Monthly Archives: March 2008

“Break Provides No Breakthrough on FEC Standoff”

Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center has written this Roll Call oped. A snippet:

    There are those in Washington who want to spin the story by saying the reform community is glad to see the FEC ground to a halt. That is simply untrue. If the FEC was such a high priority for the White House and the Minority Leader, a replacement for former Chairman (and Republican) Michael Toner would have been named months ago. Toner left the commission to enter a private law practice in March 2007, but no one has even been nominated for his slot.
    Yes, the FEC is fatally flawed and should be reshaped along the lines of legislation pending in the current Congress to keep it from continuing to be the handmaiden to the two parties. It is a maddeningly ineffective and weak agency whose sins of omission even outpace its sins of commission. It is frustrating to see laws duly passed by Congress and signed into law by the president undermined by appointees whose loyalties to party and ideology override their fealty to constitutional duty and faithful interpretation of the intent of the law.
    But having no functioning FEC is not the right answer and is certainly not tenable in the long run. Rather, it is a temporary state created by politicians who are more interested in power politics and partisan advantage than in assuring faithful execution of the law of the land, no matter how much they may personally disagree with that law.

I was thinking about whether the Republicans have an incentive now to move this forward, and I believe the answer is no. Sen. McCain has decided to bust the spending cap, taking the position that he doesn’t need FEC approval and he’ll pay whatever price he needs to after the election. A reconstituted FEC with a quorum could decide to move quickly on the Democratic complaint that McCain can’t opt out of public financing and therefore his busting of the spending cap is illegal. Why risk it if you are McCain?
I am starting to think we don’t get an FEC back until after the election.

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“AAPC Launches Fundraising Appeal to Fight Robocall Bills”

Politics Magazine offers this report, which begins: “The American Association of Political Consultants is stepping up its fight against a slate of bills currently before Congress that aim to regulate political robocalls. The AAPC’s ‘First Amendment Legal Defense Fund’ has sent out an appeal for donations to thousands of consultants to help fund what it anticipates could be a long legal fight.”

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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear U.S. Gov’t Appeal on Rep. Jefferson Office Search

See here. The government had claimed the ruling under the Speech or Debate Clause made lawmakers invulnerable to prosecution for corruption.
The Court also agreed to hear a case involving an Idaho law on political dues. Lyle Denniston explains: “The other granted case, Ysura v. Pocatello Education Association (07-869), tests a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that the First Amendment bars the Idaho legislature from denying payroll deductions by local governments for political activities. The Idaho law at issue barred payroll deductions to pay for political activities by labor unions. The law was challenged by labor unions representing workers for school districts, cities and counties in Idaho.”

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” Washington Republican Party Takes New Legal Action to Invalidate ‘Top Two'”

Richard Winger has the news.
Richard also wrote me to take me to task for a line in my recent Findlaw column in which I said that the plaintiff in the Burdick case wanted to cast a write-in vote for Donald Duck. Richard pointed out that the Donald Duck argument came up in oral argument from the amicus, and that Burdick had a much more serious claim than that. Fair point.

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