Why the frown at the FEC?

First, to explain the title. “Why the Frown” is what my 11-year-old daughter insisted was the phrase abbreviated as “WTF.” But it seems appropriate to use it in a post about the post-Citizens United FEC rulemaking brouhaha, because there are frowns to go around.

Filed Under: Blog

Comments of CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward on Maryland Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Campaign Finance Report

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) submitted comments in response to the Maryland Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Campaign Finance report that included several recommendations for campaign finance reform. Among other recommendations, CCP took issue with the committee’s suggestion of increased disclosure requirements, which are likely to be uninformative in addition to burdensome and unnecessary.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Comments and Testimony, Maryland

So, you want to pass campaign finance reform

CCP’s Allison Hayward imagines a conversation between former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama about how to use campaign finance legislation to bolster re-election chances:

Filed Under: Blog

Comments of CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward on Maryland Campaign Finance Reform Proposals

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) submitted comments to a Maryland panel considering changes to the state’s campaign finance law. CCP’s policy recommendations include raising contribution limits to permit effective political speech within the structure of campaigns. CCP also commented on proposals to regulate political speech disseminated through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as proposals to invent new disclosure requirements supposedly justified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Comments and Testimony, Maryland

Sullivan on Citizens United

Academics and lawyers continue to parse Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which as topic de jour for the scholarly crowd may earn a title as this decade’s Bush v. Gore.

Kathleen Sullivan, former Stanford Law Dean, uber-litigator, and one of the smarter campaign finance scholars around, attempts in her recent Harvard Law Review piece to locate both the majority and dissent views in established strains of First Amendment scholarship:

Citizens United has been unjustly maligned as radically departing from settled free speech tradition. In fact, the clashing opinions in the case simply illustrate that free speech tradition has different strands.

Sullivan then presents an argument for regulations that she believes should satisfy both sides.

But, well, I’m not convinced.

Filed Under: Blog

What Changes Do Recent Supreme Court Decisions Require for Federal Campaign Finance Statutes and Regulations?

In this article, Allison Hayward notes that the tide may be changing in the world of campaign finance. She discusses the various ways in which new Supreme Court and appellate court decisions will require a fundamental change in the current structure of the campaign finance regime. According to Hayward, the Supreme Court seems poised to offer protection for political speech. Accordingly, she suggests that Congress embrace the opportunity to revise current campaign finance restrictions. Ultimately, the article makes it clear that the Supreme Court and appellate decisions have the capacity to significantly alter current statutes concerning campaign finance.

Filed Under: Research (Contribution Limits), Allison Hayward, appellate, hayward, Supreme Court, Enforcement, Enforcement

Underwhelmed by shareholder regulation proposals

As the DISCLOSE Act siren song wails its last, let us not forget the other “reform” proposal made in the wake of Citizens United: shareholder democracy!

No less than the Harvard Law Review has released articles written about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporations, political speech and other related stuff. Eager to broaden my horizons, I took a look at the article by Lucian A. Bebchuck and Robert J. Jackson, Jr. Bebchuk is kind of a big deal corporate law professor at Harvard. Jackson is at Columbia, a graduate of Harvard Law, and apparently no relation to Robert H. Jackson. Overall, the authors argue that the law should impose special rules governing who gets to decide whether, and what, the corporation should say about politics. They prefer special rules to the default rule, which is that, as with ordinary business decisions, the directors and executives have authority to make political spending decisions.

I am underwhelmed. Not by the overall point, but by the lack of interest the authors demonstrate for the overlooked complexities that corporate governance brings to the issue of how corporations can or should speak in politics.

Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

Sunlight Foundation? Or Growlight Foundation?

In an analysis that is difficult to explain in the absence of cannabis metabolites, the Sunlight Foundation insists that forty percent of the $450 million spent by outside groups is attributable to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

How so? Well, because $126 million was spent by groups “that didn’t have to disclose.” And another $60 million was spent by groups that could now raise unlimited money—and disclose: the so-called Super PACs (or what we would prefer to call the SpeechNow groups), since their creation followed the success of a client of CCP and the Institute for Justice in an appellate court decision after Citizens United.

Take a deep, not smoke-filled breath. Citizens United changed nothing regarding disclosure. At all. Nada.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Did FEC get too much info. on ‘I Want Your Money?’

How else to explain the inexplicable trouble the Federal Election Commission is having with a relatively straightforward request?

Counsel for the producers of the movie “I Want Your Money” (RG Entertainment) and Star Parker, a commentator (and present candidate for Congress) wrote the FEC requesting confirmation that federal campaign law would not restrict the production and distribution of this movie. The movie is a documentary critical of economic policy and includes Parker as well as snippets of a variety of public figures, some of whom happen also to be candidates. Not everyone is treated with a gauzy rose-colored filter, and in fact I understand the movie is pretty critical of the approach taken by the present administration.

Filed Under: Blog

Big Skies Ahead for Free Speech

The Montana First Judicial District Court for Lewis and Clark County ruled yesterday that the Montana ban on corporate expenditures was unconstitutional, citing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as authority.  As noted before, whatever arguments might be available to justify restriction on certain enterprises, a comprehensive ban on spending by all corporations is a different animal.

Filed Under: Blog, Montana