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Books by Rick
The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Yale University Press, 2012)
The Voting Wars Website
NOW AVAILABLE from
Barnes and Noble
Election Law--Cases and Materials (5th edition 2012) (with Daniel Hays Lowenstein and Daniel P. Tokaji)
The Supreme Court and Election Law: Judging Equality from Baker v. Carr to Bush v. Gore (NYU Press 2003) NOW IN PAPER
Table of Contents
Order from Amazon.com
Order from BarnesandNoble.com
Journal of Legislation Symposium on book
The Glannon Guide to Torts: Learning Torts Through Multiple-Choice Questions and Analysis (Aspen Publishers 2d ed. 2011)
Remedies: Examples & Explanations (Aspen Publishers, 2d ed. 2010)
Election Law Resources
Blogroll/Political News Sites
All About Redistricting (Justin Levitt)
American Constitution Society
Ballot Access News
Brennan Center for Justice
The Brookings Institution's Campaign Finance Page
California Election Law (Randy Riddle)
Caltech-MIT/Voting Technology Project (and link to voting technology listserv)
The Caucus (NY Times)
Campaign Legal Center (Blog)
Campaign Finance Institute
Center for Competitive Politics (Blog)
Center for Governmental Studies
Doug Chapin (HHH program)
Equal Vote (Dan Tokaji)
Federal Election Commission
The Fix (WaPo)
Initiative and Referendum Institute
Legal Theory (Larry Solum)
Political Activity Law
Summary Judgments (Loyola Law faculty blog)
Talking Points Memo
UC Irvine Center for the Study of Democracy
UC Irvine School of Law
USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics
The Volokh Conspiracy
Votelaw blog (Ed Still)
Washington Post Politics
Recent Newspapers and Magazine Commentaries
Big Money Lost, But Don't Be Relieved, CNN Opinion, Nov. 9, 2012
A Better Way to Vote: Nationalize Oversight and Control, NY Times, "Room for Debate" blog, Nov. 9, 2012
Election Day Dispatches Entry 5: Black Panthers, Navy Seals, and Mysterious Voting Machines, Slate, Nov. 6, 2012
Behind the Voting Wars, A Clash of Philosophies, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 4, 2012
How Many More Near-Election Disasters Before Congress Wakes Up?, The Daily Beast, Oct. 30, 2012
Will Bush v. Gore Save Barack Obama? If Obama Narrowly Wins Ohio, He Can Thank Scalia and the Court's Conservatives, Slate, Oct. 26, 2012
Will Voter Suppression and Dirty Tricks Swing the Election?, Salon, Oct. 22, 2012
Is the Supreme Court About to Swing Another Presidential Election? If the Court Cuts Early Voting in Ohio, It Could Be a Difference Maker in the Buckeye State, Slate, Oct. 15, 2012
Election Truthers: Will Republicans Accept an Obama Election Victory?, Slate, Oct. 9, 2012
Wrong Number: The Crucial Ohio Voting Battle You Haven't Heard About, Slate, Oct. 1, 2012
Litigating the Vote, National Law Journal, Aug. 27, 2012
Military Voters as Political Pawns, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 19, 2012
Tweeting the Next Election Meltdown: If the Next Presidential Election Goes into Overtime, Heaven Help Us. It’s Gonna Get Ugly, Slate, Aug. 14, 2012
A Detente Before the Election, New York Times, August 5, 2012
Worse Than Watergate: The New Campaign Finance Order Puts the Corruption of the 1970s to Shame, Slate, July 19, 2012
Has SCOTUS OK'd Campaign Dirty Tricks?, Politico, July 10, 2012
End the Voting Wars: Take our elections out of the hands of the partisan and the incompetent, Slate, June 13, 2012
Citizens: Speech, No Consequences, Politico, May 31, 2012
Is Campaign Disclosure Heading Back to the Supreme Court? Don’t expect to see Karl Rove’s Rolodex just yet, Slate, May 16, 2012
Unleash the Hounds Why Justice Souter should publish his secret dissent in Citizens United, Slate, May 16, 2012
