by Amy BinghamAfter an oil lobbying group ran radio ads on his behalf, Brown was required to donate half the dollar amount spent on the ads to the charity of Warren’s choice under the stipulations of a pledge the two signed banning funding or advertisements from outside groups in their Senate race.
by Adam Sorensen“I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” President Obama said Monday of the High Court’s consideration of his signature health care legislation. Congressional margins and Presidential opinion–even from a Harvard-trained law professor–do not a case for constitutionality make. But Obama’s remarks signal that it’s an issue for which he may be ready to go to war.
by Sam FavateAs the country bends into a combative election season, some political donors may lose their anonymity.
by Dan FroomkinWhat do modern-day billionaires attempting to secretly buy federal elections have in common with blacks in the 1950s who needed to keep membership in civil rights groups private or risk getting firebombed?
by Paul BlumenthalProgressive activists angered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allowing corporations to spend freely in elections often point the finger of blame at the legal doctrine that corporations have certain protections as legal persons. Ironically, that same concept of corporate personhood was just applied by a district court judge in reversing an FEC rule that had permitted the non-disclosure of donors to groups spending money on certain political ads. Many such secret donors are believed to be corporations.
by David DayenObviously the case below hasn’t reached the terminus of the judicial gauntlet yet, and given the Citizens United ruling it’s a candidate for being overturned. But the Supreme Court will now be given the opportunity to be as good as their word. In that ruling, they said that any issues with their ruling could be solved merely with proper disclosure. They didn’t mandate disclosure, of course, and Congress could never get it together to pass the DISCLOSE Act. But now, a ruling in a Federal Election Commission case would force some level of disclosure in campaign ads:
by Rick CohenAlthough the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), known colloquially as McCain-Feingold, attempted to increase transparency and disclosure in electoral spending, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) undid some of BCRA in 2007 by ruling that nonprofit confidentiality rules took precedence over campaign finance disclosure rules. Then came the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which let all heck loose with secret nonprofit campaign spending via 501(c)(4) organizations, both on their own and in through their payments to PACs. None of that stopped the intrepid Democracy 21, led by Fred Wertheimer, which brought a case to federal court in which it argued that the FEC overstepped its bounds. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled just last week that the FEC was in fact too rambunctious when it flexed its muscle to overrule BCRA.
by Mark HannahDaniel Victor, a social media editor at ProPublica, decided that “if TV stations won’t post their data on political ads, we will.” Victor and his team have employed a crowdsourcing model and are asking citizens (including local reporters) from across the country to volunteer to gather this data from their local TV stations so that ProPublica can aggregate it and share it in precisely the way Justice Kennedy had envisioned. They’re encouraging participation using a Google Docs sign-up form (here), a platform that hints at how simple it would be for local TV stations to publish this data. And they’re using the New York Times Campaign Finance API to help visualize this information in a way that makes it easily digestible.
Candidates and parties
by Neil King Jr. and Brody MullinsIn a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as both the candidate and the GOP brace for an expensive general-election fight against President Barack Obama.
by Gary Nordlinger and Ron FaucheuxDespite super PACs, Facebook and 24-hour news, one thing the 2012 Republican presidential nominating process shows is that most of the old campaign rules still apply. Here are six rules that emerged with the dawn of the television age. Each remains relevant today:
by John HinderakerThe Obama re-election campaign fundraising scandal deserves to be, and I think inevitably will be, a major news story. Earlier this morning I decided to find out how far an illegal donor could push the envelope and still have his contribution welcomed by the Obama campaign. So, like a number of our readers, I went to the Donate to Obama page and identified myself as Illegal Contributor. I entered my address as Cell Block 13, State Penitentiary, Stillwater MN. I identified my employer as Minnesota Penal System and my occupation as Inmate. Here is a screen shot showing the donation from Illegal Contributor:
Lobbying and ethics
by Laura Litvan and Andrew Zajac“Just saying no to everything is not a contribution to the debate,” Josten said.
by Sara BurnettColorado Democrats unleashed some of their strongest criticism yet of Secretary of State Scott Gessler Wednesday, saying he should be removed from office after he opposed an election-related bill that was later killed by fellow Republicans. Read more: Colorado Democrats want Secretary of State Scott Gessler removed from office.
by Matt StoutGov. Deval Patrick this morning called yesterday’s fraud and ethics indictments against former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill “obviously very troubling allegations,” but he sidestepped several questions including whether a conviction could create a gray area for politicians campaigning in the future.