Minnesota Democrats File FEC Rulemaking Petition to Loosen Rules Governing State and Local Party Fundraising

You can read the petition, written by Neil Reiff and colleagues, at this link.

Given the ideological division at the FEC, it will be Republican commissioners who will support this. What the Democratic commissioners do is less certain. And if there is a rulemaking, query whether there can be agreement on the most disagreeable election body in the country.


“Kansas Moves to Register Those Without Citizenship Proof”


Kansas must begin registering thousands of eligible voters for federal elections who have not provided proof of citizenship under a federal court order that has complicated the state’s elections less than a month before early voting begins for its primary.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office issued instructions to county election officials late Tuesday to register those motor voter applicants without citizenship documentation to vote — but only in the federal races for President and U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Those guidelines come in the wake of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week that refused to temporarily block a federal judge’s order.

Early voting begins July 13 for the state’s primary election in August.


“Outside spending breaks $400 million mark, far outpacing 2012”

From the indispensable Open Secrets:

Outside groups have now spent more  than $400 million to influence elections this cycle, data collected from the Federal Election Commission show, a figure that dwarfs the amount spent by this point in the 2012 election.

These outside groups include not only super PACs and 527 organizations, which must disclose their donors, but also 501(c) nonprofit groups, which aren’t required to do so. Together, they’ve spent about $403 million — a 175 percent increase over the almost $146 million such groups had spent by this time in June 2012.

Not surprisingly, super PACs have driven the spending. With about $341 million in independent expenditures so far, they account for about 84 percent of all outside spending — roughly the same share as at this point in the last presidential cycle. Then, super PAC spending made up 81 percent of all political expenditures by outside groups.


“House approves Koch-backed bill to shield donors’ names”

Fredreka Schouten for USA Today:

The House approved a bill Tuesday that would bar the IRS from collecting the names of donors to tax-exempt groups, prompting warnings from campaign-finance watchdogs that it could lead to foreign interests illegally infiltrating American elections.

The measure, which has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also pits the Obama administration against one of the most powerful figures in Republican politics, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. Koch’s donor network channels hundreds of millions of dollars each year into groups that largely use anonymous donations to shape policies on everything from health care to tax subsidies. Its leaders have urged the Republican-controlled Congress to clamp down on the IRS, citing free-speech concerns.

The names of donors to politically active non-profit groups aren’t public information now, but the organizations still have to disclose donor information to the IRS on annual tax returns. The bill, written by Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., would prohibit the tax agency from collecting names, addresses or any “identifying information” about donors.

Proponents say the bill is needed to stop the government and others from harassing politically active donors.


Teaching, or Taking, An Election Law, Legislation, or Statutory Interpretation Course in the Fall?

Then please consider my student treatise/study aid with questions and answers covering all these topics. It works with all the major casebooks in these courses (see the correlation table below):



“Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – The Political Thicket”

Oooh, this looks good!

his story comes from Radiolab’s first ever spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here.

When Chief Justice Earl Warren was asked at the end of his career, “What was the most important case of your tenure?”, there were a lot of answers he could have given. After all, he had presided over some of the most important decisions in the court’s history — cases that dealt with segregation in schools, the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, just to name a few. But his answer was a surprise: He said, “Baker v. Carr,” a 1962 redistricting case.

On this episode of More Perfect, we talk about why this case was so important; important enough, in fact, that it pushed one Supreme Court justice to a nervous breakdown, brought a boiling feud to a head, put one justice in the hospital, and changed the course of the Supreme Court — and the nation — forever.


Louis Michael Seidman, Guy-Uriel Charles, Tara Grove, Samuel Issacharoff, Alan Kohn and J. Douglas Smith


“Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State”

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy at the ACS Blog:


Corporations are strange bedfellows to have in a democracy. My new book, Corporate Citizen?, explores how, over the course of American history, corporations have aggressively sought to expand their constitutional rights.  And, American courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, have often obliged – enabling the slow, yet steady, expansion of corporate rights since near the founding of the nation. But the current Roberts Supreme Court has taken this enabler role to new heights and earned the nickname the “Corporate Court” because of its solicitude towards corporate litigants.

