Huffington Post: “Dark Money” Fell in 2016, but is that Good News? (In the News)

By Luke Wachob
The ability to support causes privately is probably less important to the wealthy than anyone else. People who give millions of dollars to political causes can afford the security they need to be safe from potential harassers. It is the rest of us who might have reason to worry about declaring our political affiliations next to our name, home address, and employer. Yet federal law says that information must be disclosed when a donor gives just $200 to a candidate, PAC, or party.
We should be glad that a small role remains for groups that are unable to comply with the burdens of campaign finance regulations. Forcing citizen groups to operate like PACs would only further alienate Americans from public policy. And in the era of Trump, the benefits of donor privacy are increasingly recognized by progressives.
Surely there are wealthy donors who contribute to nonprofits. But new disclosure rules would barely inconvenience them; they can and do spend most of their political money elsewhere. More importantly, advocacy nonprofits are the best avenue available for average Americans to associate privately in support of a cause without fear of harassment and intimidation. That side of the equation should not be ignored.

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

New CED Study Dispels Myth of a ‘Wild West’ in Campaign Finance

Since Citizens United, the landscape of campaign finance law has often been described as a “wild west” where politicians, donors, and interest groups can do as they please. But a new study from the Committee for Economic Development (CED) dispels this myth. Their findings? The overwhelming majority of funds used to speak about candidates are […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Money in Politics, Super PACs, CED, Committe for Economic Development, Dark Money, Nonprofit Advocacy

A World Without Buckley v. Valeo

“The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.” – Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 48 (1976) Decided over forty years ago, the landmark 1976 Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, remains at […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Handouts, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Handouts, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issues, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Money in Politics, Research, buckley, Buckley v. Valeo, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation

Cato: What Is Dark Money? (Podcast) (In the News)

Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics argues that the misnomer of “dark money” is hardly the scourge it’s made out to be. 

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Quotes CCP

Disclosure Fuels “Witch Hunt”

National-level institutions such as the Supreme Court, congressional leadership, and the Federal Election Commission often see a partisan divide on disclosure. In these bodies, Democrats and their appointees are more likely to support expansive disclosure requirements, and Republicans and their appointees are more likely to support stronger privacy protections. This partisan division, however, is far […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Great America Alliance, Robert Mueller, Tomi Lahren, Trump Administration

Springfield News-Leader: Privacy for nonprofits should be common sense (In the News)

By Luke Wachob
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens believes that individuals should be able to support causes they believe in privately. Missourians who donate to nonprofit groups such as the National Rifle Association, he says, should not be forced to have their name, address, occupation and employer appear in a public and searchable government database… 
Governor Greitens should be commended for bucking the trend of politicians, like Schumer and McCaskill, who attempt to silence their critics. In supporting privacy and free speech, the governor protects both his supporters and detractors from retaliation.
Policymakers should seek balance between transparency and privacy. We have a right to know what our government is doing, but the government has no right to monitor our political affiliations or beliefs. Requiring candidates and parties to disclose their donors, while protecting privacy for nonprofit advocacy groups, is a compromise everyone should get behind.

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

The Federalist: New York Times Rewrites History To Cast GOP Climate Stance As New (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.

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

How to Problematize Issue Advocacy

A recent Pacific Standard article offers a master class in how to spin run-of-the-mill issue advocacy into a spectacular conspiracy. “Awash in Dark Money, a Western Think Tank is Leading the Charge Against the Antiquities Act” is a must read, though not for the reasons the author intends. The subject – or target – of […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Media Watch, Money in Politics, Antiquities Act, Dark Money, Issue Advocacy, Jimmy Tobias, Pacific Standard, Private Giving, Sutherland Institute, Utah

Uproar in New Jersey after Congressman Names and Shames a Critic

A troubling story came to light this week out of New Jersey, where a bank employee resigned her position in part due to pressure over her political advocacy. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) had sent a fundraising letter to the board member of a bank with a handwritten note singling out an employee, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Harassment, Privacy, Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey

Putting “Dark Money” In Context: Total Campaign Spending by Political Committees and Nonprofits per Election Cycle

PDF available here Not every group that spends money on campaigns or candidate-related speech is a political committee. If that were so, only politicians, parties, and PACs would have a voice in election campaigns. In addition to political committees, nonprofit groups are permitted to engage in a limited amount of campaign spending. These groups are […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Issues, Money in Politics, 501(c)(4)'s, 501(c)(5)s, 501(c)(6)s, Dark Money, Nonprofit Spending, Political Committee Spending