- Apr 21, 2014I am just back from a week-long conference hosted in Morocco focused on skills building and advocacy for Legacy International’s Legislative Fellows from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – countries which have had their own version of the “Arab Spring.” While the hurdles facing fledgling democracies in North Africa were also evident in Morocco’s capital of Rabat, those obstacles to development came into sharper focus as the delegation ventured into Fez, a good sized city in the country’s interior.
- Apr 16, 2014
I find myself in Morocco meeting with young activists from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to provide training and mentoring in advocacy and democracy building in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Sponsored by Legacy International with a grant from the Department of State, the 5-day conference is focused on skills building, cultural exchange and brainstorming. It has been eye-opening.
Can you imagine undertaking the task of educating Libyan girls in camps for displaced persons when they have no money and no documents? Fighting corruption in Tunisia? Assessing the psychological impact of the political changes on Egypt's children? Increasing youth engagement in politics and improving the job prospects of high school graduates who are not going to college? Promoting health education in rural areas and slums in Morocco and Egypt?
- Apr 15, 2014The Republican and Democratic commissioners at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are locked in another public dispute. While this has become depressingly routine, the agency’s inability to function at almost any level is no small matter.
The FEC is charged with enforcing our federal campaign finance laws but, in case you haven’t noticed, those laws are not being enforced. Of course, the Supreme Court is doing its part to undermine the law in cases such as Citizens United v. FECand McCutcheon v. FEC by striking down key provisions that it had previously found constitutional.
- Apr 10, 2014There is a deep connection between the old news about the rapidly growing income and wealth gap in this country and the Supreme Court¹s decision (McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission) on Wednesday, April 2 ruling unconstitutional the longstanding (forty years) and regularly reaffirmed aggregate limits on how much an individual can give to all federal candidates and their parties in any election cycle.
Until that decision, an individual could not get more than approximately $124,000 into the hands of federal candidates and their parties. Now – notwithstanding the so-called base limits that limit how much an individual can contribute directly to any one candidate ($2,600) or party committee ($10,000 or $32,400, depending on the type of committee)—that sum is $3.6 million, and with artfully selected PACs (political action committees) potentially limitless. That’s one line.
- Apr 3, 2014This is a day when President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) deserve each other – and I don’t mean that in a good way.
Last night, Roll Call reported that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will be going to the White House this afternoon to attend the bill signing ceremony for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. Even after many years in Washington, I find this particular Kabuki theater a bit too much to stomach. I especially feel for the parents of Gabriella Miller who are likely unaware how they are being used in this cynical game.
To recap, Congress recently passed a bill that takes away public financing from the quadrennial national party conventions and supposedly uses that $12 million for pediatric cancer research. If it actually did this, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. After all, sick kids should always get priority over greedy politicians?
- Apr 1, 2014
People who want "a little bit of corruption" to break gridlock in Washington or their local statehouse simply do not understand what makes our democracy great.
“They almost wax nostalgic about the elements of machine politics that gets things done, but romanticizing machine politics is a bridge too far. Praise for just a little bit of corruption is a cynic's way out. Good government standards are what differentiate the United States and other Western democracies from banana republics.”
The Campaign Legal Center's Meredith McGehee takes a look at ethics via a video guest commentary today on Politix.
To watch the video, click here.
- Mar 18, 2014
On March 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that President Obama will sign into law a bill (H.R. 2019) that kills public financing of the presidential nominating conventions. The bill, renamed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, passed the Senate by voice vote on March 11.
This bill was the end of an on-going -- and now successful -- effort by House Republicans to partially dismantle the presidential public financing system. Previous efforts, led by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), failed in the Senate as the Democratic leadership stepped up repeatedly to rebuff Republican attempts to attack the presidential public financing system.
As we await a decision from the Supreme Court in the McCutcheon v. FEC money in politics case, the Justices themselves heard from a protester who rose in the courtroom to proclaim that “money is not speech, corporations are not people” and to urge the Court to “overturn Citizens United.”
That this breach was so surprising reminds us how cut-off the Supreme Court is from the life of the country. That separation also comes through in what the Justices had to say in the McCutcheon oral argument. Their comments illustrate flashpoints that underlie the Court’s money in politics cases and shed light on the fundamental fissures we may see in their decision.
1. Does the Court understand the Real World?
- Mar 6, 2014
In a March 5 entry in his “More Soft Money, Hard Law” blog, Bob Bauer distorted and then criticized the Campaign Legal Center’s (CLC) position in the ongoing IRS rulemaking regarding “candidate-related political activity” by tax-exempt organizations. CLC filed its IRS comments jointly with Democracy 21, Public Citizen, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). While CLC respects the right of anyone to criticize our legal and policy positions, such criticism should be based on our actual views, not on straw man distortions of our positions.
- Mar 5, 2014
Any day now, the Supreme Court will decide whether to throw out the overall limits on how much any one person can contribute to federal candidates, PACs, and political parties. This decision could have a big impact on business executives and they might not be too happy about it.
To watch the video at The Huffington Post, click here.