Why Washington Can’t Be Fixed; And is about to get a lot worse, Slate, May 9, 2012
Let John Edwards Go! Edwards may be a liar and a philanderer, but his conviction will do more harm than good, Slate, April 23, 2012
The Real Loser of the Scott Walker Recall? The State of Wisconsin, The New Republic, April 13, 2012
A Court of Radicals: If the justices strike down Obamacare, it may have grave political implications for the court itself, Slate, March 30, 2012
Of Super PACs and Corruption, Politico, March 22, 2012
Texas Voter ID Law May Be Headed to the Supreme Court, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 13, 2012
“The Numbers Don’t Lie: If you aren’t sure Citizens United gave rise to the Super PACs, just follow the money, Slate, Mar. 9, 2012
Stephen Colbert: Presidential Kingmaker?, Politico, Mar. 5 2012
Occupy the Super PACs; Justice Ginsburg knows the Citizens United decision was a mistake. Now she appears to be ready to speak truth to power, Slate, Feb. 20, 2012
Kill the Caucuses! Maine, Nevada, and Iowa were embarrassing. It’s time to make primaries the rule, Slate, Feb. 15, 2012
The Biggest Danger of Super PACs, CNN Politics, Jan. 9, 2012
This Case is a Trojan Horse, New York Times "Room for Debate" blog, Jan. 6, 2012 (forum on Bluman v. FEC)
Holder's Voting Rights Gamble: The Supreme Court's Voter ID Showdown, Slate, Dec. 30, 2011
Will Foreigners Decide the 2012 Election? The Extreme Unintended Consequences of Citizens United, The New Republic (online), Dec. 6, 2011
Disenfranchise No More, New York Times, Nov. 17, 2011
A Democracy Deficit at Americans Elect?, Politico, Nov. 9, 2011
Super-Soft Money: How Justice Kennedy paved the way for ‘SuperPACS’ and the return of soft money, Slate, Oct. 25, 2012
The Arizona Campaign Finance Law: The Surprisingly Good News in the Supreme Court’s New Decision, The New Republic (online), June 27, 2011
New York City as a Model?, New York Times Room for Debate, June 27, 2011
A Cover-Up, Not a Crime. Why the Case Against John Edwards May Be Hard to Prove, Slate, Jun. 3, 2011
Wisconsin Court Election Courts Disaster, Politico, Apr. 11, 2011
Rich Candidate Expected to Win Again, Slate, Mar. 25, 2011
Health Care and the Voting Rights Act, Politico, Feb. 4, 2011
The FEC is as Good as Dead, Slate, Jan. 25, 2011
Let Rahm Run!, Slate, Jan. 24, 2011
Lobbypalooza,The American Interest, Jan-Feb. 2011(with Ellen P. Aprill)
Election Hangover: The Real Legacy of Bush v. Gore, Slate, Dec. 3, 2010
Alaska's Big Spelling Test: How strong is Joe Miller's argument against the Leeza Markovsky vote?, Slate, Nov. 11, 2010
Kirk Offers Hope vs. Secret Donors, Politico, November 5, 2010
Evil Men in Black Robes: Slate's Judicial Election Campaign Ad Spooktackular!, Slate, October 26, 2010 (with Dahlia Lithwick)
Show Me the Donors: What's the point of disclosing campaign donations? Let's review, Slate, October 14, 2010
Un-American Influence: Could Foreign Spending on Elections Really Be Legal?, Slate, October 11, 2010
Toppled Castle: The real loser in the Tea Party wins is election reform, Slate, Sept. 16, 2010
Citizens United: What the Court Did--and Why, American Interest, July/August 2010
The Big Ban Theory: Does Elena Kagan Want to Ban Books? No, and She Might Even Be a Free Speech Zealot", Slate, May 24, 2010
Crush Democracy But Save the Kittens: Justice Alito's Double Standard for the First Amendment, Slate, Apr. 30, 2010
Some Skepticism About the "Separable Preferences" Approach to the Single Subject Rule: A Comment on Cooter & Gilbert, Columbia Law Review Sidebar, Apr. 19, 2010
Scalia's Retirement Party: Looking ahead to a conservative vacancy can help the Democrats at the polls, Slate, Apr. 12, 2010
