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How not to address corruption in Illinois politics

Here at the Center for Competitive Politics, we believe that any proposed campaign finance “reform” should be looked at with more than just a little skepticism not only because of the free speech and associational rights at stake, but also because of just who will be enacting the “reform”– namely, incumbent politicians.  In other words, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, those enacting the campaign finance “reforms” might ensure their own self interests and political advantages are written into law.

This week, Illinois politicians have proven this, once again, to be true with proposed “reform” legislation that not only serves the interests of the politicians that will pass it, but also will not address the corruption that prompted that state’s discussion in the first place.  Indeed, , if there has been any theme in Illinois’ ongoing post-Blagojevich campaign finance “reform” discussion, that theme has been politicians doing as best as possible to help themselves while being able to claim the “reform” mantle doing it.

Click here to read more about the politicians’ self-interested “reform”-pitched campaign finance folly in Illinois.

 

Filed Under: Blog, Illinois

Sotomayor: Really not the Supreme Court nominee to protect political speech

A couple days ago, I blogged about “why the Center for Competitive Politics is concerned about Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination” to the highest court in the land.  In that post, I noted that, “in the past, as a judge interpreting the law, [Judge Sotomayor] has failed to protect the very foundation of every American’s Dream, namely, that each citizen will be able to fully and freely participate in our political process.”

As evidence of Judge Sotomayor’s hostility to the exercise of a citizen’s political rights of free speech and association, I cited her “vote to leave intact a ruling” — later reversed by the Supreme Court 6-3 — “that not only upheld extremely low candidate contribution limits imposed by the State of Vermont, but also more than suggested that candidate expenditure limits might be constitutional, too.”  In other words, Judge Sotomayor took the position that she could thumb her nose at the First Amendment, as well as the Supreme Court’s seminal campaign finance interpretation of that constitutional provision in Buckley v. Valeo.

I also noted that “the threat [Judge Sotomayor] poses to the First Amendment … rights of all Americans” was all the more ominous “because … of her early appointment[ ] … as a member of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.”  That appointment worried us here at CCP because, as a prior member of a campaign finance regulatory board, we could “only guess that such an experience either led to or only reinforced the view that the government can, and should, exercise a great deal of control over the electoral process, and more specifically over the speech permitted by candidates and citizens during campaigns.”

Well, we have confirmation of that now.

Click here to read more about  Judge Sotomayor’s pro-regulatory campaign finance views

Filed Under: Blog

Ads for Sonia Sotomayor in light of Caperton v. Massey

Politico reports that several groups have come together to run ads supporting the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Key White House allies on Wednesday are launching a television ad called “Justice” to build support for confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court…

The coalition – made up of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way – says it made a significant initial six-figure buy that will begin running on national network news and cable news Wednesday.

While we at the Center have our own reservations and concerns about Sotomayor’s respect for the First Amendment and the heavy hand government can place on political speech under the guise of so-called campaign finance “reform,” we’re pleased that speech regulations haven’t yet reached out to squelch these groups entirely (although Wisconsin Right to Life was certainly put through the wringer on a similar issue, until the Supreme Court struck down parts of the McCain-Feingold law that limited their speech), and these American citizens are able to weigh in with their thoughts on whether Judge Sotomayor is suitable to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click here for more

Filed Under: Blog

Obama almost certainly not using “enemies list” to close Republican auto dealers

There has been much fretting and frowning among conservative bloggers over the question of whether Obama is using FEC reports of campaign contributions by auto dealers to shutter his political opponents.

From Mark Tapscott of the San Francisco Examiner:

There appears to be a side to the Chrysler bankruptcy that has the look of an ugly partisanship not seen in this town since Tricky Dick was in the White House composing his enemies list…

Bloggers on the Right side of the Blogosphere are up in arms over data suggesting that President Barack Obama’s White House auto industry potentates are targeting for closure Chrysler dealers with records of contributing either to Republicans like Sen. John McCain or to other Democrats in the 2008 presidential primary.

Posts at RedState, Reliapundit, American Thinker, Gateway Pundit, Joey Smith and Doug Ross pointed initially at the remarkable number of closed Chrysler dealerships whose owners happen to have been contributors to Obama opponents, mainly Republicans.

Click here for more on Obama, ‘enemies lists,’ and disclosure

Filed Under: Blog

Not the Supreme Court nominee we wanted…

The giant judicial news from yesterday, of course, was President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

And, while Judge Sotomayor’s personal story — being raised by a single mother in the Bronx to graduating from Princeton University and Yale Law School so she could become a lawyer who has served as a New York prosecutor, a corporate litigator, a federal trial court judge, and a federal appeals court judge — is, as President Obama said, “inspiring,” providing inspiration is not the job of a justice who sits on the highest court in the land.  Rather, as one of nine justices who serve as the final arbiters of what federal law, including our Constitution, means, if Judge Sotomayor is confirmed to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, then her jurisprudential views will constitute one vote of nine as to how federal law applies and what constitutional rights cannot be infringed.

