Free Speech

Labor Unions vs. Campaign Finance Regulation

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As Jacob Sullum noted earlier this week, the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied House Democrats for a very convenient exemption from the campaign finance restrictions contained in the DISCLOSE Act. Mother Jones' Suzy Khimm reports that labor unions want to be free from those pesky regulations as well:

On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) met with top Democratic leaders who are involved with the bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act, to push for additional changes that would blunt the legislation's impact on unions. "I think there's just overreach in this bill," said Chuck Loveless, director of AFSCME's legislative department, who attended the meeting and said that "key people" were involved, though he declined to name them.

While many have warned that Citizens United would unleash a flood of corporate spending in elections by relaxing campaign finance rules, labor unions have been some of the first groups to try out tactics that would have previously been forbidden.

Read the whole thing here. Reason's coverage of Citizens United is here. Reason.tv provides 3 reasons not to sweat Citizens United below.

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  1. Off Topic:

    Rasmussen Tracking Poll: Obama Approval at 41%

    A new low:

    Overall, 41% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. That’s the lowest level of approval yet recorded for this president. Fifty-eight percent (58%) now disapprove.

  2. If they just kill that stupid bill we will all be immune to it.

    1. “I’m just a Bill, sitting on Capitol Hill…”

  3. Citizens United would unleash a flood of corporate spending in elections by relaxing campaign finance rules,

    followed by a plague of locusts, and a frog deluge.

    1. We already had the volcanoes and earthquakes, guess that’s next.

    2. “Cat and dogs living together!”

      1. It’ll be anarchy!

    3. frog deluge? I hope I like frog legs.

      Also wish we didn’t have a taboo against eating bugs. I bet those locusts taste like landshrimp.

      1. Frog legs are delicious.

        “All I can see are millions of frogs with tiny crutches.”

      2. Frog Legs Sauce Piquant Recipe

        Ingredients:
        1 cup cooking oil
        1 cup flour
        4 onions — chopped
        1 clove garlic — minced
        1/2 stalk celery — chopped
        1 green hot peppers — minced
        2 cans whole tomatoes (20 ounce size)
        1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (10 ounce size)
        12 medium size frog legs
        1 cup water
        Cooked white rice

        Directions:

        Make a roux from the cooking oil and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the roux is dark brown. Add the onions, garlic, celery and pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add all of the tomatoes, reserving juice for later. Cook the mixture for 5 more minutes. Add the juice from the two tomatoes.

        Add the frog legs and water. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 4 hours to blend the flavors well. Serve hot and over cooked white rice.

        This recipe from CDKitchen for Frog Legs Sauce Piquant serves/makes 6

      3. frog deluge? I hope I like frog legs.

        I hear they taste like chicken…

  4. I’m sure our resident Liberals have no problem with muzzling unions, since they’re creatures of government, not people.

  5. Now Politico is reporting that Pelosi has had to pull the bill.
    http://www.politico.com/news/s…..38713.html

    Apparently, it’s hard to rig a bill so that only the “right” people get to speak.

    1. My was was granted that fast? What to wish for next . . .

    2. How is this bill — and pretty much everything the current congress has passed, not a violation of the Equal Protection clause?

  6. Do it for AFSCME but blame the NRA, Synergy!

  7. This is fucking hilarious. I swear, the NRA pulled a redneck. This has “Here, hold my beer for a minute.” all over it.

    It has to be intentional shenanigans and not a end run.

    1. Clearly, I ran out of ‘n’s.

      1. Corporashuns took your Ns.

      2. I just figgered yew wuz talkin’ redneck-lahk, and it weren’t a end run.

        1. and it weren’t a end run.

          That’s “tweren’t a ruun ’round de eeand”, college boy.

  8. Corporashuns took your Ns.

    They’re hoarding them; artificially restricting the supply in order to drive the price up. “N” futures are going through the roof, and Goldman Sachs will make a KILLING.

    1. Word. It kills me to think I had an opportunity to invest in the @ in the early 90’s. I balked.

    2. What corporations are hording is cash. They are holding more cash than ever. The WSJ said it’s due to uncertainty. No one knows what the government will do next and they are wisely playing it safe.

  9. Meanwhile, over at the Christian Science Monitor, this is what they’re worrying about:

    The provision that was tailored specifically for the NRA to exempt it from rules on campaign activities was deemed necessary to keep the NRA from muscling lawmakers to vote against the bill. The group is so powerful in its use of campaign money that it can eliminate legislation with one click of its lobbying trigger.

