By Tyler O’Neil
When Donald Trump won the presidency on Tuesday night, he didn’t just dash Hillary Clinton’s hopes – he also overcame millions of campaign and “dark money” dollars spent against him. In every area of campaign finance, Clinton’s raised (and almost certainly spent) more money but “money can’t buy you love” – or votes, for that matter.
According to data from the Center for Competitive Politics, Clinton outspent Trump more than 2 to 1, Pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads 3 to 1, “dark money” groups for Clinton outspent those backing Trump 3 to 1, Clinton backers ran 3 times as many ads in battleground states, and the three biggest super PACs each backed a losing candidate.
In other words, if you believe like Bernie Sanders said over and over and over again, that “millionaires and billionaires” buy elections, 2016 should be a blaring wake-up call.
By Tyler O’Neil
Pacific Legal Foundation: Friends of the First Amendment file friend-of-the-court briefs (In the News)
By Wen Fa
Financial regulators targeted Bob Bennie after he made unsavory comments about President Obama. Although Bennie spoke as a tea party activist, the regulators pressured Bennie’s employer to levy financial sanctions on him for sharing his political views. In a Supreme Court petition, PLF explained that the regulators’ actions violate the First Amendment prohibition against government retaliation for speech. This week, several friend-of-the-court briefs reiterated the need for Supreme Court review…
These briefs, along with another friend-of-the-court brief by the Center for Competitive Politics, underscore the importance of Bennie’s petition. Briefing is set to conclude at the end of the year. PLF hopes for a favorable decision at the beginning of 2017.
Filed Under: In the News
By Brad Johnson
Eric Wang, a special counsel in election law in Washington, D.C., warned about the measure before the election in a detailed brief written on behalf of the Center for Competitive Politics. His group did not recommend how to vote, but simply tried to present the facts.
The measure, he said, makes more than 70 changes to South Dakota’s elections law. It greatly restricts freedom of personal and commercial speech, severely restricts campaign contributions and creates a government reporting burden that may not “survive a constitutional challenge in litigation. “This could result in substantial legal fee payments by the state to successful plaintiffs under federal civil rights laws.”…
It “would enact expansive new disclaimer, reporting, and compelled speech requirements for anyone – even an individual – who spends even a minimal amount communicating about issues of public concern.”
This requirement, he said, “would deter and punish the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
By Ken Kurson
According to figures compiled by the Center for Competitive Politics, an Alexandria group that opposes caps on political spending, Clinton’s campaign outspent the Trump campaign by more than 2 to 1…
One of the lessons from this experience comes from David Keating, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics. “Money can’t buy love, and it can’t buy votes. All it can do is help deliver a message. The voters didn’t want what Clinton offered.”…
Keating points to a well-known fact about moneyed candidates: “Lots of politicians spend tons and get few votes or lose.” He told the Observer about a bunch of recent debacles: “Jeb Bush and his super PAC were way ahead in the money race. He got 4 delegates to Trump’s 1543. David Trone spent nearly $10 million of his own money in a Maryland Democratic primary this year. And lost. Napoleon Harris spent $2.1 million the Illinois Democratic primary for Senate, and lost. In 2012, Linda McMahon spent nearly $50 million in personal funds in her CT Senate general election race, and lost. David Dewhurst spent nearly $20 million out of his pocket and lost to Ted Cruz in the [US Senate] primary.”
By Bradley Smith
Anonymous speech was a frequent feature of Hamilton’s life – and of the American founding overall. Arguably the single most influential piece leading to American independence was signed simply “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine’s pen name. Just over a decade later, Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay co-wrote the Federalist Papers as “Publius.”…
The bottom line is that it is highly probable that the United States would not even exist without anonymous speech. Sadly, we have forgotten this lesson somewhere in the intervening years. Today, anonymous speech is too often demonized, derided as “dark,” or otherwise dismissed for its lack of “transparency.”
