Communications

The Hill: Congress should protect political speech by ignoring Disclose Act (In the News)

By Bradley Smith and Eric Wang
This latest allegation of foreign interference with our elections inevitably will be used as fodder to support the newest iteration of the so-called “Disclose Act.” Over the summer, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced a tweaked version of this perennial bill to include features he claimed would “head off foreign election interference.” Upon closer inspection, the legislation turns out to be an exercise in distraction rather than disclosure. The bill’s foreign spending provisions are poorly disguised ploys for clamping down on public debate and dissent…
Aside from its foreign national provisions, the latest Disclose Act also contains numerous purported disclosure requirements (hence its name). But those disclosure provisions are also ploys to shut down political speech. For example, the bill would require any corporation (even one that has no foreign owners at all) making a “campaign-related disbursement” to disclose all of its “beneficial owners,” a term which likely includes any shareholder…
Whitehouse’s latest Disclose Act also would expand the existing “electioneering communications” law to regulate ads that merely mention a congressional candidate or a member of Congress up for reelection beginning on the first day of an election year through Election Day.

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

Federal Appeals Court Urged to Rule that Missouri Can’t Force Volunteers to Register as Lobbyists

Attorneys say First Amendment guarantees right to petition government Alexandria, VA – A volunteer who talks to state legislators asked a federal appeals court late yesterday to rule that the First Amendment bars the state of Missouri from forcing him to register and report like a professional lobbyist. Ron Calzone volunteers his time and pays […]

Filed Under: Blog, Calzone v MEC, Newsroom, Press Releases

2017 DISCLOSE Act Would Unconstitutionally Restrict Speech, CCP Analysis Finds

Alexandria, VA – The Center for Competitive Politics released an analysis today by Senior Fellow Eric Wang regarding the latest iteration of the DISCLOSE Act. Similar proposals have been introduced in Congress dating back to 2010 with the aim of creating a “deterrent effect” on political speech. The “DISCLOSE Act of 2017” (S. 1585) may […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Comments, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Federal Comments and Testimony, Issues, Newsroom, Press Releases, DISCLOSE Act of 2017, Donor Privacy, Electioneering Communications, foreign nationals, Harassment, sheldon whitehouse

Analysis of the “DISCLOSE Act of 2017” (S. 1585): New Bill, Same Plan to Crack Down on Speech

PDF of Legislative Brief available here By Eric Wang, Senior Fellow[1] Introduction and Executive Summary Ever since the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United ruling in 2010,[2] opponents of the decision in Congress have been trying to counteract it with the “DISCLOSE Act” (“Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act”). Sen. […]

Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Comments, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, Federal Comments and Testimony, Issues, DISCLOSE Act of 2017, Donor Privacy, Electioneering Communications, foreign nationals, Harassment, sheldon whitehouse

Cato Institute Holds First Amendment-Focused Constitution Day Symposium

On Monday, the Cato Institute held a day-long symposium entitled “The Supreme Court: Past and Prologue – A Look at the October 2016 and 2017 Terms.” The event coincided with the release of the newest issue of the Cato Supreme Court Review, which provides an annual look at the preceding term and future path of […]

Filed Under: Blog, Cato Institute, Constitution Day, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, IRAP v. Trump, Matal v. Tam, Supreme Court, The Slants

Law360: Texan FEC Pick Unlikely To Be Derailed By Tweet Drama (In the News)

By Michelle Casady  
Trainor has previously represented conservative group Empower Texans, which has fought the Texas Ethics Commission on the disclosure of political donors.
But David Keating, president of the nonprofit group Center for Competitive Politics, an organization whose stated mission is to “promote and defend First Amendment rights” said there is a big difference between being a lawyer, paid to advocate for your client, and being a commissioner on the FEC. Naysayers may be conflating the two, he said.
Keating, who said he has met Trainor on a few occasions while in Austin testifying before the Texas Ethics Commission, said Trainer is “very knowledgeable” on election law.
“There are groups that don’t like him, so they’re trying to dig up what they can to make it controversial,” he said. “Trey clearly is someone who believes in free speech. I think he’s going to apply the law as it’s written and not come up with a hair-brained interpretation of what the law is.”
Keating said that although it is historically not common, senators have been able to block some “highly qualified” candidates for the post in the past, such as one put forward by Obama who had to withdraw his nomination, he said. He said he doesn’t think that will happen in Trainor’s case.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Quotes CCP

Bloomberg BNA: Conservatives, Reporters, Farmers Back Robber at Supreme Court (In the News)

By Jordan S. Rubin 
Though the justices are asked to decide whether the Fourth Amendment applies in Carpenter’s case, some of the outside briefs are concerned with another amendment: the First.
One of the First Amendment-focused briefs comes from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 19 media organizations. Another was filed by a diverse band of racial justice and economic freedom groups, led by the Center for Competitive Politics, an organization whose goal, according to its website, is “to promote and defend the First Amendment’s rights to freely speak, associate, assemble, publish, and petition the government.”… 
The competitive politics brief’s concern is that, in “a world where tracking information is so precise that individual rooms can be differentiated, the locations of multiple people can be amalgamated, allowing the government to assemble an extraordinarily precise picture of citizens’ memberships, meetings, and associations.”
Thus, “the government’s warrantless access to this information threatens Americans’ First Amendment right ‘to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing,'” they argue, quoting NAACP v. Alabama…
A ruling against Carpenter, then, could “discourage Americans from engaging in public gatherings and private meetings of all types, chilling both social and political association and the collective speech it fosters,” they conclude. 

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

The Washington Post Smears Free Speech by Some Groups, Not Others

Last week, The Washington Post ran an article titled, “A two-decade crusade by conservative charities fueled Trump’s exit from Paris climate accord.” Of course, a two-decade campaign to force an exit from the Paris Agreement would not make sense – the agreement was only adopted in 2015, and President Trump had already promised during his […]

Filed Under: Blog, Media Watch, CEI, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Myron Ebell, Nonprofit Advocacy, Paris Climate Accord, The Washington Post

National Review: Is Big Ice Cream Trying to Hijack Our Democracy? (In the News)

By Joe Albanese
It may shock you to learn that the multimillionaire co-founder of a global ice-cream empire has been meeting with elected officials in the hopes of fundamentally altering our Constitution. This individual proposes amending the Bill of Rights for the first time to give Congress nearly unlimited power to limit political speech.
That’s right – Big Ice Cream is trying to undermine our democracy. Or at least that’s how it would be put if the wealthy founder of some other, less progressive company tried the same tactics.
In late August, Ben Cohen – the “Ben” in Ben & Jerry’s – appeared at a Philadelphia rally hosted by American Promise, an organization that effectively wants to rewrite the First Amendment…
There is certainly nothing wrong with Cohen’s expressing his views on a political issue. In the past, he has argued that “corporations can serve the needs of society,” in keeping with the increasing demands of the left for progressive corporate activism. The problem is that Cohen’s campaign-finance platform would curtail for others the right that he so proudly exercises – namely, the ability to dedicate resources to causes he cares about. 

Filed Under: In the News, Joe Albanese, Published Articles

NMPolitics.net: New Mexicans should be suspicious of secretary of state’s anti-privacy rulemaking (In the News)

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. 

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