Pacific Legal Foundation: Sacramento city councilman reminded that the Constitution protects freedom of association (In the News)
By Caleb Trotter
It seems that Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer has grown weary of a watchdog organization (Eye on Sacramento) that routinely challenges proposed ordinances and policies, and generally serves as a vocal check on city government. Councilman Schenirer requested the group provide him with a list of its members, a detailed accounting of its funds and donors, and its organizational bylaws-all in the name of “transparency.”…
In 2014, in Center for Competitive Politics v. Harris, a non-profit organization challenged California Attorney General (now Senator-elect) Kamala Harris’ policy that required non-profits soliciting funds in California to provide the Attorney General with a document listing the names and information of all donors giving the organization more than $5,000 in a year. Since the Attorney General’s office routinely discloses that private information to the public “by mistake,” and since the United States Supreme Court held long ago that “inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly when a group espouses dissident beliefs,” the group urged the court to declare the policy unconstitutional.
By Dana Ferguson
The sprawling reform package, known in South Dakota as Initiated Measure 22, was designed to limit the influence of outside money in state government. The 34-page law, narrowly passed by voters Nov. 8, creates strict new rules on lobbying and fundraising and establishes an independent ethics commission…
Free-speech groups have said they plan to challenge the law for limiting political free speech, a potential civil rights violation. David Keating, president of the Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics, said he’d heard from at least one person interested in bringing a lawsuit following the law’s enactment.
“I think a court challenge is inevitable,” he said. “It’s just a question of when.”
Other attorneys said the law’s language approving an appropriation from the state’s general fund without consent of the state Legislature violates the South Dakota Constitution and could also be grounds for legal action.
Attorney General Marty Jackley, who will have the constitutional obligation to defend the law now that it is on the books, said he alerted voters to the possible constitutional problems with the law in his explanation of IM 22.
Social Science Research Network: The Academy, Campaign Finance, and Free Speech under Fire (In the News)
By Bradley A. Smith
This short essay, part of a symposium on “Free Speech Under Fire” at Brooklyn Law School, argues that academic efforts to fit campaign finance restrictions within the rubric of the First Amendment have distorted First Amendment doctrine, and contributed to a decline in respect for free speech generally. The essay briefly reviews and critiques recent scholarship by Robert Post (“Citizens Divided”), Richard Hasen (“Plutocrats United”), Larry Lessig, and Zephyr Teachout.
By Tan Siok Choo
Although full spending reports haven’t been submitted, assuming both candidates spent all that they raised, as at Oct 28 this year, Clinton’s war chest totalled an astronomical US$687 million (RM3 billion), more than double Trump’s US$307 million.
Despite blanketing six states – Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Iowa – with 299,067 ads supporting Clinton compared with 89,995 ads for Trump, the former secretary of state lost all states except Nevada, Ken Kurson of the Observer noted.
“Money can’t buy love, it can’t buy votes. All it can do is help deliver a message. The voters didn’t want what Clinton offered,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, said.
By Bradley Smith
Consider that Hillary Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump by more than two-to-one. Pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads by three-to-one. Independent groups (the “super PACs”) supporting Clinton outspent independent groups supporting Trump by three-to-one. The average contribution to Trump was smaller than the average contribution to Clinton. And on and on it goes.
We’re told by campaign finance “reformers” that we must restrict spending in politics so that “people” can have their voices heard. But voters in 2016 ultimately chose the candidate without even a “real” super PAC to speak of.
This tells us two things: First, that money is simply the facilitator by which candidates speak to voters, but that voters will make up their own minds. Second, it shows us that money simply can’t make up for a message that people aren’t interested in. After his defeat, the man in charge of Jeb Bush’s $100 million super PAC remarked of the voters: “They just weren’t buying what we were selling.”
Let’s hope the same goes for tired tropes on money in politics.