My basic thesis in Corporate Citizen? is that corporations have gained more rights that previously, and appropriately, only applied to human beings, like religious and political speech rights. This could have been palatable if human style responsibilities were also being given to corporations. Instead corporations get to have their cake and eat it too. They are spared concomitant responsibilities, as they are given a First Amendment veto to shoot down reasonable regulations of their economic activity.

By contrast, when we conceptualize real (human) citizenship, typically there are a cluster of rights and responsibilities that are mixed together. We pay taxes, and we get a Congress to represent us. We serve on juries, and we get a fair trial. We sign up for the selective service (if we are men), and we get the protection of the military. If we are victims of a crime, we can seek justice. If we are guilty of committing a crime, we can expect to be held accountable under the rule of law.

But with corporations, which are at their essence just a pile of papers, U.S. courts have granted them more and more rights, and then simultaneously, absolved many firms from responsibilities. The book examines the lack of accountability in areas includingenvironmental stewardship, paying taxes and respecting human rights.

Interestingly, these developments around expanded corporate power have not gone unnoticed and have been met with resistance from many sectors including from investors, customers and lawmakers. The final section of the book addresses these responses, and offers a potential path forward. Institutional investors, in particular, have been on the forefront of asking for corporations to be more transparent about using their new Citizens United rights to spend money in politics.


“Kris Kobach won’t say if he’s complying with order to register voters”

Zack Roth for MSNBC:

A federal court gave Kansas until Tuesday to start registering thousands of would-be voters tripped up by the state’s strict proof of citizenship law. But Secretary of State Kris Kobach isn’t saying whether he’s complying with the order.

It’s been radio silence from Kobach since Friday night, when the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order issued last month by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson. A Kobach spokeswoman didn’t respond to multiple phone and email messages asking whether Kobach intends to begin registering voters. Messages sent on Twitter to Kobach and to the official account for the secretary of state’s office also went unanswered.

“Secretary Kobach has repeatedly stood in the way of thousands of Kansans who have tried to exercise their right to vote,” Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU’s voting rights project, said in a statement Tuesday.“ Today that ends. He must let them vote.”


“Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump”


Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system they also were able to read all e-mail and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some GOP political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.


“Conservative Donor’s Group Presses Ballot Access for a Third-Party Candidate”


A conservative donor who has been scouring Republican ranks for a third-party candidate is pressing ahead with a group to get on the ballot in dozens of states. The candidate will come once the group sees that the ballot access is possible.

The donor, John Kingston, a bundler and ally of Mitt Romney, said he will bankroll a ballot-access project to create a path for someone to run as another option. The effort is being called Better for America.

The idea is “to do a proof of concept for everybody,” Mr. Kingston said. “It exists, there is a pathway, there is a road that you can be going down.”

The Massachusetts man was heavily involved in efforts led by the Weekly Standard editor William Kristol to find a challenger to both Hillary Clintonand Donald J. Trump for a third-party line. His approach is similar to one used by a group, Americans Elect, in 1992, when it tried creating a ballot line unattached to a major party.

Group’s website: BetterforAmerica.com.


“This would be a nice first step on campaign finance reform”

WaPo editorial:

THEY SAY time is money, and the adage rings especially true for members of Congress: Many of them — according to Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) — spend almost as much of the workweek fundraising as they do debating laws or helping constituents. Mr. Jolly, with a Democratic colleague, Rep. Rick Nolan (Minn.), has introduced a bill to fix that. Their legislation does not purport to solve all of the country’s fundraising woes, but this is a case in which some change would be better than none.

Mr. Jolly estimates that Senate and House lawmakers spend an average of 30 hours a week at networking events and call centers instead of in the Capitol working for the people they were elected to represent. Under his bill, called the Stop Act, these representatives could not personally solicit campaign contributions — whether or not Congress is in session.


“Bring Back The Electoral College — For Real”

Ed Zelinsky:

The conventional wisdom is that an independent candidate must run to provide an alternative to the major parties’ candidates. I instead suggest another course: Bring back the Electoral College as the active chooser of the 45th president. We should assemble and mount in every state where it is feasible bi-partisan slates of uncommitted electors who will actively deliberate and choose the next chief executive.


