The Hill: A lesson on abuse of power by Obama and his Senate allies (In the News)

By Bradley A. Smith
Republicans on Capitol Hill are outraged by the announcement that the Department of Justice would stick with the Obama administration decision not to prosecute Lois Lerner…
But congressional Republicans always set the bar both too high and too low when it came to the IRS’s actions. They set it too high in that they immediately declared that the scandal constituted criminal wrongdoing and too low by suggesting that the scandal hinged on a finding of criminal wrongdoing. The real problem was never one of a few rogue IRS employees engaging in criminality. Rather, the IRS scandal was about abuse of power by elected officials, who consciously sought to weaponize the IRS against their political adversaries…
In the end, Lerner is something of a sideshow. The real problems are first, the president and leaders in Congress should not use their power to pressure the bureaucracy to do their partisan bidding, and second, if you give government the tools to regulate political speech, the government will weaponize them for partisan gain by the party in power. No “criminal” behavior is necessary. That, and not the tea party, is what threatened democracy then and now. Too bad that’s not the IRS scandal Congress chose to focus on.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Washington Examiner: The Left again tries to prohibit corporate giving to nonprofits and think tanks (In the News)

By Bradley A. Smith 
Although the CPA-Zicklin Index attracts a steady stream of media attention, it does not take seriously the potential value of corporate engagement in public policy discussions. Its authors claim merely to want corporations to disclose their giving to nonprofits and advocacy groups, but they are just as happy (and perhaps happier) if that giving dries up altogether.
Don’t take it from me: The 2017 edition of the Index released last week uses the words “prohibition,” “prohibit,” “prohibiting,” and “prohibited” more than 50 times. It celebrates that, among companies it has tracked since 2015, “the number that fully disclose or prohibit political contributions from corporate funds has increased.”
There are a lot of problems with the CPA-Zicklin report, starting with the basic fact that all corporations are already required by law to disclose their political contributions to candidates, parties, and PACs. What, then, is CPA-Zicklin even talking about? In fact, what it calls “political contributions” are actually contributions to charities, think tanks, nonprofit civic organizations, and trade associations that engage in civic discourse about public policy. Corporations that give to the “wrong” organizations (ones with a conservative tilt or message) are then targeted by the Left for harassment and boycotts.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Published Articles

Washington Post: The most and least transparent companies for political spending (In the News)

By Jena McGregor 
The report released Tuesday, by the nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, creates an index that ranks companies based on the disclosure, oversight and policies about their election-related spending…
The study ranks companies based on the information they provide on their web sites about factors such as payments to super PACs and tax-exempt organizations like 501(c)(4)s, whether or not senior managers or board members oversee political spending and activities, and what kind of policies they outline for how and where money can be spent…
One critic of the index is the Center for Competitive Politics’ Brad Smith, a former Federal Election Commission chair who says much political spending by corporations is already disclosed and that the index is a “one-size-fits-all” model that does not necessarily have corporations’ best interests at heart. He suggests those behind the index “tend to think corporate involvement is a bad thing — they want to get corporations not to participate. But most Americans, I think, believe corporations do have a role to play in terms of politics.”

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

Daily Caller: Is Facebook Using Foreign Influence As An Excuse To Censor Conservatives? (In the News)

By Michael Thielen 
Political speech is rightly entitled to the highest level of protection under the First Amendment, as freedom to discuss political views and criticize the government form the foundation of our constitutional system of government.
Foreign persons and entities are completely prohibited from making contributions or spending money related to any federal, state, or local election in the U.S. …
In Congress, Democrats have recently introduced the DISCLOSE Act of 2017 aimed at “reforming” the FEC to give it greater power to restrict speech and enacting more burdensome requirements on political speech. While this proposal is couched in the currently popular language about foreign interference in our elections, it is just a recycled version of legislation introduced annually since Citizens United was decided in 2010, as a barely disguised and unconstitutional effort to overturn it…
While we may resent many attempts at interference in our elections, it is more of a foreign policy matter than a campaign finance or disclosure matter. But what we cannot do is allow this resentment to fuel so-called reforms that clearly infringe upon Americans’ right or ability to engage in political speech.