Hushed Money: Could Karl Rove's New 527 Avoid Campaign-Finance Disclosure Requirements?, Slate, Apr. 6, 2010
Money Grubbers: The Supreme Court Kills Campaign Finance Reform, Slate, Jan. 21, 2010
Bad News for Judicial Elections, N.Y. Times "Room for Debate" Blog, Jan., 21, 2010
Read more opeds from 2006-2009
Forthcoming Publications, Recent Articles, and Working Papers
The 2012 Voting Wars, Judicial Backstops, and the Resurrection of Bush v. Gore, George Washington Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
A Constitutional Right to Lie in Campaigns and Elections?, Montana Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
End of the Dialogue? Political Polarization, the Supreme Court, and Congress, 86 Southern California Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
Fixing Washington, 126 Harvard Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draf available)
What to Expect When You’re Electing: Federal Courts and the Political Thicket in 2012, Federal Lawyer, (forthcoming 2012)( draft available)
Chill Out: A Qualified Defense of Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws in the Internet Age, Journal of Law and Politics (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Lobbying, Rent Seeking, and the Constitution, 64 Stanford Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Anticipatory Overrulings, Invitations, Time Bombs, and Inadvertence: How Supreme Court Justices Move the Law, Emory Law Journal (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Teaching Bush v. Gore as History, St. Louis University Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (symposium on teaching election law) (draft available)
The Supreme Court’s Shrinking Election Law Docket: A Legacy of Bush v. Gore or Fear of the Roberts Court?, Election Law Journal (forthcoming 2011) (draft available)
Citizens United and the Orphaned Antidistortion Rationale, 27 Georgia State Law Review 989 (2011) (symposium on Citizens United)
The Nine Lives of Buckley v. Valeo, in First Amendment Stories, Richard Garnett and Andrew Koppelman, eds., Foundation 2011)
The Transformation of the Campaign Financing Regime for U.S. Presidential Elections, in The Funding of Political Parties (Keith Ewing, Jacob Rowbottom, and Joo-Cheong Tham, eds., Routledge 2011)
Judges as Political Regulators: Evidence and Options for Institutional Change, in Race, Reform and Regulation of the Electoral Process, (Gerken, Charles, and Kang eds., Cambridge 2011)
Citizens United and the Illusion of Coherence, 109 Michigan Law Review 581 (2011)
Aggressive Enforcement of the Single Subject Rule, 9 Election Law Journal 399 (2010) (co-authored with John G. Matsusaka)
The Benefits of the Democracy Canon and the Virtues of Simplicity: A Reply to Professor Elmendorf, 95 Cornell Law Review 1173 (2010)
Constitutional Avoidance and Anti-Avoidance on the Roberts Court, 2009 Supreme Court Review 181 (2010)
Election Administration Reform and the New Institutionalism, California Law Review 1075 (2010) (reviewing Gerken, The Democracy Index)
You Don't Have to Be a Structuralist to Hate the Supreme Court's Dignitary Harm Election Law Cases, 64 University of Miami Law Review 465 (2010)
The Democracy Canon, 62 Stanford Law Review 69 (2009)
Review Essay: Assessing California's Hybrid Democracy, 97 California Law Review 1501 (2009)
Bush v. Gore and the Lawlessness Principle: A Comment on Professor Amar, 61 Florida Law Review 979 (2009)
Introduction: Developments in Election Law, 42 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 565 (2009)
Book Review (reviewing Christopher P. Manfredi and Mark Rush, Judging Democracy (2008)), 124 Political Science Quarterly 213 (2009).