“Former state Sen. Ron Calderon’s guilty plea in corruption case marks blow to political dynasty”


Monday brought a crushing blow to the family dynasty as Ron Calderon, a former state senator, pleaded guilty in the case to mail fraud, conceding he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from undercover FBI agents and a corrupt hospital executive.

The announcement of the plea agreement came on the heels of a guilty plea last week by Tom Calderon, a former state assemblyman, to a charge of money laundering that stemmed from allegations he helped conceal the bribes his brother solicited.

The plea deals mean the brothers will avoid a trial that had been scheduled to begin next month and was expected to feature a who’s who of state lawmakers, including Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who testified before a grand jury in the case and who prosecutors planned to call as a witness.


“A Natural Right with Naturally Unequal Consequences”

John McGinnis:

I am in strong agreement with the Derek Muller’s opposition to Progressive ideas to reform laws relating to campaign speech. He is particularly eloquent on why the Framers believed that limiting government was the best route to eliminating political corruption—the opposite of the Progressive agenda, which seeks to expand the state.

We can build on his insight by suggesting new kinds of limitations. For instance, Congress should create rules that impede not only all appropriation earmarks but also other kinds of special interest legislation. That kind of reform would go much further toward dispelling the appearance of corruption in campaign contributions than ratcheting down the amount of these contributions. We should restrict the power of politicians before treading upon the speech rights of citizens.

In this brief essay, I would like to offer additional support in both political theory and our Constitution for Muller’s skepticism about Progressive campaign reform. Indeed, I can think of no issue more important in constitutional law today, because campaign reformers want to permit legislators to regulate electoral speech rather than curbing legislative corruption through the natural rights of speech expressly protected by our Constitution.

My response to Derek’s essay is here.


“Congress at Work: A Documentary Supplement for Courses in Legislation”

New from Peter Strauss:

Casebooks on Legislation typically omit legislative materials, as such, giving students little if any chance to work directly with statutes and the processes that create them. Yet lawyers may become intimately involved in the legislative process, and must often advise clients about statutory meaning in matters of great consequence—long before judicial readings occur, and with only the statutes and any sense they may have about their origins to guide them. This supplement will permit you to expose your students to these primary materials of law, that they too rarely encounter in legal education. For two relatively compact statutes, enacted late in the 19th and 20th centuries, it will put before them the primary materials of the legislative process and set problems for interpretation, with only enough context-setting text (no judicial opinions) to frame the issues as clients might have asked contemporary lawyers for advice about them.

Teaching Tools:

  • Concise Teaching Tips Locked

  • Table of Contents


Too Little, Too Late Dept

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Legislature’s budget committee Monday approved spending $250,000 for a public education campaign on the controversial voter ID law.

The campaign, details of which must still be settled by the new Elections Commission, would inform the public about the need to bring a valid photo ID to vote in the upcoming fall primary and general election using radio and television public service announcements, website display ads and online videos and possibly ads at movie theaters, on buses and on social media….

About 1.4 million registered voters have not yet voted in an election where voter ID was required, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.


“Too much or too little democracy? Some reflection on Democracy for Realists”


Recent political movements within the United States have raised concerns about the health of American democracy. With hyper-partisanship dividing the country and Donald Trump—the most unlikely, unsuitable, and unpopular presidential nominee of a major party in American history—securing the Republican nomination, the question emerges of whether democracy in America has gone awry.  And if so, is it too much or too little democracy that’s to blame?

To help address those questions, in this paper, Thomas E. Mann summarizes and discusses the findings of Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels’ ambitious treatise on American democracy: “Democracy for Realists.” Achen and Bartels contend that the traditional conception of voters as rational, attentive decision-makers does not hold against empirical evidence. Instead, voters are best understood as members of partisan groups, which influence their perception of candidates, issues, and even simple facts. According to Achen and Bartels, perceived social identities drive voting decisions, rather than rationality.

