In the News
By Luke Wachob
By starting with McCain and ending with President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the Times is able to present the withdrawal from Paris as a shift in Republican and U.S. policy. This serves as corroborating evidence for the theory that self-motivated donors, empowered by Citizens United, manipulated the GOP into opposing progressive climate policies.
Whether you support or oppose taking action on carbon emissions, a fair observer can see the Times story got the history wrong. Among Republicans, McCain’s presidential campaign was the outlier and opposition to climate deals has been and remains the norm.
In fact, Congress has rejected international efforts to police climate issues for at least two decades. In 1997, the U.S. Senate expressed its disapproval of the Kyoto Protocol in a resolution that passed 95-0. Recognizing a lost cause, President Bill Clinton did not even submit Kyoto to the Senate for ratification.
The George W. Bush administration was no different. “The president has been unequivocal. He does not support the Kyoto treaty,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in 2001. So much for the notion that withdrawing from Paris was only made possible by “an all-fronts campaign” in the wake of Citizens United, as the Times suggested.
Santa Fe New Mexican: Secretary of state proposes new rule on campaign contributions
By Steve Terrell
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday released a proposed rule that clarifies campaign finance reporting requirements and calls for disclosure of large contributions to “independent expenditure” groups that aren’t formally connected to candidates or campaigns but buy political advertising.
Parts of the proposed 13-page rule are similar to a bill that passed the Legislature with bipartisan support this year but was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez…
The parts of SB 96 that show up in the proposed rule are portions “that we have the authority to enact via rule,” Blair said. “One example of this is the provisions related to coordinated expenditures and independent expenditures.”
However, some provisions of SB 96 – such as an increase in contribution limits – would require legislative approval to enact, Blair said.
While pro-government transparency groups like Common Cause New Mexico lobbied in favor of SB 96, conservative groups such as the Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics, which has opposed campaign finance restrictions across the country, lobbied against it.
By Joe Albanese
The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that it is unconstitutional to limit political expenditures by candidates as well as individuals and groups who do not coordinate with candidates. Even if candidates accepted government subsidies to run their campaigns, it would likely not stop individuals outside the state from spending on ads or contributing to such candidates. Candidates are not likely to decline out-of-state contributions and would be unwise to discourage independent speech. At best, taxpayer financing systems would allow candidates to offset such spending to a degree.
But even attempting to diminish the influence of out-of-state spending through tax-financing mechanisms would be incredibly infeasible. For starters, the Supreme Court has struck down public financing systems that provide “matching” funds to participating candidates when their opponents raise more money than them through private fundraising. This means such systems must offer sufficient funds to everyone more or less equitably.
National Review: In Congress, a Move to Affirm Free Speech on Campus
By Sapna Rampersaud
In our age of hyper-political correctness, America’s colleges and universities are increasingly committing themselves to illiberal policies that clash directly with the freedoms of speech and expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. Representative Phil Roe (R., Tenn.) of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hopes to do something about this. Roe recently introduced a resolution expressing the House’s sentiment against such policies and in favor of “protecting freedom of speech, thought, and expression at institutions of higher education.”
Roe’s resolution draws on several recent incidents that have illustrated the harms caused by public universities’ choosing to impinge on the Constitution…
As the resolution notes, these cases not only are distasteful but in some instances feature illegal conduct. Roe cites Supreme Court precedent, along with briefs from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and contends that Congress has a role to play in ensuring that the First Amendment is respected by “public college and university campuses,” that institutions of higher education remain “marketplaces of ideas,” and that speech zones and prohibitive codes are seen for what they are: government censorship.
By Associated Press
GuideStar, a self-described “neutral” repository for data on more than 2 million charities, recently flagged 46 nonprofits for being labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A banner atop each nonprofit’s GuideStar profile includes the law center’s logo and a link to its home page.
GuideStar’s president and CEO, Jacob Harold, said the new feature reflects a “broader shift in how we imagine our role in the (nonprofit) field.” Adding new data sources is part of that shift, but Harold also framed the warning labels as a response to the recent rise in “hateful rhetoric” in the U.S.
