San Francisco Examiner: Retired judge Kopp appears headed for reappointment to Ethics Commission (In the News)
By Joshua Sabatini
Retired judge Quentin Kopp appears headed for reappointment to the Ethics Commission for a full six-year term…
Common Cause rallied opposition against Kopp for his opposition to the passage last year of Senate Bill 1107, a Common Cause-supported state law reversing the 1988 voter-approved Prop. 73 ban on public financing. Kopp pushed Prop. 73 at the time and he has since filed a lawsuit over SB 1107.
Charter cities like San Francisco were exempted through litigation from Prop. 73, which is why San Francisco has a public financing program.
Common Cause members said that Kopp’s views on public financing should prevent him from serving on the commission since it is an integral component of The City’s campaign finance system.
Kopp’s supporter Larry Bush, head of Friends of Ethics, defended Kopp’s position on SB 1107, calling it about voter rights and not about Kopp’s position on public financing.
“It is totally unrelated to us in San Francisco,” Bush wrote in an email to the committee. “It is about the authority to create changes in other cities, by the voters or action by political leaders in Sacramento.”
By Sean Moran
David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, told Breitbart News, “Commissioner Ravel came from California which has a different setup than the FEC. California’s electoral board is run by the governor, entirely partisan. The FEC was enacted after Watergate, and set up as a bipartisan commission to avoid partisan control over electoral law.”…
Keating explained that with Commissioner Ravel’s resignation there is much opportunity for change at the FEC. He said, “Since all of the remaining FEC Commissioners have expired terms President Trump has an enormous opportunity to reshape campaign finance. Since there cannot be more than three commissioners of any party on the board, President Trump can have the discretion to nominate future Commissioners that are more receptive to free speech.”…
President Trump ran on “draining the swamp,” and David Keating said that Trump could easily “clear the morass of regulations surrounding electoral law.” He added, “One way to drain the swamp would be to make the rules behind political speech clear and straightforward. Clear and simple rules could ensure that freedom of expression on the Internet remains unregulated.”
By Editorial Board
Donor disclosure has become a weapon of political intimidation, and it could get worse. The Supreme Court will soon consider whether ads that discuss policy issues without advocating for a candidate can be regulated and the names of their financial backers disclosed under campaign-finance laws…
The 2002 McCain-Feingold Act says that any group that runs an ad including the name of a candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election must disclose its donors like a political-action committee. Yet the Independence Institute merely intended to communicate with voters on issues, not advocate for a candidate…
The Supreme Court will consider the Independence Institute appeal in a private conference Friday. If the Justices uphold the lower court, much more political speech will fall under the federal campaign-finance dragnet. Here’s hoping Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, will clarify that donor disclosure violates the Constitution when it imposes undue burdens on Americans who advocate for causes-especially those that might be unpopular.
Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Massive protests greeted Donald Trump upon his inauguration, but speaking out against the president will require a robust First Amendment. Will the American Left support it? Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics believes so.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
A filing due next month in a key Supreme Court case could provide the first indication of whether the Trump administration will seek to uphold or challenge longstanding campaign finance laws that restrict unlimited “soft money” contributions to political parties (Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, U.S., No. 16-865, jurisdictional statement filed 1/6/17)…
The high court also has another pending campaign finance case challenging FEC disclosure rules for political ads known as “electioneering communications,” Independence Institute v. FEC. The justices are set to consider at their private conference Feb. 17 whether to accept the Independence Institute case for a full review and oral argument.
With the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court is now evenly divided between four justices who have voted consistently to roll back campaign finance rules and four justices who have generally supported current rules. Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Scalia’s death, has been criticized by supporters of strong campaign finance rules, who say that, like Scalia, Gorsuch is expected to continue on the path toward less regulation of money in politics.
By Eric Wang
Senate Bill 255 appears to require an “independent expenditure committee” to file ongoing campaign finance reports as a political “committee” – commonly known as “PAC.” The bill’s extreme ambiguity on this point is, in and of itself, a fatal flaw. What is clear is that the bill intends to publicly out the donors to such groups – even if their donations were completely unrelated to any political purpose. Names, addresses and employer information would have to be reported not only for donors, but also for a group’s employees and vendors.
“Not surprisingly,” the Post and Courier editorial noted approvingly, the state officials pushing this bill are ones whose legislative initiatives advocacy groups have opposed. We fail to see the virtue here. Yes, it is “not surprising” that certain public officials would lash out at citizen groups that do not fall in line with those officials’ agendas. But far from promoting ethics, a bill to intimidate those groups into silence is a recipe for more corruption.
Citizens who want to know donors’ identities are free to discount messages from groups that do not provide that information. Forcing disclosure, however, deprives citizens of the chance to hear from groups that would be silenced by bills like SB 255.