Hasen on Gorsuch on Citizens United

Rick Hasen thinks that Judge Gorsuch “misstates” the holding of Citizens United v. FEC in his Senate testimony, when he states: I think there is ample room for this body to legislate, even in light of Citizens United, whether it has to do with contribution limits, whether it has to with expenditure limits, or whether it has […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Buckley v. Valeo, Derek Muller, Gorsuch, Neil Gorsuch, Rick Hasen, Supreme Court

Senator Klobuchar on Campaign Finance: An Admission Against Interest?

As most any law student can tell you, “strict scrutiny” is the toughest standard of judicial review in federal court. Normally, it applies whenever the government seeks to place limits on the exercise of a “fundamental right.” To survive “strict scrutiny,” a law must address a “compelling” government interest, and be “narrowly tailored” to address […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Amy Klobuchar, Federal Election Campaign Act, First Amendment, Gorsuch, Hobby Lobby, Neil Gorsuch, Riddle v. Hickenlooper, strict scrutiny, Supreme Court, Colorado

Neil Gorsuch, and the Supreme Court’s Role on Money in Politics

Democrats in Congress have signaled their intention to make campaign finance a major theme of the Gorsuch hearings this week. No doubt with that in mind, the anti-speech group Demos has rushed out a document criticizing past U.S. Supreme Court decisions that, they claim, have “benefited a small class of wealthy, white conservative men.” The […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Communications, Issues, Money in Politics, Buckley v. Valeo, campaign finance, Davis v. FEC, Demos, Donald Trump, Gorsuch, McCutcheon, Neil Gorsuch, PACs, Sierra Club, Supreme Court

National Review: ‘Deep FEC’ Goes After White House Counsel Don McGahn (In the News)

By Bradley A. Smith
Last month a 2,500-word hit piece by Nancy Cook was published in Politico magazine with signs of Deep State intervention. Cook’s article explores McGahn’s tenure as a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from 2008 to 2013…
Cook builds her case on anonymous comments from “a former FEC lawyer,” “former FEC official[s],” “longtime staffers,” “former FEC staffer[s],” and “former senior official[s].”The quotes and anecdotes that follow those titles constitute nearly all the article’s negative comments about McGahn’s tenure at the FEC…
Wherever these comments originate, the big clue that Cook and her anonymous sources are unserious is the nature of the attacks made on McGahn. He’s “a one-man wrecking crew,” “not going to be a truth-teller,” a “bomb-throwing enabler” – you get the picture. Yet conspicuously absent is any allegation that McGahn behaved unethically, failed to follow the law, or treated staff, investigative targets, or complainants unfairly. Rather, the sources offer the generic griping of people who did not agree with McGahn on policy and were frustrated by his success at the FEC.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Albuquerque Journal: Bill threatens charities with harmful regulation (In the News)

By Bradley A. Smith
New Mexico law already has strong disclosure rules. Contributions to political candidates and parties are publicly disclosed. Additionally, “political committees” – anyone who spends over $500 “primarily for a political purpose” – already must file extensive paperwork that is placed on the internet by the state for anyone to see. Such groups must file a complicated series of reports, documenting every dollar spent and every contribution received. They must further list the names and home addresses of every contributor who gives over $500…
Unfortunately, Sen. Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and others in New Mexico have long been long pushing for even more disclosure. This disclosure would not be from candidates, parties, and political committees, but from a much broader array of civic organizations. Enter SB 96, a bill ushered through the Senate and currently before the House, that extends New Mexico’s disclosure rules to anyone who mentions a candidate in any ad near an election. This bill “fixes” campaign finance laws in the same way a law applying gun control regulations to Nerf weapons would “fix” gun laws.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Missoulian: Tester’s assault on corporate rights is an assault on people’s rights (In the News)