Mann notes that most scholars would agree that voters do not follow the expectations of idealistic models, but draws attention to competing theories that are far less damning to voters’ rationality. In particular, the research of Paul Sniderman and Arthur Lupia suggests that voters are far more capable than Achen and Bartels would assert. In their view, voters have enough rationality and information to ensure a well-functioning democracy.


Verrilli’s Regret

From must-read Adam Liptak exit interview with the outgoing SG:

The loss he most regrets, Mr. Verrilli said, was in 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“There are some powerful real-world consequences that followed very quickly from that decision,” he said. “It was an iconic statute and an important part of American history. That was a tough loss.”


“Democracy Diminished: LDF Releases Report on State and Local Threats to Voting Rights Three Years After Landmark Shelby County Decision”


Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), released a report titled, Democracy Diminished: State and Local Threats to Voting Post-Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder (Shelby County), a detailed collection of state, county, and local voting changes — proposed or implemented — during the past three years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. The Court’s decision in Shelby County eliminated the provision of the Act that for fifty years required jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to submit proposed changes to a federal authority for preclearance before implementation. The “preclearance provision” of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has long been regarded as the most important means of protecting minority voters from voting discrimination. The Shelby County decision struck down the formula that brought state and local jurisdictions under Section 5’s preclearance protocol. The report released today was published by the Thurgood Marshall Institute, a research, policy and communications hub within LDF.

Democracy Diminished shows how the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby County case — which second-guessed the judgment of Congress, the testimony of experts and overwhelming evidence of voting discrimination — has left millions of minority voters vulnerable to voter suppression schemes in towns, counties and states across the country, ” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel.

Since the Shelby County decision, LDF has closely monitored the actions of formerly covered states and localities while continuing to robustly enforce other provisions of the VRA. LDF and other civil rights groups led by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, have pressed Congress to pass legislation that restores preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act in a manner that complies with the proscriptions set out by the Supreme Court in the Shelby County decision. Although proposed legislation has been introduced in every Congressional session since the Shelby County decision, it has stalled in the House of Representatives.

“Until the Voting Rights Act is fully intact, we must all play a role in protecting every individual’s right to vote,” said Leah Aden, Senior Counsel at LDF and principal author of the report. “We urge Congress to hold immediate hearings on legislation introduced to amend the Voting Rights Act.” Democracy Diminished makes this call to action all the more urgent by cataloging extensive voting changes made on the state and local level in thirteen states and illustrating the vulnerability citizens of color currently experience across the country.

Democracy Diminished is a living account of the aftermath of the Shelby County decision,” said Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel.

Additionally, bookmark this ongoing tally of states and localities’ responses to Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.


“Election Speech and Collateral Censorship at the Slightest Whiff of Legal Trouble”

Samuel Sadeghi has posted this student comment in the UCLA Law Review.  Here is the abstract:

Collateral censorship occurs when an intermediary refuses to carry a speaker’s message for fear of legal liability. Election speech intermediaries are prone to engage in collateral censorship because their interests do not align with the interests of election speakers, yet the common law places liability on intermediaries and speakers alike. But collateral censorship is not a problem unique to election speech. It would threaten the vibrancy of Internet speech had it not been for the Communications Decency Act immunizing Internet intermediaries from civil liability (except intellectual property law). The rationales and successes of the CDA justify immunizing election speech intermediaries because they, like Internet intermediaries, do not share the same characteristics as traditional publishers, have misaligned interests that are seldom addressed by the market, and are incentivized to censor valuable speech when uncertain about liability. This Comment proposes model legislation to immunize election speech intermediaries, but only from claims for defamation and violation of state false election speech laws. Such legislation would largely remove election speech intermediaries’ incentive to censor election speech that may seem unlawful (or legally troublesome), but in fact be lawful and highly valuable to our democracy.


“Reagan hit with new complaint over ‘Election Bible'”

Arizona Republic:

A Chandler attorney has filed a complaint against Secretary of State Michele Reagan over her decision to not revamp the state’s official election-procedures manual for poll workers ahead of the 2016 primary and general elections.

