By Joe Albanese
American politics is corrupt. Big donors buy elections. Voters have no say in their government. These clichés are completely untrue. Sadly, many Americans take them for granted regardless. A major culprit is the countless stories during every election cycle suggesting there is too much money in politics – whether it’s overall political spending, out-of-state donations, or “outside” spending. Ironically, the media outlets that obsess the most over these contests are the first to object when Americans participate in them…
The negative portrayal of political spending, out-of-state donors, and “outside” groups in the media tends to convince readers that “money in politics” is a problem rather than an essential feature of our democracy. Money is essential to communicating with voters, and that’s where much of it goes. High levels of political spending, like high levels of readership for political stories, reflect broad interest in an election. Restricting one is not much different than restricting the other.
Voters may groan as they read about higher levels of political spending. But it sure beats the alternative: restricting the political speech and participation of Americans in the elections of their representatives.
By Joe Albanese
By Joshua Rich
Elizabeth Arias graduated from UCLA School of Law in May and immediately turned her attention to the first major test of her legal career…
On June 16, Arias delivered oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in French v. Jones, a First Amendment case with potentially far-reaching implications for election-related speech.
Seizing an exceedingly rare opportunity for someone just a few weeks out of law school, Arias represented the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit for which UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh and the students in his Scott and Cyan Banister First Amendment Clinic researched and drafted an amicus curiae brief. That document supported Mark French, a 2014 candidate for justice of the peace in Sanders County, Montana, who was barred by state law from saying that the Republican Party had endorsed him. French lost that race, but his challenge to the statute has lived on.
“The case is about whether judges can associate with a political party and whether the Montana law unfairly burdens judicial speech,” said Arias, who argued that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s protections of free speech and association.
Filed Under: In the News
By Alex Baiocco
It is heartening to see that Whitehouse is now encouraging citizens (and corporations) to engage in political speech instead of yet again attempting to silence opposing viewpoints.
His statement demonstrates that he does indeed understand the value of First Amendment-protected advocacy. However, the statement is also an example of the far too common tendency among many politicians to view only friendly advocacy as legitimate.
The First Amendment protects the right of every American to privately support an environmental group. It also supports the right of every corporation to speak in opposition to the president’s actions regarding climate policy.
But Whitehouse must realize that the First Amendment also protects the right of citizens, nonprofit groups, and corporations to engage in political speech he opposes. In the end, his anti-speech objectives will harm the First Amendment rights of his allies as much as his opponents.
By Tyler O’Neil
As if the 2016 presidential primaries and general election were not enough, the Georgia 6 special election underscored that money does not win elections. This special election was the most expensive House election in U.S. history, and the candidate who spent the most lost.
Ossoff’s campaign raised and spent $24 million, while Handel’s campaign only raised and spent $4.5 million. Handel did receive more support from outside groups ($18.2 million supporting her or attacking Ossoff) than Ossoff did (just under $8 million supporting him or attacking Handel). But Ossoff still received $10 million more in support than Handel…
Money does not win elections, votes do. “Campaign spending facilitates speech, and ads can only persuade voters who support the candidate’s message,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, told PJ Media.
By Aurora Barnes
The petition of the day is:
Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Hill
Issues: (1) Whether Indiana’s Automatic Dialing Machine Statute creates a content-based restriction that cannot survive strict scrutiny under Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona; and (2) whether the ADMS is a valid time, place and manner restriction.
By Luke Wachob
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens believes that individuals should be able to support causes they believe in privately. Missourians who donate to nonprofit groups such as the National Rifle Association, he says, should not be forced to have their name, address, occupation and employer appear in a public and searchable government database…
Governor Greitens should be commended for bucking the trend of politicians, like Schumer and McCaskill, who attempt to silence their critics. In supporting privacy and free speech, the governor protects both his supporters and detractors from retaliation.