By Brad Smith
Seven years after Citizens United, the whole “corporations aren’t people” and therefore shouldn’t have rights bit is getting pretty tiresome. Certainly, our elected officials should be held to a higher standard of debate.
Yes, it’s true that if you’ve never thought about it, the idea that “corporations are people” seems absurd on its face. Corporations are not people, of course. But, for many purposes, it makes perfect sense that the law treats them as such. For example, if the law did not treat corporations as people, they couldn’t be sued. The bigger point, though, is that corporations have rights because people have rights, and people form and own corporations. This is a principle as old as the American Republic, re-emphasized by the Supreme Court as early as 1819 in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward. A corporation, the Court noted, “is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” But that didn’t mean that people gave up their rights when they formed a corporation. Rather, the decision emphasized that when people join together to accomplish things, they usually need some form of organization, and shouldn’t have to sacrifice their rights just because they organize.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Washington Examiner: Soon-to-be former Democratic FEC chair tried to politicize the bipartisan commission (In the News)

By Bradley A. Smith
Commissioner Ravel came to Washington with a sincere desire to make the FEC a more effective, more efficient agency. Her plans, however, broke down in a combination of ideological overreach and a disdain for the hard work of democracy and governance.
Ravel ignored advice to focus her efforts on modest but meaningful goals that would have bipartisan support at the FEC, such as updating outdated regulations and improving reporting guidelines and mechanisms. Instead, she sought to implement a sweeping progressive campaign finance agenda that had not passed Congress: imposing controls on new media and pushing for unprecedented invasions of Americans’ political lives under the guise of “disclosure.”…
Ravel ends her stint on a disappointing note, with a flurry of media activity and the publication of a “report” prepared by her office offering tendentious descriptions of cases on which she lost votes at the FEC. As proof that the agency’s Republicans are violating their constitutional oaths to “enforce the law” she offers the mere fact that she could not muster a majority of the commission to agree with her.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Providence Journal: Brad Smith: Whitehouse measure assaults constitutional rights (In the News)

By Brad Smith
The year is 2019. The government sends in a SWAT team to seize any corporate property it wants without the due process or just compensation required by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The government also has the power to swipe bank assets, raid newspaper offices without warrants or just cause, and even censor any news published by a media corporation.
No, it’s not the plot of a newly-unearthed Orwell novel. These tactics, and more, would be legal under an amendment to the U.S. Constitution cosponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Whitehouse’s proposal, introduced this year by Montana Democrat Jon Tester, is a constitutional amendment that aims to strip rights from corporate entities…
Oddly enough, in the momentous Citizens United decision, not even the court’s dissenters ever mentioned the issue of “corporate personhood.” Why? Because they all understood that corporate personhood is a longstanding doctrine that is not controversial in law, and was not what the case was about…
Constitutional amendments such as that offered by Whitehouse will not pass in the next few years – but they indicate the general hostility to free speech that many senators have, and their willingness to silence speakers they don’t like.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

The Silliness of Jon Tester

Senator Jon Tester (D. Mont.) has introduced another constitutional amendment to strip rights from corporate entities. His amendment (S .J. Res. 20) would provide that “(1) The rights enumerated in this Constitution and other rights retained by the people shall be the rights of natural persons; (2) As used in this Constitution, the terms ‘people’, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Issues, Citizens United v. FEC, Constitutional Amendment, Corporate Personhood, Elizabeth Warren, Jon Tester, SJR 20, We The People Amendment

Washington Examiner: There’s no reason to be afraid of ‘dark money’ in politics (In the News)

By Bradley Smith
Under federal law, candidates, political parties and PACs (including “super PACs”) must disclose all donors who contribute more than $200. Sometimes, however, groups that exist for things other than promoting candidates will spend money on an election ad. Because many people support these groups for reasons other than political activity, they are not required to disclose information on financial supporters unless those people gave for the purpose of financing political ads. But the group making the expenditure must disclose its political spending in excess of $250.
Thus, “dark money” isn’t really “dark” – we know who spent it, and how much they spent. We just don’t know the name of every individual who gave money to that group or organization.
Despite the panic about “dark money,” the Center for Competitive Politics, using data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (an organization that does much to pump up the “dark money” scare) and the Federal Election Commission, calculates that “dark money” was less than 4 percent of all federal political spending in the 2014 election cycle. While final numbers aren’t in yet for 2016, preliminary figures look like they will fall below 3 percent for 2016.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles