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American Issues Project Ads Raise More Questions Than Probably Intended

 A relatively new group (perhaps so new it doesn’t even, technically, exist yet) called American Issues Project has begun airing ads critical of Senator Obama and his connections to Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist who helped to found the Weather Underground, a group active in the U.S. in the 60’s and 70’s (now largely defunct due to incarceration and a lack of reasonable workplace safety procedures in their bombmaking operations).

The Obama campaign is not amused. A great deal of their reaction is what we at CCP would call "vigorous and robust exercise of the First Amendment," such as a letter challenging some aspects of the AIP ad, and a response ad from the Obama campaign.

Other aspects of this story are far more troubling, and indicate just how far down the road of speech regulation and suppression we’ve come since the Founding Father’s first wrote "Congress shall make no law…"

To read more, click on the headline above.

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Do ‘Clean Elections’ increase the number of female legislators?

The Center for Competitive Politics released today an issue analysis refuting the myth that taxpayer-financed political campaigns increase gender diversity in state legislatures.

"The claim that taxpayer-financed campaigns make a difference in the number of women elected to office is false," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "Welfare for politicians continues to show itself to be a poor use of taxpayer dollars with few discernable positive outcomes."

The study examines Arizona and Maine, the only two states with full government-financing programs for state legislative races.  Both states first implemented taxpayer-financed campaigns in the 2000 election cycle.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) review of the Maine and Arizona legislatures shows little change in the gender makeup of members of the legislature between 1991 and 2008.   In fact, since the inception of taxpayer-financed political campaigns, the number of women legislators in Arizona and Maine has decreased slightly.

More after the jump. 

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Required to ask ‘Mother, may I?’

The lead news from the Federal Election Commission meeting last Thursday, as reported by the Associated Press , was that the six commissioners "voted unanimously … to belatedly approve Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s withdrawal from public financing for the primaries."  And, while that certainly was the newsworthy result, for those of us who were in attendance and follow election law, perhaps the more important discussion (and decision) was buried as a stand-alone sentence that appeared in the middle of the story.

More after the jump. 

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Arizona “clean elections” program challenged

The Goldwater Institute announced on Friday a lawsuit challenging the matching funds provision of Arizona’s Clean Elections Act.

The challenge can be found HERE.

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An American tradition

The art of "negative" campaigning is often said to have taken off with Lee Atwater’s provocative "Willie Horton" television advertisement.

But Mental Floss magazine reminds us that "negative" campaigning his been around since the nation’s founding and will undoubtedly continue no matter what "regulatory" efforts are made to "clean up" campaigns.

Mental Floss gives the presidential campaign featuring Thomas Jefferson aandt John Adams the distinction of begetting negative campaigns.

More after the jump.

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Comments of the Center for Competitive Politics on Issue Advocacy Regulation in Wisconsin

The Center for Competitive Politics comments to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in regards to its review of issue advocacy regulation.

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, Comments and Testimony, Wisconsin

McCain and lobbyists

Sen. John McCain, who rebuilt his reputation after the Keating Five scandal in large measure by championing campaign finance restrictions and attacking lobbyists, issued his strongest denouncement of the lobbying industry in an interview with Politico yesterday.

This Spring the McCain campaign banned anyone who is a registered lobbyist or works for a foreign agent, "or receives compensation for any such activity" from working on the campaign. The campaign also barred part-time volunteers "from involvement in any Campaign policy-making on the subjects on which they are registered." And McCain "also announced that it will be his policy that anyone serving in a McCain Administration must commit not to lobby the Administration during his presidency."

Yesterday, McCain ratcheted up his lobbyist scourge by calling lobbyists "birds of prey" and reiterated that officials in his administration would not be allowed to "go back to lobby" (two points: it is unclear how McCain could enforce this and it appears that a McCain presidency would still be able to draw on lobbyists to serve in the administration, they just couldn’t go back to lobbying the administration while McCain is still in power – but they could also still lobby Congress).

More after the jump.

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Electioneering communications in Wisconsin

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) submitted comments today to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) in regards to its review of issue advocacy regulation.

The GAB is scheduled to review next week GAB 1.28, "Scope of regulated activity; election of candidates," to determine whether its regulation of certain types of political communication should be amended.

At the heart of the debate is whether or not citizens groups who engage in issue advocacy should face greater regulation when it engages in so-called "electioneering communication." Electioneering communication broadly defined at the federal level is any "broadcast, cable or satellite communication" that occurs within 30 days of a primary, convention, or caucus, or 60 days of a general election, and mentions the name of a candidate for office. 

CCP’s submitted comments urge the GAB to reaffirm the state’s current regulations so as to best comply with recent United States Supreme Court rulings and give citizens groups adequate room to engage in issue advocacy.

More after the jump.

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The Money Race

Newsweek’s Andrew Romano has any interesting look at the money race in the presidential campaign. 

Read the piece by clicking HERE.

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ACLU North Carolina chapter files lawsuit challenging total ban on lobbyist contributions

(HT – Rick Hasen) The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s year round ban on certain state campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Read the press release HERE and the complaint HERE.

UPDATE:  CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting blogged on some of the problems with the NC lobbyist law (and another NC law) more than two years ago. His commentary is available HERE.

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