In the News

Daily Caller: Citizens United Allows Everyone To Air Their Grievances

Brian Walsh

Now, imagine that the government had any laws restricting the right of citizens to “air their grievances” about candidates running for office. Those who wish to criticize politicians could only do so under the government’s seal of approval.

In other words, the government would be basically saying “No speech for you!”

Sadly, there was such a law when the Supreme Court took the case, Citizens United v. FEC. And despite all the complaining of the naysayers since then, that case was about whether or not any group of citizens who formed a nonprofit corporation could air their grievances with a political figure, no matter how they might have paid to voice those complaints.

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Washington Examiner: Congress moves to protect free speech from bureaucratic assault

Luke Wachob

Seven provisions of the deal will help encourage more speech or put a halt to various efforts to increase regulation of political speech via the executive branch. After years of losing at the Supreme Court, in Congress and at the Federal Election Commission, those who wish to limit speech under the guise of campaign finance “reform” have increasingly focused their efforts on pressuring administrative agencies to achieve through regulation what could not be won via legislation. Through these seven provisions, Congress put a stop to much of this nonsense.

The riders may seem relatively unassuming, but they are in fact a major victory. Threats to speech increasingly originate from the executive branch, most prominently during the IRS targeting scandal. Years of urging from “reform” groups and thin-skinned politicians duped the IRS into playing the role of speech police, with predictably disastrous results.

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Bloomberg: Koch Brothers Group Can’t Keep Donor List From California

Edvard Pettersson

The three-judge appeals panel said in an unanimous decision that the organization, which promotes causes such as limiting the size and power of government, didn’t show it has reason to fear disclosure of the information the attorney general requires for enforcing laws on charitable organizations.

“To the extent the district court found actual chilling or a reasonable probability of harassment from confidential disclosure to the attorney general, those findings are clearly erroneous,” said the panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It’s the second time this year the San Francisco-based court has ruled for the attorney general, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, on a challenge to the state’s requirement for nonprofits to disclose their donors. In May, the court upheld a judge’s order for the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics to report contributors who gave it $5,000 or more.

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Townhall: The Free Speech Silver Lining in the Budget Cloud

Phil Kerpen

The massive omnibus package of tax and spending changes recently passed by Congress was mostly a defeat for free-market economics. It extended expensive giveaways for the wind and solar industries, allowed President Obama to fund his Paris climate agreement, funded the president’s aggressive regulatory agenda, and even green-lit his IMF reform.

But the deal is actually a triumph in the single most important policy area: the First Amendment. And as long as we are free to speak and engage in the political process, we can come back and reverse course on the economic issues.

A detailed analysis by the Center for Competitive Politics identified no less than seven free speech victories in the deal. They include a ban on anti-speech regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission and a ban on a potential executive order that might seek to control the political speech of people who have contracts with the federal government – as well as many critical measures to rein in the IRS.

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Independent Groups

Washington Post: Now it’s even easier for candidates and their aides to help super PACs

Matea Gold

The Federal Election Commission has quietly given the green light to federal candidates who want to solicit contributions for super PACs by meeting in small groups — so small that there can be just two other people in the room.

In addition, the little-noticed advisory opinion gives permission to a candidate’s campaign consultant and other aides to solicit large donations for a super PAC, as long as they make clear that they are not making the request at the direction of the candidate.

The decisions — which came in response to a request from two Democratic super PACs, including one with close ties to Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) — further erode the boundary between campaigns and their independent allies at a time when they are already engaged in unprecedented collaboration.

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Chicago Tribune: Big money didn’t dominate presidential race in 2015

Paula Dwyer

Among the top-tier Republicans, Jeb Bush illustrates the gap between spending and popularity. He was the Republican Establishment’s early choice and top fundraiser. His super PAC, Right to Rise USA, raked in bundles of cash: $103 million through the 2015 third quarter. By comparison, Bush’s actual campaign raised only about $25 million.

Having spent $44 million on thousands of television ads and dozens of direct mail and other promotional efforts, Bush is registering about 5 percent nationally in the polls. All that outsider money failed to give him any traction in 2015.

Chris Christie’s situation is similar. His more than $11 million in super PAC money far exceeds the $4 million that individuals have donated to his official campaign. But the outsider money has done him little good: After spending more than $5 million on TV ads, putting Christie behind only Bush and Rubio in outsider spending, he’s polling in ninth place in Iowa and, as of now, a distant fourth in New Hampshire.

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“Dark Money”

New York Times: ‘Dark’ Funds May Bode Ill in 2016 Election

Albert R. Hunt

The 2016 presidential campaign seems certain to feature not only more money than any since Watergate but also more money from undisclosed donors since the days when black satchels of illicit cash were passed around.

