playing field; independent groups add to competition

The Associated Press is out with the horrific news!

“Just five weeks from midterm elections, groups allied with the Republican Party and financed in part by corporations and millionaires have amassed a crushing 6-1 advantage in television spending, and now are dominating the airwaves in closely contested districts and states across the country.” 

Talk about a lack of perspective. Overall this cycle, the Democratic national party committees have vastly outspent their Republican counterparts, and Democratic congressional candidates are sitting on some $70 million more cash on hand than their Republican opponents. The Democrats have a significant overall spending advantage.

So this independent spending is merely serving as an equalizer. The Citizens United decision has done just what it was intended to do—increase competition, assist challengers, and allow more voices to be heard.

Filed Under: Blog

Political ads scramble for foe takedowns

 

 

Filed Under: In the News

“Reformers” stretch the definition of “shadowy”

After Citizens United and during the discussion over the DISCLOSE Act, we’ve heard a great deal from the self-styled campaign finance “reform” community about “shadowy” groups with “anonymous” funding sources, and the threat that they allegedly pose to the Republic.

Last Friday, the Washington Post reported on one of these “shadow” groups running ads in Oregon:

An anonymous group tries to ignite a sleepy congressional race

A group calling itself Concerned Taxpayers of America started running television spots – a substantial ad buy of $86,000 – contending that [12-term Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio] had been in league with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in wrecking the economy. It also touted DeFazio’s Republican opponent Art Robinson as “a new voice, a smarter choice, the independent leader we need.”

As attack ads go, that is pretty mild fare. But its origin puzzled both DeFazio and his little-known opponent…

… there seems to be no record of an organization called Concerned Taxpayers of America, outside a few filings at the Federal Election Commission. The filings list a Capitol Hill address and the name of a treasurer, Republican political consultant Jason Miller.

Miller declined to say who is funding the group. He described the backers only as “folks who are concerned about the direction this country’s economy is going and want to make their voices heard.”

But contrary to the spin, the group is hardly “shadowy.”

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

AFP’s Response to President Obama’s Attack


 

Filed Under: In the News