In a letter Thursday, attorney Tom Ryan asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to force Reagan to reissue the manual, or to refer the matter to the special prosecutor who is already investigating Reagan’s failure to mail publicity pamphlets in advance of last month’s special election.

Ryan also asks Brnovich to “take all actions” necessary to ensure the “integrity of Arizona’s elections.”

The secretary of state is required to issue the manual no later than 30 days before each election, according to state law, and submit it to the governor and the attorney general at least 90 days ahead of each election.

“She’s incapable of running this office,” said Ryan, who also targeted Reagan on the pamphlet issue and has called for her impeachment.


Could Republican Donor Strike Lead Trump to Take Public Financing?

I doubt it, but here’s Politico:

Still, many are struggling to see a clear path forward. Zwick noted that Trump is far behind where Romney was in the donor chase at this point four years ago. One option, he said, is for Trump to accept public financing. Under federal election laws, that would allow him to receive a lump sum of government funds while capping how much he’d be able to spend. In 2008, John McCain accepted public financing but found himself massively outspent by Barack Obama.

The prospect of a controversial billionaire accepting taxpayer funding would be one of the more bizarre twists of the 2016 campaign. But for a struggling Trump, it might be worth pursuing — especially with rising doubts about whether he can fill his coffers.

“Could they get organized and pull it off? Sure,” Zwick said. “They don’t have a lot of time left.”


“Again Before the Supreme Court: Can There Be ‘Issues Speech’ During Campaigns?”


The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to take up a major case about disclosure and this has received little attention—far less than it should. At issue is the clarification of how far government authority extends in requiring the disclosure of the financing of “issues speech”–speech or just information about candidates’ positions that does not involve engaging in advocacy of their election or defeat. There are reasons why the case might have been overlooked: it involves a small organization in a small state, and the activity concerns state and local, not federal (much less presidential), candidates. Perhaps, also, because it is “just” about disclosure, this case might be supposed to pose little danger of harm to anyone’s rights or legitimate expectations.

This is serious business. As the states move along with their own reform programs, and as litigation proceeds under different standards applied by different circuits and diminishing consistency in the treatment of federal and state or local-level enactment, disclosure doctrine is losing its coherence, and key constitutional distinctions once taken for granted are being rapidly eroded. One disturbing result: the “big” and sophisticated spenders at the federal level are more protected than the “little guy” at the levels below.

In the case in question, Delaware Strong Families v. Denn, the speech took the form of a Voter Guide that reproduced positions supplied by the candidates themselves, or in the case of candidates who declined to cooperate, their stated positions drawn from the public record. DSF is a 501(c)(3) barred from endorsing candidates, unlike an affiliated (c)(4) that may and does. There is no allegation that the (c)(3) is evading the prohibition on partisan speech. Delaware has enacted a disclosure law that applies to this Guide, requiring the disclosure of DSF donors who have given over $100 over a four- year period. The law covers all speech referring to candidates, whether by broadcast, mail or Internet, within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general. It is triggered by the expenditure of more than $500 without regard to the size of the audience.


“10th Circuit: Kansas Can’t Block Voters From Casting Ballots”


Kansas cannot prevent thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots in the November federal election because they didn’t prove they were U.S. citizens when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling temporarily upholds a court order that required Kansas to allow those individuals to vote in federal elections even though they didn’t provide citizenship documentation when applying or renewing their driver’s licenses, as required under Kansas law. The state has said as many as 50,000 people could be affected.

The appeals court judges said Kansas had not made the necessary showing for a stay pending appeal, but agreed to hear the appeal quickly.


“Voter Fraud Probe In California Turns Into Voter Intimidation Boondoggle”


Having police come to your home wielding weapons and asking questions about your voter registration status just days before an election sends a clear signal.

That signal wasn’t lost on residents of Hmong communities in rural northern California, who said police came to their doors doing just that earlier this month. They said authorities also set up a roadway checkpoint to target Hmong drivers, threatening to arrest and prosecute them if they voted illegally.

