Vote Smart: Campaign Finance: Free Speech, or Another Platform for Corruption? (In the News)

Haley Engle
Some political analysts, such as Paul Jacob, have suggested that it is in America’s best interest to actually decrease campaign funding regulations even further. According to Jacob, though the current system allows the potential for a group of wealthy donors to fund campaigns that would otherwise flop, the voters still ultimately decide on each candidacy.
On a similar note, Bradley Smith says that the best solution to the campaign finance debate is to simply embrace the higher spending. He says that in this case, “the cure is worse than the disease”. Before Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, the concept of regulating campaign finance was virtually non-existent. Smith argues that legislative responses to the increase in “big money” have done next to nothing to prevent it from continuing, therefore we are better off allowing money to send a mass message.

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

Observer: Supreme Court Leaves Intact New Delaware Law That Expands Disclosure (In the News)

Jeff Brindle
On June 28, 2016, the High Court refused to hear an appeal in Delaware Strong Families v. Matthew Denn, Attorney General of Delaware.
In denying certiorari, the tribunal let stand a ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Delaware’s disclosure of “third party advertisements.”
Delaware’s Election Disclosure Act requires any non-candidate or political party organization to file a “third party advertisement” report if more than $500 is spent on electioneering communications…
One highly unusual aspect of the case is that it applied the disclosure requirements to a 501(c)3 group, which is considered a charity under IRS law. In the past, such groups have avoided disclosure rules.
The appeals judges stated: “…we conclude that it is the conduct of the organization, rather than an organization’s status with the Internal Revenue Service, that determines whether it makes communications subject to the (Delaware) Act.”
Although US Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have granted certiorari, the majority of justices agreed with the Appeals Court’s ruling in favor of disclosure, even in the case of a voter guide.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases

Argus Leader: Koch brothers-backed group says ballot measure could invite lawsuits (In the News)

Dana Ferguson
In the assessment, an analyst said the so-called “South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act” would require reporting of political speech and donations and it would impose a “straightjacket” on fundraising.
“We’re just putting the issues out there and alerting people to the legal issues that could arise,” Eric Wang, Center for Competitive Politics analyst, said. The group didn’t endorse or oppose the measure.
Supporters of the proposal said the response wasn’t surprising, given the Center for Competitive Politics’ history of suing cities and states that enact similar laws.
“This is a group with an ax to grind,” Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, said Friday.

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

South Dakota War College: Center for Competitive Politics: IM22 is bad law, and full of unintended consequences. Check it out for yourself! (In the News)

Pat Powers
The Center for Competitive Politics, which devotes it’s efforts to preserving free speech, has taken a hard look at Slick Rick Weiland’s measure to fund political campaigns from taxpayer funds – Initiated Measure 22 – and has found it wanting in several areas they describe in a report they recently issued which points out more flaws than have been identified to date…
So, in addition to the payola for politicians at taxpayer expense, it may cut off one of the State Democrat Party’s few sources of revenue – selling their lists? That’s funny. Even funnier – it sounds as if the measure passed, it would also prevent candidates from selling off old office equipment, furniture, and other assets.
But don’t take my word for it – read the entire document yourself, and catch the multitude of sins & flaws they’ve identified with initiated measure 22.

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

Roll Call: New Sanders Group Illustrates Legal Compliance Challenges (In the News)

Eric Wang
Often derided (unfairly) as “dark money groups” because they are not required to disclose their donors, 501(c)(4) organizations like Our Revolution are legally permitted to engage in all of these activities under current tax law. However, a sitting U.S. senator’s involvement in such a group is unusual and raises several knotty campaign finance and congressional ethics issues.
The campaign finance laws explicitly recognize only two types of “political committees” that may be “established, financed, maintained or controlled” by a federal candidate or elected official: a campaign committee and a leadership PAC. Both are subject to contribution limits and source prohibitions that generally do not apply to 501(c)(4) groups.
Any other type of entity that is established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a federal candidate or officeholder is also subject to federal contribution limits and prohibitions if it engages in any activity “in connection with an election for federal office,” certain federal election activities, or even activity in connection with state or local candidate elections.

