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  • Watchdogs Call On FCC to Extend Online Political File Requirements to Cable and Satellite Systems

    Jul 31, 2014

    The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation called on the Federal Communications Commission today to extend to cable and satellite systems the requirement that their political files be posted on the FCC’s online database.  The petitioners are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.  

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  • Groups Seek Summary Judgment Against FEC for Dismissal of Crossroads GPS Complaint

    Jul 31, 2014

    Late yesterday, reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment stems from the FEC’s failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint.

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  • Senate Urged to Pass DISCLOSE Act to Combat Growing Crisis of Dark Money In Our Elections

    Jul 23, 2014

    Today the Campaign Legal Center strongly warned against the growing threat of Dark Money to our democracy and provided testimony to the Senate Rules Committee that the DISCLOSE ACT would provide the disclosure called for by the U.S. Supreme Court in a number of recent campaign finance rulings.  In a statement submitted into the record of today’s hearing “The DISCLOSE Act (S.2516) and the Need for Expanded Disclosure of Funds Raised and Spent to Influence Federal Elections” Legal Center President Trevor Potter and Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert condemned the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) “blatant override of Congressional intent” in the rules issued by the Commission to implement the disclosure requirements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

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  • McCain-Feingold's Devastating Legacy? Let's Take Another Look

    Jul 22, 2014

    Last year was the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC (in large part upholding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 or McCain-Feingold as it’s commonly known). The Court’s recent decision inMcCutcheon v. FEC (invalidating federal aggregate contribution limits), has brought a wave of commentary evaluating the shortcomings of our campaign finance system, and much of this commentary has blamed the McCain-Feingold law for creating many of these problems. The 10 year anniversary of McConnell, and this year’s McCutcheon decision, certainly provide a good moment to take stock of the legacy of McCain-Feingold, and to evaluate the state of the federal campaign finance system as a whole...

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  • Coordination and Issue Politics- It's Still About the Money

    Jul 18, 2014

    The opposition to campaign finance reform is not monolithic. Some comes from conservatives who believe it’s really a cover to push some sort of substantive Democratic/liberal agenda. Others are fine with reducing First Amendment speech and representative democracy into mere commodities to be bought and sold, and approve of the idea that money can and should buy political power...

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  • Watchdogs File FCC Complaints Against TV Stations that Failed to Properly ID Political Ad Sponsors

    Jul 17, 2014

    Today, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation filed complaints at the Federal Communications Commission against two television stations that incorrectly identified front groups as the “true sponsors” of political advertisements, when they were in fact paid for by one individual. The complainants are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.

    In the complaint against WJLA, the Allbritton-owned ABC affiliate in Washington D.C., the groups cited two ads that aired in September and October 2013 that failed to properly identify environmentalist and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer as the true sponsor. Instead, the ads were attributed to “NextGen Climate Action Committee.” At the time, NextGen was a super PAC founded and funded solely by Steyer. 

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  • Watchdogs File FCC Complaints Against TV Stations that Failed to Properly ID Political Ad Sponsors

    Jul 17, 2014

    Today, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation filed complaints at the Federal Communications Commission against two television stations that incorrectly identified front groups as the “true sponsors” of political advertisements, when they were in fact paid for by one individual. The complainants are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.

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  • Florida’s 2012 Congressional Redistricting Ruled Unconstitutional by Florida Circuit Court

    Jul 10, 2014

    Earlier today, Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida found that the Florida Legislature violated the state constitution when it redrew its congressional boundaries. Voters in Florida overwhelmingly supported amending the Florida Constitution in 2012 to bar the Legislature from intentionally favoring or disfavoring a political party or an incumbent.  Today, Judge Lewis found a “group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process” and that they did so “all with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and Congress that would favor the Republican Party.”  He further found that “[t]hey made a mockery of the Legislature’s proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting”.   Judge Lewis found that the Republican political consultants “obtain[ed] the necessary cooperation and collaboration” from the Legislative leaders, enabling them to “infiltrate and influence the Legislature[.]” As a result, Judge Lewis found, they managed “to taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent.”  

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  • Second Circuit Tackles "Independence"

    Jul 7, 2014

    Last week in Vermont Right to Life Committee v. Sorrell, a federal appeals court, in a welcome move, finally asked the crucial question of whether a self-styled “independent” group was in fact independent.  The Supreme Court’s naïve or disingenuous decision in Citizens United struck down the federal corporate spending restrictions while at the same time assuring us that independent spending, by virtue of its independence, could not corrupt candidates.  Even accepting that proposition—however unrealistic—candidates and committees have worked tirelessly to push the envelope in terms of just how much “coordination” they could get away with under current law.  A line was finally drawn last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit...

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