CLC Update May 19, 2010
- Legal Center President Testifies Before Congress on DISCLOSE Act
- FEC Opens Door to Soft Money Fundraising for Upcoming Redistricting Battle
- Legal Center Urges Members to Co-Sponsor Redistricting Transparency Bill
- Associate Counsel Addresses EU Delegation
Legal Center President Testifies Before Congress On DISCLOSE Act
On May 11, 2010, Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter testified before the Committee on House Administration regarding the legislative response to the Supreme Court's activist ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. Potter discussed the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) introduced by Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mike Castle (R-DE), Robert Brady (D-PA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), and offered suggestions for modifying the legislative language in anticipation of inevitable court challenges.
FEC Opens Door to Federal Officeholder Soft Money Fundraising For Upcoming Redistricting Battle
On May 7, 2010, the FEC announced its Advisory Opinion 2010-03 to the National Democratic Redistricting Trust—declaring that redistricting activities are not "in connection with" elections and granting the Trust permission to have federal candidates and officeholders solicit soft money to fund its litigation in the upcoming post-2010 Census redistricting battle.
In a statement Campaign Legal Center FEC Program Director Paul S. Ryan criticized the decision as ignoring "both the letter and the intent of the 'soft money' ban in McCain-Feingold." He further described the finding that redistricting activities are not undertaken in connection with elections as "ignore[ing] the realities of the process" that in many instances will determine the winners and losers of elections for the ensuing decade.
The Trust brought this advisory opinion request because federal law prohibits federal candidates and officeholders from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending any "funds in connection with an election for Federal office" or any "funds in connection with an election other than an election for Federal office" unless such funds are "subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of this Act" or are consistent with the Act's contribution limits and source restrictions, respectively.
Last year, in the RNC v. FEC case, the entire Commission argued to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: "[T]he record from McConnell demonstrates that '[r]edistricting efforts affect federal elections no matter when they are held.'"
Nevertheless, the Commission unanimously opened the door to this soft money fundraising, without a word about how its decision squares with its argument in RNC v. FEC.
In March, the Legal Center along with Democracy 21, filed comments in the proceeding urging the Commission to deny the request.
(Executive Director Gerry Hebert took no part in the Legal Center's consideration of this matter.)
Legal Center Urges Members to Co-Sponsor Redistricting Transparency Bill
On May 12, 2010, the Campaign Legal Center urged Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 4918, the Redistricting Transparency Act of 2010 introduced March 23 by Representatives John Tanner (D-TN) and Michael Castle (R-DE).
In a letter to Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert and Policy Director Meredith McGehee outlined the legislative effort to allow greater transparency, citizen involvement, and accountability into the redistricting process.
The Redistricting Transparency Act would open the secretive process of drawing Congressional district lines to greater public scrutiny. Under the legislation, state redistricting entities would be required to establish and maintain a website providing relevant information about the redistricting process as it is underway. Public hearings would also be required to allow increased public participation in and knowledge about the development of Congressional boundaries. The Redistricting Transparency Act also creates an additional level of accountability by requiring redistricting entities to publish the reasoning behind the choice of final proposals, along with any dissenting opinions.
Associate Counsel Addresses EU Delegation
On May 11, 2010, Associate Counsel Tara Malloy discussed campaign finance law at a meeting of the Political Counselors of the Delegation of the European Union based in Washington, DC. The focus of the discussion was the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the effects of the decision on U.S. elections.