"Regulation of Campaign Finance," in Vikram Amar and Mark Tushnet, Global Perspectives on Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press (2009)
More Supply, More Demand: The Changing Nature of Campaign Financing for Presidential Primary Candidates (working paper, Sept. 2008)
When 'Legislature' May Mean More than''Legislature': Initiated Electoral College Reform and the Ghost of Bush v. Gore, 35 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 599 (2008) (draft available)
"Too Plain for Argument?" The Uncertain Congressional Power to Require Parties to Choose Presidential Nominees Through Direct and Equal Primaries, 102 Northwestern University Law Review 2009 (2008)
Political Equality, the Internet, and Campaign Finance Regulation, The Forum, Vol. 6, Issue 1, Art. 7 (2008)
Justice Souter: Campaign Finance Law's Emerging Egalitarian, 1 Albany Government Law Review 169 (2008)
Beyond Incoherence: The Roberts Court's Deregulatory Turn in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 92 Minnesota Law Review 1064 (2008) (draft available)
The Untimely Death of Bush v. Gore, 60 Stanford Law Review 1 (2007)
Category Archives: lobbying
“Dozens of Think Tank Scholars are also Beltway Lobbyists; Why D.C.’s policy shops need to be transparent about who else is paying their scholars”
Four decades after the campaign finance reforms that followed Watergate, arguments over the role of money in politics seem increasingly tired and unproductive. We ought to build on the experience of recent years and consider what’s necessary for a new phase of political reform.
Reforms appear destined to fail unless they rest on three key points: They should focus not on further restricting funding for political activity but rather on broadening avenues of citizen participation; they should look beyond contributions to parties and candidates to take into account other ways that money influences politics, including through the intersection of lobbying and political funding; and they should be informed by the experiences of states and localities.
Bloomberg: “Looking to expand its lobbying and government affairs practice, Covington & Burling LLP turned to those who know Congress best: elected officials just finishing their terms on Capitol Hill.”
Ezra Klein: “Under Obama, today’s Democratic Party is not the party of campaign-finance reform in any serious way. They favor it abstractly, but with the exception of relatively modest laws meant to roll back the effects of Citizens United and its related rulings, they expend no political capital or intellectual energy on the topic. Washington is safe. Democracy less so.”
Common Cause responds to Ezra.
President Obama’s once-broad ambitions to clamp down on the influence of special interests have been largely abandoned since his reelection, dismaying longtime allies in the campaign-finance reform movement….
Reformers of both parties describe the president’s campaign finance record in unsparing terms.
“It’s disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who ran against Obama in 2008 and has spent years trying to limit the amount of money that pours into federal political campaigns.
In a joint letter to Obama on Monday, seven reform groups expressed their “deep concern about the nation’s corrupt campaign finance system and about your failure, to date, as president to provide meaningful leadership or take effective action to solve this fundamental problem facing our democracy.”
“Just How Many Newt Gingrich’s Are There on K Street? Estimating the True Size and Shape of Washington’s Revolving Door”
Timothy LaPira and Herschel F. Thomas III have posted this draft on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s choice not to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) for his “historical advice” to Freddie Mac was a controversy in the 2012 Republican primary. The practice of carefully crafting policy advocacy activities to avoid triggering disclosure requirements is commonly referred to as the “Daschle exception” after the former Senate Majority Leader became a leading “strategic adviser” to one of Washington’s biggest lobbying firms. In this paper we ask: how many professionals are engaged in policy advocacy, and how common is it for them to have worked in the federal government? We assume that high-profile cases of Daschle and Gingrich are not isolated, so we seek to account for lobbying and policy advocacy in as large an empirical scope as possible. Using a new data set of professional biographies of both registered lobbyists and unregistered policy advocates, we estimate that there are more professionals engaged in influencing public policy “under the radar” than there are who are transparent about their clients and activities, implying that lobbying disclosure reports provide only a partial view of policy influence in Washington. We also find that, unlike Gingrich and Daschle, unregistered policy advocates are less likely to have gone through the revolving door and are more likely to be general political process experts rather than institutional specialists.
NYT: “As one of the country’s largest and oldest conservative advocacy groups, the American Conservative Union has long fought to rein in federal spending and limit the size of government. But behind the scenes, the group has formed a partnership with business lobbyists to tame the activists who have pushed Republican leaders in Congress to adopt some of the most austere spending limits in decades.”
