“Rift Between Labor and Environmentalists Threatens Democratic Turnout Plan”


Two of the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituencies, labor and environmentalists, are clashing over an effort to raise tens of millions of dollars for an ambitious voter turnout operation aimed at defeating Donald J. Trump in the November election.

The rift developed after some in the labor movement, whose cash flow has dwindled and whose political clout has been increasingly imperiled, announced a partnership last week with a wealthy environmentalist, Tom Steyer, to help bankroll a new fund dedicated to electing Democrats.


“From Bernie Sanders Supporters, Death Threats Over Delegates”


Thrown chairs. Leaked cellphone numbers. Death threats spewed across the Internet.

No, this is not the work of Donald J. Trump supporters, some of whom have harassed critics of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. It was angry supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who were directing their ire at the Nevada Democratic Party — and its chairwoman, Roberta Lange — over a state convention on Saturday that they think was emblematic of a rigged political system.

“It’s been vile,” said Ms. Lange, who riled Sanders supporters by refusing their requests for rule changes at the event in Las Vegas. “It’s been threatening messages, threatening my family, threatening my life, threatening my grandchild.”


“Money in politics: Finance, regulation and disclosure in California’s ballot initiative process”

Listen to KPCC’s Air Talk:

As we look to the November ballot, this is expected to be a record year for citizen initiatives in California with more than a hundred already proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

Enacted in 1911, California’s citizens’ initiative process allows citizens the opportunity to put their own propositions on the state ballot. But is the average voter as well equipped to deal with complex legislation as elected legislators and their full-time staffs?

While direct democracy is the intent, the process of qualifying and passing initiatives in such a large state allows monied interests to wield big clout.

Do you think California’s initiative process is controlled more by large industries, labor unions and wealthy individuals than by voters? If so, do you have ideas for reforming the process? Would you ban initiative financing that comes from out-of-state? Do you think citizen initiatives are a waste of time and money and should be scrapped altogether?


John Eastman, professor of law and community service at Chapman University

Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s professor of law and political science at University of California, Irvine

Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School

John Matsusaka, USC Charles F. Sexton chair in American enterprise, professor of finance and business economics, and executive director of Initiative and Referendum Institute

Pete Peterson, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University

Peter Scheer, executive director of First Amendment Coalition


“Ex-GOP staffer says senators were ‘giddy’ over voter ID law”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A trial over Wisconsin’s voting laws kicked off Monday with a former aide to a Republican state senator testifying that GOP senators were giddy over the prospect of passing the state’s voter ID law in 2011.

Todd Allbaugh, who worked at the time for then-Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), said some senators expressed a lack of enthusiasm to take up the voter ID legislation early that year during a private meeting of Republicans. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) then made the case for the bill, he testified.

“She got up out of her chair and hit her fist or her finger on the table and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to think about what this would mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses,'” Allbaugh said.

Schultz said they ought to consider what they would be doing to people’s ability to vote, according to Allbaugh. That elicited a response from Glenn Grothman, who at the time was a state senator and now is a member of Congress.

“Grothman said, ‘What I’m concerned about here is winning and that’s what really matters here….We better get this done quickly while we have the opportunity,” Allbaugh said.

More here and here.


“Choosing Representatives by Proxy Voting”

Andrew Tutt has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Columbia Law Review Sidebar).  Here is the abstract:

People often do not vote, and those who do sometimes unwittingly vote against their interests. That is because voters have little incentive to cast intelligent votes in any given election, even though they clearly have a stake in the intelligent outcome of every election. A simple solution would be to permit voters to delegate their votes—that is, let someone else vote on their behalf in some fashion. Possible delegated voting solutions range from simply voting a “default” straight ticket on one extreme to creating a system in which fiduciaries must vote in a voter’s best interests on the other. This Essay discusses the upsides of delegated voting and the potential practical and constitutional hurdles to its realization. Ultimately, this Essay argues that permitting individuals to delegate their votes might significantly advance many of the core values at the heart of election law without the downsides associated with mandatory voting and campaign finance regulation.


