By CRC Staff
In a new issue brief, the Center for Competitive Politics reveals that so-called “dark money” funding decreased to only 2.9% of all campaign spending during the 2016 general election. Further analysis shows that “dark money” from nonprofit groups has never exceeded 5% of campaign spending in the last six election cycles, and continues to decline.
A part of the larger debate on money in politics, “dark money” is election funds spent by politically active nonprofit groups that are not required by law to report the private information of donors for non-earmarked contributions.
Capital Research Center: “Dark Money” Funding Drops to 2.9% of All 2016 Campaign Spending (In the News)
By CRC Staff
By Kenneth P. Doyle
Undisclosed donors provided nearly half of the more than $20 million in outside campaign spending in three closely watched, current congressional election races, a Bloomberg BNA review of Federal Election Commission reports found…
In reality, the CCP study said, nonprofits that spend money in campaigns but disclose none of their donors consistently account for less than 5 percent of reported political spending. Regulated political committees and others, like the media, “continue to have the most prominent voices in elections” the CCP said.
Allowing a small role for nonprofits doesn’t “drown out” candidates or undermine disclosure but adds to the diversity of views necessary in a healthy democracy, the CCP said.
By Chris Adams
David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, hears all about efforts to “reform” campaign finance and he asks, Why?
Reviewing the literature on electoral competitiveness, public corruption and the flow of money into campaigns, Keating finds no relationship between money spent and important indicators of robust politics or clean governance. Since adoption of the Federal Election Campaign Act in the 1970s, for example, the number of elections with double-digit shifts in Republican or Democratic seats in Congress has dropped. And over the past 40 years, trust in government has dropped as well.
“I think the impact of these contributions is way overblown,” said Keating.
Keating and his center work to promote and defend First Amendment rights to free political speech, engaging in litigation and training designed to ease restrictions on political donations. In a presentation with NPF Paul Miller fellows, Keating said he would like to get rid of contribution limits to campaigns; substantially raise the financial threshold for something being declared a political action committee; and raise the threshold for what constitutes a small donor who doesn’t have to be disclosed (right now, it’s $200; he would raise that to $1,000).
By Renee Giachino
Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and Former FEC Chairman, discusses three significant victories for free speech rights that directly impact average Americans, including donor privacy and the elevation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court Justice.
By Michael De Yoanna
Twelve members of Congress are supporting the Restoring Integrity to America’s Election Act, including two from Colorado: Reps. Ken Buck and Jared Polis, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively.
Buck said the commission was “set up in a way that invited deadlock, and that’s just what we’ve got.”…
The act seeks to reduce the number of commissioners from six to five. No more than two members of the commission could be from the same party. A fifth proposed commissioner would be the chairperson and nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for a 10-year term.
Groups like Issue One, a bipartisan advocacy organization focused on government ethics and political reform, are supporting the legislation as a way to restore enforcement surrounding money in politics.
Other groups, like the Center for Competitive Politics, worry that the bill’s deciding presidential pick would create an ideological tilt on the commission.
“It would transform campaign finance law enforcement into a partisan exercise, no matter how the agency markets itself,” the group said in a press release.
By Trip Jennings
The governor vetoed Senate Bill 96…
“While I support efforts to make political process more transparent, the broad language in the bill could lead to unintended consequences that would force groups like charities to disclose the names and addresses of their contributors in certain circumstances,” Martinez wrote in her veto message…
Critics of the legislation, however, celebrated Martinez’s decision to kill the legislation, saying it preserved contributors’ privacy when they donate money to nonprofits involved in the political process.
Bradley A. Smith, chairman of The Center for Competitive Politics, which touts itself as the country’s largest nonprofit defending First Amendment political speech rights, lauded Martinez for siding “with the First Amendment by vetoing this poorly written bill.”
“The purpose of disclosure laws is to allow people to monitor their government, not the other way around,” he said in a statement. “If this complex bill would have become law, only groups that could afford lawyers could safely speak out about elected officials. We should make it easy for groups of all sizes to exercise their free speech rights.”
By Trip Jennings
Senate Bill 96 would have required nonprofit groups that pay more than $1,000 for political advertising or campaigning to file a report with the Secretary of State’s Office detailing the expense and the organization’s donors. The bill would also have required that political advertisements include a disclaimer identifying the buyer…
In her veto message, Martinez echoed the concerns of critics who argued the bill would chill political advocacy, saddle nonprofit organizations with reporting requirements and drive donors away from some charities.
National groups on both sides of the issue lobbied on the bill to the end.
“The purpose of disclosure laws is to allow people to monitor their government, not the other way around,” said Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia-based group that opposes transparency in campaign finance laws.
David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics, discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court order in Independence Institute v. FEC, which marked a sad day for the First Amendment and for the right to criticize government, and the dangers invasive disclosure requirements pose to Americans’ First Amendment rights.
On paper, McGahn, who is 48, wasn’t an obvious choice for White House counsel. He has never previously worked in a presidential administration, and he has all the attributes of the Washington elites whom Trump has denounced. (One attendee of McGahn’s 2010 wedding says it was like “a convention for election lawyers.”) Trump vowed to get big money out of politics, while McGahn has spent much of his legal career helping candidates and donors stretch the limits of campaign finance laws…
Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell cut a deal in the summer of 2008 to end the FEC’s impasse when they confirmed a slate of new commissioners, McGahn among them. From the beginning, McGahn made clear he felt no kinship with his new employer. “A lot of the staff said, ‘Welcome to the agency. It’s so nice to have you join us,'” recalls Eric Wang, an election lawyer who got to know McGahn while working for another Republican commissioner. “He made a point of saying, ‘I’m not joining you,'” making it clear that he was not there to collaborate with the career agency staff, but rather to serve as a check on them.
Daily Signal: Judge Warns 9th Circuit’s Use of Trump Campaign Pledge ‘Judicial Psychoanalysis’ (In the News)
By Fred Lucas
A federal judge is raising an alarm about “judicial psychoanalysis” resulting from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on President Donald Trump’s executive order…
Applying campaign statements when interpreting law “sows chaos,” said Judge Alex Kozinski, who has been on the 9th Circuit since 1985, in his dissent…
The 9th Circuit majority cited three Supreme Court cases displaying precedent that “evidence of purpose beyond the face of the challenged law” can be applied in interpreting the intent of a measure…
However, those cases pertained to deliberations in making the law rather than campaign promises, noted Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group that opposes restrictions on campaign speech.
“It’s definitely unusual for judges to use campaign statements to define whether an action is constitutional,” Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told The Daily Signal. “I doubt it would chill campaign speech, but it is a dangerous path. This could be very selectively enforced for candidates that use shorthand or off-the-cuff remarks. Already political discourse is too scripted. If this becomes a precedent, it will mean no spontaneity and pure teleprompter.”