Former FEC Chair Brad Smith published an op-ed today in the National Review today entitled: “The First Amendment Is Lucky to Have Mitch McConnell.” That is both a great headline and an accurate salute to the Republican Senate Leader at a time when Democrats have declared war on the First Amendment through the Corrupt Politicians Act (H.R.1/S.1). That said, a key part of Senator McConnell’s leadership on the First Amendment is not partisan:
Surprisingly few elected officials are willing to come to the defense of campaigns and other organized efforts to effect change. Americans celebrate their freedoms to speak and organize into groups, but once an organization achieves success, support for its rights tends to give way to concerns about “influence.” It’s rare to find politicians who support equally the freedom to speak of the NRA and the Brady Campaign, the League of Conservation Voters and the Chamber of Commerce, or pro-life groups and Planned Parenthood.
For over a quarter century, Mitch McConnell has stood as the Senate’s most consistent, articulate, and dogged defender of the First Amendment rights these organizations rely on. Way back in 1994, he engineered the defeat of a bill to fund campaigns with Americans’ tax dollars, a policy that remains at the top of the progressive agenda today and that reappears in S. 1. He has frustrated bad ideas from the right, too, such as in 2006, when he was one of only three Senate Republicans to oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution permitting the criminalization of flag-burning. That amendment fell just one vote short.Read more
On May 29th, businessman Shaun McCutcheon (of McCutcheon v. FEC fame) filed a request with the Federal Election Commission to issue an advisory opinion on whether he can transfer the $50,000 that he personally contributed to his campaign committee, McCutcheon for Freedom, to the Libertarian National Committee without violating campaign finance law. McCutcheon was a candidate for the Libertarian nomination for President during the current election cycle.Read more
At a recent hearing, numerous attorneys and First Amendment scholars provided testimony on the IRS’s proposed change to eliminate the requirement that certain exempt organizations disclose the names and addresses of contributors. Former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky, of the Heritage Foundation, highlighted the burden put on nonprofits as well as the First Amendment and privacy implications of disclosure in his testimony:Read more
Recently, we marked the ten year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010). We continue to hear a lot about this decision in the mainstream media, with some Democratic candidates describing it as a threat to American democracy, launching attacks on any candidate - liberal, socialist or otherwise - that will take money or support from political action committees (PACS) of any kind.Read more
Democrats often seem to cite certain events as the world is going to end if, or when, they happen -- whether it was Al Gore’s climate disaster by 2016 or the end of the internet when FEC Chair Ajit Pai ended net neutrality. This week another anniversary of one of those doomsday events occurred, the tenth anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC which was decided on January 21, 2010. As Cato scholar Ilya Shapiro wrote on the fifth anniversary:
President Obama’s famous statement during his 2010 State of the Union Address: “The Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates of special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”
In that one sentence, the former law professor made four errors that are all too common.Read more
While Democrats and liberal pundits would have us believe otherwise, there was no violation of campaign finance laws in President Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian President. Like so much in the campaign finance realm, Democrats are attempting to apply an interpretation of the law against foreign campaign contributions as they wish it were, instead of the law as written or how it has been interpreted to date.Read more
This past month, Democrat Representative Joaquin Castro released the names of Trump donors in San Antonio in a heated tweet claiming they are “fueling a campaign of hate.”
In natural form, the liberal mob immediately went on attack and began harassing these people.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Rep. Castro did not intend for the donors to be harassed. Why else would he publicly chastise them?Read more
The Department of Justice has zealously investigated President Trump for the myth of "Russian collusion" for over two years. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has stretched federal election laws far beyond their reasonable boundaries to criminalize a payment to an alleged paramour, a personal expense. Chairman Cummings hosted a known liar as his star witness. Chairman Nadler has decided to substitute himself for the FBI, issuing over 80 investigative requests for information about the President. Once he realized, to his chagrin, there was no "Russian collusion" finding forthcoming from Mr. Mueller, Chairman Schiff announced a broadened probe into the President's business affairs.Read more
Yesterday, Mother Jones reported that current FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub has decided to vote against allowing the FEC to defend its positions in court. Because the FEC currently only has four members and the affirmative votes of four members are required for the FEC to take any official action, this means that Chair Weintraub will prevent the FEC from appearing in court to defend its position.Read more