Following those allegations of flagrant voter intimidation in the lead-up to Tuesday’s state primary, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, where just about 43,000 people reside, told TPM his deputies played only a “minor” role in a state-led gumshoe probe into potential voter registration fraud. Sheriff Jon Lopey (pictured right) said deputies accompanied investigators to provide security in an area he described as potentially dangerous and “inundated” with what he estimated to be 2,000 illegal marijuana grow sites.

But the accounts of voter intimidation were serious enough that investigators from the Secretary of State’s Office, joined by staffers from the state Attorney General’s Office, were dispatched on June 7 to monitor polling places across Siskiyou County.

“What began as an investigation of alleged voter fraud quickly evolved into an investigation of potential voter intimidation,” a spokesman said in a statement emailed to TPM.


“CREW Sues FEC Over Murray Energy Indecision”


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today for failing to enforce its own regulations by refusing to investigate a 2012 CREW complaint against Murray Energy and its CEO Robert Murray for coercing employee donations and using corporate funds to make political contributions.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits employers from threatening employees to compel political contributions, in addition to laundering political contributions through these employees. The FEC’s own Office of General Counsel found reason to believe that potential violations may have occurred, but the commissioners once again deadlocked along party lines.  This is the third time in the past year that CREW has been forced to sue the FEC to attempt to make the agency do its job.

“The FEC’s decision not to open an investigation into Murray Energy’s coercion of its employees to support the company’s politics is unacceptable,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “This was a clear example of a powerful corporation overstepping its authority and thinking it could operate above the law.”

FEC regulations specifically prohibit a PAC from making a contribution or expenditure by using money “secured by physical force, job discrimination, financial reprisals, or the threat of force, job discrimination, financial reprisals; … or other moneys required…as a condition of employment.”

“When employees’ jobs are at stake based on whether or not they contribute to the candidate of their employer’s choosing, their rights are being violated,” Bookbinder said. “The FEC needs to enforce its own rules.”


“Trump doesn’t have a national campaign. So the GOP is trying to run one for him.”

Matea Gold for WaPo:

Trump’s failure to build a truly national campaign has left it to the GOP to run one on his behalf, while also trying to extinguish the regular political brush fires set off by the unpredictable candidate. The arrangement has intensified the burden on the Republican National Committee, forcing it to absorb core campaign tasks and testing whether it has improved the field and data capabilities that it fell short on in 2012.


“Modern Elections Are Corruption, Sen. Al Franken Argues”


“Well, I’m in the Senate. And it appears like there’s corruption to me,” said Franken.

Without naming names, Franken pointed to the case of Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who briefly broke with his party to support holding hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Well-funded outside groups threatened to run ads and support challengers to Moran because of his statements, and he reversed himself to oppose hearings.

“Doesn’t that appear like corruption? To anybody? I see members of the press nodding, involuntarily. It’s amazing,” Franken said.

Franken and other Democrats noted that part of the Supreme Court’s decision assumed Congress would require spending to be disclosed, but bills that have been offered to require disclosure have been blocked by Republicans.

“The reason they did that was they knew that being able to have secret money was to their advantage, and it’s to the disadvantage of the American people, and the American people know it,” Franken said.

“Make no mistake about it. This is about corruption, and not just the appearance of it,” he added.

The Moran example strikes me as not corruption at all, and if it is problematic, the problem is more one of inequality.


“Statement by Reform Groups on Campaign Finance Reform Package Unveiled Yesterday by Senate Democrats”

Statement by Reform Groups on Campaign Finance Reform Package Unveiled Yesterday by Senate Democrats

The following statement is being issued today by: Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, CREW, CWA, Democracy 21, Democracy Matters, Demos, Every Voice, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, The Rootstrikers Project at Demand Progress, U.S PIRG and Voices for Progress. 

The American people overwhelmingly want their elections to be of, by and for the people. They want everyone’s voice to have a chance to be heard in Washington, D.C. They want the barriers reduced that prevent qualified people from running for and serving in public office. In short, they object to today’s big money campaign finance system and the central role it plays in rigging Washington, and want a new system.

We applaud the national leadership being provided by Senators Chuck Schumer (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Tom Udall (NM), Jeff Merkley (OR) and their Senate Democratic colleagues in taking the campaign finance reform issue to the country and in injecting the issue into the public debate that occurs during a national election.