To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a crucial role in shaping any legislation.
No other lawmaker on Capitol Hill has such a sizable constellation of former aides working as tax lobbyists, representing blue-chip clients that include telecommunications businesses, oil companies, retailers and financial firms, according to an analysis by LegiStorm, an online database that tracks Congressional staff members and lobbying. At least 28 aides who have worked for Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, since he became the committee chairman in 2001 have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration — more than any other current member of Congress, according to the analysis of lobbying filings performed for The New York Times.
New position paper from the American League of Lobbyists which punts on the issue of campaign finance regulation.
Bloomberg BNA: “A federal appeals court has reiterated a previous ruling that two conservative groups had no legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of Washington state’s grass-roots lobbying law, but the appeals court also vacated a lower court decision that the state law was consistent with the First Amendment (Many Cultures, One Message v. Clements, 9th Cir.,No. 11-36008, 3/28/13). The appeals court said in a March 28 ruling that it was not necessary to address constitutional issues in a case that was disposed of because of lack of standing. The action left the way open for a possible future challenge to Washington’s grass-roots lobbying law.”
Fascinating exchange from yesterday’s DOMA argument, relevant to the question whether gays and lesbians are discrete and insular minorities who may be entitled to have laws passed which discriminate against them subject to a heightened standard of review:
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I suppose the sea change has a lot to do with the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case?MS. KAPLAN: I disagree with that, Mr. Chief Justice, I think the sea change has to do, just as discussed was Bowers and Lawrence, was an understanding that there is no difference — there was fundamental difference that could justify this kind of categorical discrimination between gay couples and straight couples.CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You don’t doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different States is politically powerful, do you?MS. KAPLAN: With respect to that category, that categorization of the term for purposes of heightened scrutiny, I would, Your Honor. I don’t -CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Really?MS. KAPLAN: Yes.CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case.MS. KAPLAN: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice, is that no other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or exclude those rights, the way gay people have. And only two of those referenda have ever lost. One was in Arizona; it then passed a couple years later. One was in Minnesota where they already have a statute on the books that prohibits marriages between gay people. So I don’t think — and until 1990 gay people were not allowed to enter this country. So I don’t think that the political power of gay people today could possibly be seen within that framework, andcertainly is analogous — I think gay people are far weaker than the women were at the time of Frontiero.CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, but you just referred to a sea change in people’s understandings and values from 1996, when DOMA was enacted, and I’m just trying to see where that comes from, if not from the political effectiveness of — of groups on your side of the case.
\MS. KAPLAN: To flip the language of the House Report, Mr. Chief Justice, I think it comes from a moral understanding today that gay people are no different, and that gay married couples’ relationships are not significantly different from the relationships of straight married people. I don’t think -CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I understand that. I am just trying to see how — where that that moral understanding came from, if not the political effectiveness of a particular group.MS. KAPLAN: I — I think it came — is, again is very similar to the, what you saw between Bowers and Lawrence. I think it came to a societal understanding. I don’t believe that societal understanding came strictly through political power; and I don’t think that gay people today have political power as that -this Court has used that term with — in connection with the heightened scrutiny analysis.CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Thank you, Ms. Kaplan.
Salomon Melgen, a wealthy South Florida ophthalmologist and investor, has been fighting the federal government’s 2008 finding that his eye care company – Vitreo-Retinal Consultants – over-billed Medicare by $8.9 million. And he’s gotten help in that effort from his close friend Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey.
Interesting post at WonkBlog by Dan Hopkins.
The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, an obscure nonprofit based in Belgium, was founded by a former top official in Ukraine’s governing party and appears to be a proxy for the country’s pro-Russian government. In 2012, the group hired a pair of high-powered American lobbying firms to advocate on its behalf.
But what those lobbyists, who include Obama-era Democratic superlobbyist Tony Podesta, are actually doing is a mystery. Unlike the Washington firms hired directly by foreign governments, Ukraine’s leadership has slipped its American agenda through an increasingly popular loophole in the federal law intended to regulate foreign activity in the United States, allowing it to follow the minimal disclosure practices required of domestic corporate lobbies, not the extensive ones demanded of registered foreign agents. It’s a loophole now used by a range of post-communist governments, in particular, with money to burn and no particular love of transparency. And it offers a path to the end of a disclosure regime put in place in 1938, amid American concern over the effects of Nazi propaganda.