Policymakers should seek balance between transparency and privacy. We have a right to know what our government is doing, but the government has no right to monitor our political affiliations or beliefs. Requiring candidates and parties to disclose their donors, while protecting privacy for nonprofit advocacy groups, is a compromise everyone should get behind.
By Joe Albanese
A new report by the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) asks a key question: would tax-funded campaigns help challengers beat incumbents more often? The study examines state legislators running for re-election in two groups of states. One group consists of the five states with some form of tax-financed campaigns (Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, and Minnesota). The other group is the remaining 45 states.
CCP’s report shows incumbents win at sky-high rates no matter what state group they’re in. From the 2010 to 2016 election cycles, 89 percent of incumbents won in tax-financing states, and 91 percent won in the others. The gap between these states is statistically insignificant – there is basically no difference between them. This is like when a poll says candidate A will beat candidate B, but the survey is within the margin of error; meaning B could be tied with or even beating A. The situation is the same here. We cannot tell the difference between re-election rates in tax-financing states and other states…
Our new report shows that Americans should be skeptical of public financing and its claimed benefits. Any “reform” that subsidizes politicians should be seen for what it is: a program that spends your tax dollars on politics.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
Relying on statements President Donald Trump made during his campaign to argue against his proposed immigration restrictions could chill free speech in campaigns, posing “an unacceptable risk to First Amendment interests,” according to a new brief filed with the Supreme Court ( Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, U.S. No. 16-1436, brief filed 6/9/17).
The friend-of-the-court brief filed by the nonprofits Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) and Public Policy Legal Institute (PPLI) urges the high court to grant review of a lower court decision that struck down Trump’s executive order…
“A review of campaign speech-even speech that sheds light on the reasons for later official action-chills expression and conflicts with numerous long-standing protections for campaign speech,” the brief said…
Dickerson, CCP’s legal director, said in a statement regarding the new Supreme Court brief in the travel-ban case: “If courts begin probing campaign statements to determine the legality of later official actions, candidates will be less inclined to give their frank opinions. The true victims of this principle are voters, who rely on unfiltered campaign speech to evaluate candidates’ fitness for office.”
By Luke Wachob
By starting with McCain and ending with President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the Times is able to present the withdrawal from Paris as a shift in Republican and U.S. policy. This serves as corroborating evidence for the theory that self-motivated donors, empowered by Citizens United, manipulated the GOP into opposing progressive climate policies.
Whether you support or oppose taking action on carbon emissions, a fair observer can see the Times story got the history wrong. Among Republicans, McCain’s presidential campaign was the outlier and opposition to climate deals has been and remains the norm.
In fact, Congress has rejected international efforts to police climate issues for at least two decades. In 1997, the U.S. Senate expressed its disapproval of the Kyoto Protocol in a resolution that passed 95-0. Recognizing a lost cause, President Bill Clinton did not even submit Kyoto to the Senate for ratification.
The George W. Bush administration was no different. “The president has been unequivocal. He does not support the Kyoto treaty,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in 2001. So much for the notion that withdrawing from Paris was only made possible by “an all-fronts campaign” in the wake of Citizens United, as the Times suggested.
By Steve Terrell
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday released a proposed rule that clarifies campaign finance reporting requirements and calls for disclosure of large contributions to “independent expenditure” groups that aren’t formally connected to candidates or campaigns but buy political advertising.
Parts of the proposed 13-page rule are similar to a bill that passed the Legislature with bipartisan support this year but was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez…
The parts of SB 96 that show up in the proposed rule are portions “that we have the authority to enact via rule,” Blair said. “One example of this is the provisions related to coordinated expenditures and independent expenditures.”
However, some provisions of SB 96 – such as an increase in contribution limits – would require legislative approval to enact, Blair said.
While pro-government transparency groups like Common Cause New Mexico lobbied in favor of SB 96, conservative groups such as the Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics, which has opposed campaign finance restrictions across the country, lobbied against it.
Filed Under: In the News