CLC Update August 7, 2015
- Fifth Circuit Finds Texas Voter Photo ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act
- Larry Noble Testifies on the IRS and “Dark Money” Groups Before Senate Judiciary Committee
- Trevor Potter Appears on Face the Nation to Discuss 2016 Election Funding
- Watchdog Groups Provide More Information to DOJ on Apparent Violations Related to Bush Super PAC Scheme and Urge Investigation
- Legal Center Hosts Panel Seeking Common Ground on Money in Politics Reforms
- Groups Urge Census Bureau to Change Residence Rule and Residence Situations to Account for Incarcerated Population
- Bipartisan Proposal to Fix the Lobbyist Disclosure Act that Even the Lobbyists’ Association Can Get Behind
- Groups Urge Support of Leahy’s Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act
- Senators Advised to Strike McConnell Rider from Financial Appropriations Bill
- Campaign Legal Center Urges Senate Finance Committee to Reject Amendment to Force IRS to Delay “Dark Money” Rulemaking
- Senior Counsel Speaks at New York City Campaign Finance Board’s “American Elections at the Crossroads” Event
Fifth Circuit Finds Texas Voter Photo ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act
On August 5, in Veasey v. Abbott, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Texas Voter Photo ID law is discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The Campaign Legal Center is part of the legal team representing the Veasey-LULAC plaintiffs that includes Chad Dunn and K. Scott Brazil (Brazil & Dunn), Neil G. Baron, David Richards (Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith), Armand Derfner (Derfner & Altman), and Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. (LULAC).
To read the Circuit Court decision, click here.
To read the Legal Center’s brief, click here.
Larry Noble Testifies on the IRS and “Dark Money” Groups before Senate Judiciary Committee
On July 29, Senior Counsel Larry Noble testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) enforcement of the restrictions on political activity by non-profit tax-exempt groups who do not disclose their donors. Noble’s testimony 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.
To read Noble’s testimony, click here.
To watch Noble testify, click here (skip to 2:25:55).
Trevor Potter Appears on Face the Nation to Discuss 2016 Election Funding
On August 2, Legal Center President Trevor Potter appeared as a guest on Face the Nation with John Dickerson to discuss the financing of the 2016 Election. Potter, the former FEC chair, appeared with Matea Gold of the Washington Post, Steven Law of American Crossroads, and CBS News Correspondent Julianna Goldman to discuss the recent rise of the personalized super PAC and other developments in campaign finance.
To watch the segment, click here.
To read the transcript, click here.
Watchdog Groups Provide More Information to DOJ on Apparent Violations Related to Bush Super PAC Scheme and Urge Investigation
In a letter sent July 22 to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Campaign Legal Center joined Democracy 21 in citing the recent formal appointment of Mike Murphy to head the Rise to Rise Super PAC as further evidence of the need for a Justice Department investigation into the Bush Super PAC scheme.
The two groups previously sent letters to the Attorney General that called for the Justice Department to appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate whether Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush and the Right to Rise Super PAC were engaged in knowing and willful violations of the federal campaign finance laws.
The request for a Justice Department investigation of Bush and the Right to Rise Super PAC centers on a provision of the Bipartisan Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) that prohibits a federal candidate from “directly or indirectly” establishing, financing, maintaining or controlling an entity that raises or spends funds not subject to federal contribution limits and prohibitions (such as a Super PAC). Bush and the Right to Rise Super PAC appear to be in clear violation of these prohibitions
To read the full letter, click here.
