Daily Media Links 6/27: IRS on Wrong Track on Reforms to Prevent Repeat of Targeting Scandal, New Study Debunks Myth of “Corporate Takeover” of American Elections, and more…

CCP
 
IRS on Wrong Track on Reforms to Prevent Repeat of Targeting Scandal
By Joe Trotter
The letter says “This is the rule that ought to have been adopted by the IRS following Buckley 37 years ago. Yet even after the exposure of recent abuses caused by the lack of bright line rules, instead of scrapping the vague, unconstitutional rules immediately, the IRS and Treasury have merely ‘agreed to include these items in the next Priority Guidance Plan.’
“This problem won’t be solved until the IRS and Treasury write rules that follow the Buckley decision.  These rules are not difficult to write.  The IRS and Treasury should do so immediately.”
Werfel’s report offers a “Path 2” for approving currently backlogged cases, which the IRS characterizes as a streamlined process that purports to identify political activities that would be considered by the IRS to constitute political campaign intervention.  However, this path includes the nebulous and, most likely unconstitutional, “facts and circumstances” test, as well as a warning that “other activities may constitute direct or indirect participation or intervention in a political campaign.
“These groups have already had to certify under penalty of perjury in their application for 501(c)(4) status that their activities are primarily not for political campaign intervention,” wrote Keating.  “It is unfair that they should be subjected to a new, and in some respects even more burdensome, set of requirements,” even if they are optional. 
 
New Study Debunks Myth of “Corporate Takeover” of American Elections 
By Tom Swanson
The “corporate takeover” narrative is a myth, and its perpetuation is damaging to fruitful discourse on this important subject. Corporate involvement has not overwhelmed the voices of voters, nor has it poisoned our democratic process. Political involvement by businesses and labor unions contributes to an open and well-rounded national debate, where more viewpoints are better represented. This is reason to expand free speech, not restrict it.  
 
SCOTUS/Judiciary
 
Huffington Post: Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Will Tighten Ethics And Campaign Finance Laws 
By Paul Blumenthal
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act will alter a host of ethics and campaign finance laws that apply to elected and appointed officials as well as campaign donors.  
Ethics laws requiring disclosure of spousal income, banning gifts to spouses from certain sources and banning nepotism will now apply to elected, executive and federal agency officials in same-sex marriages and unions. Also, married same-sex couples will now be able to give joint contributions from a single bank account to political campaigns.  
 
AP: Court rules against Wyoming group in FEC lawsuit 
The three Wyoming residents who formed the group had contended that FEC rules on grassroots political groups are vague and overly broad. The group had protested the FEC’s determination that the group had to register as a political action committee.  
 
State and Local
 
Misouri –– Missouri Times: The questionable future of campaign finance reform
By Collin Reischman
“Frankly, candidates for office like being able to take massive campaign contributions, and a lot of politicians in Jefferson City like free dinners, free concert tickets and free baseball games,” Kander told The Missouri Times. “There is no interest group out there called ‘Big Ethics’ that will reward politicians for doing what’s right on this issue.”  
 
New Jersey –– North Jersey: Citing Birdsall case, Christie calls for campaign-finance overhaul
By Melissa Hayes
Governor Christie said Tuesday that an engineering firm’s admission this month that it illegally concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions is a sign that the state needs to overhaul its campaign finance laws.  
Christie said he has tried to talk to Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, about updating the state’s campaign finance laws, including a requirement that only contributions over $300 be reported.  
 
New York –– AP: Campaign donations ban kept out of NY casino law
By Michael Gormley
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As New York moves to expand gambling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have quietly deleted a proposed ban on accepting campaign contributions from casino operators.  
 
Virginia –– Washington Post: Donor bought Rolex watch for Virginia Gov. McDonnell, people familiar with gift say 
By Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman
The $6,500 luxury watch was provided by wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the people said. He is the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific and the person who paid for catering at the wedding of the governor’s daughter. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of an ongoing federal investigation into the relationship between Williams and the McDonnell family.
Williams’s gift came in August 2011 — about two weeks after he met with a top state health official to pitch the benefits of his company’s health products at a meeting arranged by first lady Maureen McDonnell, according to people who know of the meeting.