Nearly half of the lobbyists who were registered with Congress in 2011 and then went “inactive” in 2012 remained with the same employer, and many continued to influence public policy, according to a study released Wednesday.
The finding by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics illustrates a factor behind the recent decline in federally reported lobbying fees and the number of active lobbyists on K Street: Professionals are taking on roles that leave no public trail because their activities fall outside the scope of disclosure laws.
Roll Call: “K Street shops, many in revenue decline for the past couple of years, can no longer afford the luxury of a high-priced former member. Senators usually don’t entertain offers worth less than $1 million, and House members’ threshold is typically about $700,000. And it’s an investment with no guaranteed payoff. Ever.”
The article does note that Covington landed both Sen. Kyl and Rep. Howard Berman. Quite a coup.
Mother Jones report, with the subhead: “How did the chair of the House ethics committee end up on a corporate-backed African safari? Meet the shadowy nonprofit that throws some of DC’s finest junkets.”
NYT: “On a Monday evening in early February, two months into a national debate over gun violence after the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, representatives of the firearms industry were wining and dining lawmakers in Washington.”
The Baldy Center at SUNY Buffalo is sponsoring a conference this Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, 2013 on the interaction between lobbying and campaign finance. Michael Halberstam of SUNY Buffalo Law School is the lead organizer of the conference, which has a stellar lineup, including Nick Allard, Frank Baumgartner, Richard Briffault, Matthew Dimick, Lee Drutman, James Gardner, Heather Gerken, Craig Holman, Robert Jackson, Anthony Johnstone, Michael Kang, Stuart Lazar, Susan Lerner, Lloyd Mayer, Amy McKay, Zephyr Teachout, Dan Tokaji, and Ciara Torres-Spelliscy. Papers from the conference will be published in Election Law Journal. More information is available here.
More and more foreign governments are sponsoring such excursions for lawmakers and their staffs, though an overhaul of ethics rules adopted by Congress five years ago banned them from going on most other types of free trips. This overseas travel is often arranged by lobbyists for foreign governments, though lobbyists were barred from organizing other types of congressional trips out of concern that the trips could be used to buy favor.
The overseas travel is covered by an exemption Congress granted itself for trips deemed to be cultural exchanges.
A Washington Post examination of congressional disclosures revealed the extent of this congressional travel for the first time, finding that Hill staffers had reported taking 803 such trips in the six years ending in 2011. Lawmakers themselves are increasingly participating, disclosing 21 trips in 2011, more than double the figure in prior years.
A congressman gets an earful from his neighbor after church about a tax bill. A senator suddenly finds old high school classmates calling her about an upcoming vote on a small business bill.
Those meetings may not be coincidences.
The same social data-mining ability and concept — that voters are more likely to consider new ideas from people they know and trust — that helped power President Barack Obama’s unprecedented field operation is coming to K Street.
Major case on the meaning of Skilling.
Roll Call: “The tepid recovery and a dysfunctional Congress do bear blame [for the K Street business downturn], but a third, much overlooked factor exists: A lot of the work influencing government takes place in the shadows, outside of the view of public disclosures such as the LDA. And with a president who has further stigmatized registered lobbyists, K Streeters and some of their clients have made a practice of keeping their work just under the limits of the lobby laws. In some cases, lobbyists have remained on the job, even with the same firms, but have deregistered, keeping their clients and their work secret. One prominent example is Steve Ricchetti, who stayed with his Ricchetti Inc., although no longer as a registered lobbyist, before joining the Obama administration last year. Lobbyists, of course, can’t work for the executive branch — President Barack Obama banned them — unless granted a waiver. I have looked at this very carefully over the years and thought about it a lot,’ said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. ‘I have come to the conclusion that the deregistrations that are going on, because people find out that they don’t really need to register or they’re trying to do a little bit of shadow advocacy . . . is the most important factor.’”