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

Talk Media News: South Dakota campaign reform spells trouble (In the News)

Edward Zuckerman
A ballot initiative awaiting South Dakota voters would ostensibly reform the state’s campaign finance laws, but the Center for Competitive Politics said Initiate 22 would impose burdens on First Amendment political speech rights. One provision, CCP said, would create a Catch-22 for nonprofit organizations that publish non-partisan voter guides. The initiative requires them to declare their support or opposition to candidates mentioned in their communication, even though their federal tax-exempt status forbids them from making such endorsements.

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

Bloomberg BNA: FEC Foreign-Money Proposal Unlikely to Yield Consensus (In the News)

Kenneth P. Doyle
The proposal by Democratic FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel, which is on the agenda for an Aug. 16 commission meeting, calls for rescinding a decade-old FEC advisory opinion that allowed a U.S. domestic subsidiary of a foreign-based company to establish a corporate political action committee and pay for the PAC’s administrative costs…
FEC Democrats repeatedly have warned that campaign spending by corporations and other outside groups since the 2010 Citizens United ruling could open the door to foreign influence in U.S. politics. Republicans have countered that the supposed threat of foreign money is overblown and meant to provide cover for Democrats to impose a broader regulatory agenda.
After an FEC-sponsored forum on the issue in June, Republican election lawyer Bradley Smith, a former FEC commissioner who heads of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, said foreign money already is illegal in U.S. campaigns, and there was “no evidence of any significant efforts by foreigners to circumvent the prohibition”

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

Fox & Hounds: An Attempt to Get Public Financing of Campaigns Through the Back Door (In the News)

Joel Fox
Sen. Ben Allen’s SB 1107 wants to allow public funding of campaigns, something voters prohibited years ago. A long time acquaintance of mine, David Keating who now runs the Center for Competitive Politics in Washington, D.C. had an opinion piece in yesterday’s Orange County Register blasting the attempt by Sen. Allen to overturn a vote of the people with what Keating says is an unconstitutional bill. The voters outlawed public financing of campaigns with Proposition 73 in 1988. As someone who signed the ballot argument in favor of Proposition 73, I agree with Keating’s assessment. If legislators want public financing, legislators can’t do it on their own—they have to ask the voters.
Allen and supporters of SB 1107 claim that they are following the rules of the proposition that allow for legislative changes that “further the purposes” of the initiative. However, as Keating argues in his piece, “How can a bill “further [the] purpose” of the law banning tax-funded campaigns by allowing for tax-financed campaigns? The answer is: It can’t.”

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP

Orange County Register: Sacramento politicians eye illegally avoiding voters (In the News)

David Keating
Simply put, this legislative effort is a brazen attempt to flout the law and the will of the people who voted to ban subsidies for politicians. How can a bill “further [the] purpose” of the law banning tax-funded campaigns by allowing for tax-financed campaigns? The answer is: It can’t…
Were California legislators to take a timeout from rewriting California law by pretending it does not exist, they might learn a lesson from their neighbors to the east in Arizona. That state has had tax-financed campaigns since 2000. The result? An even more ideologically polarized legislature – because more mainstream candidates often find that candidates from the fringes have more resources than they otherwise would.
Most people think California’s legislature is already too polarized. Spending tax dollars to possibly get more polarization is a risky bet.
SB1107 seeks to “fix” a law that bans tax-funded campaigns by enabling tax-funded campaigns. It’s another power play from the Legislature.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles

Salt Lake Tribune: State agrees to pay legal fees over unconstitutional campaign law (In the News)

Robert Gehrke
The plaintiffs argued that the law was overly broad and, if the law stood, they would be prohibited from weighing in on ballot questions or possible initiatives unless they disclosed all their donors.
The state ultimately capitulated, entering into an agreement last month that the disclosure requirements were unconstitutional unless related to political entities whose “major purpose” is political advocacy.
The state agreed not to prosecute groups for violating the law and to pay the legal fees for the lawyers with the Alexandria, Va.-based Center for Competitive Politics who represented the plaintiffs.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases, Utah Taxpayers Association v. Cox