Eighth Circuit muffs it in Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life v. Swanson

The Eight Circuit today upheld a lower court decision denying a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Minnesota’s PAC requirements in Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life v. Swanson. This was an easy case, a routine ground ball to second base.  But the court threw it over the first baseman’s head and into the stands. Let’s hope an en banc panel straightens it out.

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

Anonymous speech has its day in court

On May 9, 2011, Judge Dale Kimball of U.S. District Court for the District of Utah handed down a decision that affirmed the right to anonymous political speech.  The case, Koch Industries v. John Does, was about a spoof website created by an anonymous group of individuals associated with the environmentalist organization “Youth for Climate Truth”.  

The website in question was a satirical look at Koch Industries’ political position on climate change.  The site, now unavailable on the Interwebs, purported to Koch Industries’ own homepage and contained a fake press release announcing that Koch would no longer do business with any entity that denied anthropogenic global warming.  

The media quickly zeroed in on the hoax, and no outlet reported that Koch had changed its well-known political position on environmental science.  

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

Wertheimer testimony on EO: intentionally misleading, or just ignorant?

Fred Wertheimer’s conclusory testimony to two House committees implying that the Constitutionality of President Obama’s proposed EO on government contracting has been blessed by the Supreme Court represents either ignorance or an intentional effort to mislead.

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

Yes, but it’s reasonable gagging

Fred Wertheimer wanted to testify in person at yesterday’s congressional hearing on the President’s proposed Executive Order.  The Committee decided that two pro-EO witnesses were enough, particularly as one was the sole witness on a “panel” and testified for over two hours.  Rick Hasen, who has made the remarkable claim that the federal law struck down in Citizens United did not “ban … any form of political speech,” and criticized the idea that prohibitng a corporation from speaking was a “ban” because the corporation had the alternative to set up a separate PAC, rather casually accuses Committee Chairman Issa of “gagging” Wertheimer.  Given his 13 pages of written testimony, we’re not sure Wertheimer has quite been “gagged,” but if so, at least it is “reasonable” gagging.  

Filed Under: Blog

Testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Small Business

Written testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith at a May 12, 2011 joint hearing of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the United States House Committee on Small Business, concerning a proposed Executive Order by the Obama Administration that would require bidders on government contracts to disclose their political spending.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure Federal, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, Disclosure, Executive order, Comments and Testimony

Another Wrinkle: Does anti-speech activism cannibalize shareholder value?

We lawyers can have odd taste in bedtime reading. For instance, I recently came across a law review article by Vice Chancellor Leo Strine, a judge of the Delaware Court of Chancery and widely-admired corporate law expert.

Vice Chancellor Strine’s argument is not directed specifically at questions of corporate political activity, but many of his arguments provide much-needed clarity to that ongoing debate. The article is (relatively) brief and deserves to be read in full.

The article responds to a “reform” proposal that would provide shareholders with greater opportunities to directly dictate corporate policy, by allowing direct votes to change corporate charters. Strine’s article opposes this reform from a “traditionalist” viewpoint.(As a sitting judge, Strine is somewhat constrained in airing, as such, his personal views).

Several points stick out:

Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages

Newsflash: Democrats don’t like Citizens United

In case anybody missed it, Democrats don’t like the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decision limiting the ability of the federal government to restrict political speech of corporations and unions. That’s what we can conclude from the latest release from Public Citizen. 

This latest “report” from Public Citizen indicates the depths of ridiculousness to which the so-called reform community will go to attack Citizens United

Filed Under: Blog

CCP President Sean Parnell: Draft EO Could Mean Nixon “On Steroids”

On Monday, Charles Kadlec at Forbes.com quoted CCP President Sean Parnell on the dangers of the Obama administration’s draft executive order, which would require companies to reveal their members’ political donations before receiving federal contracts.

In this morning’s Deseret News, Parnell’s warning was also cited:

“But in this case, transparency can easily morph into tyranny,” Kadlec writes. “Linking government contracts and political giving opens the door for the president to use the trillions of dollars in federal expenditures to punish his opponents and to reward those who contribute to his campaign and the campaigns of other Democratic candidates.”

“This information could easily be used to form a Nixonian enemies list on steroids,” Sean Parnell, President of the Center for Competitive Politics, tells Kadlec.

According to the Center for Competitive Politics, the executive order is an attempt to circumvent the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which stated the government could not prohibit companies, unions and advocacy groups from engaging in independent political speech.

Given today’s hearing on the draft EO; the whole thing is worth a read.

Filed Under: Blog

Comments of CCP Academic Advisor Joel Gora to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Small Business

Joel Gora, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brooklyn Law School and member of CCP’s Board of Academic Advisors, submitted comments to a May 12, 2011 joint hearing of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the United States House Committee on Small Business, concerning a proposed Executive Order by the Obama Administration that would require bidders on government contracts to disclose their political spending.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure Federal, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, Comments and Testimony

Opposition to contractors disclosure rule grows among Dems

Filed Under: In the News