By Mark Holden
On Wednesday, September 21, I spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill speaking with free speech thought leaders of all different backgrounds. I want to thank Representative Peter J. Roskam for hosting and inviting me to speak on this panel about the immediate need to defend free speech against current threats it faces on multiple levels. I was joined by Representative Bill Flores,Wall Street Journal Columnist Kim Strassel, Center for Competitive Politics Chairman and Founder Bradley A. Smith, and the panel was moderated by WMAL Radio’s Chris Plante.
Earlier this summer the House passed HR 5053, Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, to protect tax-exempt groups from disclosing their donors. Giving the public access to donor lists will exploit donors and discourage contributions.
By Mark Holden
By Robert Eno
Once again the liberal elites in Hollywood just don’t get it. They rail for more campaign finance regulations, and against Citizens United without really knowing what that means. Content creators should be the ones most thrilled with the ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC … not arguing for its reinstatement. In fact, that viral video with Avengers stars in it from Joss Whedon may have been considered illegal in a pre-Citizens United world…
Here’s a brief discussion of the case from the Cornell University School of Law:
…amici argue, the “onerous burdens” that BCRA places on such broadcasts causes many non-profit corporations, and in turn, their private donors, to simply remain silent rather than search out alternative means of expressing their free speech. – In addition, amici Center for Competitive Politics points to studies that have found that mandatory disclosure requirements, similar to those imposed by BCRA, dissuades many private individuals from participating in political activities.
By Ashley Balcerzak
Lessig continues to push his “plan to save democracy.” He proposed a voucher system, where taxpayers would get a $50 tax refund and use it to donate to congressional candidates who agreed to opt in to the program: If they accepted the vouchers, the only other funds they could take would be individual contributions of $100 or less. Lessig also pushes for matching public funds for campaigns that forgo PAC money…
Others worry about how far the government control would extend.
“When the government is handing out a lot of money to campaigns, it will have an interest that the money isn’t misused and that comes with a lot of risk over the long run,” said David Keating, president of the conservative Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit that advocates for less donor disclosure and higher – or no – limits. “They might want to start controlling what the candidates are allowed to say, like maybe they’ll say there are too many negative ads.”
Bradley A. Smith and Luke Wachob
It should go without saying that legal contributions to super PACs or nonprofits to publicize support for candidates or issues are not in the same arena as illegal contributions to candidates given in exchange for explicit favors.
Reputational risks should be considered in every decision companies make, from marketing their products to contributing to nonprofits. Politics is not unique in this respect. Companies may offend certain customers or shareholders by contributing to art museums that put up controversial displays, or theaters that perform controversial plays. Such offending content may even be political in nature.
In most cases, however, companies decide the benefits of being engaged in the community outweigh the risks. They understand that reasonable people will not hold them responsible for every action from every group that indirectly receives a penny from them. Indeed, polling has found that huge majorities believe it is appropriate for companies to engage in politics when their businesses are affected.
Bill violates 1988 law that bans tax subsidies for politicians Alexandria, VA – The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown today urging him to veto California Senate Bill 1107, which permits the State of California and its localities to subsidize candidate campaigns with Californians’ tax dollars. This action directly violates the Political […]
The measure also calls for an “ethics commission” to examine matters of ethics in government. While this sounds good in theory, the members will be unelected and thus unaccountable to the people, and will likely be comprised of members who are just as partisan as they would be if they came to hold those positions through other means.
IM 22 would also place additional requirements on political speech that would likely have a chilling effect on freedom of speech.
Rhoden invited attendees to read an analysis on the measure done by the Center for Competitive Politics.
The Wall Street Journal editor explained that there is a connection between spending money and getting your message out, and she argued that “the Left loves to regulate money in politics, because that’s a way of regulating their opponents.” If free speech cases like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission are overturned, “the government can decide who can spend money in elections, which is the same as saying who can speak in elections.”
“When you hear ‘campaign finance reform’ or ‘dark money,’ [the Left] is trying to silence you,” declared Matt Nese, director of external relations at the Center for Competitive Politics. He defended each American’s right to donate to political causes, explaining that giving money is another way of speaking out for what you believe in.
Paul H. Jossey
Polls show most people view political spending negatively, as an ill-defined corruption. Candidates notice. Many presidential candidates this year heaped scorn upon “big money,” Super PACs, “dark money,” and so on.
That politicians would embrace popular, feel-good platitudes in an attempt to win support is unremarkable. More interesting is how these former candidates who want more speech limits behaved when the pressure to win conflicts with their rhetoric…
Dan Malloy became the first Connecticut gubernatorial candidate to take public campaign funds. His $6.5 million taxpayer haul included a sworn promise to forgo private contributions over $100. But when reformer bona fides collided with a close reelection, rules became optional. State Democrats helped their vulnerable candidate spending over $300,000 on mailers using prohibited cash.
The state’s sanction against the legislative candidates was for mentioning Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, by name in mailings that referenced “Malloy’s bad policies” and “Malloy’s tax hike” for their own races in 2014, when Malloy was also on the ballot. The lawmakers used similar reference in campaign literature this year and in 2012, but face no sanction because Malloy appeared on the 2014 ballot….
“What Connecticut is trying to do is both ridiculous and likely unconstitutional,” Keating told The Daily Signal in an email.
Still, Keating added that politicizing a program was likely inevitable once the state has the purse strings to campaign funding.
“A government that funds speech will seek to control that speech,” Keating said. “Bureaucrats who control the funding will try to penalize candidates for trivial violations.”
One corollary to the political-money obsession is the complaint that Federal Election Commission enforcement for alleged wrongdoers is too feeble. Critics say its bipartisan structure hampers its ability to regulate all this spending. But the commission’s structure is no accident. As the Center for Competitive Politics noted last year, it was part of the fallout from President Nixon’s partisan skullduggery. Nixon built an enemies list. The White House implemented a staff memo to “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”
Despite the ominous history, progressives insist campaign regulation requires a strongman. A fearless enforcer, imposing Congressional will. Someone who will take the law to its most speech-limiting extreme. And leave pesky constitutional concerns to others…
But power when regulating campaign speech is no virtue. Congress need not enact WTPA to see this model’s deleterious effects. Our democratic laboratories already created one.