This is why the Center for Competitive Politics is concerned about Judge Sotomayor’s nomination — because in the past, as a judge interpreting the law, she has failed to protect the very foundation of every American’s Dream, namely, that each citizen will able to fully and freely participate in our political process.

To read more about why we are concerned about Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to a seat on the Supeme Court, click the headline.

Filed Under: Blog

Free speech victory in Florida

Supporters of the First Amendment won an important victory last Friday when a federal district court in Florida struck down a restrictive state law that required any and all groups that dare to refer to a political candidate or issue  — even when they don’t “expressly advocate” election or defeat — to register with the government as “electioneering communications organizations.” In other words, the federal district judge ensured that constitutionally protected issue advocacy remains alive and well in Florida.

A coalition of four Florida groups — represented by the Institute for Justice, a frequent CCP ally — initially won a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law in October 2008. CCP blogged about the issue then, especially noting the favorable comments from the judge in the case. IJ’s release is here.

(to read more about this decision, click here)

 

Filed Under: Blog, Florida

Taxpayer financing for congressional campaigns … not even close to ‘now’

We have to admit that we laughed out loud here at CCP when we saw that what amounts to the entirety of the campaign “reform” movement issued twenty-one press releases earlier this week to thank a few more than a couple dozen U.S. Representatives and a single U.S. Senator for their co-sponsorship of proposed legislation that would use taxpayer money to finance congressional campaigns.

Indeed, we were laughing for a couple reasons.

To read about the hilarity of the thank you press releases issued by the “reformers,” click the headline.

 

Filed Under: Blog

Arizona’s Unelected Clean Elections Commission Votes to Oust Another Elected Official

Late last week, we learned from the Arizona Republic that the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission did, indeed, vote 4-1 last Friday “to oust” Rep. Doug Quelland (R-10th Dist.) “from the state House of Representatives and to levy $45,500 in fines for violating the state’s public-finance laws, which regulate campaign expenditures” for those candidates who accept taxpayer financing of their campaigns.

To read more about our continued misgivings about the Quelland quagmire, even in the aftermath of the vote to oust him, click the headline.

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

Bauer on FEC “deadlocks”

Bob Bauer’s latest public comments — rare since his blog retirement — focus on the meaning of recent “deadlocks” at the FEC.

As usual, Bauer’s comments are thoughtful, thorough and mostly agnostic on whether or not the deadlocks pose a monumental problem as most in the “reform” community charge. Bauer, doesn’t buy the line from those in the pro-regulation camp that Republican commissioners are being rampantly partisan or refusing to uphold the law. Rather, Bauer writes, the Republican commissioners are engaging in a concerted effort to respect the First Amendment and not implement uneccesary regulations or investigations.

How horrible!

Bauer doesn’t necessarily agree with the Republican commissioners, but he doesn’t demagogue the issue.

We will have review and comment on Bauer’s presentation forthcoming in the next few days.

 

Filed Under: Blog

National Journal on Speechnow.org

Yesterday, National Journal‘s “Rules of the Game” column featured an update on campaign finance litigation by CCP and other groups.

According to National Journal, “conservatives who champion the First Amendment” — side note, we think no one should object to “champion[ing] the First Amendment — “have mounted more than 20 challenges to election laws in both federal and state court recently, according to a recent analysis (er, rant) by the Campaign Legal Center.”

The piece references SpeechNow.org v. FEC, a case brought by an upstart independent political speech organization that can’t get off the ground without adequate funding, so it is being legally represented in its constitutional challenge to regulation by the Federal Election Commission by CCP and the Institute for Justice. Factual briefing in the case has been completed, and it’s now before a federal district judge, who will collect the factual record and certify the constitutional questions at issue before sending the case up to the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The National Journal‘s story is a bit off; SpeechNow.org’s claims do not raise any question about the constitutionality of limiting — indeed, even prohibiting, as federal law does — corporate- or union-funded express advocacy. Rather, SpeechNow.org is an organization of like-minded individuals who simply want to pool their own funds and use eachothers’ talents to speak out about how their elected representatives have respected, or disrespected, Americans’ First Amendment rights to free political speech and association.

From its very founding, SpeechNow.org has made it clear that it will not accept any corporate or union donations, and that it also will not interact with candidates and public officials at all — other than to comment on how they address the First Amendment rights of their constituents. In other words, SpeechNow.org is precisely the type of organization that raises no possibility of corruption or its appearance, and thus constitutionally cannot be subject to FEC regulation as a “political committee.”

(click here to read more)

Filed Under: Blog