Talk Media News: $18 million election law fine is egregious (In the News)

By Edward Zuckerman 
The Center for Competitive Politics said in a friend-of-the-court brief that imposing an $18 million fine for failure to meet a registration requirement of Washington State’s election law is barred by the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against “excessive fines.” CCP said the fine, levied against the Grocery Manufacturers of America for expenditures to promote defeat of a ballot measure, is “a death sentence for most groups, with tremendous potential to chill specially protected speech.”

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

USA Today: Do we still believe in free speech? Only until we disagree (In the News)

By Anders Gyllenhaal 
After a century of building free speech rights into our laws and culture, Americans are backing away from one of the country’s defining principles.
Set off by the nation’s increasingly short fuse, students, politicians, teachers and parents are not just refusing to hear each other out, we’re coming up with all sorts of ways of blocking ideas we don’t agree with…
“When people quit listening to each other, there’s that lack of discussion and a lack of understanding,” said Bradley A. Smith, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. “That’s when there’s a growing tendency to think the other side shouldn’t be able to say what they think.”… 
Today’s conflicts are the most complicated yet and show no sign of easing. But as more than one scholar has pointed out, free speech is the starting place for all our other rights. We shouldn’t lose sight of what’s at stake: Without the free flow of ideas, the American experiment cannot succeed.  

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

The Hill: On voter privacy, we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back (In the News)

By Alex Cordell 
The recent controversy over a White House commission request for voter data shows many state officials support protecting the privacy of this information. However, too many states also favor new ways to violate the privacy of supporters of charities, advocacy groups, and trade associations by requiring these groups to reveal information about the names, home addresses, employers, and donation amounts of their members…
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she would “never release the personally identifiable information of New Mexico voters” and claimed she would continue “protecting the voting rights and personal privacy of our voters.”…
In New Mexico, Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver has proposed a new rule invading the privacy of supporters of groups, including charities. She wants to publicly reveal the names and home addresses of supporters of such groups for merely mentioning candidates or even publishing nonpartisan information…
It is encouraging that so many states are asserting the need to protect voter privacy from government overreach. However, we should not forget that individual privacy rights are violated every day by overreaching, poorly-written campaign finance laws. 

Filed Under: Alex Cordell, In the News, Published Articles

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Court: Activist’s fight with ethics panel not over (In the News)

By Kurt Erickson 
Ten months after Ron Calzone declared victory when a circuit judge blocked the Missouri Ethics Commission from requiring him to register to lobby the Legislature, a state appeals court said the original ruling was premature…
Calzone, director of a group called Missouri First, speaks to lawmakers at the Capitol, often at public hearings, but says he does not buy food or gifts for legislators. Missouri First is a group that promotes constitutional governance.
However, in 2015, a complaint was filed against him with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which decided that Calzone should have been registering as a lobbyist and would need to in the future.
In fighting that decision, Calzone won a ruling from Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem that he did not have to register or pay a $1,000 fine to the MEC.
But, the appeals court found that Calzone had not exhausted his ability to appeal the MEC decision before he went to court.
The ruling said because other remedies were available, it was an “abuse of discretion” for Beetem to block the MEC from further pursuing its case against Calzone.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases

San Francisco Chronicle: Court restores activist’s fight with Missouri ethics panel (In the News)

By Associated Press 
A Missouri appellate court says a judge’s blocking an ethics panel from requiring a conservative activist to register to lobby the Legislature was premature.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a Missouri Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday allows the Missouri Ethics Commission to again begin a hearing over whether Ron Calzone can appear before the House and Senate without formally registering.
Calzone heads the Missouri First group that promotes limited government.
He speaks to lawmakers often at public hearings but says he doesn’t buy food or gifts for them.
The commission in 2015 fined Calzone $1,000 and barred him from trying to influence potential state legislation until he registers and files expenditure reports. But a Missouri judge last year tossed that case and barred any further action on it.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases, Uncategorized

Portland Mercury: A National Right-Wing Group Wants to Keep Big Money in County Elections (In the News)

Portland Mercury: A National Right-Wing Group Wants to Keep Big Money in County Elections By Doug Brown “They gave me a call,” says TAO Executive Director Jason Williams. “And I’m glad they’re around. I hate these laws that try to limit free speech.” Owen Yeates, the lead CCP attorney representing TAO in opposing the reform […]

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

SCOTUSblog: Wednesday round-up (In the News)

By Edith Roberts 
At the Center for Competitive Politics, Luke Wachob “discusses three consequences of an America without the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Buckley v. Valeo,” and concludes that “[p]reserving Buckley is essential to protecting the First Amendment right to free speech.” 

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

SF Gate: Experts defend, oppose Electoral College, campaign finance rules (In the News)

By Bob Egelko  
The Electoral College is good for democracy and regulation of political campaign financing is generally bad, one expert on election laws told a judicial conference in San Francisco on Tuesday…
Organizers of the panel on law and politics at the annual conference of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were evidently looking for a diversity of viewpoints, and got what they were looking for…
As for regulation, Smith – author of the 2001 book “Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform” – said laws requiring disclosure of campaign contributions provide little useful information to the public. He endorsed the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that allowed corporations and unions, as a matter of free speech, to make unlimited political donations…
Ravel, also former chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said she was particularly concerned with high-tech “micro-targeting” of voting populations, aimed at lowering their turnout with fabricated campaign ads and “fake news spread by bots.”
But Smith said voter participation was suffering because “campaigns are now centralized, in part because you have so many laws.”

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

Courthouse News Service: Voter Fraud Extremely Rare, Conference Panel Agrees (In the News)

Courthouse News Service: Voter Fraud Extremely Rare, Conference Panel Agrees By Matthew Renda Professor Richard Hasen, co-editor of the Election Law Journal, Ann Ravel, a law professor and former chair of the Federal Elections Commission and Bradley Smith, a professor who also formerly chaired the FEC, discussed some of the most pressing issues regarding voter […]

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

Santa Fe New Mexican: Both sides in ‘dark money’ debate voice concerns at hearing (In the News)

Santa Fe New Mexican: Both sides in ‘dark money’ debate voice concerns at hearing By Andrew Oxford Opponents and some supporters of proposed rules to expand required disclosure of political spending agree on one thing: The regulations could reach beyond big-spending “dark money” groups. The first of three public hearings on the rules proposed by […]

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP