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.
By Editorial Board
By Sarah Kleiner
Seizing on the specter of Russian election influence, they’ve ramped up their quixotic effort – with minimal effect – to blunt Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision that unleashed a torrent of special interest spending on U.S. elections.
In doing so, they’ve introduced two dozen bills related to money in politics…
Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican chairman of the FEC, said campaign finance deregulation, in general, makes sense.
Smith, founder and chairman of pro-deregulation nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, sees many of the Democratic proposals on the table now as efforts to rig the system in their favor.
The FEC, for example, isn’t as divided as some people make it out to be; the vast majority of money raised and spent in U.S. elections is already disclosed; and government probably shouldn’t be in the business of financing campaigns, he said.
There’s strong reason to believe people such as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse want reform because “they think it will stifle speech that opposes their agenda,” Smith said.
By Ashley Balcerzak
State lawmakers this year are engaging in full-throated debate on campaign finance proposals – with some surprising outcomes.
New Mexico’s secretary of state may have found a way to enact rules that the governor vetoed months before…
In April, Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, vetoed legislation that doubled contribution limits but tightened donor-disclosure rules.
Just two months later, newly elected Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver proposed a campaign-finance rule that included elements of the failed bill, though not the increased contribution limits. This angered opponents of increased disclosure requirements…
“The proposed rule attempts to legislate rather than implement existing law,” Tyler Martinez, an attorney with the conservative Center for Competitive Politics and no relation to New Mexico’s governor, wrote in public testimony to the secretary of state.
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?”
Americans for Prosperity: Prosperity Podcast #75: Are Democracy Vouchers Good or Bad for Democracy? (In the News)
Should you be taxed to fund political campaigns? Seattle has experimented with so-called democracy vouchers, or tax financed campaigns, and the results haven’t been good. Property taxes on businesses and individuals in the Emerald City have been hiked by $3 million per year to finance these campaigns, and the money has almost all gone to incumbents. Other cities, including Washington, D.C., are considering joining Seattle in tax financed campaigns. Scott Blackburn, a senior research analyst at the Center for Competitive Politics, joins the podcast to explain why that’s a bad idea.
By Jack Crowe
There were 9,791 registered lobbyists at the end of June, the lowest number at any point since 2008, and special interest spending on lobbying reached its lowest point in the last decade in the second quarter of 2017, according to a Boston Globe review of the last decade of lobbying data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Trump administration’s legislative agenda has been marred by a failure to achieve a bipartisan coalition on major legislative priorities. The failure of GOP leadership to whip the necessary votes required for Obamacare repeal in early July likely serves as a signal to special interests that the legislative arena will remain resistant to major breakthroughs for the foreseeable future.
“There’s nothing happening,” Center for Competitive Politics President David Keating told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The fact that nothing is really happening, no legislation is really going anywhere, which means that no one feels the need to ramp up. The biggest bill that came down the pike was the health care bill and nothing came of it.”
By Joe Albanese
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) recently introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow politicians in Washington to limit money that can be spent on campaign speech, as well as give taxpayer dollars to politicians. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has proposed a bill banning congressional candidates from receiving money from political action committees (PACs).
The latter is a particularly stunning attack on the free speech rights of groups of citizens, since PACs are highly regulated organizations that have been part of American elections since the 1940s and can give no more than $5,000 to a candidate. All they do is allow like-minded citizens to join together and pool their contributions in order to promote candidates or causes.
The proposals of these California Democrats would basically give powerful government bureaucrats the final word as to how much you are allowed to spend to express your opinions. Since controlling money means controlling speech, these efforts would greatly undermine the liberties of individuals and organizations alike.
By Luke Wachob
The ability to support causes privately is probably less important to the wealthy than anyone else. People who give millions of dollars to political causes can afford the security they need to be safe from potential harassers. It is the rest of us who might have reason to worry about declaring our political affiliations next to our name, home address, and employer. Yet federal law says that information must be disclosed when a donor gives just $200 to a candidate, PAC, or party.
We should be glad that a small role remains for groups that are unable to comply with the burdens of campaign finance regulations. Forcing citizen groups to operate like PACs would only further alienate Americans from public policy. And in the era of Trump, the benefits of donor privacy are increasingly recognized by progressives.
Surely there are wealthy donors who contribute to nonprofits. But new disclosure rules would barely inconvenience them; they can and do spend most of their political money elsewhere. More importantly, advocacy nonprofits are the best avenue available for average Americans to associate privately in support of a cause without fear of harassment and intimidation. That side of the equation should not be ignored.
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.
By Brendan Kirby
Trump ordered a 90-day pause of travelers from six majority-Muslim nations and a 120-day pause on refugee resettlements to give the government time to implement “extreme vetting” procedures. But appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia, and San Francisco both ruled the executive order unconstitutional and blocked it from taking effect.
The Supreme Court partially reversed that, allowing portions of the ban to take effect. The court has set oral arguments for Oct 10 to consider the underlying merits of the case.
Other briefs filed this month include…
A friend-of-the-court brief by two organizations, the Public Policy Legal Institute and Center for Competitive Politics. They object to the appeals courts assessing motive based on campaign statements: “A judicial review of campaign speech — even speech that sheds light on the reasons for later official action — chills expression and conflicts with numerous long-standing protections for campaign speech.”