“Airbnb listing spells trouble for Wisconsin Republican”

Roll Call:

Note to congressional hopefuls: If you are trying to prove residency in a district, it might not be a good idea to advertise that residence on Airbnb.

Especially if you also own a much nicer house in a district that would force you to run against a crazy popular incumbent like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Case in point: Wisconsin Republican Frank Lasee is facing questions in his home state about whether he actually lives in the two-bedroom, “luxury apartment,” he was advertising for rent until recently for $210 a night on Airbnb.com, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday.


“Kris Kobach is a big fraud on Kansas voter fraud”

Kansas City Star editorial:

Secretary of State Kris Kobach warned Kansas lawmakers last year that he knew of at least 18 suspected cases of double voting in recent elections.

Wait, make that 100 cases!

Kobach threw out these wild claims as he successfully pressed the Legislature to make him the only secretary of state in the nation with the power to prosecute in these matters.

It was all part of Kobach’s continued loathsome attacks on U.S. immigration policy. He knew he could score political points with many Kansans by promising to stop “illegal” voters from canceling out the votes of red-blooded Americans.

But now Kobach has been exposed as a big fraud on the issue of voter fraud, which studies have found to be almost nonexistent in America.

Since the law took effect July 1, 2015, the publicity-seeking Kobach had filed a puny half-dozen cases by early May.

One case against an older Johnson County woman totally embarrassed the usually cocksure Kobach. He had to meekly dismiss it days before it was to go to trial in April.

In the four cases he has won, Kobach went after men 60 years or older who double-voted. None showed any intent to game the system. All were convicted of misdemeanors and paid modest fines.


“Court hearing begins on Wisconsin election-law changes”


A court hearing that challenges changes to Wisconsin election laws begins today in federal court in Madison.

Judge James Peterson will hear testimony over the next week in a case brought to Citizen Action of Wisconsin and the One Wisconsin Institute. They claim new voter ID requirements and limiting early voting hours constitute an illegal burden to minorities, young people, the elderly, and the poor.


“Billionaires lining up for Trump aren’t sure where to send their money”


The lack of a major super PAC vehicle is a source of concern among top Trump advisers, some of whom have reached out to experienced strategists in recent weeks to gauge their interest in launching a new entity, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations. Such outreach is potentially risky, since federal law prohibits a candidate’s agent from establishing a super PAC.

As of Feb. 29, super PACs have spent more than $226 million on the 2016 races. Here’s what a super PAC can (and can’t) legally do. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

When asked if he was aware of such talks, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski did not respond directly, writing in an email, “Mr. Trump continues to disavow all Super PAC’s.”

That unequivocal statement probably will further confuse major donors, who interpreted Trump’s softening rhetoric on super PACs in recent media interviews as a sign that he was open to their support. (“I know that people maybe like me and they form a super PAC, but I have nothing to do with it,” he told NBC last week.) On Saturday night, Trump retweeted a link to a New York Times report that Adelson is willing to spend as much as $100 million to boost his bid.

Senior Republican strategists think that it would be extremely difficult for Trump to be competitive in the general election without the help of a well-financed outside operation. Trump is just now assembling a fundraising team to try to raise $1 billion for his campaign and for the Republican Party in five months, a steep goal.


“Stevens says Supreme Court decision on voter ID was correct, but maybe not right”

Bob Barnes for WaPo:

Stevens, who was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, mentioned a dozen times in the opinion that it was based on “the record” in the case.

“I learned a lot of things outside the record that made me very concerned about that statute,” Stevens said in the conversation with Kagan and Wood. “So I had the question: Should I rely on my own research or what’s in the record?”

“And I thought in that case I had a duty to confine myself to what the record did prove, and I thought it did not prove the plaintiffs’ case. And as a result, we ended up with a fairly unfortunate decision.”

