Testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz to West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz at a March 8, 2010 hearing of the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee on the topic of campaign finance.

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

New report highlights failures of Wisconsin taxpayer financing

While misguided legislation to expand taxpayer financing schemes in Wisconsin awaits the governor’s signature or veto, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) released a study that details exactly how the state’s earlier experiment with taxpayer financing has actually played out in the state.

Wisconsin enacted a system of partial public financing in 1977 in order to “supplant campaign donations from political action committees, ensure those of modest means had money to run and prompt ‘more competitive races.'”  It was signed into law by acting governor Marty Schreiber and was funded by $1 check-offs on state tax forms.

32 years later, amid a consistently declining number of people opting to check-off on their tax forms (from a high of 20% in 1979 to less than 5% in 2008) and a budgetary crisis, Wisconsin is somehow on the verge of enacting further taxpayer financing, with proponents of the program apparently impervious to the fact that the first program hasn’t met a single goal or changed campaigns in any way.

Filed Under: Blog

Common Cause rant disguised as research

In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, Common Cause was kind enough to release a summary of the apocalyptic-level events that will happen if Citizens United is victorious and the restrictions on corporation and union political expenditures are ruled unconstitutional.

For starters, corporations and unions will “unleash a flood of money into the political system and further diminish the public’s voice,” leading to greater public distrust of the government, and politicians so corrupt that it will be “hard how imagine how America can achieve real progress and tackle critical challenges.”

The bottom line for Common Cause, of course, is that before this decision is handed down and we know the real life implications of that, we should avoid debate about the topic altogether and simply pass the Fair Elections Now Act to dish out taxpayer dollars to politicians. Apparently, spending unknown amounts of taxpayer money beats corporations and unions being able to spend their own money on independent expenditures for federal candidates.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP comments in advace of Wis. hearing on judicial recusal

Though it’s unlikely that the Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s upcoming hearing on judicial recusal standards will receive widespread attention, the new rules being discussed have important and potentially dangerous ramifications for First Amendment protections in judicial elections.

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

Public Campaign’s bogus study

Unless I missed a memo, the nation is still debating the merits of overhauling the health care system. Individuals and groups on all sides of the issue are still free to participate in the debate as well as make political contributions. 

Never missing an opportunity to decry “corruption,” however, the folks at Public Campaign Action Fund have concluded that political contributions are the reason certain legislators vote the way they do. Their conclusion, of course, gives Public Campaign the ability to advance their agenda through media-friendly sound bites, including this from national campaign director David Donnelly: “These findings point to the need for Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act, which would free elected officials from the pressures of fundraising.”

Their recently released “study” looked at contributions to key congressional committees in the health care debate from the “health and insurance industry,” a category defined by the Center for Responsive Politics and at no time clarified as to exactly who that includes — again alluding to the fact that, as far as Public Campaign is concerned, there is one side to the health care debate and the entire, undefined category of the “health and insurance industry” is on the wrong side of it. As CCP has noted before, such broad hyperbole is demonstrably false, as the health insurance is factionalized with numerous, often contradictory interests. Moreover, the majority of advertising spending so far has been in favor of action on Public Citizen’s view of health care reform.

(click here to read more)

Filed Under: Blog

Institute for Justice releases ‘electioneering communications’ study

Too often, campaign finance regulations are regarded as incomprehensible and inapplicable to most people’s daily lives. However, the Institute for Justice recently completed a study concerning the actual effects of “electioneering communications” restrictions on non-profit organizations and grassroots groups, and the results are troublesome to people everywhere who value First Amendment political rights.

By conducting a survey of registered non-profit organizations in Florida — which held the dubious distinction of having the broadest electioneering communications prohibition in the country (a federal district court recently struck down the law as unconstitutional) — the study aims to measure the actual impact of these laws on the day-to-day operations of small organizations.

The results are noteworthy — the reporting and disclosure requirements in these laws would, according to the non-profit survey participants, negatively affect their ability to fundraise (and, by extension, operate), communicate with members about relevant issues and more generally take valuable time away from the core missions of the groups.

The report thoroughly explains the results and is well worth the read, not to mention timely given the Supreme Court’s recent non-decision in the Citizens United case.  In fact, the study underscores the broader implications and harm these restrictive and sweeping laws inflict on core political speech.

(click here to read more)

Filed Under: Blog

Northeast ‘clean elections’ advocates plot strategy in New Jersey

At an event at the Eagleton Institute in New Jersey this past Friday, representatives and advocates of taxpayer financed elections in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut gathered to discuss the details of their programs and their plans for the future.

The broad generalizations, sweeping disregard for individual First Amendment rights and refusal to recognize any failures in these programs weren’t surprising in the least.  However, several comments went so above and beyond that they bear repeating.

For example, one representative from New Jersey stated unequivocally that their gubernatorial program was a success in limiting influence and "purifying" elections, no doubt the reason New Jersey is the pinnacle of ethics and virtue today. 

Another panelist went even further, noting that the problem with these programs is that lobbyists continue to exist even after Election Day.  Apparently, legislators in New Jersey need protection from lobbyists (AKA representatives of citizens) after they’re elected, lest they be unable to distinguish between policy positions they agree with and ones they disagree with.

(click here to read more)

Filed Under: Blog

Testimony of CCP Research Director Laura Renz to the Illinois Joint Committee on Government Reform

Written testimony of CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz at a March 16, 2009 hearing of the Illinois Joint Committee on Government Reform on the topic of campaign finance regulation.

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, campaign contributions, Contribution, Comments and Testimony, Illinois

Issue Analysis 5: Do Lower Contribution Limits Decrease Public Corruption?

This CCP study shows that campaign contribution limits do not produce less corruption by public officials. CCP Research Director Laura Renz compared Department of Justice data on public corruption convictions to information on contribution limits in all 50 states.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits

Issue Analysis 3: Do ‘Clean Elections’ increase the number of female legislators?

This CCP study examines the claim that taxpayer financing programs result in a greater number of women being elected to state legislature.  The report finds, however, that neither state saw a rise in women running and being elected to office after the enactment of taxpayer financing programs.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Faulty Assumptions, Faulty Assumptions, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Arizona, Maine