Although there are many examples, the brunt of these attacks centers on the anonymous speech used by nonprofit organizations on both the right and the left. These groups reach out to the public with messages on a wide number of issues, and they can be supported by individuals, corporations, unions and more. The nationwide campaign against anonymous speech is, by and large, a campaign to force these supporters’ identities into the open.
By Bradley A. Smith and John R. Lott, Jr.
It’s well known that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission concerns the role of money in politics, but it’s less often remarked that the decision centered around a 2008 film called “Hillary: The Movie,” a documentary critical of Mrs. Clinton. Arguing against Citizens United, a conservative non-profit, the Federal Election Commission made the case that because a film, such as “Hillary: The Movie,” was produced or distributed by a corporation (as are all commercial documentaries), it could be prohibited by the government. At oral argument, they went so far as to argue that such a ban could extend to books, pamphlets, and Internet sites produced or distributed by corporations. Fortunately, the Supreme Court said no. Unfortunately, four justices dissented from that common sense First Amendment ruling.
With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year, however, the court is now split 4-4 on this issue. If given the chance, the four liberal justices would likely vote to overturn the decision…
Consequently, the next president will be in a position to determine whether this ruling gets reversed.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
A court challenge arguing that super political action committees are illegally allowing unlimited contributions to influence federal elections could provide a vehicle for the courts to roll back recent rulings that have largely deregulated campaign financing, proponents said (Lieu v. FEC, D.D.C., No. 16-cv-2201, filed 11/4/16)…
David Keating is president of the nonproft Center for Competitive Politics and was the lead plaintiff in the SpeechNow.org case in 2010. He said in an e-mail to Bloomberg BNA that the new lawsuit challenging the D.C. Circuit ruling “proposes a ridiculous theory and is a publicity stunt.”
Even worse, he said, the lawsuit was “filed by congressmen who want to silence those who disagree with them.”
The plaintiffs admit in the complaint that they fear they “will be open to attack” from super PAC spending, Keating said. “It shows the real motivation of those behind the case, they want government to control speech.”
By Don Jenkins
A Washington judge’s $18 million penalty against the Grocery Manufacturers Association apparently far exceeds any fine ever issued in the U.S. for running afoul of campaign disclosure laws.
The judgment, likely to be appealed, is less than half the amount sought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. But it towers above the record $3.8 million settlement in a case involving the Federal Elections Commission or the $1 million involving the California Fair Political Practices Commission. No previous Washington case had topped six figures.
California and Washington are the states most likely to impose large campaign fines based on their laws and enforcement history, said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that opposes what it considers overly burdensome disclosure requirements.
“I don’t recall anything in that range,” he said. “It seems disproportionate.”
By Matea Gold
A bipartisan group of congressional members and candidates is filing a federal suit Friday against the Federal Election Commission, seeking to force the agency to act on a complaint it brought against 10 super PACs in July.
The maneuver is part of a legal strategy aimed at rolling back SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the federal appellate court decision that led to the birth of super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations. Once the FEC takes up the complaint and dismisses it or deadlocks on it – as it is ultimately expected to do – the group plans to file a broader suit against the agency that it hopes will ultimately reach the Supreme Court…
“The lawsuit proposes a ridiculous theory and is a publicity stunt,” said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, who launched the original SpeechNow case. He said the plaintiffs are seeking “to silence those who disagree with them.”
“It shows the real motivation of those behind the case,” Keating added. “They want government to limit speech.”
By Kenneth P. Doyle
Federal Election Commission disclosure requirements applied to political ads known as “electioneering communications” have been upheld by a three-judge federal court panel (Independence Institute v. FEC, D.D.C., No. 14-cv-1500, 11/3/16).
The special panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a constitutional challenge to FEC disclosure requirements, which was brought by a Colorado-based nonprofit group called the Independence Institute…
The Independence Institute was represented in the case by attorney Allen Dickerson of the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit that is critical of campaign finance regulations.
When asked during a court hearing in October about the type of ads the institute believed should be protected from disclosure requirements, Dickerson pointed only to the ad the group said it wanted to sponsor in Colorado in 2014. The ad referred to the position of Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, on a federal sentencing bill. The ad was never aired.