Stevens alluded to his quandary in a footnote in the opinion: “Supposition based on extensive Internet research is not an adequate substitute for admissible evidence subject to cross-examination in constitutional adjudication.”

In the conversation, Stevens noted that dissenting justice David H. Souter did not share his reluctance.

“I thought David wrote one of his best opinions, relying partly on material that was outside the record,” Stevens said.


Columbia Law Review Symposium Honoring Peter Strauss

Somehow I missed this excellent issue honoring Peter Strauss:

Symposium in Honor of Peter L. Strauss. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1675-2069 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Katzmann, Hon. Robert A. Celebrating Professor Peter L. Strauss. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1675-1678 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Rakoff, Todd D. Peter Strauss: an introduction. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1679-1682 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Farina, Cynthia R. and Gillian E. Metzger. Introduction: The place of agencies in polarized government. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1683-1687 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Farina, Cynthia R. Congressional polarization: terminal constitutional dysfunction? 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1689-1738 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Metzger, Gillian E. Agencies, polarization and the states. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1739-1787 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Gluck, Abbe R., Anne Joseph O’Connell and Rosa Po. Unorthodox lawmaking, unorthodox rulemaking. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1789-1865 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Herz, Michael. Chevron is dead; long live Chevron. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1867-1909 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Manning, John F. Inside Congress’s mind. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1911-1952 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Merrill, Thomas W. Presidential administration and the traditions of administrative law. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1953-1984 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Stack, Kevin M. An administrative jurisprudence: the rule of law in the administrative state. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1985-2018 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]

Wagner, Wendy E. A place for agency expertise: reconciling agency expertise with presidential power. 115 Colum. L. Rev. 2019-2069 (2015). [H]|[L]|[LA]|[W]|[WN]


“Arizona attorney general won’t halt May 17 election, launches inquiry into pamphlet error”

Arizona Republic:

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Thursday that he will not seek a postponement of next week’s special election over officials’ failure to distribute election pamphlets to 200,000 Arizona households.

But saying he’s frustrated “we can’t get things done the right way” when it comes to elections, Brnovich said he has launched an inquiry into why the error occurred and why Secretary of State Michele Reagan did not immediately notify the public of the problem.

Reagan had known since April 22 that the pamphlets weren’t sent to some voters, but she only went public with that information in a  May 6 media interview. The pamphlets describe the initiatives, present pro and con arguments on the issues, and list where voters can cast their ballots.

More coverage and commentary here, here, and here.


“Ballot Speech”

Derek Muller has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming Arizona Law Review). Here is the abstract:

A ballot ostensibly has a simple purpose: it is the means by which the state determines the winners and the losers of an election. But the words on the ballot have the power to influence voters. The ballot includes the candidate’s name, often the candidate’s party preference, and sometimes information about a candidate’s incumbency or occupation. These words are usually selected by the candidate to communicate information to the voter in the voting booth, but they are also subject to regulation by the state and potentially require consent from a political party. Ballots, then, include expressive elements, something this Article calls “ballot speech” — content that a candidate or party desires to communicate to voters by means of the ballot.

Judicial opinions and academic commentary typically examine ballot speech not as speech, but principally as the incidental by-product of election administration, subject to regulation in a balancing of interests. This Article suggests that ballot speech merits a different, more robust defense from the whims of election administrators and the deference of courts. Ballot speech should receive protection as speech under the First Amendment, rather than merely one element of the free association that candidates and voters share at the ballot box. The ballot more closely resembles a nonpublic forum. And state laws that unreasonably stifle the expression of candidates and voters, that enhance some candidates at the expense of others, or that attempt to put a thumb on the scale of the outcome of an election, cannot stand. It is time to recognize this new definition of ballot speech, and to provide an appropriate legal framework to protect it.


