Tag Archives: Federal Election Commission

SCOTUS …. still at work


This week at the Court

By on Oct 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

Monday is the first day of the 2013 Term. We expect orders – primarily cert.  denials from the September 30 Conference – at 9:30 a.m.

The Justices will hear two oral arguments each day, Monday through Wednesday.

The hearing list for the October sitting is here.

On Friday the Justices will meet for their October 11 Conference.

Our list of “Petitions to watch” for that Conference will be available soon.

Argument preview: Campaign finance — again


By on Oct 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hold one hour of oral argument on the latest constitutional dispute over campaign finance — this time, the constitutionality of federal ceilings on donations to political candidates or parties.  In the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, arguing for Alabama Republican donor Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee will be Erin E. Murphy of the Washington law firm of Bancroft PLLC, with twenty minutes of time.  Arguing for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — in the case as an amicus — will be Bobby R. Burchfield of the Washington law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, with ten minutes.  Representing the FEC, with thirty minutes, will be U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.

It has been nearly four years since the Supreme Court set off a constitutional revolution in the financing of federal elections, in Citizens United v. FEC, and the controversy it stirred up still has not lost its fury.  The Court, however, is ready to consider extending that revolution by, perhaps, casting aside a constitutional formula it has used repeatedly in this field for more than four decades to curb campaign donations.

The formula, put simply, is that those who contribute money to candidates or political committees get less protection for their activity than those who spend money directly to try to influence election outcomes.   The Court is being asked to give donors the same full protection that spenders get under the First Amendment.  In short, the Justices have a chance to reexamine the core of the landmark 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.

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Toxic Democracy

by Greenpeace
Corporations don’t have a vote.
But when Chevron dumped $2.5 million into a super PAC devoted solely to  running negative ads against environmentally-friendly congressional  candidates, it exercised the kind of influence over our political system that few voters could ever dream of having.For Chevron, it was a business investment, an investment in congressional hard-liners who refuse to cut corporate welfare subsidies and ignore the overwhelming  scientific evidence that suggests we are heading towards catastrophic  climate change.  Members who side with Chevron and Big Oil on such issues demonstrate by their  actions that they would  rather prop up the companies’ short-sighted,  record-breaking profits than leave their grandchildren a livable planet.Chevron must be held accountable.

Demand that Chevron keep its corporate profits out of We the People’s politics.

Why is Greenpeace involved? Because this sort of corporate meddling in elections is toxic to our  democracy, and impedes our ability to pass any kind of comprehensive  environmental legislation— including legislation to tackle climate  change.

In Chevron’s case, it also appears to be illegal, according to a 90-page  complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by Public Citizen,  with Greenpeace’s support.1

Despite the Supreme Court’s abominable Citizens United ruling, Chevron’s political spending seems to have violated the law  because Chevron is a federal contractor. Chevron has received government contracts worth more than $44 million since 2000. The Citizens United ruling didn’t eliminate the laws against bribery in federal  contracting, which prohibit contractors like Chevron from directly or  indirectly supporting candidates for elected office. Allowing Chevron to get away with this apparent violation would create a  self-perpetuating cycle of corruption, in which corporations spend their money to elect candidates, who then reward the corporations with  government contracts and other favors, which in turn generate more  revenue to be spent on still more candidates— actively destroying our environment in the process.

Help Greenpeace & Public Citizen break the cycle and tell Chevron to keep its corrupting cash out of our democracy.

Thanks for all you do, Your friends at Greenpeace


1 http://www.citizen.org/chevron-fec-complaint-super-connected-report-update

Overturn Citizen’s United

Union of Concerned Scientists
In 2012, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. This decision, coupled with loopholes in current law, means that currently there’s essentially no requirement that corporations report their unlimited political spending. This allows them to anonymously confuse the public on science and delay action on critical public health and environmental protections.
Right now, our friends at Public Citizen are working to overturn this ruling, and they need your help. Sign Public Citizen’s petition calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission today. Here at the Union of Concerned Scientists, collaboration is a guiding principle. We partner with many of the nation’s leading scientists, unions, public interest and environmental organizations, and decision-makers in government to achieve our common goal: a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world. Today we’re partnering with Public Citizen to encourage you to fight back against efforts to undermine our democratic system.
Don’t let special interests inappropriately influence public policy and pollute the national dialogue on scientific issues like climate change and energy production—sign the petition today.
Sincerely, MichaelHalpern_jpg Michael Halpern National Field Organizer UCS Center for Science and Democracy

Berkley for Senate

Berkley for Senate

This Saturday marks one of the most important milestones of the election season — it will be the first opportunity in 2012 for campaigns across the country to display the depth of their support.

Midnight on Saturday is the end of the first FEC fundraising quarter of the year. Pundits and prognosticators everywhere will use this number as a measure of strength.

