- Aug 7, 2015
Barely a page into his majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts makes a claim that in any other context would seem unremarkable, even obvious: "Voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that." ...
- Jul 30, 2015
Yesterday, Larry Noble testified at the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts hearing on the IRS’s enforcement of the restrictions on political activity by non-profit tax-exempt groups who do not disclose their donors. While some members of the subcommittee chaired by Senator Ted Cruz argued that the serious allegations of the IRS targeting certain groups meant the IRS should reduce its oversight, Noble focused on how the IRS’s failure to develop and enforce clear and effective rules governing political activity by nonprofit organizations has undermined compliance with our campaign finance laws—especially those requiring disclosure of the sources of campaign spending. ...
Judicial Oblivion: How the Wisconsin Supreme Court Ignored Legal Precedent to End the John Doe InvestigationJul 28, 2015
Passions have clearly been stirred by the recent 4-2 decision by the Wisconsin state supreme court to shut down a state “John Doe” investigation into potentially illegal coordination between the 2012 recall campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and multiple “dark money” groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCfG) and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). Supporters of the decision have claimed the investigation was a “political witch-hunt” reliant on “paramilitary raids”; opponents argued that the judges issuing the decision were on the take because their own recent election campaigns were heavily subsidized by the same groups targeted in the investigation. Lost in the barrage of charges and countercharges, however, is the fact that the actual merits decision of the court is, simply put, a joke. ...
- Jun 30, 2015
There is little question that the current dysfunction at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is due, in large part, to the current membership of the Commission, who have mired the agency in acrimonious debates, petty squabbles and deadlock. In fact, the three Republican commissioners have routinely refused to move forward on cases regardless of their merit, one publicly announcing he has blocked cases because more complaints are filed with the agency against Republicans than Democrats.
- May 7, 2015
Based on the speech of Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter at the “Ending Institutional Corruption” Conference at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University
For the last forty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has grappled with perceived tension between the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause—which it has interpreted as including the right to spend money to influence elections—and the regulation of political corruption.
- Apr 15, 2015
Like any good magic show, misdirection is at the heart of Robert Bauer’s and Samuel Issacharoff’s op-ed, Keep Shining the Light on ‘Dark Money’, published in Politico on April 12th. Directing the audience’s attention to the need for greater transparency of “dark money,” they talk about the need for “[r]eformed reporting requirements carefully drawn to bring into public view this spending while also addressing concerns about donor privacy and harassment.” Then, right before our eyes, their reform resulting in greater transparency wondrously becomes a proposal to transform the current $200 threshold for reporting the identity of individuals who make political contributions into a threshold of $2,700 and to require reporting only during a narrow window sometime between 30 to 120
- Apr 7, 2015
According to five Justices on the current Supreme Court, the First Amendment protects the right of wealthy individuals, corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money on “independent expenditures” to elect a candidate because the lack of coordination with the candidate ensures there is little chance of corruption. It is not often that current events so persuasively demonstrate how cut off from reality is the Supreme Court, but we now have a teaching moment for the Court with the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). While not yet tried or convicted, even the bare-bones facts, if true, should lead the Court to consider getting out in the real world a little more often.
- Feb 10, 2015
Virginia’s culture of entitlement continues to be a stumbling block to reasonable, long-overdue ethics reforms. The Washington Post quotes State Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. as feeling “insulted” by proposed reforms to limit gifts to $100 and to close the loophole that allows state legislators to accept recreational trips of unlimited value.
- Jan 29, 2015
The 32,000 public comments the Federal Election Commission (FEC) recently received in response to its request for comments on key money-in-politics issues could represent a healthy development for the beleaguered agency.