New Poll Finds Wide Support for Voter ID Laws

Quinnipiac poll:

Florida voters support 77 – 20 percent, including 60 – 36 percent among Democrats, requiring voters to show photo ID.
[Ohio] Voters support 75 – 22 percent requiring voters to show photo ID. Democrats are divided with 50 percent in favor of photo ID and 48 percent opposed.
[Pennsylvania] Voters support 64 – 34 percent requiring voters to show photo ID. Support is 94 – 6 percent among Republicans and 63 – 35 percent among independent voters. Democrats are opposed 56 – 40 percent.

“How Big Business Kills Third Party Candidates”


The law, however, permits corporations to support “nonpartisan activity,” so long as that activity is “designed to encourage individuals to vote or to register to vote.”

The FEC has interpreted this law to permits corporate sponsorship of presidential candidate debates—because, in the FEC’s view, these debates are “nonpartisan.”
But that is just nonsense. The Commission for Presidential Debates (“CPD”) may well be “bipartisan,” but it is plainly a partisan commission, keen to exclude anyone who doesn’t tow one of just two party lines.


“Asymmetrical Polarization Undermined? Thoughts on the New Pew Research Center’s Report on Political Polarization”

Tom Mann:

The new Pew Research Center report on polarization is a gold mine of insights into how the sharp partisan polarization, so pronounced in Congress and among political elites, has penetrated the broader public. Pew researchers trace significant increases in ideological consistency and partisan animosity from 1994 to 2014, especially pronounced among those who regularly vote and engage in more demanding forms of political participation. Not surprisingly, among citizens more generally, they find much less ideological consistency and partisan affect.

Their findings are consistent with recent scholarship on the increasing ideological constraintamong voters in both parties, the stronger alignment of partisanship and ideology, and the deeper cultural and geographical roots of the hyper-partisanship or tribalism in the electorate.

The authors of the Pew report find it more difficult to deal with the question of whether these important changes are comparable for the two parties. A brief section on “Is Polarization Asymmetrical” carefully navigates the treacherous waters often associated with this question.  They note the shift in ideological consolidation among Democrats between 1994 and 2014 is more pronounced than among Republicans, leaving today’s parties at roughly the same place. But they qualify that finding by also noting the sharper movement right among Republicans in the last decade and the fact that the increasing Democratic ideological consolidation is associated with a nationwide leftward shift in attitudes on same-sex relations and immigration.



“Are Plutocrats Really Uniting?”

Paul Jossey:

The anti-First Amendment Campaign Legal Center recently hosted noted election-law professor Rick Hasen to discuss his book ‘Plutocrats United.’ Hasen presented the book’s reform themes of undue donor influence, corruption, and political inequality. And although he discredited standard talking points about “buying” elections, his evidence for the rich—the plutocrats—disproportionately influencing political outcomes lacks promised empirical support from one oft-cited study.


Justice Stevens Reflects on Indiana Voting Case, Calls It “Unfortunate”

Watch him at the 7th Circuit judicial conference with Justice Kagan and Judge Wood.

He says that he decided the case correctly on the record, but based on his own internet research on material outside the record he believed the law was likely unconstitutional. It was an “unfortunate” decision, but he said he had to stick with what was on the record. He said Justice Souter’s dissent was one of his best, but based on material outside the record.


“‘Self-funded’ Donald Trump preparing to seek big-donor money”

Julie Bykowicz for the AP:

The billionaire presidential candidate who prides himself on paying his own way and bashed his competition for relying on political donors now wants their money — and lots of it.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, recently hired a national finance chairman, scheduled his first fundraiser and is on the cusp of signing a deal with the Republican Party that would enable him to solicit donations of more than $300,000 apiece from supporters.

His money-raising begins right away.


“Mike Haas Selected as Elections Commission Administrator”

Finally some good election news out of Wisconsin:

The current Members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission announced they have unanimously selected Michael Haas of Marshall, Wisconsin to serve as the Administrator of the new Wisconsin Elections Commission.  Haas will begin work on Thursday, June 30, 2016 when the Elections Commission begins operations.  Haas currently serves as the Elections Division Administrator for the Government Accountability Board.

