By Bradley Smith and Paul Gessing
Doug Nickle’s recent column (“Campaign reporting proposal creates necessary, nation-leading disclosure in NM”) is an example of Orwellian doublespeak at its best…
Even as Nickle urges support for rules reducing citizen privacy, he avers that the organization he lobbies for, Take Back Our Republic, “believe[s] in the individual’s right to both privacy and free speech” and “[t]hat’s why we support New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s proposed rules and regulations.” When the stated purpose of rules is to reduce personal privacy, yet a person tells you he supports them because he believes in privacy, perhaps it is time to be suspicious.
Noting that supporters of privacy have argued that “transparency is for government; privacy is for people,” Nickle also claims, “We couldn’t agree more – which is why we point out that the privacy of any individual or group who gives within the legally prescribed threshold is fully protected; their personal information remains undisclosed.” In other words, your privacy is protected, but only until it crosses a “legally prescribed threshold,” at which point your information will be posted online by government order.
NMPolitics.net: New Mexicans should be suspicious of secretary of state’s anti-privacy rulemaking (In the News)
By Bradley Smith and Paul Gessing
Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle recently noted that “we live in fear of online mobs.”…
McArdle argues that the rise of the Internet and online mobs may require us to rethink “the hard, bright line that classical liberalism drew between state coercion and private versions.”
But what about when government coercion enables the actions of mobs? Such is the case with campaign finance law, in which the government requires individuals who donate to political campaigns to report the candidates they support, the amount of their donations, their addresses, and their employment information, and then publicizes that information…
Today, forced disclosure of political donations is used less to inform voters than to provide information to silence speakers through threats and shunning.
Perhaps it is time to rethink our attitude toward disclosure. At a minimum, we should substantially raise the thresholds at which public disclosure of donors becomes mandatory – currently $200 at the federal level, and much less in most states. We should certainly not expand forced disclosure beyond contributions to candidate campaigns – disclosure laws should not be broadened to encompass membership in and dues and contributions to trade and professional associations, nonprofit organizations, and think tanks.
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.
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 Alex Swoyer
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies pleaded with the Supreme Court this week to update decades-old precedent governing telephones, saying that cell-tracking technology threatens Americans’ most fundamental privacy rights…
Lower courts have split over whether data held by a third party is protected, and Selina MacLaren, an attorney for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Carpenter’s case.
She said the case could even affect the way reporters go about their jobs.
“This type of surveillance threatens to reveal where journalists go and where their sources go,” she said.
David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, said he feared governments trying to monitor Americans engaged in other First Amendment activities such as freedom of association.
“In many respects, this is potentially a lot more serious than all the concern about the NSA telephone call records and where they’ve analyzed calls being made overseas and such, because this is tracking movements of U.S. citizens in the United States and the government being able to get that information without having to get a warrant,” said Mr. Keating.
SiriusXM Patriot: David Keating on The First Amendment in the Social Media Age David Keating, President at the Center for Competitive Politics, speaks with Tom & Deneen Borelli about the First Amendment, Elected Officials and Social Media in light of lawsuits being filed by the ACLU on behalf of constituents who have been blocked by […]
Paul sits down with Scott Blackburn from the Center for Competitive Politics to discuss efforts by New Mexico’s secretary of State to force organizations like Rio Grande Foundation to disclose their donors. They talk about campaign finance issues and why average Americans might not want to be listed in government databases.