Pillar of Law: Common Cause Wary of Judge Who Cleaned Up Part of Their Mess in Colorado (In the News)
By Stephen Klein
Rather than acknowledge its goof in helping create the “ill-advised Colorado statute” that led to the Riddle case, Common Cause now warns of the level of scrutiny Judge Gorsuch might apply generally to campaign finance limits. But the problems with Amendment 27 did not end with Riddle: Common Cause’s jewel is in many other ways the antithesis to “a functioning democracy to debate our differences” and one of the main reasons we need judges like Gorsuch who should apply the strictest First Amendment scrutiny to campaign finance regimes.
Thanks to Amendment 27, grassroots speakers in Colorado have had to go to federal court to fight off campaign finance requirements over raising just a few thousand dollars to fight a local annexation effort. To comply with registration and reporting requirements to raise and spend so little money would eat up most of the budget. More recently, another group had to bring a similar suit just to publish a policy paper. The cases took years to resolve, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
The Supreme Court is set to decide soon whether to review the latest challenge to disclosure requirements for political ads, which was rejected by a lower court last year (Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission, U.S., No. 16-743, cert. petition filed 12/8/16)…
Lawyers for the Independence Institute, led by Allen Dickerson of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, have acknowledged in court filings that previous rulings have “routinely” upheld FEC disclosure requirements. But, the challengers argued that this case “presents an opportunity to reverse this trend and broadly safeguard” a right to fund some political messages anonymously.
In a brief opposing the government’s motion filed with the Supreme Court, the institute’s lawyers said the government’s “informational interest is particularly weak” in this case because it involved a radio ad focused on a legislative issue and didn’t mention anything about an election.
By Dave Levinthal
In its latest “Principles of Corporate Governance” report, the Business Roundtable encourages corporate members to decide for themselves whether to publicly disclose political activities, such as contributing cash to so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups…
But David Keating, president of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for political speech rights, disagrees, calling the Business Roundtable’s latest statement on political disclosure “unremarkable.”
Keating – whose legal efforts led to the creation of super PACs – noted that the Business Roundtable’s Principles of Corporate Governance document scolds corporate shareholders who attempt “to use the public companies in which they invest as platforms for the advancement of their personal agendas or for the promotion of general political or social causes.”…
In sum, the Business Roundtable “does not appear to have softened its stance on voluntary disclosure,” Keating said. “Disclosing one’s affiliations with trade associations and nonprofits creates a roadmap for activists to pressure corporations in an attempt to starve [politically active nonprofit] groups of support and silence their voices.”
By Kate Howard
Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission
Issue: Whether Congress may require organizations engaged in the genuine discussion of policy issues, unconnected to any campaign for office, to report to the Federal Election Commission, and publicly disclose their donors, pursuant to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.