Daily Media Links 7/31: Objecting to the Declaration of Independence?, When Congress members should recuse themselves, and more…

In the News
 
National Review: Objecting to the Declaration of Independence? 
By  Bradley A. Smith
But I wonder if Toobin objects to the Declaration of Independence. You know, the part where the Founders pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to the project. Fortunes? Not only did they pledge them, they meant it. Just a few months after signing the declaration, and with the Continental Army hunkered down at Valley Forge, Robert Morris gave the federal government $10,000 — certainly the equivalent of over $5 million today — to pay its bills. He also personally financed much of the fledging U.S. Navy and merchant fleet. Carter Braxton, another signer, gave the fledging government 10,000 pounds sterling for its operations, as well as financing shipping and privateers at a considerable loss. Lewis Morris lost his entire fortune supporting the revolution. George Clymer, Thomas Nelson, and numerous other signers made major financial contributions and suffered major losses.
I wonder if Toobin is critical of our laws that have allowed Jon Stryker to fund gay advocacy, George Soros to fund campaign-finance “reform” efforts, or any number of the causes, conservative or liberal, to which persons have devoted their fortunes.
 
Thom Hartmann: When Congress members should recuse themselves  
Thom Hartmann talks with Bradley A. Smith, Chairman & Co-Founder, Center for Competitive Politics / Former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission 
 
Independent Groups
 
The Hill: Tax-exempt groups were IRS targets 
By Peter Schroeder
He said the Virginia-based Leadership Institute was audited in 2011 and 2012 for activities it engaged in during the 2008 election year, even though it had functioned as a tax-exempt organization since 1979.
It faced “invasive questions” — including about its interns and where they went on to work — and ended up turning over to the IRS more than 23,000 pages of documents at a cost of roughly $50,000 to comply with the inquiry, Issa said.
 
AP: GOP: IRS targeted conservatives more than liberals 
By Stephen Ohlemacher
Conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were more closely scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service than their progressive counterparts, according to a report Tuesday by House Republican investigators.
Tea party and other conservative groups were, on average, asked three times as many questions as progressive groups, said the report by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. Conservative groups were less likely to be approved for tax-exempt status and more likely to have their applications delayed, the report said.
 
SCOTUS/Judiciary
 
Reuters: The framers on campaign finance law — via Tumblr 
By Elizabeth Wydra
The Supreme Court, on the second day of its new term in October, is due to hearMcCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that challenges the overall limit — $123,000 — that one person can give over a two-year election cycle. The challengers’ argument is that, as long as the $2,600 cap on donations to a single candidate’s campaign is in place, there is no constitutional rationale for limiting the total amount: each candidate will still receive only $2,600, so there is no greater risk of corruption simply because one donor can now contribute to many more candidates.
Removing the aggregate donations ceiling would allow a single donor to give the maximum amount to more candidates — as well as to political parties. The Republican National Committee, along with Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and conservative activist, brought the lawsuit.
 
New Yorker: ANOTHER CITIZENS UNITED—BUT WORSE 
By Jeffrey Toobin
To see why McCutcheon may win, one must examine the strange reasoning that governs the Supreme Court’s decisions on campaign finance. In his brief to the Justices, McCutcheon makes an argument that is breathtaking for its candor. He says that when Congress first upheld limits on contributions, in the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, the limits on aggregate giving served a useful purpose. Without the ceiling, the Court explained, a person could legally “contribute massive amounts of money to a particular candidate through the use of unearmarked contributions to political committees likely to contribute to that candidate, or [make] huge contributions to the candidate’s political party.”
But that, McCutcheon points out, was before the days of Citizens United. Now, he implies, Citizens United has undermined so many of the old rules that they are kind of irrelevant at this point. Indeed, the lower-court judge who considered the McCutcheon case upheld the existing rules but raised the “possibility that Citizens United undermined the entire contribution limits scheme.”
 

FEC

 
Washington Post: GOP lawmaker chides FEC for two-year delay in creating enforcement manual 
By Josh Hicks
The House Administration committee’s top Republican last week scolded the Federal Election Commission for failing to approve an enforcement manual two years after lawmakers asked the panel to complete the task.
“When a federal agency keeps its enforcement policies and procedures secret or makes them difficult to understand, it increases the opportunity for abuse by its employees — abuse that has very real consequences for the Americans subject to its power,” Committee Chairman Candice Miller (Mich.) said in a statement on Friday.