Legal Center Hosts Panel Seeking Common Ground on Money in Politics Reforms
On July 24, the Campaign Legal Center hosted a panel discussion, “Finding Common Ground on Money-in-Politics in Washington”, that brought some noted conservatives to the table to discuss possible campaign finance reforms. Participants in the panel included John Pudner of Take Back Our Republic, Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, and the Legal Center’s Meredith McGehee. Pudner and Cost explained their concerns about a process that has become dominated by large donors and, as Cost called it, “conflict of interest financing of campaigns.” The panel discussed policy ideas for incentivizing more participation in financing campaigns, including tax credits, matching funds, and vouchers as well as reform of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Groups Urge Census Bureau to Change Residence Rule and Residence Situations to Account for Incarcerated Population
On July 20, the Campaign Legal Center joined with more than thirty other organizations to urge the U.S. Census Bureau, to count incarcerated people at their home address, rather than at the particular facility that they happen to be located at on Census day. The comments were in response to the Census Bureau’s federal register notice regarding the Residence Rule and Residence Situations, 80 FR 28950 (May 20, 2015).
To read the letter, click here.
Bipartisan Proposal to Fix the Lobbyist Disclosure Act that Even the Lobbyists’ Association Can Get Behind
The Campaign Legal Center is encouraging Congress to fix the broken and ineffective Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and on July 28 released a Lobbying Disclosure Act Fact Sheet to congressional staffers and the media outlining the failures of the LDA and possible fixes. As many lobbyists have deregistered or have never bothered to do so, the LDA is no longer able to meet its stated goal of “ensuring public awareness of the efforts of paid lobbyists to influence the public decision-making process” and through this transparency “increase public confidence in the integrity of Government.” The Fact Sheet highlights a new bipartisan proposal to update the LDA by changing the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists and shifting enforcement of the LDA to the Department of Justice.
The proposal comes out of the work of a blue ribbon Task Force assembled by the American Bar Association, chaired by Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter, a former Republican Federal Election Commission Chair; Harvard University law professor Charles Fried, a former Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan; Perkins Coie attorney Rebecca Gordon, a former Deputy General Counsel to the Democratic National Committee; and attorney Joseph Sandler, a former counsel for the Democratic National Committee. The Association of Government Relations Professionals (formerly the American League of Lobbyists) has endorsed a similar set of reforms.
To read the Lobbying Disclosure Act Fact Sheet, click here.
Groups Urge Support of Leahy’s Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act
On July 22, the Campaign Legal Center joined with eight other organizations in a letter urging Senators to support the Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy. The legislation would address the rampant abuse of Super PACs and in particular single-candidate Super PACs by donors seeking to circumvent existing candidate contribution limits. Similar legislation (H.R. 425) has been introduced in the House by Representatives David Price and Chris Van Hollen.
The Leahy bill would, among other things, define coordination between a candidate’s campaign and an outside spender, like a Super PAC, to include the elements that establish the close ties that generally exist between a candidate and his or her individual-candidate Super PAC.
To read the letter, click here.
To read the bill, click here.
Senators Asked to Strike McConnell Rider from Financial Appropriations Bill
On July 23, the Campaign Legal Center, along with eight other organizations, sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging Senators to vote for an amendment to be offered by Senator Tom Udall to strike from the Financial Services Appropriations bill a rider (attached by longtime campaign finance reform opponent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)) that would lift caps on coordinated spending by party committees on behalf of candidates.
To read the letter, click here.
Campaign Legal Center Urges Senate Finance Committee to Reject Amendment to Force IRS to Delay “Dark Money” Rulemaking
On July 21, the Campaign Legal Center strongly urged the Senate Finance Committee to vote against an effort to block the IRS from completing a rulemaking related to the regulation of the political and candidate-related activities of 501(c)(4) organizations. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) were expected to offer an amendment to the tax extenders bill that would suspend the IRS rulemaking for one year.
Senior Counsel Speaks at New York City Campaign Finance Board’s “American Elections at the Crossroads” Event
On July 22, Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan spoke on a panel entitled “Public Financing: What’s the ROI at the Voting Booth?” at the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s (NYCCFB) “American Elections at the Crossroads”. Ryan’s fellow panelists Amy Loprest, Executive Director for NYCCFB, Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate, John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor at CUNY Graduate Center, Tom Petri, former U.S. Congressmen from Wisconsin and Eric Ulrich, New York City Council Member for Queens.