By Michael De Yoanna
Twelve members of Congress are supporting the Restoring Integrity to America’s Election Act, including two from Colorado: Reps. Ken Buck and Jared Polis, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively.
Buck said the commission was “set up in a way that invited deadlock, and that’s just what we’ve got.”…
The act seeks to reduce the number of commissioners from six to five. No more than two members of the commission could be from the same party. A fifth proposed commissioner would be the chairperson and nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for a 10-year term.
Groups like Issue One, a bipartisan advocacy organization focused on government ethics and political reform, are supporting the legislation as a way to restore enforcement surrounding money in politics.
Other groups, like the Center for Competitive Politics, worry that the bill’s deciding presidential pick would create an ideological tilt on the commission.
“It would transform campaign finance law enforcement into a partisan exercise, no matter how the agency markets itself,” the group said in a press release.
By Joe Albanese
The way the term “special interests” is used in practice suggests that it’s simply shorthand for “bad thing my opponent supports.” After all, depending on one’s views, “special interests” may encompass big business or big labor, fossil fuel or green energy companies, and single-issue and ideological groups like the Club for Growth or EMILY’s List.
In fact, one can fairly say that all of those groups are “special interests.” And that’s okay.
“Special interests” – or the more fitting term, advocacy groups – simplify democracy rather than subvert it. Most Americans don’t have the time or ability to analyze legislation, organize grassroots activity, or follow the ins and outs of the political process. Advocacy groups bridge the gap between citizens and government. They communicate their members’ views to public officials and inform the public of important political developments. For every advocacy group with one viewpoint, there is almost certainly another one making the opposite case. Some groups you’ll support, and others you’ll oppose, but they all contribute to the exchange of ideas that makes democracy work.
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.