Category: Disclosure

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Packingham, Free Speech and Campaign Finance

At first blush, the Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v. North Carolina seems quite relevant to campaign finance. Echoing its 1997 decision in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, the Court said: “Social media offers relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds.” That observation suggests a tension between Internet use, and the Court’s … Continue Reading

The Van Hollen Case and the FEC’s Power

One way of looking at a case like Van Hollen v. FEC is to evaluate its result. Did the decision promote anti-corruption goals, or impede them? Reform proponents have celebrated the result in Van Hollen, which vacated a 2007 rule that allowed corporations and unions to narrow their disclosure when sponsoring” electioneering communications”— issue ads … Continue Reading

In Independence Institute, a Pro-Disclosure Decision—But With No Disclosure to Follow

It was hardly surprising that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Independence Institute v. FEC, would reject a challenge to McCain-Feingold’s disclosure requirements for “electioneering communications.” These are television or radio ads, sponsored by unregistered groups, that refer to candidates before the voters during the thirty or sixty days before the … Continue Reading

Deception and Disclosure in the Iowa Endorsement-Buying Case

Few face greater peril under the campaign finance and criminal laws than an undisputed bad actor. Yesterday, former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson admitted in a plea agreement that he willfully caused Representative Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign to falsely report payments made to two companies. In fact, Sorenson acknowledged, the campaign paid the companies—who … Continue Reading

No Satisfaction – Or At Least Mixed Emotions – With the D.C. Circuit in Stop This Insanity

Besides choosing the wrong Rolling Stones song to quote in a campaign finance opinion – “Salt of the Earth” from Beggars Banquet would have been better, with its references to “stay at home voters” and “gray suited grafters” – there was a lot that the D.C. Circuit got wrong in Stop This Insanity Inc. Employee … Continue Reading

New Law Brings Major Changes to the FEC’s Administrative Fine Program — and New Challenges for Independent Expenditures

On December 26, President Obama signed into law a bill to extend the Federal Election Commission’s administrative fine program.  The new law broadens the program significantly, in ways that will especially affect those who make independent expenditures. The administrative fine program allows the FEC to collect fines on a streamlined basis, and on fixed schedules, … Continue Reading

Super PAC FEC Reports Beg the Question—Who Else Will Spend in 2014?

The July 31 deadline for filing Federal Election Commission reports brought media stories that compared the fundraising totals of Democratic and Republican super PACs, much like the stories that compare the candidates’ financial situation at the end of each fundraising quarter.  But while significant to some degree, these stories are incomplete, in much the same … Continue Reading

FEC Reinforces Reporting Requirements for Political Committees

At yesterday’s open meeting, the Federal Election Commission unanimously voted to require increased disclosure on the part of political committees and postponed for the second time what is likely to be a lively debate over the Office of General Counsel’s enforcement manual. Chair Weintraub predicted that at the next public meeting, scheduled for July 11th, … Continue Reading

FEC Postpones Major Decisions, Unanimously Approves Advisory Opinion and Audit Report

In its first open meeting in nearly a month and its first since General Counsel Anthony Herman announced he will be leaving the agency for private practice, the Federal Election Commission made two unanimous decisions and postponed two others for the next public meeting, scheduled to be held two weeks from today. One of the … Continue Reading

A Primer on the Disclosure Rules in Federal Elections

In his opinion in Citizens United striking down the ban on corporate independent expenditures, Justice Kennedy anticipated a “campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure,” thereby “enabl[ing] the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”  Yet the current law’s disclosure system was not created … Continue Reading

Can ‘Bright Lines’ Improve IRS Performance on Political Activity?

In the wake of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)’s report on the Internal Revenue Service, there will be much discussion of where the system for reviewing tax-exempt applications went awry. The IRS’s actions, and the TIGTA report, raise key questions about IRS transparency. Any reforms should include a dramatic improvement in the … Continue Reading
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