By Jeff Brindle
On November 4, 2016, the United Stated District Court for the District of Columbia struck another blow on behalf of disclosure.
In Independence Institute v. FEC, the Court rejected the organization’s claim that disclosure requirements under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) should not apply to its planned advertising campaign.
The Institute, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, planned to run radio advertisements urging Colorado Citizens to contact two federal lawmakers to support a particular piece of legislation.
Arguing that the ads are issue ads, the Institute maintained that they should be exempt from BCRA’s electioneering communication disclosure provisions…
Recently, Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick and Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton each introduced bills that would require registration and disclosure by independent groups such as Super PACs and 501(c) groups.
The recent ruling in Independence Institute v. FEC, which again strongly endorses disclosure, will hopefully embolden the Legislature to pass this legislation and enhance transparency in the State’s electoral process.
Alexandria, VA – Ten amicus briefs, including briefs from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and multiple well-known national groups, urge the U.S. Supreme Court to hear full arguments in a free speech case implicating important issues of donor privacy, Independence Institute v. FEC. Under federal campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court must rule on […]
Filed Under: Blog, Independence Institute v. FEC, Legal, Press Releases, Cato Institute, institute for justice, Michael W. McConnell, Mitch McConnell, Nadine Strossen, Philanthropy Roundtable, State Policy Network, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
By Bob Bauer
The Independence Institute case, a challenge to the regulation of issues speech, has attracted a sizeable roster of amici in support of Supreme Court review. So far the line-up is largely conservative and libertarian, and yet, notably, the arguments are ones that in the Age of Polarization might also -and should- find an audience among progressives. The issue is the constitutional protection available for anonymous issues speech that a speaker, or an association of speakers, may engage in to limit the risk of reprisal or harassment…
Independence Institute is about the protection of issues speech when it is expressed in a campaign season, months out from Election Day, without any reference to candidates or elections, and unquestionably involving public policy issues. As collection of prominent political scientists and constitutional law professors have written in an amicus brief, the courts have left the constitutional question in a state of uncertainty when “the sad fact in today’s world is that people whose viewpoints are displeasing to the modern mob (namely, the bullying power of social media), or to bureaucracies with discretionary power over their lives or businesses, suffer a grave risk if they communicate those unpopular views without the protective cloak of anonymity.”
By Wen Fa
This morning, we received disappointing news that the Supreme Court denied our cert petition in Bennie v. Munn.
PLF attorneys represent Bob Bennie, a financial analyst and Tea Party leader in Nebraska. Bennie was targeted for retaliation by state financial regulators because he expressed political viewpoints that they didn’t like…
The Court’s announcement should be disappointing to everyone who values First Amendment freedom – the indispensable right of all Americans to speak their minds without fear of official reprisal. Freedom of speech has little meaning if government officials can get away with punishing people for exercising that right. That’s precisely what happened to Bob Bennie. Vindictive bureaucrats launched a vendetta campaign against him because of his political opinions…
Thanks goes to Gene Summerlin, Steve Grasz, Mark Hill, and Marnie Jensen of Husch Blackwell LLP, who represented Bennie in the courts below and contributed to our petition as local counsel. And to the law professors, state attorneys general, and freedom-oriented organizations who submitted friend-of-the-court briefs. It is encouraging to see that so many are willing to stand up for individual liberty and the First Amendment.
Filed Under: In the News
By Luke Wachob
2016 was a surprising year in politics. One surprise that hasn’t received much attention yet is the minimal role played by “money in politics” in the presidential election. One of the best-funded candidates in history, Hillary Clinton, lost to an opponent who raised less than half of what she did. Not just that, but independent supporters of Clinton outspent those advocating for Trump nearly 3-to-1…
Deregulating campaign finance after the 2016 cycle should become less controversial. (Although the pro-regulation crowd and their media cheerleaders will no doubt work hard to prevent that.) Hillary Clinton’s massive fundraising operation showed that regulations don’t prevent prominent politicians from building a “war chest” to scare off challengers. Donald Trump’s victory, despite comparatively little spending, showed how public figures can leverage their celebrity to make campaign finance restrictions irrelevant. Meanwhile, new voices without the benefit of fame are stifled by the same laws supposedly preventing the wealthy from gaining political advantage.
What is left is to liberalize the system so that everyone – not just the Clintons and Trumps of the world – can thrive in politics.
By Bradley Smith
Under federal law, candidates, political parties and PACs (including “super PACs”) must disclose all donors who contribute more than $200. Sometimes, however, groups that exist for things other than promoting candidates will spend money on an election ad. Because many people support these groups for reasons other than political activity, they are not required to disclose information on financial supporters unless those people gave for the purpose of financing political ads. But the group making the expenditure must disclose its political spending in excess of $250.
Thus, “dark money” isn’t really “dark” – we know who spent it, and how much they spent. We just don’t know the name of every individual who gave money to that group or organization.
Despite the panic about “dark money,” the Center for Competitive Politics, using data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (an organization that does much to pump up the “dark money” scare) and the Federal Election Commission, calculates that “dark money” was less than 4 percent of all federal political spending in the 2014 election cycle. While final numbers aren’t in yet for 2016, preliminary figures look like they will fall below 3 percent for 2016.