State Press Releases and Blogs

CCP Releases New Research on Clean Elections and Scandals

Sarah Lee, Communications Director,

Center for Competitive Politics

703.894.6824

[email protected]

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Center for Competitive Politics has recently released a new research report titled, “Clean Elections and Scandal: Case Studies from Maine, Arizona and New York City.” The report, which details the potential for scandal inherent the matching funds programs included in many states “Clean Elections” legislation, was compiled and produced by Jason Farrell of CCP’s Research Department.

The report uses data collected from a number of news reports and official sources that detailed problems with Clean Election systems in the state campaign finance systems in Maine, Arizona, and New York City. In light of the June 27, 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett that stated the use of “matching funds,” whereby a privately-financed candidate for political office would be forced to trigger state-granted matching funds for any publicly-funded opponent if he or she spent above a certain threshold, were an unconstitutional demand on a candidate whose speech would be chilled by the mandate, the goal was to show how these programs not only fail to deter corruption, they can often exacerbate it, and public funds granted to candidates are often wasted in ways that are both difficult to prove and difficult to track.

 

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State Press Releases and Blogs, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Maine

CCP calls for repeal of National Popular Vote compact in Mass.

The Center for Competitive Politics called on Massachusetts state legislators to support a bill that would remove Massachusetts from the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact.

Enacting House Bill 1977 has the potential to mitigate a host of Constitutional issues that could destabilize the electoral system should the NPV agreement take effect. The NPV is an agreement between a handful of states to have their presidential electors vote for the candidate who receives the most votes nationally, rather than the winner of their state, in an attempt to subvert the Electoral College.

“One of the largest concerns is that states may attempt to withdraw from the system for partisan advantage, triggering both a political and a Constitutional crisis,” said CCP President Sean Parnell.

This is not an idle concern. State legislatures have a history of changing election rules for partisan advantage. Specifically, the Center’s letter to lawmakers point to events in Massachusetts, where the legislature changed the laws regarding vacant U.S. Senate seats twice in recent years to favor partisan interests. Adopting the NPV would mean presidential elections would be vulnerable to these sorts of high-stakes political games.

“The electoral college is an important part in the system of Constitutional checks and balances in our country,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “Modifying the way we elect the president to a system that increases the chances of electoral chaos and voter anger is not in the best interest of our country.”

In addition, under our current system, ballot fraud currently only impacts the areas in which they occur. If elections were changed to the NPV plan, election fraud in other states impacts how another state allocates its delegates. This magnifies the uncertainty and chaos of ballot recounts and ultimately serves to undermine the validity of the results.

The Electoral College serves a vital function in our Constitutional system. Ensuring its integrity is an important part of maintaining the smooth transitions of power that enables our country’s political system to work with relatively little strife, free from major power grabs.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

CCP: National Popular Vote initiative a poor choice for Oregon

The Center for Competitive Politics sent letters to Oregon state legislators expressing concerns about pending legislation regarding switching to a National Popular Vote (NPV) from the current Electoral College system.

Changing to a popular vote system is likely to trigger a host of Constitutional issues that could destabilize the electoral system. One of the largest concerns is that states may attempt to withdraw from the system for partisan advantage, triggering both a political and a Constitutional crisis.

“This would not be without precedent,” said CCP President Sean Parnell.  “State legislatures have a history of changing the rules in order to hurt their political opposition.”

Specifically, the Center’s letter points to events in Massachusetts, where the legislature changed the laws regarding vacant U.S. Senate seats twice in recent years to favor partisan interests. Adopting the NPV would mean presidential elections would be open to these sorts of high-stakes political games.

“The electoral college is an important part in the system of checks and balances in our country,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “Changing the way we elect the president in favor of a system that increases the chances of electoral chaos and voter anger is not in the best interest of our country.”

Another concern is that ballot fraud currently only impacts the areas in which they occur. If elections were changed under the NPV plan described by House Bill 3517 and Senate Bill 885, election fraud in other states impact how another state allocates its delegates. In addition, this would magnify the uncertainty and chaos of ballot recounts and ultimately serve to undermine the legitimacy of the results.

“The Electoral College serves a vital function in our Constitutional system,” said Parnell. “The NPV represents a step backwards for the rights of Oregon’s citizens.”

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

CCP shares concerns over National Popular Vote initiative in Vermont

The Center for Competitive Politics sent letters to Vermont state legislators expressing concerns about pending legislation regarding switching to a National Popular Vote (NPV) from the current Electoral College system.

Changing to a popular vote system is likely to trigger a slew of Constitutional issues that could destabilize the electoral system.  One of the largest concerns is that states may attempt to withdraw from the system for partisan advantage, triggering both a political and a Constitutional crisis.

