By Sean Parnell
A 2014 lawsuit challenging the California attorney general’s demands, filed by the Center for Competitive Politics, argued that mandatory donor disclosure violates the First Amendment. Several additional 501c3 nonprofit organizations, including The Philanthropy Roundtable, filed amicus briefs in support of CCP’s petition…
Unfortunately, the way campaign finance laws are written they often encompass speech by charities related to issues, not candidates or elections. This is exactly what happened to the Independence Institute, a Colorado-based think tank organized under section 501c3 of the federal tax code and thus prohibited from intervening in elections. In 2014 it wanted to pay for radio advertisements encouraging Coloradoans to contact their two U.S. senators and urge them to support criminal-justice reforms, something well within the scope of proper activity for a charity.
But because one of the state’s two senators was running for re-election at the time, the Independence Institute would have been forced to reveal its major donors if it had run the ads within 60 days of the election. It decided not to run the ads and sued to challenge the application of campaign finance law to organizations that cannot legally engage in election campaigns.
By Sean Parnell
Philanthropy Magazine: President’s Note By Adam Meyerson If you are involved with a foundation, donor-advised fund, or other form of charitable giving, our mission at the Roundtable and our legislative arm the Alliance for Charitable Reform is to protect your freedom… The Philanthropy Roundtable is also committed to protecting your right as an individual to […]
Filed Under: In the News
By Bradley Smith
In Holmes v. FEC, my organization, the Center for Competitive Politics, represents plaintiffs who are challenging the timing of contribution limits in federal races, but not the limits themselves. Federal law limits donors to contributing $2,700 to a candidate for the primary election, and another $2,700 for the general election. Many incumbents, however, do not face a primary challenger. They can raise $5,400 per donor and effectively spend it all on the general…
This is not fair to donors, it’s not fair to challengers, and it serves no anti-corruption purpose. As President Barack Obama’s former White House Counsel Bob Bauer writes, “donors do not potentially corrupt candidates in the primary, or the general, or a run-off: the corruption, if it occurs, is the result of the amounts given through the date that the candidate is elected to office.”…
It wouldn’t be hard to make the insensible sensible here. Contribution limits should be apportioned by election cycle, rather than split between the general and the primary. A win for the petitioners in Holmes would make the law simpler and fairer, and that’s something we should all get behind.
By Trip Jennings
The governor vetoed Senate Bill 96…
“While I support efforts to make political process more transparent, the broad language in the bill could lead to unintended consequences that would force groups like charities to disclose the names and addresses of their contributors in certain circumstances,” Martinez wrote in her veto message…
Critics of the legislation, however, celebrated Martinez’s decision to kill the legislation, saying it preserved contributors’ privacy when they donate money to nonprofits involved in the political process.
Bradley A. Smith, chairman of The Center for Competitive Politics, which touts itself as the country’s largest nonprofit defending First Amendment political speech rights, lauded Martinez for siding “with the First Amendment by vetoing this poorly written bill.”
“The purpose of disclosure laws is to allow people to monitor their government, not the other way around,” he said in a statement. “If this complex bill would have become law, only groups that could afford lawyers could safely speak out about elected officials. We should make it easy for groups of all sizes to exercise their free speech rights.”
By Trip Jennings
Senate Bill 96 would have required nonprofit groups that pay more than $1,000 for political advertising or campaigning to file a report with the Secretary of State’s Office detailing the expense and the organization’s donors. The bill would also have required that political advertisements include a disclaimer identifying the buyer…
In her veto message, Martinez echoed the concerns of critics who argued the bill would chill political advocacy, saddle nonprofit organizations with reporting requirements and drive donors away from some charities.
National groups on both sides of the issue lobbied on the bill to the end.
“The purpose of disclosure laws is to allow people to monitor their government, not the other way around,” said Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia-based group that opposes transparency in campaign finance laws.
By Fatima Hussein
A group called Patriotic Veterans Inc. is appealing a 7th Circuit Court ruling that said Indiana has a legitimate interest in blocking unwanted, or annoying, automatically dialed phone calls.
The leaders of the veterans advocacy group say there’s a more important principle at stake: the First Amendment right of free speech…
In 35 states, the Patriotic Veterans group places automated calls meant to influence public policy on issues “that matter to veterans and other voters,” its president Paul Caprio told IndyStar. The calls “encourage veterans and others to address their grievances to government officials and facilitate contact between voters and their representatives.”
But Indiana law, particularly Indiana’s Automatic Dialing Machine Statute, bars prerecorded telephone calls that contain political messages…
The statute precludes Patriotic Veterans from placing robocalls even to those who wish to receive them. Violating the law’s prohibition on political speech is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in prison and a fine for each call.
Caprio said he sees Indiana’s regulation on robocalls as a way “to protect legislators who don’t want the annoyance of hearing their constituents’ voice.”
By Dave Stafford
A political advocacy group that wants to strike down Indiana’s ban on robocalls has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the state law it calls the most restrictive in the nation.
“Who is a court to tell us how we have First Amendment rights to communicate with people?” asked Paul Caprio, President of Patriotic Veterans Inc., which is challenging the state law banning political groups from using automatic dialing technology to call Hoosiers.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Patriotic Veterans and upheld I.C. §24-5-14-5 in January…
Illinois-based Patriotic Veterans staged a news conference Tuesday at the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP to announce the filing of a petition for certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take its appeal of the 7th Circuit’s ruling…
The group in a statement said Indiana’s statute “reverses centuries of Supreme Court precedents by elevating commercial speech over First Amendment protected political/issue advocacy speech.”
David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics, discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court order in Independence Institute v. FEC, which marked a sad day for the First Amendment and for the right to criticize government, and the dangers invasive disclosure requirements pose to Americans’ First Amendment rights.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
A constitutional challenge to per-election limits on campaign contributions faced skeptical questioning from nearly all the judges of the federal appeals court in Washington during a March 29 hearing.
Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit repeatedly asked attorney Allen Dickerson whether a decision in favor of the challengers in the case, known as Holmes v. Federal Election Commission (D.C. Cir., No. 14-05281, argued 3/29/17), could threaten the whole structure of campaign contribution limits, which has been in place for decades at the federal level and in most states…
Defending the current structure of contribution limits was FEC attorney Erin Chlopak, who faced fewer questions than Dickerson from the appellate judges. Chlopak argued that the existing contribution- limit system should be easy for the court to uphold because a series of Supreme Court decisions, including the landmark 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo and other rulings, have consistently upheld the constitutionality of contribution limits.