The four Commissioners are unanimous in their belief that they can best prepare for the 2016 election cycle with Mike Haas at the helm of the new Commission.  He currently supervises the program staff who will transfer to the Commission from the Government Accountability Board.  Mike also has a strong working relationship with the legal and administrative staff who will transfer to the Commission.  The Commissioners voted to hire Haas at a meeting Thursday.


“With Bob McDonnell Appeal, SCOTUS Can Clarify Line Between Politics and Crime”

I have written this oped for the National Law Journal. It begins:

You don’t have to be a lover of the U.S. Supreme Court’s noxious Citizens United v. FEC case to be troubled by the corruption prosecution of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. And if the Supreme Court rules in his favor in his appeal, it’s not likely to open the door up to “legalized corruption.” Instead, a ruling for McDonnell can be an important step to avoid the unfortunate criminalization of ordinary politics and prevent what appears to be unjustified prosecutions of John Edwards, Tom DeLay, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and others. We need to use other levers to stop politicians from selling access to the highest bidder….

It concludes:

A court ruling for McDonnell will not legalize corruption, as Jeffrey Toobin and Zephyr Teachout have both charged. McDonnell’s conduct could easily be made illegal by Virginia and should be (if it is not now already illegal). A Supreme Court ruling that the federal law under which McDonnell was prosecuted is unconstitutionally vague would not open the floodgates of corruption. It would still be a crime to exchange a Rolex or something else of value for an attempt to influence a government decision. If the government can prove that McDonnell actually pressured Virginia officials to do something for Williams or his company in exchange for the gifts McDonnell received, that would still count as bribery.

And how then to deal with the problem of the sale of access? Would a ruling in McDonnell’s favor allow for politicians to set a price for access to such officials?

Aside from having strong gift bans and ethics rules, we need tighter campaign finance rules. The court needs to go back and visit Citizens United itself. In that case, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a conservative Supreme Court majority that ingratiation and access are not corruption. Even if Kennedy is right that the sale of access itself is not corruption, it can still facilitate corruption, and sensible limits on money in politics are a less Draconian way than throwing people in jail to deal with the problem.

McDonnell’s conduct is odious. But if we threw all politicians who do odious things in jail we’d need to build more jails. Let’s save the jails for politicians who cross a clear line by using their power to influence government decision-making.



“Calling it ‘disgusting,’ congressional candidate renounces fundraising”

Marc Caputo:

Congressional campaign fundraising is such a “disgusting and appalling” process that multimillionaire Randy Perkins won’t hit up contributors anymore and is refunding donations to anyone who asks, he told POLITICO Florida.

But Perkins, a Democrat who raised more than $2.7 million since November, said he met unexpected resistance when he offered to return donor money: Many didn’t want it back.


“Trump’s about-face on fund-raising seems unlikely to dent his popularity”


Supporters of billionaire Donald Trump appear unfazed by his decision to accept money from outside donors, despite his earlier vow to self-fund his presidential campaign and his criticism of rivals as puppets of wealthy special interests.

The vow has been a cornerstone of Trump’s election strategy to present himself as an outsider who is not in the pocket of rich donors, even though he has accepted more than $12 million in contributions so far. The strategy paid off last week when the New York businessman emerged as the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee, after sweeping a series of state nominating contests.

Since then, Trump has said he would no longer self-finance and would work with the party to raise more than $1 billion to help him fight his eventual Democratic Party challenger. Critics accused him of flip flopping, but some supporters don’t agree.


“Ethics officials propose $80,000 fine against former Sen. Tony Strickland for alleged campaign violations”


California enforcement officials are proposing $80,000 in ethics fines against former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Camarillo).

The punishment is for allegedly aiding three supporters in disguising that they were the true source of contributions to Strickland’s unsuccessful 2010 campaign for state controller.

Strickland is chair of a pro-Trump Super PAC.


