A Tale of Two Campaign Finance Appeals at SCOTUS: Why No Push to Allow Corporate Contributions to Candidates?

Pardon the inside-baseball post, but I think it reveals a little bit more about how the Court is going about dismantling what’s left of campaign finance limits. After the Supreme Court decided McCutcheon v. FEC, striking down the aggregate limits on federal contributions, it disposed of two other cases it had been holding since McCutcheon. In one case, James v. FEC, also involving federal aggregate limits, the Court sent the appeal back to…

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Republican FEC Nominee Argued for Overturning of Ban on Corporate Contributions to Federal Candidates

HuffPo: But advocates may be disappointed to learn that Goodman, an attorney with LeClairRyan, has a record of opposing certain campaign finance reforms. He argued — ultimately unsuccessfully — in United States v. Danielczyk to overturn the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates. In that case, a judge ruled that the Citizens United decision invalidated the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates. “Citiz…

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“Va. Businessman Danielczyk Gets 2 Years For Funneling Money to Clinton Campaigns”

Bloomberg BNA: Virginia businessman William Danielczyk was sentenced May 31 to two years and four months in prison for illegally reimbursing $186,000 in campaign contributions made by straw donors to Hillary Clinton (U.S. v. Danielczyk, E.D. Va., Criminal No. 11-85, sentencing 5/31/13). The sentence was among the toughest ever for campaign finance violations but was less than the five years in prison recommended by federal prosecutors (3522 Mo…

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“Virginia Businessmen Agree to Plead Guilty Following High Court Move on Campaign Law”

Bloomberg BNA: Two Virginia businessmen, William Danielczyk and Eugene Biagi, pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to charges of violating campaign finance laws by funneling nearly $200,000 in corporate contributions to campaign committees of Hillary Clinton, the former senator from New York and secretary of state (U.S. v. Danielczyk, E.D. Va., Criminal No. 11-85, pleas entered 2/26/13). Plea agreements signed in the case indicated that Danielczyk could face…

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In Significant Action, Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case to Allow Corporate Contributions Directly to Candidates

Via SCOTUSBlog comes the news that the Supreme Court, without comment, has denied cert. in Danielczyk v. U.S.,The decision not to hear the case is significant, because it means the Supreme Court majority, which has shown hostility to campaign finance limits, has decided not to move as aggressively as it could in further deregulating the campaign finance system. The case raised the question (in the context of a criminal prosecution) whether corpo…

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Supreme Court Could Double Down, Take Second Campaign Finance Case; More on McCutcheon

It turns out that Danielczyk has been relisted for Friday’s conference. (Thanks to a reader for calling this to my attention.)  The Court could still put the case on hold for McCutcheon, or grant and hear the case net term as well, or deny cert.  My betting at this point would be on the first or second, but not the third, option.  We’ll see. The McCutcheon grant of review got front page coverage in the New York Times, as well as this…

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The Significance of the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear the McCutcheon Campaign Finance Case

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear the McCutcheon case challenging the limits on the total amount of aggregate contributions a person may make to candidates, party committees, and certain PACs.  I thought this decision to hear the case was fairly likely, given that the case came up on appeal rather than on cert.—meaning a decision not to hear the case would mean that the Supreme Court agreed with the lower court ruling on the merits (s…

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If the Supreme Court Agrees to Hear the Two Pending Campaign Finance Cases…

the order won’t come before Tuesday at 9:30 am. If I had to make a prediction, I’d predict that the Court takes the McCutcheon case involving the aggregate contribution limit but not the Danielczyk case, about the constitutionality of the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates. McCutcheon is coming up on appeal and not cert, and a decision to not hear the case counts as a ruling on the merits. Also, there’s no circ…

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“Justices to Decide Whether to Review Restrictions on Campaign Contributions”

Bloomberg BNA: “The Supreme Court is set to consider next month whether to grant review of a constitutional challenge to the century-old ban on corporate campaign contributions (Danielczyk v. U.S., U.S., No. 12-579, cert. petition filed 11/8/12). The case challenging the corporate contribution ban was distributed Jan. 23 for consideration at the justices’ private conference on Feb. 15. The court also received Jan. 23 a reply brief fr…

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“Legal Standard for ‘Willful’ Violations Of Campaign Law Considered by Court”

Bloomberg BNA: “The legal standard to prove a ‘willful’ violation of campaign finance laws is being debated by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers in a major criminal case, with the Justice Department being accused of backing away from a standard used previous cases and enshrined in DOJ guidelines. The legal battle was revealed in recent court filings in the long-running case, which involves Virginia businessmen William Dan…

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Cert Petition Filed in Danielczyk Case, Challenging Corporate Contribution Ban to Federal Candidates

…. The request for Supreme Court review came Nov. 8 in a long-running case involving Virginia businessman William Danielczyk, who faces criminal charges of violating campaign finance laws by funneling corporate contributions to the 2008 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (Danielczyk v. U.S., U.S. 12-579, cert. petition filed 11/8/12). In a 35-page petition for certiorari, lawyers for Danielczyk and his business partner, Eugene Biagi, asked t…

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8th Circuit Unanimously Rejects Challenge to MN Corporate Contribution Ban; Divides on Disclosure Requirements

The Eighth Circuit has issued its en banc opinion in the Swanson case.  The Eighth Circuit now joins the Second, Fourth (after the rejection of the district court decision in Danielczyk) and Ninth Circuits (in the Thalheimer case in which I was involved) in holding that any challenge to corporate contribution bans in the lower courts is barred by the Supreme Court’s decision in FEC v. Beaumont.  The 8th Circuit does drop a footnote however…

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Fourth Circuit Upholds Ban on Corporate Contributions