The reform package offered by Senate Democrats yesterday contains a number of important reform proposals.

They include overturning the Citizens United decision; closing secret money loopholes in the disclosure laws; shutting down individual-candidate super PACs; strengthening rules prohibiting coordination between outside spending groups and candidates; creating a new campaign finance enforcement agency to replace the failed, dysfunctional FEC; requiring disclosure within 48 hours of contributions of $1,000 or more; banning former members from lobbying Congress; and strengthening lobbying disclosure and conflict of interest rules.

The package does not include the campaign finance reform measure essential to ensuring that all Americans are participants: the creation of a public financing system for presidential and congressional elections. This system is needed to provide an alternative way for candidates to run competitive races for federal office without becoming obligated to influence-seeking funders.

Public financing has public support. A majority of Americans – 72 percent in one recent survey – support a comprehensive reform package that includes small donor, public financing. State and local efforts have been successful, conducted by both ballot measures and legislative action.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has led efforts for many years that have blocked Senate consideration of campaign finance reform legislation. Campaign finance reform legislation also has passed over Senator McConnell’s opposition.

We appreciate and support the efforts being undertaken by Senate Democrats this year to focus national attention on the need for campaign finance reform and to help set the stage for future reform fights in Congress. Beginning next year, our organizations believe that any campaign finance reform efforts in Congress must include the creation of a public financing system for presidential and congressional races.


“There’s No Escaping the Top of the Ballot”

At The Atlantic, Michelle Cottle has a nice piece on the difficulty down ballot Republicans are likely to have in separating themselves from Donald Trump (if he proves to be a liability), given how much more nationalized elections have become in recent decades.  That nationalization, of course, is a reflection of how polarized and partisan politics has become, both nationally and in the states.  The piece includes this good quote:

“Ask any of the 2014 red-state Democrats from the Senate how it went when they localized their races—but you’ll have a hard time reaching them, because they’re no longer in office,” quipped a Democratic campaign operative who requested anonymity to avoid offending colleagues.


Charles Lane Presses Republican Party to Create Superdelegates

While a number of politicians and commentators are pressuring the Democratic Party to eliminate its superdelegates, Charles Lane in today’s Washington Post has a piece pushing the Republican Party to create a cadre of superdelegates as well.

Defending a role for superdelegates against the populist critiques Bernie Sanders makes of them (when he is not lobbying for their support), Lane writes:

But to the extent he is making a good-faith claim — that it’s undemocratic to allocate a critical mass of convention votes to 700-plus elected officials and other party “regulars,” rather than let primary voters, non-Democrats included, pick new delegates every four years — it’s a simplistic one.

Parties are entitled to think about continuity and electability, without which, obviously, they can never achieve their policy goals. Hence, they’re entitled to favor loyalists, like the superdelegates, and known quantities, like Clinton — for all her flaws — over interlopers, like Sanders.

Lane concludes:

When Democrats and Republicans have passed through this crucible of disruption and realignment, we will still need them, or some new, improved version, to frame issues, channel political participation, select candidates and, one hopes, forge consensus.

No party can perform any of those functions without the power to differentiate between “one of us” and everyone else.

This is an early signal of the kinds of debates likely to take place in full force after the election, particularly for the Republican Party if Donald Trump loses badly, as I suggested in my own recent Washington Post piece on the history of the nomination process.


“NCSL/SLLC Supreme Court Redistricting Cases Webinar”


It is a banner year in the Supreme Court for redistricting cases! Aside from Evenwel v. Abbott, holding that states may redraw legislative districts based on total population, the Court decided three other redistricting cases that will be important for the 2020 redistricting cycle. Rick Hasen, University of California Irvine School of Law, will provide a brief overview of redistricting law as it relates to the cases. Bruce Adelson, Federal Compliance Consulting, and Mark Packman, Gilbert LLP, will discuss the cases and how they will affect redistricting.

Date:  July 12
Time:  12:00 PM EDT

The webinar is FREE. Continuing legal education (CLE) credit is not offered.

Register here.