Campaign Finance

SpeechNow Holds Its Peace

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It looks like the Federal Election Commission is going to nix SpeechNow.org's attempt to get around restrictions on political speech by organizing as a 527 group, eschewing corporate and union support, and operating independently of parties and campaigns. In a draft advisory opinion issued today, the FEC says SpeechNow.org has to register as a political committee and comply with the donation limits that entails if it wants to run ads explicitly opposing or supporting candidates based on their positions regarding campaign finance regulation. "This opinion would leave practically no room for Americans to exercise our First Amendment rights to join together and speak freely to other Americans about who to elect to office," says David Keating, SpeechNow.org's president. Former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics (which is representing SpeechNow.org along with the Institute for Justice), sums up the opinion this way:

The FEC is now saying that any time two or more people pool their resources to support or oppose a federal candidate, they become a political committee subject to government regulations and limits. But it should be common sense that if individuals can speak without limit, so too can groups of individuals.

The FEC, which is scheduled to consider the draft opinion on Thursday, can't officially adopt it because the commission does not currently have a quorum. But SpeechNow.org says it does not plan to risk fines or jail time by running its TV spots without a green light.

I wrote a column about SpeechNow.org's gambit in December. More reason on campaign finance regulation here.

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  1. Too bad. I heard they were all set to endorse McCain.

  2. CONgress shall make no law……

  3. This makes me so angry, that I want to kill Heath Ledger!

  4. Fools! 527’s are still on the leash of the FEC. They should form a for profit corporation and advertise at will!

  5. “The FEC is now saying that any time two or more people pool their resources to support or oppose a federal candidate, they become a political committee subject to government regulations and limits.”

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  6. The McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Incumbent Protection Act, the gift that keeps on giving.

  7. Jonathan Hohensee,

    TOO SOON!

  8. I wonder if “Bryan” from thsi thread is still around. I’d like to get his take on this.

  9. What is there to discuss.
    Time for the Libertarian militia to spring into action.
    Ready gang?????

  10. So they are not going to exercise their freedom of speech unless/until they are given permission to do so. NUTS!

  11. But we, uh, did get the money out of politics, right? I mean, they promised…

  12. Time for the Libertarian militia to spring into action.
    Ready gang?????

    I’m right behind ya, Terry.
    Oh wait… it’s just… you see… I mean… My militia uniform is in the cleaners. And it’s tuesday. Tuesday is my pinochle night. And dammit Terry, it’s cold outside. Can’t we do this in June or something? But other than that I’m with ya 100%. You get started and I’ll catch up later. Okay?

  13. “But SpeechNow.org says it does not plan to risk fines or jail time by running its TV spots without a green light.”

    Cowards. They should go ahead and do it so as to get it in front of the courts.

  14. I agree bill. What is “free” speech if you need permission to exercise it?

  15. Bobster,

    That’s called the Giuliani version of free-speech. “Remember, Freedom is about obedience to authority.”

  16. I’m here Crimethink.

    My take is that (based on my reading of this blurb) the FEC got it wrong. I have defended Mc/F and CFR in as many Hit and Run blog posts on the subject as I can. I still defend it. But, if this summary is true, its an incorrect reading of the statute and against the Constitution. It sounds like SpeechNow.org was doing exactly what you are suppose to do if you don’t want to comply with financing limits. I need to read the FEC opinion but if Jacob is accurate, I suspect the Court will overturn it.

  17. Anyone have a link to the official draft opinion? No offense, but with as much misinformation on this subject as I see around here (and on right-wing blog generally) I am a little skeptical of these summaries.

  18. “Cowards. They should go ahead and do it so as to get it in front of the courts.”

    Why? So they can Lose?

  19. Here is the link to the draft opinion:
    http://saos.nictusa.com/aodocs/966599.pdf

  20. Why is it so difficult to go in front of a judge and repeat Amendment 1 of the U.S. Constitution? Why does anyone ever lose that argument? Bring the Second Amendment along for good measure.

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