Santa Fe New Mexican: Both sides in ‘dark money’ debate voice concerns at hearing By Andrew Oxford Opponents and some supporters of proposed rules to expand required disclosure of political spending agree on one thing: The regulations could reach beyond big-spending “dark money” groups. The first of three public hearings on the rules proposed by […]
Santa Fe New Mexican: Rules combatting “dark money” in politics facing growing opposition (In the News)
By Steve Terrell
In an opinion piece published by The New Mexican this week, Gessing and Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former member of the Federal Election Commission, wrote, “Bureaucratic rule-makings can serve an important function. They help to implement and clarify laws that are passed by the Legislature. But here, instead of implementing the law, the Secretary of State’s Office is enacting rules that were rejected in the constitutional lawmaking process.”…
Toulouse Oliver’s proposed rule is based on a bill that passed the Legislature with bipartisan support this year but was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Martinez wrote in her veto message, “While I support efforts to make our 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. The requirements in this bill would likely discourage charities and other groups that are primarily non-political from advocating for their cause and could also discourage individuals from giving to charities.”
By Rachel del Guidice
“I’ve been contacted by dozens of constituents with concerns over their rights to privacy, and possible harassment by organizations or individuals, or even their employers, if their donation histories are made public,” Oklahoma state Rep. Mark Lepak, a Republican, told The Daily Signal in an email…
Two states known for their donor disclosure laws are California and New York.
Both states “require nonprofits to violate the privacy of their supporters,” Matt Nese, director of external relations at the Center for Competitive Politics, an organization dedicated to defending First Amendment rights, told The Daily Signal in an email.
However, Nese said it is difficult to know how widespread the push for donor disclosure is.
“It’s hard to quantify the exact number of states that have laws on the books requiring nonprofits to report the private information-names, home addresses, and, in some cases, occupations, and employers-of their supporters to the government for publication in a permanent, searchable, online database,” Nese said.
Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics argues that the misnomer of “dark money” is hardly the scourge it’s made out to be.
International Business Times: How Republicans Protect Anonymous Donors And Their ‘Dark Money’ Groups (In the News)
By Josh Keefe
Lawmakers in the current Congress have slipped language into two spending bills to protect so-called “dark money” nonprofits from IRS scrutiny. The provisions prevent the IRS from examining or defining the nebulous rules that govern those groups, which are not required to disclose their donors. Critics say those groups are taking advantage of a broken campaign finance system – and charge that Republicans in both Congress and the Federal Elections Commission are making sure the system doesn’t get fixed.
“Dark money” is a term used to describe spending by nonprofit “social welfare” organizations, usually 501(c)(4) organizations, which are named after the section of the tax code that created them. They are called “dark” because they don’t have to disclose their donors, due to a 1958 Supreme Court decision that ruled the NAACP didn’t have to disclose its donors to the state of Alabama…
Those who defend the practice on free speech grounds believe the term “dark money” is sensationalist, and argue that it accounts for less than five percent of total campaign spending.
A 501(c)(4) can engage in politics and still maintain its tax exempt status so long as politics is not its “primary activity.”
WAMU D.C. Public Radio: Should Taxpayers Help Underwrite Political Campaigns? A Majority of D.C. Council Says Yes (In the News)
By Martin Austermuhle
Dozens of activists, former elected officials and current legislators spoke out Thursday on behalf of a D.C. bill that would create a system of public financing for local campaigns…
But while much of the hearing was an “Amen chorus,” as Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) quipped, Tyler Martinez from the Center for Competitive Politics sounded a note of dissent on whether public financing of campaigns works – and whether it’s worth it.
“These programs have failed to live up to their lofty expectations, while wasting precious taxpayer dollars, and forcing citizens to subsidize the candidacies of individuals with which they may disagree on many issues, including at times highly controversial candidates whom many, if not most, taxpayers oppose,” he said.
By Michael Thielen
Commissioner Weintraub has been championing brazen partisanship inside a federal agency bound by law and the legal scope and jurisdiction of the agency…
Former FEC Chairman Brad Smith wrote recently that Weintraub should resign immediately because her attacks against Trump and his White House Counsel Don McGahn are in danger of jeopardizing the real work and mission of the FEC.
“Weintraub has placed herself in a position where any participation by her in a matter involving the Trump campaign could jeopardize any agency finding against the campaign. . . . For some time now, Weintraub has apparently given up on the substantive work of the FEC in favor of pursuing her obsession with McGahn (who left the Commission nearly four years ago) and political grandstanding.”
Smith goes on from there to describe the often silly and unprofessional behavior Weintraub has exhibited in her crusade against Trump. Weintraub’s antics are embarrassing enough for a once-respected agency with a reputation for, if not pure impartiality, the ability to get the work done in spite of political differences.
Now, Weintraub threatens to make it nearly impossible for the FEC to remain impartial on any matter regarding President Trump.
By Tyler O’Neil
As if the 2016 presidential primaries and general election were not enough, the Georgia 6 special election underscored that money does not win elections. This special election was the most expensive House election in U.S. history, and the candidate who spent the most lost.
Ossoff’s campaign raised and spent $24 million, while Handel’s campaign only raised and spent $4.5 million. Handel did receive more support from outside groups ($18.2 million supporting her or attacking Ossoff) than Ossoff did (just under $8 million supporting him or attacking Handel). But Ossoff still received $10 million more in support than Handel…
Money does not win elections, votes do. “Campaign spending facilitates speech, and ads can only persuade voters who support the candidate’s message,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, told PJ Media.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
Relying on statements President Donald Trump made during his campaign to argue against his proposed immigration restrictions could chill free speech in campaigns, posing “an unacceptable risk to First Amendment interests,” according to a new brief filed with the Supreme Court ( Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, U.S. No. 16-1436, brief filed 6/9/17).
The friend-of-the-court brief filed by the nonprofits Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) and Public Policy Legal Institute (PPLI) urges the high court to grant review of a lower court decision that struck down Trump’s executive order…
“A 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,” the brief said…
Dickerson, CCP’s legal director, said in a statement regarding the new Supreme Court brief in the travel-ban case: “If courts begin probing campaign statements to determine the legality of later official actions, candidates will be less inclined to give their frank opinions. The true victims of this principle are voters, who rely on unfiltered campaign speech to evaluate candidates’ fitness for office.”
Capital Research Center: “Dark Money” Funding Drops to 2.9% of All 2016 Campaign Spending (In the News)
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.