Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Campaign Finance Laws' Category

FEC Chair Ravel Will Seek Sunlight for ‘Dark Money’

The newly chosen chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, Ann Ravel, told the Center for Public Integrity that she will fight for transparency of what now is political “dark money,” regardless of the political party tied to it.

“The Kochs, they are not a problem to me, nor are their activities specifically anything I want to address,” Ravel said. “Dark money is a broader problem — a much broader problem. It’s a problem for those on the Democratic side as well as the Republican side. It’s not a partisan question for me.”

Comments are off for this post

Is Disclosure Bad for Business?

With the five-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision less than two months away, campaign finance reform debates continue to heat up.

The Sunlight Foundation reports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned that a reform movement, including campaign spending disclosure, is infringing on its First Amendment rights. An event at the Chamber’s headquarters brought together a diverse group of speakers from the business community to discuss reform options that have been proposed, including the DISCLOSE Act and proposed rulemaking at the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read more

Comments are off for this post

Ruling Could Bring Disclosure to Some Secret Election Money

In a long-running campaign finance case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a Federal Election Commission disclosure rule, saying it was too narrow, the Washington Post reported.

The FEC rule had undermined the intent of Congress “to enable voters to be informed about who was trying to influence their decisions,” the judge wrote. “A donor can avoid reporting altogether by transmitting funds but remaining silent about their intended use.”

The Los Angeles Times said Judge Jackson ruled that “groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors” and her decision “could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections.” Read more

Comments are off for this post

Senate Closer to Debating Measure to Reverse 'Citizens United'

The Senate voted on Monday to proceed to debate a proposed constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling. A Republican filibuster is expected soon, and the proposal is not likely to pass the Senate this session, Huffington Post reported.

While the proposal has almost universal support of Democrats and opposition from Republicans, a majority of Americans from both parties “support the rationale offered by amendment proponents as a reason to amend the Constitution,” according to a separate Huffington Post article. Read more

No comments

Hundreds of Big Political Donors Giving More Since 'McCutcheon'

The full impact of the Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, issued in early April, is starting to be measured.

The ruling struck down aggregate limits on how much individuals may contribute to political candidates and party committees in an election cycle.

According to a Washington Post article, “Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1.” The article was headlined, “Wealthy political donors seize on new latitude to give to unlimited candidates.” Read more

No comments

California Disclosure Bill Debated in Legislature's Last Days

California’s Assembly is weighing a Senate-passed bill to require that political ads aired on TV for ballot measures disclose their three greatest original funders. A spate of editorials is calling attention to the proposal shortly before the legislature finishes its business for the year.

A San Jose Mercury News editorial was headlined, “Truth in campaign advertising should be the law,” and it said the bill’s powerful opponents include the Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association. The Los Angeles Daily News editorialized, “California campaign cash disclosure bill needs final push.” A San Francisco Chronicle editorial said, “Do-or-die time for campaign funding disclosure bill.”

No comments

Retired Judge Laments 'Worst Government That Money Can Buy'

jim-nelsonThe problem of money in politics has grown so big that it seems to be “on steroids” now, laments retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson in an outspoken Helena Independent Record op-ed.

Justice Nelson takes direct aim at a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases beginning with Citizens United, saying the problem of big money overwhelming actual voters has become so great that what once was unimaginable is almost possible.

“So, what’s next?” he writes. “Will corporations and special interest PACs eventually get the right to actually vote? Why not? They’re already funding the worst government that money can buy.” Read more

No comments

Senate Committee Votes to Curb Political Spending by Corporations

Despite an uphill fight ahead, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 on Thursday to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit Congress and the states to bar corporations from spending to influence elections.

The “heated debate at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday underscores the intensity of the fight over the growing role of unlimited money in elections,” USA Today reported.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and the committee’s chairman, said Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance regulation have “twisted the meaning of the First Amendment” and “opened the floodgates to billionaires.” Read more

No comments

JAS Files Brief on Campaign Contribution Limits Issue

JAS-LogoJustice at Stake submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on Tuesday, contending that a trial court order striking down campaign contribution limits threatens fair and impartial courts in Montana.

JAS urged the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse an order of the U.S. District Court striking down the Montana limits in 2012. Its brief maintains that the lower court misapplied relevant Supreme Court precedent and defied the settled law of the Ninth Circuit.

“This attack on contribution limits is neither justified by the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence on campaign finance regulation, nor can it make sense when judges are elected,” said Liz Seaton, JAS deputy executive director, in a statement.

“If we are to maintain fair and impartial courts, no party, no lawyer, and no interest group should be able to make outsized contributions that can even subtly influence a judge to rule in a particular way. Contribution limits implement the Constitution’s promise that judicial decisions will not suffer even the appearance of favoritism,”   Seaton said.

JAS, The Campaign Legal Center, the League of Women Voters, and Common Cause signed the brief.

No comments

Senators Face off over Proposal to Curtail Campaign Spending

dark_money_email_imageSupporters and opponents of a constitutional amendment to rein in campaign spending debated the proposal at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.  The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee focused on the so-called Udall amendment, SJ Res 19, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D) of New Mexico.   Justice at Stake submitted a letter to the committee emphasizing the negative impact of campaign spending on judicial races, and attended the hearing at the invitation of the committee chairman’s office.

Speaking at the hearing’s start, Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) described the amendment as designed “to repair the damage done by a series of flawed Supreme Court rulings.”  One of these rulings,  the Court’s Citizens United decision, he described as  having “opened the floodgates to billionaires.” In an historic appearance, both the Senate’s Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Minority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) testified before the committee.  Testifying for the amendment, Reid deplored the “flood of dark money” flowing into elections;  McConnell countered that the amendment would weaken the right to free speech. Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Tex.), argued that the proposal would have far-reaching impacts on free speech by groups on both sides of the aisle.

Spending in state judicial elections was cited by one witness, North Carolina State Senator Floyd McKissick, who pointed to the out-of-control spending in the state’s recent judicial races.  The state saw more than $1 million spent in a May primary for a single state Supreme Court seat.


No comments

Next Page »