This so-called dark money, or contributions to entities that are not required to disclose their donors, topped more than $300 million in the 2012 presidential race, and some experts believe that the levels may be far higher this time. Among the risks is that foreign money — barred from playing a direct role in the election — could be surreptitiously funneled into the campaign because it could move through channels where it wouldn’t have to be publicly disclosed.

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New York Times: The Political Consultant Racket

Adam Sheingate

But for all those millions, Mr. Bush’s spending has not translated into support in the polls — he currently stands at about 5 percent nationally, compared with 38 percent for the front-runner, Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bush’s difficulties show that giving voters a steady diet of television ads is great for the consulting industry, but it offers diminishing returns for the candidate and turns off some voters in the process. Political consultants are not entirely to blame for this state of affairs, but they do benefit from a flawed system that they helped create.

Political consultants earn fees and commissions by turning the billions of dollars given to candidates, political parties and “super PACs” — like Mr. Bush’s Right to Rise — into the products and services of contemporary campaigns, especially TV (and Internet) ads.

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Supreme Court

New York Times: Hip-Hop Stars Support Mississippi Rapper in First Amendment Case

Adam Liptak

In a brief supporting a Mississippi high school student who was disciplined for posting a rap song online, artists including T. I., Big Boi and Killer Mike will explain to the justices that rap music is a political and artistic juggernaut that deserves attention and First Amendment protection.

“The government punished a young man for his art — and, more disturbing, for the musical genre by which he chose to express himself,” their brief says.

The rappers urged the justices to hear an appeal from Taylor Bell, who was a high school senior when he was suspended and sent to a different school for posting a song on Facebook and YouTube that drew attention to complaints of sexual misconduct by two coaches.

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Washington Post: Why the next Supreme Court vacancy will favor liberals, no matter who retires

Linda Hirshman

This argument rests on the unexamined assumption that “the next president will hold tremendous power over the Supreme Court’s make-up,” as Rolling Stone put it. But legal scholars have started discussing scenarios in which the next president is practically powerless when it comes to appointments. They caution that because the partisan divide is so deep, it may be impossible to get Supreme Court nominees confirmed.

“It’s very likely that that seat just stays vacant,” Ian Millhiser of the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund told USA Today. Conservative law professors Josh Blackman and Randy Barnett have gone further, arguing in the Weekly Standard: “The inconvenience of one or more terms at the Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices — even through an intervening midterm election — pales in comparison with the repercussions of making a bad selection. It’s worth the fight, and worth the wait.”

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Politico: How Obama failed to shut Washington’s revolving door

Josh Gerstein

The vow of a novice Chicago senator to freeze out lobbyists and nail shut the revolving door was no throwaway line in Barack Obama’s stump speech. It was central to the narrative animating his 2008 campaign: a promise of wholesale change to business as usual in Washington. His presidency would be different.

Eight years later, here’s how different it looks: The top lobbyist for the private health insurance industry that continues to battle aspects of Obamacare is a former Health and Human Services official who played a powerful role in implementing the legislation. The head of the software industry’s lobbying group is a former Obama White House appointee who oversaw the negotiation and enforcement of the intellectual property rules essential to that business. And an Obama aide deeply involved in crafting the White House’s broadband Internet policy now serves as the chief lawyer for the telecom industry group seeking to legally overturn those same rules.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Chicago Tribune: Still struggling to rebound, Bush cancels ad buys in Iowa and South Carolina

Ed O’Keefe

Instead, Bush plans to redeploy roughly 50 staffers to the first four states holding contests next year – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Some will be leaving desk jobs at campaign headquarters in Miami while others already working in states like Virginia and Illinois to collect signatures to appear on the primary ballot will move on to a new field assignment.

Staffing in New Hampshire — the state most critical to Bush’s early chances — will double to 40. Senior aides and top campaign bundlers said that Bush’s total staff in the Granite State will dwarf the combined staffs of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — Bush’s primary rivals for votes in the state.

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The States

New York Daily News: Andrew Cuomo rejects idea that state campaign public finance system would stop big donations

Kevin Lovett

Cuomo said the controversial 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that prohibits the restriction of independent political spending makes a “mockery” of public campaign finance systems like in New York City that seek to reduce the flow of big donations.

“You’re not going to get the money out of the system until the federal government changes the court or the law or both,” Cuomo said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

“The money is coming in. … It’s going to be big money and big donations because the federal law guarantees that with this Citizens United case that has institutionalized big anonymous money.”

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