By Richard Winger
On September 5, the Libertarian National Committee filed this 27-page brief in Libertarian National Committee v Federal Election Commission, U.S. District Court, D.C., 1:16cv-121. The issue is whether it is constitutional for the federal government to prevent the party from receiving a bequest of amounts greater than $33,900 in any one year…
This is the second such lawsuit. The first one, when Raymond Burrington died and left the party $217,734, took so long to adjudicate, the money had all been possessed by the party before it was over, so it was declared moot. This case was filed in 2016 and is likely to be quicker, because some of the issues were already settled in the first lawsuit.
This new case is stronger than the last one, because in late 2014, Congress passed a budget bill that said national political parties could receive contributions almost ten times higher, if the money was used for one of three purposes: legal, national convention expenses, or headquarters expenses. The party argues that if such big contributions are now legal if a party wants to use the money just for those purposes, then a general gift to such a party can’t possibly cause corruption.
Ballot Access News: Libertarian Party Files Brief Attacking Federal Campaign Limit on Bequests (In the News)
By Richard Winger
By Editorial Board
Thanks to a provision of Proposition 73, an initiative approved by voters in 1988, local governments and the state of California can’t create public financing systems for political campaigns. (There’s an exception for charter cities. Six California charter cities, including San Francisco, have adopted limited public funding programs to match small campaign contributions.)
Last year, the state Legislature passed SB 1107, a measure from state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, to allow cities, counties and the state to provide public financing for campaigns…
Unfortunately, Judge Timothy Frawley, of the Sacramento Superior Court, just struck down the new law, arguing that it didn’t “further the purpose” of Proposition 73.
Allen has said he’ll urge Attorney General Xavier Becerra to pursue an appeal. He should do so.
But, ultimately, the final approval may need to come from the voters.
Los Angeles Times: Judge invalidates law that would have allowed public financing of political campaigns in California (In the News)
By Patrick McGreevy
A Superior Court judge has struck down a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that would have allowed cities, counties and the state to provide public financing of political campaigns, ruling that it violates a ban on that use of taxpayer dollars established nearly 30 years ago, officials said Monday.
Judge Timothy M. Frawley in Sacramento ruled that the financing law, which was signed last September, “directly contradicts” Proposition 73, an initiative approved by voters in 1988 that bans use of public money for campaigns.
The judge ruled the new law did not “further the purpose” of Proposition 73, which is the only means in which the Legislature can amend a law passed by the voters…
“We are very pleased with the decision,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which filed the lawsuit against Brown.
“It’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars when taxpayer dollars are limited,” Coupal added. “And you are in a situation where the government is picking winners and losers, because how do you decide who gets it [money] and who doesn’t?”
By John Ryder
In 2016, Multnomah County, Oregon, passed, and voters approved, a measure which created contribution limits, expenditure limits, registration requirements, and disclosure requirements for spending related to county races. The expenditure limits provide that individuals and entities may only spend money if the money was collected subject to the contribution limits.
The new rules also limit aggregate independent expenditures per election cycle for individuals and political committees, impose no independent expenditure limits on small donor committees, and completely prohibit independent expenditures by all other entities, including corporations and non-profit organizations.
The primary problem with this misguided effort restricting constitutional rights of political speech is that it ignores not only Citizens United but also 40 years of settled campaign finance case law…
Multnomah County filed a petition for validation of the rule in Oregon state court in May. The Taxpayers Association of Oregon, represented by the Center for Competitive Politics, is seeking to intervene in the case and has masterfully outlined the legal problems with new rules and with the rule’s supporters’ arguments.
Reason: Trump Attacks on Washington Post Illustrate Importance of Citizens United By Ed Krayewski Absent this protection, the federal government could decide that the Washington Post, as Trump claims, was a sort of lobbying arm of Amazon, and thus muzzle their election-related speech. It’s not theoretical. Before Citizens United, as A. Baron Hinkle has pointed […]
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.
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.
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.
By Aurora Barnes
The petition of the day is:
Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Hill
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.
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.