“Filings reveal previously unknown; Romney bundlers Nearly six-dozen lobbyists collected $17 million for the GOP presidential candidate”
Bloomberg BNA says Ring may try to take the case o the DC Circuit en banc or the Supreme Court.
The problem is not, as the president implied, the opposition of an implacable few to the manifest general interest.
Rather, it is that Washington is besieged by mutually offsetting lobbies representing almost every conceivable segment of society. Some (e.g., teacher unions) collect under the Democratic Party banner; some (e.g., independent oil operators) tilt Republican; and many (Wall Street, agribusiness, hospitals) have their hooks in both parties.
I discuss the connection between Olson’s theory, national welfare, and lobbying reform in this Stanford Law Review article, Lobbying Rent-Seeking, and the Constitution.
Over a year ago, I wrote a CNN opinion piece which concluded: “But I am concerned that Super PAC spending will influence the outcome of close Senate and congressional races. And I am greatly concerned that when Election Day is over and the public will stop hearing about Super PACs, contributions to these groups will skew public policy away from the public interest and toward the interest of the new fat cats of campaign finance, as members of the House and Senate thank their friends and look over their shoulder at potential new enemies.”
I was reminded of this when I read this snippet from the NY Times piece I linked to in the last post:
For instance, the biggest individual financier of the so-called super PACs that sought to defeat Mr. Obama, Sheldon Adelson, is so invested in the fight over Mr. Hagel that he has reached out directly to Republican Senators to urge them to hold the line against his confirmation, which would be almost impossible to stop against six Republican “yes” votes and a unified Democratic caucus.
Given the more than $100 million he donated to the anti-Obama effort last year, no lawmakers need to be reminded of his importance to their future endeavors. People briefed on his involvement said Mr. Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a longtime supporter of Israel, was calling in conjunction with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group he has financed for several years.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in December, Mr. Adelson said he was prepared to “double” his investment in politics in the coming year.
With all the focus on today’s DC Circuit recess appointment decision, it is easy to miss its other decision today in the Abramoff-related U.S. v Kevin Ring case. As BLT reports, it raises interesting questions about campaign contributions a bribes, the illegal gratuity statute, and the relationship of lobbying activity to the First Amendment. Here’s an interesting snippet from the opinion:
Testimony about Ring’s lawful campaign contributions gave jurors a window into the way in which lobbyists like Ring gain influence with public officials. One witness explained the role of campaign contributions in Abramoff’s lobbying practices with a particularly striking metaphor:
Q: Did you ever lobby with campaign contributions?
Q: How did you do that?
A: Campaign contributions are a little bit different than, for lack of a better term, things of value. I viewed campaign contributions as sort of the ante in a poker game. It’s the price of being involved in the game. We worked—we worked aggressively to raise money and we liked to do it.
Q: What do you mean by that, you viewed campaign contributions as the ante in a poker game?
A: Yeah, it’s a seat at the table. That’s all. That’s all it is.
Trial Tr. 10/28/10 PM 21:9–20. In other words, under the government’s theory of the case, campaign contributions gave the lobbyists access to public officials. Without such evidence, a jury might wonder why an official would sacrifice his integrity for a few Wizards tickets. Perhaps even more significantly, the contribution testimony amounted to strong modus operandi evidence that demonstrated Ring’s transactional relationship with officials and the manner in which he pursued his clients’ political aims. That Ring rewarded “good soldier[s]” with campaign contributions, for example, perhaps suggests that he put other things of value to similar use.
“Amgen Earns 9,900% Return on Investment (ROI) in Political Contributions; Taxpayer ROI Hits New Low”
Ben Nelson earns $1 million (plus!) payday.
Politico: “K Street is living through lean times. The majority of big D.C. lobby shops have seen their revenues flat-line or decline during the last year of President Barack Obama’s first term — buffeted by a lingering global financial crisis, a Congress so divided that it’s unable to conduct routine business and the rise of a permanent campaign mentality between the parties.”