Filed Under: In the News

CT Viewpoints: Finally, taxpayers might be off the hook for funding election campaigns (In the News)

By Alex Cordell 
So, after almost $75 million in taxpayer dollars, what have voters received from their “clean elections” program? Not much.
An analysis by the Center for Competitive Politics found no change in the voting behavior of legislators who used tax dollars for their re-election campaigns. The program didn’t change their tendency to side with organized interests when bills came to the floor. Another study released in 2010 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at similar tax-financing programs in Arizona and Maine, which have existed since 2000. The GAO analyzed five goals set by each state after the creation of their tax-financing programs, but couldn’t find any evidence they had been achieved. The program also shamefully forces Connecticut residents to subsidize candidacies they may disagree with.
Advocates of the Citizens’ Election Program, and tax-financing schemes more broadly, ignore the reality that these programs have failed to solve the corruption problem in government… 
In fact, in the years since Connecticut adopted its tax-financing system, several instances of corruption from “clean election” candidates have surfaced. Many have been investigated or even convicted for the same crimes that spurred calls for tax-financing in the first place.  

Filed Under: Alex Cordell, In the News, Published Articles

Morning Consult: Lawmakers See Need to Enhance Transparency of Online Political Ads (In the News)

By Edward Graham 
Bradley Smith, a former Republican FEC chairman and the current chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, cautioned against a rush to impose new disclosure requirements that might limit First Amendment rights before understanding the extend of foreign involvement in the presidential election.
Smith added that current federal law already requires disclaimers for paid ads supporting or opposing candidates, including those online – although he said there are exemptions for smaller campaign items, like bumper stickers and small internet ads like Google search advertisements.
“I think we need to be careful about what the response should be, making changes that we can make that are effective,” Smith said in a Wednesday phone interview. “But we should realize that, if this is really a case of the Russian government involved, this is something in which the FEC and campaign finance disclosures have a really small role to play. It’s really something for counterintelligence operations or the Department of Justice.”
An FEC spokesperson would not comment on Klobuchar and Warner’s legislative efforts, but pointed to the commission’s vote at its Sept. 14 open meeting to reopen the comment period on proposed rulemaking on internet disclaimers for an additional 30 days.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

Shadowy Network of Fake Charities Coordinates with Corporation and U.S. Senator to Launch Assault on Health Care Bill

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is a for-profit commercial enterprise owned by The Walt Disney Company, the second-largest media corporation in the world in terms of revenue. Jimmy Kimmel Live! is a nightly ABC television show. For over a week, Jimmy Kimmel, the host and star of the ABC show, has devoted much of his […]

Filed Under: Blog, ABC, Graham-Cassidy, Issue Advocacy, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Media

Brookings Institution Panel Says Democracy is in Crisis without (More) Regulation of Political Speech

On Wednesday, the Brookings Institution hosted an event entitled “Democracy at risk: Solving critical problems threatening U.S. elections.” It was billed as a discussion about the “challenges” of the opened “floodgates to Super PAC and secret money in U.S. elections.” Besides the panel, Brookings also distributed a list of specific policy objectives from Democracy 21, […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Super PACs, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing, Brookings Institution, Buckley v. Valeo, Common Cause, CREW, David Price, Democracy 21, Democracy Vouchers, federal election commission, Fred Wertheimer, Karen Hobert Flynn, McDonnell v. U.S., Norm Eisen, Richard Painter, Seattle, Tom Udall, Udall Amendment

CCP Statement on Russian Purchases of Internet Ads

Alexandria, VA – The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released the following statement today from former Federal Election Commission and CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith: “Reports that Russian entities purchased political ads on Facebook have intensified concern about foreign influence in U.S. election campaigns. Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar are drafting legislation in response. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) unanimously agreed to […]

Filed Under: Blog, Newsroom, Press Releases, Facebook, federal election commission, Foreign Influence, Internet Speech, Russia, Social Media

Democracy = National Security ≠ Need for More Regulation of Political Speech

Last Wednesday, Issue One, a group that advocates for more government regulation of political speech, held an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It was a fitting location for a succinctly titled panel discussion, “Democracy = National Security.” Throughout the hour-long event, a number of former members of Congress and appointed public […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Federal, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, FEC, federal election commission, Issue One, National Security