Nevada is going to be one of the closest elections in the nation — which means our numbers this quarter are even more important. That’s why I set a goal — $25,000 by the filing deadline on Saturday.

Don’t miss this chance to show our strength — contribute what you can today, and help us get to our $25,000 goal before the deadline.

Special interests back in Washington, D.C. don’t think a grassroots campaign can amass the strength necessary to take on their millions. They think they’ll be able to throw so many smears at us that we won’t be able to fight back.

I know they’re wrong, but I need you to help me prove it. We need enough resources to counter the barrage that will inevitably come in this race.

This is a critical test — and an opportunity for us to make a statement about our strength. Contribute today — even if it’s $5 or $10 — and help us hit our $25,000 goal before Saturday.

I’m running for Senate because I believe in strengthening our economy and the security of the middle class. But to win, we’ll need to show that we have a different kind of strength already within us. I hope you will stand with me.

Thanks for all you do.


PS: Know anyone else who’d like to help us show our strength? Do your part and contribute today, then share our call with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter.

We will not play by two sets of rules … By Jim Messina

I wrote something for our blog about our decision to support Priorities USA, the Super PAC that can help neutralize the avalanche of special-interest spending to defeat President Obama. Every supporter should read it; it’s pasted below.

I just want to add something for you specifically about your role in all of this.

We decided to do this because we can’t afford for the work you’re doing in your communities, and the grassroots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads.

It’s a real risk.

In 2011, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney raised $30 million from fewer than 200 contributors. Ninety-six percent of what they’ve spent so far, more than $18 million, has been on attack ads. The main engine of Romney’s campaign has an average contribution of roughly $150,000.

That’s why it’s up to us — the grassroots organization — to win this election where we have the real advantage, and that’s on the ground. More than 1.3 million Americans have already donated. Our average donation is $55, and 98 percent are $250 or less.

The stakes are too important to play by two different sets of rules. If we fail to act, we concede this election to a small group of powerful people intent on removing the President at any cost.

If you can volunteer, please sign up now

Thank you,


Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America


We will not play by two sets of rules
By Jim Messina

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case opened the door to a new wave of so-called Super PACs — non-candidate political committees that can receive and spend unlimited money from special interests. For the first time, these committees could accept money from corporations, not just wealthy individuals.

The decision has accelerated a dangerous trend toward a political system increasingly dominated by big-money interests with disproportionate power to spend freely to influence our elections and our government.

It’s a trend the President has fought against, coming into office with a mission to limit special-interest influence in Washington. He put in place the most sweeping ethics reforms in history to close the revolving door between government and lobbyists. And he’s overseen the most open administration ever — reversing Bush-era policies designed to limit Freedom of Information Act requests and disclosing White House visitor records so that Americans can see how their government works.

The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action — by constitutional amendment, if necessary — to place reasonable limits on all such spending.

But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.

Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads.

Last week, filings showed that the Super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies.

Meanwhile, other Super PACs established for the sole purpose of defeating the President — along with “nonprofits” that also aren’t required to disclose the sources of their funding — have raised more than $50 million. In the aggregate, these groups are expected to spend half a billion dollars, above and beyond what the Republican nominee and party are expected to commit to try to defeat the President.

With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.

Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PACs. We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission.

What this change means practically: Senior campaign officials as well as some White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at Priorities USA fundraising events. While campaign officials may be appearing at events to amplify our message, these folks won’t be soliciting contributions for Priorities USA. I should also note that the President, Vice President, and First Lady will not be a part of this effort; their political activity will remain focused on the President’s campaign.

But here’s what this doesn’t change: the fact that ordinary people stepping up to take control of the political process is essential to our strategy.

This decision will help fill a hole on our side. But it’s only one part of the overall effort.

Supporting Priorities USA means that our side will not concede the battles on the air in the months to come, but we continue to believe that this election will be won on the ground. Super PACs haven’t opened offices. They haven’t hired organizers. They haven’t registered voters. They haven’t knocked on doors or made the kind of personal contact with voters that we know is the single most effective way to persuade people and turn them out on Election Day.

And this is where we have the advantage. It will be up to us — the grassroots organization, funded by an average donation of $55 — to win this election.

It’s a point of pride that 98 percent of all our donations are $250 or less. Mitt Romney won’t reveal that number about his own campaign, but filings show that just 9 percent of the Romney campaign‘s money in the fourth quarter of last year came from people giving less than $200.

Americans across the country are supporting the most extensive neighbor-to-neighbor, grassroots organization in history.

It’s my hope that by making this decision and doing what we can to neutralize the onslaught of special-interest money, we can ensure that the decisive factor in this election won’t be an unprecedented flood of special-interest spending, and the outcome will be back in the hands of ordinary Americans.