CCP calls for Senate to repeal failed tax financing program

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) urged U.S. Senators to support a bill to scrap the presidential tax financing system, a subsidy program for politicians that taxpayers have increasingly abandoned.

The House voted to abolish the program in late January on a bipartisan 239-160 vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will block a vote on bill. However, opponents of tax financing could attach the repeal language to another Senate bill under consideration.

“The American people deserve an up-or-down vote on this flawed subsidy scheme,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Barely seven percent of taxpayers volunteer a portion of their tax return to this program. Virtually the only people that will miss it are Washington insiders disappointed that the taxpayer-funded open bar at party conventions will run dry.”

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing

CCP urges N.Y. lawmakers to reject restrictions on business political speech

The New York legislature is considering legislation designed to put up administrative and legal road blocks to participate in the political process by companies. The proposal would restrict the ability of businesses to engage in political speech by requiring multiple votes on whether or not to make political contributions. The shareholder regulation measure would also mandate votes on specific levels of spending at annual shareholder meetings.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter to New York lawmakers Wednesday explaining the constitutional and policy flaws of the legislation, Senate Bill 101 and Assembly Bill 696.

Although these bills would not directly ban corporate contributions, they would place an undue burden on for-profit firms before they can engage in their First Amendment rights. Many corporations may not know where they need to allocate resources at the time of their annual meetings, as policy and political issues develop rapidly, and organizing shareholder votes would sap a  significant amount of time and resources.

Given the delay between the time a corporation decides to make a political expenditure and the time the ads would actually be aired, it is unlikely that this law will survive judicial review.

“In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court determined that the government cannot place unreasonable hurdles on the speech of advocacy groups and companies,” said CCP President Sean Parnell. “New York lawmakers shouldn’t waste taxpayer’s time and money by passing a law that a court would likely strike down.”

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

WRTL targets judicial tax financing in Wis.

Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee asked for a federal injunction today to prevent Wisconsin from implementing its tax financing program for state Supreme Court candidates

Filed Under: Blog, Wisconsin

Adventures in New Republic hackery

Jonathan Chait, a Senior Editor at The New Republic, seized on a quote in the New York Times by CCP Chairman Brad Smith discussing the hoopla surrounding a California conference hosted by the owners of Koch Industries, Inc. Chait snidely distorted Smith’s words from the Times…

Filed Under: Blog, California

Common Cause’s campaign to chill speech in Minn.

Prof. Eugene Volokh flags an interesting chapter of Common Cause Minnesota’s campaign to chill speech in the already frigid confines of Minnesota:

Certain kinds of electioneering materials may be banned at and near polling places on election day; that’s what the Court held in Burson v. Freeman (1992). But does this allow restraints on distributing such material at other times and places, on the theory that recipients will display (or are even intended to display) such material in the prohibited places? That’s what Common Cause Minnesota apparently argued, but a Minnesota Administrative Law Judge rejected that claim, in Common Cause Minnesota v. Minnesota Majority (Minn. Ofc. of Admin. Hrgs. Oct. 29, 2010)…

Filed Under: Blog, Minnesota

Public Citizen defends anonymous political speech

From a New York Times post about a dispute between Koch Industries, Inc. and a Public Citizen-allied group:

“Although this case arises out of a harmless prank, it raises serious constitutional issues,” said Deepak Gupta, a Public Citizen attorney, in the release posted at the organization’s Web site. “The First Amendment protects the right to engage in anonymous speech, especially political speech. Koch should not be able to unmask its political critics just because it can hire lawyers and file a lawsuit. The court should put a stop to Koch’s intimidation tactics.” [emphasis added]

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

House votes to end tax financing for presidential candidates

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the failed presidential tax financing program Wednesday afternoon on a bipartisan 239-160 vote.

“Today’s vote is a win for common sense, as supporters of this political pyramid scheme could offer no compelling reason to continue wasting taxpayers’ dollars,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Hopefully, the Senate will follow up with a vote to end these unnecessary subsidies for would-be presidents.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will block consideration of the bill. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a companion bill in the Senate soon after the House vote, S. 194. If that’s unsuccessful, at least one Senator plans to move the measure forward by attaching it to another piece of legislation.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing

CCP urges vote on separation of presidential campaign and state

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill to repeal the presidential tax financing system. The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) strongly urges a vote to abolish the antiquated system of government welfare for politicians.

“Presidential tax financing is an politico-religious construct of the Washington elite with no demonstrated benefits,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “In an era of austerity, this pet ideological project of self-anointed reformers needs to hit the chopping block.”

A Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday estimated that eliminating the program would save American taxpayers $617 million over the next ten years. Assuming that this $617 million represents money that would otherwise have to be borrowed, eliminating the program would also save in excess of $854 million in interest payments, saving taxpayers more than $1.4 billion. Even that underestimates the true cost of junking the program, as bureaucrat labor and candidate compliance costs are not considered.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing

State of the FEC’s Union

Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress—and perhaps even a Supreme Court Justice or two.

Most observers aren’t expecting another high-profile mention of campaign finance issues. So, to get a glimpse of what 2011 has in store for campaign finance developments, it may be useful to examine the State of the Federal Election Commission’s Union.

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

State lawmakers to take up subsidies for Albany pols

Despite proposing some common-sense reforms, many of the ethics and campaign finance proposals pending in the New York legislature are at odds with the First Amendment and seem unlikely to achieve the bill’s intended goals.

In a letter to New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Center for Competitive Politics examines the legal and policy problems with New York Assembly Bill 1267 and other proposals not yet introduced as legislation.

The bill advances some sensible proposals, such as the creation of an investigatory state ethics board, mandating disclosure of candidate income, and tightening usage of campaign contributions. However, additional problematic proposals include singling out state contractors and lobbyists for lower contribution limits and creating a system of tax financed elections.

“Other states that have implemented tax financing programs cannot show a single, tangible ‘benefit’ from the programs besides the ever increasing number of politicians willing to sign up for campaign welfare,” said Laura Renz, CCP’s Director of Research and Government Relations. “There’s no evidence to support the notion that opening the public purse to subsidize lawmakers’ campaigns will reduce corruption.”

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs, Maine