“It’s unique in that it’s highly politicized in a highly politicized moment in history,” he said.
Several leaders of flagged groups said they will contact GuideStar and demand the removal of the banners from their profiles. Some of the groups have accused the Alabama-based law center of using its hate group label to smear organizations that don’t share its ideology by lumping them in with overtly hateful groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan.
By Greg Herbers
Business entities have endured increasingly strident criticism of their free speech rights in recent years. Thankfully, the US Supreme Court and most lower federal courts have declined to embrace critics’ ideologically-driven perspective that the First Amendment does not protect corporate speech. Such judicial respect for a business’s speech rights was recently on display in an unusual setting: a contract dispute between Sirius XM Radio and an advertiser. The court decision arising from that dispute, InfoStream Group v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., both demonstrates how the First Amendment can provide an effective defense and underscores the principle that not all speech by commercial enterprises is “commercial speech.”…
All businesses, just like all people, have the First Amendment right to associate themselves with whomever they chose, to speak when they want to, and, just as importantly, to refrain from speaking. These cherished protections are especially important for private enterprises whose livelihood can rise or fall based on their associations with others. Thankfully the judiciary has checked the more oppressive instincts of certain plaintiffs to infringe corporations’ free-speech rights.
Huffington Post: Limits On Press Access In Congress Spark Uproar
By Michael Calderone
NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt tweeted that “reporters at Capitol have been told they are not allow [sic] to film interviews with senators in hallways.” And Bloomberg News’ Kevin Cirilli tweeted that he was told he couldn’t “stand outside of the Budget Committee hearing room to interview lawmakers.”…
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which was reported to be behind the directive, said that his committee “made no changes to the existing rules governing press coverage on the Senate side of the Capitol complex.”…
Shelby later told reporters that his staff had been talking to representatives from the congressional press galleries and Senate Sergeant at Arms Office about how they could interpret the current rules in response to complaints about overcrowding. He suggested there was a miscommunication around those discussions that led to new restrictions being relayed to reporters…
“I think it’s just a huge mistake and I was not consulted,” Sen. Amy Klobucher (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, said Tuesday…
Restricting access in the Capitol, Klobuchar said, is “just another assault on the First Amendment.”
Albuquerque Journal: Secretary of state planning new campaign funding rules
By Dan Boyd
“If the rules were adopted as they are currently drafted, I would expect to see immediate legal challenges by a number of interested parties based on First Amendment concerns,” former state Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said.
Critics of the legislation vetoed this year by the governor argued it would have curtailed free speech rights and silenced potential donors who could be targeted for supporting controversial political causes…
Under Toulouse Oliver’s proposed rules, any independent expenditures – or political spending not coordinated with a candidate or campaign – would have to be reported, along with the name of the person making the expenditure, if such spending topped $1,000 in an election cycle…
Independent groups that spend on elections – but for whom electioneering isn’t a primary purpose – don’t currently have to disclose where they’re getting their money and what they’re using it for. Such groups can include nonprofits, unions and business associations, all of which could be covered under the proposed rules.
Spokesman-Review: Mainstream ethics laws overdue in Idaho
By Editorial Board
Last year, backers of a campaign finance and ethics initiative fell just short of the number of valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. The sweeping measure would’ve banned lobbyist gifts of more than $50 annually, reduced contribution limits to candidates and political committees, required campaign finance reports to be reported electronically and posted online immediately, placed a one-year lobbying ban on public officials moving into the private sector and prohibited campaign donations from businesses holding state contracts worth $250,000 or more in the past two years…
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, say they will name 10 lawmakers to a study group by Friday. This isn’t the first time.
In 2012, a group was formed for the same purpose. As we said in an editorial back then: “Rather than reinvent the wheel on ethics, the working group could just turn to the Center for Public Integrity for the best practices in other states. For instance, Washington finished first in public disclosure, according to the center’s 2009 state rankings. The system is pretty slick. Information on a legislator’s sources of income is just a few clicks away.”