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Testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith to Illinois Reform Commission

Written testimony of CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith at a February 23, 2009 hearing of the Illinois Reform Commission on the topic of campaign finance.

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Comments, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure 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, Comments and Testimony, Illinois

Arizona considers repeal of “Clean Elections”

It’s been clear to most observers for quite some time that so-called “clean elections” programs in Arizona and Maine have failed to live up to their promises. More appropriately considered welfare for politicians, “clean elections” diverts scarce taxpayer dollars from public priorities in a futile effort to insulate candidates from the allegedly “corrupting” influence of citizens who wish to support them.

Arizona first adopted “clean elections” for the 2000 election cycle. In the time since “clean elections” were first introduced, the Copper State has seen:

The number of women serving in the legislature decline

The rate of spending growth increase

The number of legislators from the traditional backgrounds of business and law remain steady

Interest groups become a key component in the program, helping to raise qualifying funds for favored candidates

No noticeable change in the way legislators vote

No discernable improvement in the way government operates (here also: Pew Center on the States)

All of these, needless to say, are the opposite of what “clean elections” advocates predicted. So it should not come as a surprise that legislation has been introduced in Arizona to repeal their “clean elections” program.

Click here to read more about the failure and proposed repeal of “clean elections” in Arizona

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

Simplistic media coverage of Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal

National — and even legal — media coverage of the upcoming Supreme Court case Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal is often superficial and misleading. Most of the articles paint the issue as a broad case of defining a standard for recusal due to contributions to judicial campaigns, failing to distinguish between contributions to independent groups or direct campaign contributions. There hasn’t been a single article in the recent crop of argument preview stories [the argument is set for March 3] which specifically mentioned the free speech consequences of requiring recusal based on contributions to or the spending of an independent group in a judicial election.

To read more click here

Filed Under: Blog

Obama still opposes “Fairness Doctrine”

The expanding number of activists demanding a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" in talk radio were dealt a significant blow – again – by President Obama, who’s spokesperson yesterday confirmed again that the President remains opposed to the return of the "Fairness Doctrine." As reported by Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post:

President Obama does not support reviving the so-called Fairness doctrine, an aide said on Wednesday, knocking down speculation that Obama was open to reinstating the rule requiring broadcasters to air alternate perspectives on controversial issues.

Some administration officials had made non-committal remarks about the policy. But Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, said Obama "does not support the Fairness Doctrine," and never had.

Click here to read more about Obama and the "Fairness Doctrine"

Filed Under: Blog

Fairness Doctrine, more watts not the cure for progressive talk radio

Looks like another progressive radio operation has folded, this time Nova M, founded by former Air America founders Sheldon and Anita Drobney. My prediction, this will be used as yet more "evidence" of the need for a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" (I have a custom Magic 8-Ball that I use in these situations for guidance).

According to Brian Maloney of the Radio Equalizer web site, Nova AM is closing its doors:

Libtalk network Nova M Radio has been shut down, according to the attorney for Randi Rhodes, Robert V Gaulin of New York.

Moments ago, Gaulin sent this letter to your Radio Equalizer:

Randi Rhodes’ on-air home for less than a year will shut its doors. In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi’s entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week. All payroll deposits were reversed on Tuesday, leaving Nova’s employees unpaid for the past two weeks.

Click here to read more about Nova M, station wattage, and the Fairness Doctrine

Filed Under: Blog

That which we call the Fairness Doctrine, By any other name would smell as foul

Yet another voice has been added to those calling for government regulation of speech over the air through a return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," that of Representative Henry Waxman, now Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. From today’s America Spectator online:

Senior FCC staff working for acting Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps held meetings last week with policy and legislative advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways the committee can create openings for the FCC to put in place a form of the "Fairness Doctrine" without actually calling it such. 

To read more about the effort to sneak censorship in through the back door, click here.

Filed Under: Blog

Ensign’s transparency misstep

The U.S. Senate is moving forward on a bill requiring the electronic filing of campaign finance reports by Senate candidates, bringing the technology standards of the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ into the 21st century.

The disclosure of large donors to candidates (not independent groups) – we can quibble on the threshold – is a reasonable measure to guard against the appearance of or potential for quid pro quo, but Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has long delayed the electronic filing bill. 

The legislation, entitled the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, will soon receive a hearing and pass, The Hill reports.

click the headline to read why Ensign was threatening the First Amendment with his poison pill amendment…

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

Another Setback for the Officer Barbrady Chorus on the “Fairness Doctrine”

We’ve been told repeatedly that there is no serious effort to bring back the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" (what would better be called the Censorship Doctrine) in talk radio, which would put politicians and their appointees in charge of political speech on the air.

I recently wrote about efforts to mock and deride those of us concerned about the return of the "Fairness Doctrine," and to claim that it is simply paranoid delusion to worry about this. Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post, for example, wrote a piece titled "Fairness Doctrine Fears: A Fake Right Wing Firestorm," and others have written equally dismissive columns and articles.

Needless to say, the "nobody’s talking about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine" meme took a hit last week when Senator Debbie Stabenow voiced her support for the "Fairness Doctrine" on the Bill Press Show, saying "it’s absolutely time to pass a standard… whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep."

To find out which U.S. Senator has growing number of Senators calling for a return of the "Fairness Doctrine," click here

Filed Under: Blog

Even Paranoids Have Enemies, Part II

In this post, we noted that liberal bloggers and columnists have taken to poo-poohing the idea of reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," but also noted that whatever their words, in fact their is strong pressure to from the left wing of the party to use the "Fairness Doctrine" to limit conservative talk radio.

On February 5th Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow voiced her interest in silencing conservative talk radio through a reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," telling television commentator and long-time Democratic strategist Bill Press, "it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else [perhaps the "Censorship Doctrine?" – ed.]— I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves."  Press made no doubt about his support for regulating conservative radio, and asked Stabenow if Congress would be having hearings on the matter, and if she would "push" for such hearings.  Stabenow replied, "I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep."

As we noted before, sometimes even paranoids have enemies.

A juicy footnote to this: Senator Stabenow is married to Tom Athans, a long time Democratic activist who co-founded the left-wing Democracy Radio and served as Vice President for the now bankrupt liberal talk radio network Air America.  After Air America went under, he helped launch another liberal talk network, TalkUSA Radio.  So this is a twofer in how government can be counted on to enforce control of political speech – Stabenow has a political interest in silencing conservative voices, and a family economic interest in enacting a "Fairness Doctrine" that will have the effect of forcing stations to carry more liberal programming, such as that of Talk USA Radio and Air America. 

We’ve heard rumors that the campaign finance "reform" community is cranking up the press machines over this abuse of government power for pecuniary gain… LOL.  Yeah, that’ll be the day.

Filed Under: Blog

Of Democrats, Money, Good Government and Freedom

Mark Schmitt is an old line campaign finance "reformer" who has, in recent years, slowly been coming to the recognition that maybe money in politics ain’t all bad.  He’s recently written this column for the American Prospect, in which he suggests that reformers (such as he) need to rethink some of their old positions. 

"The election created a paradox [for the "reform" community]," writes Schmitt. "If there were a causal relationship between big money in politics and corruption, public cynicism, and low participation, then a year like 2008 — which featured big money but also public enthusiasm and high participation — should not exist."

But Mr. Schmitt’s proposed solutions to this "reform" paradox not only leave something to be desired, they reveal a core problem with political speech regulation .  Click the headline for more.

Filed Under: Blog