- 12:02 pm - Fri, May 3, 2013
Calling all Campaign-Finance Watchdogs!
I’m sure that what Mother Jones is doing here is well within the bounds of campaign-finance regulation as currently constituted. But is coordination like this the sort of thing campaign-finance reformers like to see?
Not by a long chalk, it isn’t! One watchdog, for instance, deplores "a new reality in our post-Citizens United campaign finance playing field”: “As iWatch News’ Peter Stone reports today, …
Campaign finance lawyers and watchdog groups say that Federal Election Commission rules define coordination to allow some fundraising overlap between campaigns and independent groups, thereby creating sizable loopholes. “FEC regulations allow an enormous amount of actual coordination that’s not considered under the law to be illegal coordination,” Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the FEC and president of the independent Campaign Legal Center told iWatch News. “The regulations allow a significant amount of overlap in fundraising.”
But Potter added, “These loopholes are clearly not what the Supreme Court had in mind when it spoke about independent spending campaigns” in its Citizens United decision.
Another watchdog notes that in 2011
We Are Wisconsin, an influential coalition of labor unions backing the six Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s recall elections, says the California-based Tea Party Express (TPE) group and the Republican Party of Wisconsin broke state law by coordinating on a phone banking operation to boost Republican state senators facing recall votes.
In a complaint filed with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board Tuesday morning, We Are Wisconsin alleges the two groups violated Wisconsin campaign law that prohibits coordination between independent expenditure groups and candidates or groups working on behalf of candidates.
Then there’s this watchdog, who complains that
As long as the groups don’t actually contribute money to, or coordinate with, a campaign, they’re free to do pretty much whatever else they want, with no restrictions on how much soft money they get. In practice, analysts say, there is a lot of wink-wink coordination that goes on…
And who are those watchdogs? You guessed it — they are all one and the same: Mother Jones.
- 1:23 pm - Tue, Jan 8, 2013
- 183 notes
IRONY ALERT: The artist, Adam Zyglis, is a cartoonist for the Buffalo News, which is … you guessed it … a corporation — whose First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the very decision his cartoon condemns.
If the logic employed by the critics of Citizens United were applied consistently, then the newspaper Zyglis works for would have no right to make editorial endorsements, and any cartoons about political candidates it published during the 60 days prior to a general election could be banned.
Way to stick up for freedom of the press, pal.
(Source: questionall, via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)
- 9:59 am
Coincidence? You Be the Judge
The Virginia Democratic Party is unveiling a new website meant to push the line that the Virginia GOP is too extreme: “In 2012, the radical, overreaching Republican agenda took Virginia backwards,” it says. “Don’t let 2013 be like 2012.”
At almost the same moment, The Washington Post unloads with an editorial about the “Virginia GOP’s war on moderates”: “Last year, Republicans in Richmond did their utmost to drive the state’s independent and swing voters into the Democratic column,” the paper says. “Now, as state lawmakers again convene in the capital for a 45-day legislative session, the question is whether Republicans, who control the General Assembly, have learned anything from the election. Early indications are they have not… . If … Republicans continue to dwell on sideshows, they will inflict damage on the state as well as on their party.”
The assessment of the GOP is probably more accurate than not. And I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest this was in any way orchestrated. Great minds think alike, they say, and fools agree, and so on.
Still, The Post is an advocate of campaign-finance reform (so called), which among other things frowns on message coordination between political parties and “outside groups” such as corporations, which The Post most certainly is. By its own standards, this is the sort of thing that might, as they say, “raise eyebrows” among those who would like to see Citizens United overturned… .
- 9:43 am - Fri, Nov 9, 2012
- 2 notes
Hey, Remember When Citizens United Was Going to Destroy Democracy as We Know It?
Yeah, that’s pretty much over:
The Sunlight Foundation finds Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent more than $200 million on the elections but backed no winning candidates.
Zero return on investment. The GOP business skills at work.
The usual suspects screamed bloody murder about the power of money in politics — at least on the GOP side; they didn’t seem to mind the more than $1 billion the Obama campaign spent.
The figures above offer a refutation of their thesis. Campaign spending can’t buy an election any more than advertising New Coke and Crystal Pepsi could buy them market share.