“This would not be without precedent,” says CCP President Sean Parnell.  “State legislatures have a history of changing the rules in order to hurt their political opposition.”

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

CCP shares concerns over National Popular Vote initiative in Delaware

The Center for Competitive Politics sent letters to Delaware state legislators detailing concerns about pending legislation regarding switching to a National Popular Vote (NPV) from the current Electoral College system.

“Switching to a popular vote system brings along with it a host of political and Constitutional issues that can destabilize the election system,” said CCP President Sean Parnell.  “Our biggest concern is that states may attempt to withdraw from the system and trigger both a political and a Constitutional crisis.  States have a history of changing the rules to hurt their competition.”

The Center’s letter points to the example of Massachusetts, where the legislature changed the laws regarding vacant US Senate seats twice in recent years to favor partisan interests, as an example of the sort of high-stakes political games that the NPV would enable.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

NYC pension hacks and investment activists mau-mau employers

Back in the day when New Journalism was both new and journalism, Tom Wolfe’s influential essay Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers described how activists manipulated the City of San Francisco’s poverty programs through confrontation and intimidation.

Today, the confrontation involves self-appointed corporate governance advocates, aligned with New York City’s Comptroller. Their goal is to manipulate the governance policies of a broad array of companies. Companies that, by the way, employ people—who then pay taxes and fees that fund federal, state and local governments, and invest in many of the same companies.

Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, Corporate Governance State, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

State lawmakers to take up subsidies for Albany pols

Despite proposing some common-sense reforms, many of the ethics and campaign finance proposals pending in the New York legislature are at odds with the First Amendment and seem unlikely to achieve the bill’s intended goals.

In a letter to New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Center for Competitive Politics examines the legal and policy problems with New York Assembly Bill 1267 and other proposals not yet introduced as legislation.

The bill advances some sensible proposals, such as the creation of an investigatory state ethics board, mandating disclosure of candidate income, and tightening usage of campaign contributions. However, additional problematic proposals include singling out state contractors and lobbyists for lower contribution limits and creating a system of tax financed elections.

“Other states that have implemented tax financing programs cannot show a single, tangible ‘benefit’ from the programs besides the ever increasing number of politicians willing to sign up for campaign welfare,” said Laura Renz, CCP’s Director of Research and Government Relations. “There’s no evidence to support the notion that opening the public purse to subsidize lawmakers’ campaigns will reduce corruption.”

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Contribution Limits State, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs, Maine

N.H. Supreme Court protects political speech rights

In an opinion issued today, the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that stripped a cell phone tower company of its First Amendment rights by subjecting its political speech to the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

“This ruling vindicates the First Amendment rights of companies to speak out on politics, allowing citizens to decide the merits of proposals,” said Stephen M. Hoersting, the vice president of the Center for Competitive Politics and the author of a friend-of-the-court brief in this case. “In New Hampshire, small businesses no longer have to worry that their competitors could use commercial speech codes to silence honest debate over political issues.”

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

Group questions proposed Calif. campaign finance law

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), a national campaign finance think tank, wrote California lawmakers today to express concerns about a bill that would infringe upon the free speech rights of Golden State residents.

Assembly Bill 919 would mandate burdensome and impractical requirements on companies by requiring a 60 day period during which shareholders must approve the company’s political expenditures.

“This barrier to political speech is unwieldy and probably unconstitutional,” said CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz, “It would be almost impossible for many companies to engage in effective political speech under this delayed process and raises equal protection issues because a similar provision would not apply to labor unions.”

Filed Under: External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State, State Press Releases and Blogs

CCP’s Renz testifies on New York campaign finance bills

Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz will testified today at a New York State Senate Committee on Elections hearing.

The state Senate is considering several bills that would impose campaign finance restrictions ranging from contribution limits, taxpayer financing of campaigns and so-called pay-to-play curbs.

A bill supposedly designed to increase disclosure of corporate political spending following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission would instead empower incumbents and other influential interests to pressure citizens and groups.

“Campaign finance laws should be designed to allow citizens to serve as a watchdog for their government, not to allow government and other activists to become modern day McCarthys,” Renz said.

CCP provided research to the committee on campaign finance issues, including data showing that contribution limits do not have an impact on political corruption. Utah and Virginia, for example, both have no limits on campaign contributions yet are well-governed. There is no correlation between a state’s corruption level as measured by the Department of Justice and its campaign finance restrictions.

“Overly complex and punitive campaign finance regulation discourages political participation and forces individuals, associations, and candidates to seek other ways of speaking out on important issues,” Renz wrote in prepared remarks. “At its core, campaign finance regulation should aim to be as simple as possible in order to encourage a plethora of voices, both in support of and critical of government and its policies.”

Filed Under: Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Contribution Limits State, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, State Press Releases and Blogs