“Denied Pro Bono Help, Wisconsin Prosecutors Appeal Campaign Finance Ruling”

Marcia Coyle:

he U.S. Supreme Court petition was extraordinary—so heavily redacted that even parts of the question presented to the justices could not be read. Still, in an election year in which money is flowing like Niagara Falls, the petition raised compelling issues of campaign finance law and judicial ethics.

The high court on May 19 is scheduled to consider three prosecutors’ motion to file a petition under seal in Chisholm v. Two Unnamed Petitioners—with redacted copies for the public. Thanks to an unnamed party, the redacted petition is already available online.


“Renewed Republican Redistricting Revenge! Arizona Legislature Using Budgetary Power To Possibly Limit Map Defense”

Arizona’s Politics:

In the wake of two GOP defeats at the U.S. Supreme Court, Republicans at the Arizona Legislature are using their budgetary powers to sweep $695,000 from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (“AIRC”).  The funds were to be used in defending a state court action brought by key Republican lawmakers (and others) as that case heads towards trial next year.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a new budget into law yesterday. It contains $1.1M for the entire Independent Redistricting Commission budget. That amount is not enough to cover the expected legal expenses for the Leach v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case, which has already cost taxpayers $1.5M.


“State Senate suspends rule barring political fundraising during budget season”


The state Senate on Thursday voted to rescind a rule prohibiting campaign fundraising during the budget season after Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said it is giving an unfair advantage to moneyed special interests opposing incumbents.

The vote was 24-8 to suspend rules that were adopted two years ago as part of an effort by the Senate to regain public trust after three of its members were charged with crimes. The suspension is in effect for this legislative year.



“News media give free ride to anti-Donald Trump video”


Eerie sounds. Thudding piano notes. Rapid-fire clips of Donald Trumpmaking disparaging remarks about women.

This minute-long takedown looks like apolitical ad. It sounds like a political ad. But according to the pro-Hillary Clintonsuper PAC sponsoring it, this is not an ad. It’s simply a “Web video” — and one exempt from the kinds of public disclosures applied to paid political communications broadcast over the airwaves.

So, what’s this “Web video” doing on television?

The stinging anti-Trump attack, created by pro-Clinton hybrid super PACCorrect the Record, aired nationally numerous times this week on network news programs, including those on Fox News and CNN. It even earned “breaking news” billing on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” garnering a 20-minute dissection by Lemon, chief political correspondent Dana Bash and various political pundits.

What’s notable about this anti-Trump Web video — indistinguishable in production quality from the hundreds of thousands of political ads blanketing U.S. airwaves — is that Correct the Record is getting its airtime for free via these news programs, instead of paying to air them during commercial breaks. Correct the Record therefore avoids the five-figure costs typical to reserve such an ad spot.


“Maryland decertifies Baltimore election results, investigates irregularities”


Maryland state elections officials have ordered that the results of Baltimore’s recent city elections be decertified following criticism from watchdogs and candidates who say the polling process was flawed.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said the number of ballots cast in the April 26 primary was hundreds more than the number of voters who checked in at polling places. The state also identified 80 provisional ballots that hadn’t been considered.

“It’s important every ballot is counted,” said Lamone.

Lamone said she suspects that discrepancy in votes is a result of election judges prematurely scanning provisional ballots, which are available to people who show up at precincts and whose names do not appear on registered voting lists.


“After Citizens United, a surge in ‘dark money’ groups”


In 1939, the Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exempt status to a group that had been active in New York City politics for years. The agency determined that The Citizens Union of the City of New York earned its status as a social welfare organization, because its primary purpose was furthering the common good.

Over the next seven decades, the IRS would grant tax-exempt status to 1,551 politically active social welfare organizations – hardly a flood of activity among the nearly 1.6 million U.S. charities.

The floodgates opened in 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Citizens United ruling, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on ads and other efforts to influence voters. More than half of all politically active social welfare organizations – 60 percent — have been created since then, a MapLight analysis found.

