In the News Our Cases

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

City Journal: Selective Outrage (In the News)

By Mark Pulliam
In her lengthy career as an elected official in California, Harris never hesitated to exercise her power-or silence her political opponents-when it was to her advantage.
For example, as California attorney general, Harris demanded that conservative-leaning nonprofits such as Americans for Prosperity and the Center for Competitive Politics file with her office unredacted donor lists-confidential information typically submitted only to the Internal Revenue Service-exposing supporters of such groups to the risk of disclosure and retaliation. Following Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s forced resignation in 2014 over a $1,000 contribution to the pro-traditional marriage Proposition 8 campaign, Harris’s position was calculated to chill the associational rights of conservative donors. “Outing” donors and exposing them to harassment and retaliation is, unfortunately, a common liberal tactic: in 2012, LGBT activists leaked the identity of donors to the National Organization for Marriage.

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

SCOTUSblog: Petition of the day (In the News)

By Aurora Barnes 
The petition of the day is:
Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Hill
16-1198
Issues: (1) Whether Indiana’s Automatic Dialing Machine Statute creates a content-based restriction that cannot survive strict scrutiny under Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona; and (2) whether the ADMS is a valid time, place and manner restriction.

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

Philanthropy Magazine: The Legal and Political Landscape of Donor Privacy (In the News)

By Sean Parnell
A 2014 lawsuit challenging the California attorney general’s demands, filed by the Center for Competitive Politics, argued that mandatory donor disclosure violates the First Amendment. Several additional 501c3 nonprofit organizations, including The Philanthropy Roundtable, filed amicus briefs in support of CCP’s petition…
Unfortunately, the way campaign finance laws are written they often encompass speech by charities related to issues, not candidates or elections. This is exactly what happened to the Independence Institute, a Colorado-based think tank organized under section 501c3 of the federal tax code and thus prohibited from intervening in elections. In 2014 it wanted to pay for radio advertisements encouraging Coloradoans to contact their two U.S. senators and urge them to support criminal-justice reforms, something well within the scope of proper activity for a charity.
But because one of the state’s two senators was running for re-election at the time, the Independence Institute would have been forced to reveal its major donors if it had run the ads within 60 days of the election. It decided not to run the ads and sued to challenge the application of campaign finance law to organizations that cannot legally engage in election campaigns.

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

Washington Examiner: Courts should undo this dumb, unfair rule on campaign finance (In the News)

By Bradley Smith
In Holmes v. FEC, my organization, the Center for Competitive Politics, represents plaintiffs who are challenging the timing of contribution limits in federal races, but not the limits themselves. Federal law limits donors to contributing $2,700 to a candidate for the primary election, and another $2,700 for the general election. Many incumbents, however, do not face a primary challenger. They can raise $5,400 per donor and effectively spend it all on the general…
This is not fair to donors, it’s not fair to challengers, and it serves no anti-corruption purpose. As President Barack Obama’s former White House Counsel Bob Bauer writes, “donors do not potentially corrupt candidates in the primary, or the general, or a run-off: the corruption, if it occurs, is the result of the amounts given through the date that the candidate is elected to office.”…
It wouldn’t be hard to make the insensible sensible here. Contribution limits should be apportioned by election cycle, rather than split between the general and the primary. A win for the petitioners in Holmes would make the law simpler and fairer, and that’s something we should all get behind.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, In the News Our Cases, Published Articles

Colorado closes free speech case, changes law, pays $220K in attorney’s fees

Alexandria, VA – Attorneys for Colorado and the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a notice in federal court today ending a free speech case that began more than four years ago. It’s the final chapter in a federal lawsuit that saw Colorado’s ballot issue disclosure law partially invalidated under the First Amendment, and forced […]

Filed Under: Blog, Coalition for Secular Government v. Gessler Other Links, CSG v. Gessler, Featured Content, In the News Our Cases, Newsroom, Press Releases, CSG v. Williams, Current Cases (Litigation), Colorado

Indy Star: Vets group petitions Supreme Court to hear robocall case (In the News)

By Fatima Hussein
A group called Patriotic Veterans Inc. is appealing a 7th Circuit Court ruling that said Indiana has a legitimate interest in blocking unwanted, or annoying, automatically dialed phone calls.
The leaders of the veterans advocacy group say there’s a more important principle at stake: the First Amendment right of free speech…
In 35 states, the Patriotic Veterans group places automated calls meant to influence public policy on issues “that matter to veterans and other voters,” its president Paul Caprio told IndyStar. The calls “encourage veterans and others to address their grievances to government officials and facilitate contact between voters and their representatives.”
But Indiana law, particularly Indiana’s Automatic Dialing Machine Statute, bars prerecorded telephone calls that contain political messages…
The statute precludes Patriotic Veterans from placing robocalls even to those who wish to receive them. Violating the law’s prohibition on political speech is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in prison and a fine for each call.
Caprio said he sees Indiana’s regulation on robocalls as a way “to protect legislators who don’t want the annoyance of hearing their constituents’ voice.”

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

Indiana Lawyer: Political group takes ‘robocall’ law challenge to SCOTUS (In the News)

By Dave Stafford
A political advocacy group that wants to strike down Indiana’s ban on robocalls has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the state law it calls the most restrictive in the nation.
“Who is a court to tell us how we have First Amendment rights to communicate with people?” asked Paul Caprio, President of Patriotic Veterans Inc., which is challenging the state law banning political groups from using automatic dialing technology to call Hoosiers.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Patriotic Veterans and upheld I.C. §24-5-14-5 in January…
Illinois-based Patriotic Veterans staged a news conference Tuesday at the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP to announce the filing of a petition for certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take its appeal of the 7th Circuit’s ruling…
The group in a statement said Indiana’s statute “reverses centuries of Supreme Court precedents by elevating commercial speech over First Amendment protected political/issue advocacy speech.”

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

Bloomberg BNA: D.C. Circuit Judges Wary of Challenge to Campaign Contribution Limits (In the News)

By Kenneth P. Doyle
A constitutional challenge to per-election limits on campaign contributions faced skeptical questioning from nearly all the judges of the federal appeals court in Washington during a March 29 hearing.
Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit repeatedly asked attorney Allen Dickerson whether a decision in favor of the challengers in the case, known as Holmes v. Federal Election Commission (D.C. Cir., No. 14-05281, argued 3/29/17), could threaten the whole structure of campaign contribution limits, which has been in place for decades at the federal level and in most states…
Defending the current structure of contribution limits was FEC attorney Erin Chlopak, who faced fewer questions than Dickerson from the appellate judges. Chlopak argued that the existing contribution- limit system should be easy for the court to uphold because a series of Supreme Court decisions, including the landmark 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo and other rulings, have consistently upheld the constitutionality of contribution limits.

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