- 10:31 am - Sun, Oct 21, 2012
- 1 note
Here Are Two More Corporations That Have Benefitted from Citizens United
And guess who they are:
On the political side, there is the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a nonprofit “social welfare” group that is permitted by the Internal Revenue Service to participate in politics. And there is Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC. Together, they are spending a record amount of money for Planned Parenthood on this year’s election — nearly $12 million, most of it attacking Republicans.
- 1:58 pm - Wed, Jul 11, 2012
- 1 note
Corporations Gone Wild!
I don’t mind even one little bit that unions are spending heavily to influence elections. After all, such spending is a necessary part of political speech.(1)
I am a little surprised that the self-appointed watchdogs of campaign finance don’t seem bothered by it, though — or by the fact that said unions apparently have been under-reporting their campaign-finance activities:
Surely they don’t think corporate campaign spending by one side is wrong but such spending by the other side is okay? Man, whatever happened to speaking truth to power?
P.S. - Unions are corporations, too. Kind of an essential point, but one shouldn’t assume this is widely recognized…
In 2008 a nonprofit, incorporated group called Citizens United wanted to distribute a documentary about Hillary Clinton. But doing so during an election campaign would have violated a 2002 campaign-finance law prohibiting “electioneering communications” within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.
A law that forbids American citizens to urge the election or defeat of a political candidate raises some obvious First Amendment concerns. During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that book publishers are corporations. He asked the government’s lawyer if the law could prohibit publishing a book that said, “Vote for X.”
Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said yes—the government “could prohibit the publication of the book.” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and former head of Common Cause, later agreed that “a campaign document in the form of a book can be banned.”
To its credit, the ACLU did not side with liberal censors. The provision in dispute is “facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment,” the ACLU said, “because it permits the suppression of core political speech.” And that is just how the high court ruled.
- 12:17 pm - Mon, Jul 2, 2012
- 8 notes
We stand for a free and open Internet.
We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:
Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
Declaration of Internet Freedom (via ryking)
This is interesting — especially the “don’t censor” part. Because — well, let’s suppose a corporation were to set up a website sharply critical of … oh, Hillary Clinton, in the crucial period shortly before an election. Suppose that incorporated body were to call itself, ah, Citizens United.
Me, I would be all in favor of the people who formed the corporation saying anything they wished about a political candidate.
But pretty much everyone who has denounced the SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United would not. In short, their position would be: DO censor the Internet.
That, after all, is what was at stake in the Citizens United case. That case was about a movie, not a website. But the substantive question would be precisely the same…
- 4:04 pm - Mon, Jun 11, 2012
Stanford Law’s Michael McConnell:
Labor unions poured money into the state to recall Mr. Walker. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the NEA (National Education Association), the nation’s largest teachers union, spent at least $1 million. Its smaller union rival, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), spent an additional $350,000. Two other unions, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union, which has more than one million government workers) and Afscme (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), spent another $2 million. Little or none of these independent expenditures endorsing a candidate would have been legal under federal law before Citizens United.
By contrast, the large spenders on behalf of Mr. Walker were mostly individuals. According to the Center for Public Integrity, these included Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s wealthiest businesswoman, who spent over half a million dollars on his behalf; Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, who spent almost half a million; and well-known political contributors such as casino operator Sheldon Adelson and former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars each. Businessman David Koch gave $1 million to the Republic Governors Association, which spent $4 million on the Wisconsin race.
These donations have nothing to do with Citizens United. Individuals have been free to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of candidates since the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976)….
Mr. Walker’s direct, big-ticket support came from sources that have been lawful for decades.
His opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, got his support primarily from labor unions, whose participation was legitimized by Citizens United. Without that decision so demonized by the political left, Mr. Barrett would have been at even more of a financial disadvantage.
Speaking generally, Citizens United is likely to benefit Democrats more than Republicans. Corporations rarely make independent expenditures during candidate elections in their own name, because the ads offend customers, workers and shareholders. And direct corporate contributions to candidates tend to be split more or less evenly between the two parties, largely neutralizing their effect.
But unions have no compunctions against running campaign ads, and almost all of their money goes to Democrats.