Unlike candidate, party, and political action committees, these nonprofits, known as 501(c)(4) groups by their tax code designation, are not required to reveal their donors. They have proliferated – and their role in elections has increased — as Congress has effectively prevented the IRS from regulating their political activity.

In December, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a spending bill prohibiting the tax agency from issuing new rules or enforcing existing regulations pertaining to these groups during the 2016 fiscal year.

These restrictions expire on September 30, making it unlikely the IRS will regulate the political activities of 501(c)(4) groups during the 2016 elections.


“Report: Voter ID caused some problems, mostly in student areas, on election day”


Wisconsin’s new voter ID law caused few problems for most voters, though it had “significant impact” in student-heavy areas, according to a new report.

The report from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin also found confusion among poll workers and voters about acceptable documents for same-day voter registration.

“The new laws at least cause confusion, and at worst are misapplied by election officials and prevent eligible citizens from voting,” the report states.


“Representativeness and Motivations of the Contemporary Donorate: Results from Merged Survey and Administrative Records”

Seth Hill and Gregory Huber have written this article for Political Behavior. Here is the abstract:

Only a small portion of Americans make campaign donations, yet because ambitious politicians need these resources, this group may be particularly important for shaping political outcomes. We investigate the characteristics and motivations of the donorate using a novel dataset that combines administrative records of two types of political participation, contributing and voting, with a rich set of survey variables. These merged observations allow us to examine differences in demographics, validated voting, and ideology across subgroups of the population and to evaluate the motivations of those who donate. We find that in both parties donors are consistently and notably divergent from non-donors to a larger degree than voters are divergent from non-voters. Of great interest, in both parties donors are more ideologically extreme than other partisans, including primary voters. With respect to why individuals contribute, we show that donors appear responsive to their perception of the stakes in the election. We also present evidence that inferences about donor ideology derived from the candidates donors give to may not closely reflect the within-party policy ideology of those donors. Overall, our results suggest that donations are a way for citizens motivated by the perceived stakes of elections to increase their participation beyond solely turning out.


“Blaming the Chief Justice”

Fascinating Linda Greenhouse in the NYT:

Do you hold Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. responsible for the ascendancy of Donald Trump? The thought never crossed your mind? Then you probably haven’t been reading the conservative blogosphere, where Chief Justice Roberts, target of bitter criticism for his failure to vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, is now being blamed in some quarters for Donald Trump as well.


“Money in politics: Finance, regulation and disclosure in CA’s ballot initiative process”

[Bumping to the top. The event will be livestreamed.]

Looking forward to participating in this KPCC Air Tak event May 12:

As we look to the November ballot, this is expected to be a record year for citizen initiatives in California with more than a hundred already proposed and filed with the Secretary of State. Enacted in 1911, California’s citizens’ initiative process allows citizens the opportunity to put their own propositions on the state ballot. But is the average voter as well equipped to deal with complex legislation as elected legislators and their full-time staffs?

While direct democracy is the intent, the process of qualifying and passing initiatives in such a large state allows monied interests to wield big clout. Do you think California’s initiative process is controlled more by large industries, labor unions and wealthy individuals than by voters? If so, do you have ideas for reforming the process? Would you ban initiative financing that comes from out-of-state? Do you think citizen initiatives are a waste of time and money and should be scrapped altogether?

Join us on Tuesday, April 19 at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum as Larry Mantle(AirTalk), Peter Scheer (First Amendment Coalition) and other special guests explore issues related to money in CA’s initiative process.


Larry Mantle, host of AirTalk


John Eastman, professor of law and community service at Chapman University

Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s professor of law and political science at University of California, Irvine

Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School

John Matsusaka, USC Charles F. Sexton chair in American enterprise, professor of finance and business economics, and executive director of Initiative and Referendum Institute

Pete Peterson, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University

Peter Scheer, executive director of First Amendment Coalition

This event is a live taping of AirTalk co-presented by the First Amendment Coalition and KPCC.