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An interesting philosophical approach to government

We’re not quite sure what to make of the title of this bill, reported out of Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting on March 12, 2009, to consider pending legislation and nominations.

Agenda

I. Bills

S.49, Public Corruption Improvements Act (Leahy, Cornyn, Kaufman)
Ordered Reported, As Amended – Voice Vote

Certainly it’s an interesting approach to government.  We suppose that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Hat tip to our old friend Eric Brown.

Filed Under: Blog

Candidates threatened with fake money to ‘reform’ campaigns

A fellow traveler in the campaign freedom movement pointed out an interesting ‘Ideas’ piece in Politico by Joe Trippi and Lawrence Lessig. This dynamic duo has created a movement they dub "Change Congress" to get like-minded individuals to explicitly pledge to withhold campaign donations to members of Congress until they agree to implement taxpayer-funded campaigns.

We’ve written about this idea many times before.

So-called reformers believe political decisions are mostly based on campaign donations (rather than other factors that have been empirically proven to drive policy, such as party affiliation, long-held ideology, constituent preferences, etc.). Refusing to concede to reality, Lessig and Trippi have geared up their campaign to bribe politicians with the money of activists until they change their mind.

In the Politico piece, Trippi and Lessig have announced they’ve reached the $1 million milestone. Woo hoo! Break out the champagne! But wait, where is that $1 million?

(more)

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Testimony of CCP Government & Coalition Relations Director Kristin Meade to Maryland Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee

Written testimony of CCP Government & Coalition Relations Director Kristin Meade at a March 12, 2009 hearing of the Maryland Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee on the topic of clean election.

Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, State, State Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing, Comments and Testimony, Maryland

‘Reform’ community proposes speech controls in Iowa

It’s not very often that the so-called reform community explicitly states their desire to censor all political speech they disagree with, but a pair of Iowa legislators have done just that.

They introduced a bill in Iowa that would ban the distribution of campaign material without the consent of the person who would benefit from such material. The bill would also ban any cartoon or caricature of a candidate or a photo of a candidate without the candidate’s approval.

(more)

Filed Under: Blog, Iowa

Obama’s War on Lobbyists means War on Talent and Experience

The game of Wack-a-Lobbyist was a regular feature of the 2008 presidential campaign, with both then-candidate-now-President Obama and Senator McCain making it clear to everyone that they believed lobbyists were part of the problem in Washington DC. Both vowed they would drive lobbyists from the temple of democracy, and I’m pretty sure McCain pledged to drive a stake through the heart of any lobbyist he saw and sprinkle the dusted remains with holy water.

Now, President Obama is finding it somewhat difficult to fill the thousands of positions his administration now has open without tapping the talent and experience of the much-maligned lobbyist community. The Huffington Post reports:

Obama’s Anti-Lobbyist Policy Causing Unintended Harm

Barack Obama made no secret of his feelings for "Washington lobbyists" during the campaign and vowed that they wouldn’t be staffing his White House.

Click here to read more about lobbyists and the Obama administration’s difficulty filling positions

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“Localism” is the new “fairness doctrine”

The bill containing Senator Jim DeMint’s amendment banning the return of the so-called "fairness doctrine" (more appropriately called the Censorship Doctrine) is currently on hold, as House leadership considers what to do with another amendment to the bill concerning gun rights.

Even if the bill passes, however, the threat to free and unfettered political speech on the radio remains. "Localism" has become the new buzzword for those seeking to put broadcasters under the thumb of censors, as demonstrated by reports that Congressman Henry Waxman is seeking the return of the "fairness doctrine" through "localism."

Brian Anderson of the Manhattan Institute explains more in a recent op-ed on the "fairness doctrine" and "localism":

Although the Obama administration has said it is not inclined to support a new Fairness Doctrine… it has suggested it might support another reform, called "localism," which should also worry defenders of media freedom.

Click here to read more about "localism" and the "fairness doctrine"

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An alternative take on clean elections in Arizona

The Tucson Weekly, which bills itself as Tucson’s alternative newspaper and seems to have a decidedly progressive/leftist slant, provides their perspective on Arizona’s so-called “clean elections” program in a recent column. You’ve got to read the last line.

HOW ABOUT MORE STATE DOLLARS FOR BOZOS?

Click here to read more about the Tucson Weekly’s problem with “clean elections” in Arizona

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

North Carolina’s “clean elections” for judges a flop

The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments today in Caperton v. Massey Coal, a case about independent political spending and judicial recusal. The central question is this: do constitutional protections for due process require that a judge recuse himself or herself from cases involving a third party that independently spent significant funds in their race?

CCP filed an amicus brief in case arguing that the Supreme Court should not venture down the path toward forced recusal based on independent campaign speech because the “bias” standard for recusal requires a judge to have a “direct, personal, substantial, pecuniary interest” in the case being heard, which independent political speech does not create.

So-called “reform” groups and their allies are hoping for a ruling that would require recusal, opening the doors to further limits on independent political speech. Others, including the editorial page of USA Today, sense an opening for the silver bullet of taxpayer funded judicial campaigns.

Today’s USA Today approvingly cites the example of North Carolina, which doles out taxpayer dollars to candidates for judge.

Click here to read how “clean elections” for judges in North Carolina have failed

Filed Under: Blog, North Carolina

Caperton Advocacy

Advocates have an obligation to advocate zealously for their client, and an unfortunate by-product of that requirement, coupled with the rapid fire give and take of Supreme Court oral argument, the growing tendency of the justices not to hear out the answers to their questions, and the lack of any opportunity for clarification, often leads to some real distortions before the Court.  Below the fold are just a few problems and highlights we noted in today’s Supreme Court argument in Caperton v. Massey Coal Co.

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RNC case against coordinated expenditure limits still on track

In December, the Republican National Party filed two lawsuits challenging certain parts of the current system of federal campaign finance limits. The Associated Press today offers an update the suit challenging limits on coordinated expenditures between parties and candidates:

Louisiana’s Republican Party and the Republican National Committee spent almost $42,000 apiece on a coordinated effort to defeat scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. William Jefferson last year, but they wanted to spend more.

Turns out they didn’t have to. The Republican candidate, Anh "Joseph" Cao – with his own campaign fund in addition to the help from the parties – pulled off the upset on Dec. 6.

But the state and national parties and Cao are pressing on with a lawsuit that they hope will bring an end to campaign finance restrictions in place since the post-Watergate reform atmosphere of the 1970s.

At issue in the Cao lawsuit are the limits federal election law has on what state and national parties can spend in coordinated efforts on behalf of a candidate – about $42,000 each in most congressional districts. Each party can spend more in individual efforts but Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, says that can result in expenditures on messages that are either duplicative or contradictory.

The Louisiana lawsuit is one of two high-profile lawsuits targeting campaign finance limits. The other, pending before a three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington, targets the 2002 ban on unlimited "soft money" contributions – that is, unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions or individuals.

…Among other things, the Cao lawsuit contends that the campaign finance restrictions limited efforts to bring attention to Jefferson’s legal woes and his specific votes that might prove unpopular among some in his district – including votes to ban offshore drilling….

The story provides an important look at one of the many significant cases moving forward in the courts that have the potential to upend current campaign finance regulations that trample the First Amendment, and is well worth reading the full story.

Filed Under: Blog