It’s been an active day in the courts even beyond the health care rulings.  In the Danielczyk case, the Fourth Circuit has reversed the Virginia district court opinion striking down the federal ban on corporate contributions to candidates in the wake of Citizens United. Rick had urged a prompt appeal of the district court’s outlier opinion, and the Fourth Circuit appears to have responded.  The court not only found Danielczyk squarel…

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“Judges Voice Skepticism of Challenge To Law Banning Corporate Contribution”

Bloomberg BNA: “Attorneys for Virginia businessmen challenging the constitutionality of the century-old ban on corporate contributions in federal election campaigns faced skepticism from a federal appeals court panel May 18 (U.S. v. Danielczyk, 4th Cir., No. 11-4667, oral argument 5/18/12)….During the May 18 argument, questioning by Traxler and the two other judges on the appellate panel hinted that they were considering overturning…

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4th Circuit Will Hear Arguments Tomorrow in Challenge to Federal Corporate Contribution Ban

Bloomberg BNA: “A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments May 18 in the Justice Department’s challenge to a lower court decision that held as unconstitutional the federal ban on corporate campaign contributions (U.S. v. Danielczyk, 4th Cir., No. 11-4667, amicus filed 1/10/12).” Also: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is considering a challenge to Minnesota’s campaign finance law regulating cor…

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Montana Supreme Court Campaign finance Decision Affront to the “Rule of Law”?

…ing the rule of law. Want to talk about defying the rule of law?  Look at the district court decision in the Danielczyk case (now on appeal to the 4th Circuit), defying Supreme Court precedent on the constitutionality of limits on corporate contributions to candidates.  (Here‘s the 2d Circuit on that opinion: The Court is aware of United States v. Danielczyk, No. 1:11cr85 (JCC), 2011 WL 2161794 (E.D. Va. May 26, 2011), which struck down a b…

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Breaking News: Federal District Court in San Diego Upholds Corporate/Non-Individual Contribution Ban, Strikes Down $1,000 Political Party Contribution Limit

Agreeing with the Second Circuit and Eighth Circuit (now up on en banc appeal) and disagreeing with the district court in the Danielczyk case (now on appeal to the 4th Circuit), a federal district court in San Diego today had upheld the City of San Diego’s laws banning corporations, labor unions, and other non-individual entities (aside from political parties) from contributing money directly to candidates for City office. The opinion in T…

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Expect Democrats to Make Political Hay of This

Republican National Committee files brief in 4th Circuit Danielczyk case today arguing that for-profit corporations have the constitutional right to make campaign contributions directly to candidates. (h/t Ken Vogel)  (More from Ken here) Especially if Romney is the nominee, expect this to be rolled into Romney’s “corporations are people, my friend” line, the Bain Capital stuff, and the recent “I like to fire people gaffe…

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2d Circuit Issues Important Campaign Finance Decision Affirming Constitutionality of NY “Pay to Play” Rules, Ban on Entity Contributions

…fter Citizens United and FEC v. Beaumont remains good law (“The Court is aware of United States v. Danielczyk, No. 1:11cr85 (JCC), 2011 WL 2161794 (E.D. Va. May 26, 2011), which struck down a ban on corporate contributions, based on what it called an ‘inescapable’ expansion of Citizen United’s logic. Id. at *18; Danielczyk, 2011 WL 2268063 (E.D. Va. June 7, 2011) (denying reconsideration). The role of an appellate court is to ap…

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Unanimous 4th Circuit Upholds Ban on Lobbyist Campaign Contributions; Big Implications for Pending Corporate Contributions Case

Good news in Preston v. Leake from the 4th Circuit, in a case which puts it at odds with the Second Circuit’s Green Party case.  (I discuss the Green Party case and the district court’s decision in Preston in my forthcoming lobbying paper in the Stanford Law Review.) Assuming this decision stands (that is, is not taken en banc or heard by the Supreme Court now given the Circuit split), it would provide a strong basis for upholding th…

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Thalheimer Plaintiffs Will Not Petition for Cert. in San Diego Campaign Finance Case

In Thalheimer v. City of San Diego, the Ninth Circuit upheld the trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction of the City’s law barring non-human contributions to candidates (the same issue as in the Danielczyk case in the 4th Circuit and the Swanson case in the 8th circuit).  The court also denied a preliminary injunction as to time limitations for candidates raising campaign contributions.  The Ninth Circuit also denied reheari…

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“FEC Fines Former Rep. Grayson, Campaign Over Invitation Asking for Corporate Money”

BNA (subscription required) has the details. Spoiler alert: Rep. Grayson’s name was on a fundraising invite for a state candidate, asking for contributions from an “individual, corporation, PAC, or trust.” Grayson contends that a staffer approved his participation without his consent. No sign of a Danielczyk defense….

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Breaking News: Rehearing En Banc Denied in Ninth Circuit San Diego Thalheimer Case

Big news from the Ninth Circuit.  The full court has denied rehearing en banc in this campaign finance case.  According to the order, no active judge on the court requested a vote in the case.  Among other things, the panel opinion held that a ban on non-human (e.g, corporate or union) direct contributions to candidates does not violate the First Amendment.  The court also held that a temporal limitation on campaign contributions (no contributio…

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Danielczyk: Overreaching or Prophecy?

I have written this guest post for the ACS Blog.  It concludes: “The opinion in Danielczyk throws the entire federal corporate contribution ban into question, just as we enter the 2012 campaign season. The government can and should appeal it, and have this outlier precedent overturned.  Otherwise at next year’s state of the union address, Justice Alito won’t have the chance to say ‘not true.’  And our democracy will be threat…

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