In the News
By Eric OwensBut embrace this irony: the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting free speech, has filed a complaint against Lessig’s Mayday PAC claiming that the organization dedicated to stricter campaign finance laws blatantly broke already-existing federal election law.According to the complaint, Mayday PAC — the self-proclaimed “SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — made considerable ad buys in New Hampshire.The complaint identifies at least a dozen Mayday PAC radio ads, television ads and mail solicitations supporting candidates for Congress.“Many of these communications clearly and consistently failed to satisfy disclaimer requirements mandated by the Federal Election Campaign Act, as amended, and Federal Election Commission regulations,” explained David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.
By Paul JosseyOf course, another possibility also exists. Lessig may now be a reluctant apostate to the transparency cause—channeling less Leona Helmsley than Barak Obama. On numerous issues—e.g. Guantanamo,
recess appointments, debt ceiling—candidate Obama found fault with his predecessor. But once in office and faced with the realities of governing, President Obama continued policies he had once pilloried. Lessig, in his role this cycle as political operative, was privy to a different world than his previous forays as academic theorist and Senate Committee pontificator.One lesson Lessig admitted learning when he finally returned to public view after his midterm shellacking was ‘transparency has its costs.’ He complained one incumbent Mayday PAC tried to unseat pressured some of its donors.Untoward political pressure on donors is apparently a new experience for Lessig’s patrons. But anyone following Harry Reid’s six-month tirade against wealthy conservative donors, or the pre-FEC exploits of disclosure doyenne Ann Ravelknows how operatives exploit disclosure laws. Last spring, for example, technology executive Brendan Eich was bullied out of his job after activists garishly bandied a six-year old donation he had made to an unpopular cause.
By Chris MoodWashington (CNN) — A Democratic group says it will file a formal complaint with federal regulators against three Republican organizations after a CNN investigation revealed that they shared internal polling data before the midterm elections by posting the information on anonymous Twitter accounts.The liberal advocacy group American Democracy Legal Fund alleged in a complaint meant to be filed Monday to the Federal Election Commission that the National Republican Congressional Committee, the American Action Network and American Crossroads broke federal rules that prohibit coordination between campaign committees and outside groups.“The NRCC and outside groups appear to have engaged in illegal coordination through sharing internal polling data,” according to the complaint, which was provided to CNN by American Democracy Legal Fund. “By hiding their communications on a public website, Respondents intentionally tried to create a loophole in the coordination rules. Such an intentional effort to knowingly flout campaign finance laws cannot be condoned.”
By Kevin BogardusLarry O’Brien had a formal response drawn up for when the fundraisers came calling.First, it was a fax, then it was an email, but it always said the same thing: No. See, O’Brien is a major donor that plays in the higher echelons of Democratic politics — major enough to donate tens of thousands of dollars to candidates each campaign season. Major enough that he couldn’t give one cent more under the law.“We used to have a standard fax, which we turned into an email, that would go out in response to solicitations that said something like Mr. O’Brien has hit his maximum or something like that,” says O’Brien, founder of the OB-C Group, a high-profile lobby firm. “The cap did have a real world consequence. Once you hit it, you hit it.”
The original court challenge also was joined by the Libertarian Party’s National Congressional Committee, the Libertarian Party of Indiana, and Libertarian contributor Chris Rufer. These plaintiffs have not dropped out of the case, so the constitutional challenge apparently will continue and be argued before the full D.C. Circuit next February.
By Nathan BrownBOISE • Former U.S Sen. Larry Craig is appealing a D.C. judge’s ruling that he broke the law by using campaign funds to cover legal fees after his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.On Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Craig, R-Idaho, to pay $242,535 to the U.S. Treasury Department — $197,535 representing campaign funds spent illegally, plus a $45,000 penalty. The Federal Election Commission sued Craig in 2012, saying he used campaign money for a personal matter in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Jackson agreed that the expenses were personal and not related to Craig’s official duties.Craig filed a notice on Monday of his intent to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C.
By Jeremy B. WhiteThose results have prompted talk of a new generation of business-friendly Democrats assuming office. Some groups that spent lavishly on behalf of those Democrats are touting their success.Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, for example, spent $1.1 million on the effort, and the group’s leader predicted that “economic Democrat” lawmakers will have considerable clout in the coming session.Fifteen years ago, “there were six (such Democrats) in the Assembly,” said David Townsend, who oversees Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy. “When they get sworn in for the next session, exactly one-half of the Democratic caucus will be mods.”
By Kristen MeriwetherNEW YORK—We are a few years from the local elections of 2017, but changes to the campaign fundraising process are well underway.By year’s end the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is expected to pass new rules that will govern how campaigns accept contributions via text message. The rules stem from Local Law 11 of 2013 which allows candidates running for local offices to accept contributions through what is typically a cell-phone-based format. If a text-message donor is a New York City resident, the given funds will be eligible for public matching dollars from the CFB.“Text message contributions provide candidates with the potential to engage a wider set of contributors and the Board with an opportunity to expand the reach of New York City’s landmark small donor matching funds program,” CFB Chair Rose Gill Hearn said on Monday at a public hearing on the proposed rules. “There are, however, practical challenges to text message fundraising.”