    The gun lobby, however, didn’t count on an uprising among African-Americans in Congress who favor gun control. To the credit of these urban lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus ? who know that allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater ? forced the Democratic leadership to withdraw the bill for now. A House vote that was scheduled on the DISCLOSE Act for Friday was quietly canceled.

    1. “To the credit of these urban lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus ? who know that allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater”

      [citation needed]

      And I mean really. DC, Detroit, Chicago, etc., are all places where guns are impossible (or nearly so) to purchase / posess.

      How’s that working out?

      And what does it say about black congressmember when they are effectively saying that their constituents (primarily black) can’t handle gun ownership?

  10. allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater

    Or, perhaps, it’s the moral equivalent of barricading the doors from the outside, and shutting off the water.

  11. As a doctrinaire libertarian, I oppose the withdrawal of this bill at the behest of people who aren’t Pure Libertarians, for any reason other than Pure Libertarianism.

    We won’t make any progress this way, people!

  12. The congresscritters drafting this bill are way ahead of everybody on this. There plan is to draft and pass a bill that is so bad they know it will be ruled unconstitutional by any Supreme Court. Then all the congressmen and women then can claim “it’s not our fault that evil corporations can rig elections, it’s the Supreme Court’s fault. We tried to fix the flawed Citizens United decision (and the First Amendment).” They get to keep their campaign rhetoric and pass the blame to the Supremes who don’t have to worry about elections (too much).

    1. Alternatively, they’re dumber than a box of hammers and can’t write a bill to achieve their ends without screwing it up.

      I know which one I think is more likely.

  13. As Jacob Sullum noted earlier this week, the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied House Democrats for a very convenient exemption from the campaign finance restrictions contained in the DISCLOSE Act.

    According to the NRA they did not backroom deal for an exception (which would also have been valid for AARP and HSUSA). I believe them, if only because I can’t see them in any back room with Rep Pelosi.

    Instead they sent an open letter (pdf) to Congress stating they would oppose the bill as long as it muzzled the NRA.

    IMHO this is absolutely the best way to kill the bill, and it seems to be working. There is simply no way that Congress will be able to pass a bill exempting the NRA and not the NAACP, LULAC, NOW, Common Cause, Brady Center, etc. Or the unions.

  14. The group is so powerful in its use of campaign money that it can eliminate legislation with one click of its lobbying trigger.

    “The group is so powerful in its use of campaign money voting gun owners that it can eliminate legislation with one click of its lobbying trigger.”

    FTFThem.

    To the credit of these urban lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus ? who know that allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater ? forced the Democratic leadership to withdraw the bill for now.

    The fact that the NAACP wasn’t exempt had nothing to do with it, right?

    Note the absence of the Brady Center. I guess having only 50,000 members is getting sucky.

  15. While I would agree that the government should not censor a documentary such as “Hillary” just because it was funded by a corporation, unlimited corporate campaign contributions in US politics is not an issue to be shrugged of so lightly.

    At least one reason to be concerned about the “Citizens United” ruling: foreign owned corporations are regular contributers to American political campaigns. (So the “citizens” of “Citizens United” are in fact not just potentially American citizens, but French, British, or even Saudi Arabian or Chinese.)

    If you need a case in point, since 1989 the global financial investment company UBS AG has contributed $15,571,924 to political campaigns in the United States. Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/new…..added.html

    UBS AG has its main headquarters in Switzerland, and its largest shareholder is the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UBS_AG)

    What business does UBS AG have being involved in US politics? Sure there are Americans that own stake in the company as well, but if you don’t think there are potential problems with corporate money in US elections you aren’t really looking into the matter deeply enough. You need to ask yourself if you feel comfortable with a corporation whose majority
    shareholder is an authoritarian government flooding US elections with money. UBS AG is just one instance of this.

    Let me be clear, I don’t think panic is in order. However, neither is nonchalance.

    1. Corporations themselves cannot donate to political campaigns, even after Citizen’s United. That case was about the government censoring political themed materials created by a corporation during the time before an election.

      “What business does UBS AG have being involved in US politics?”

      UBS AG has operations, executives, employees and property in the US that are effected by US government laws and policies? I have no doubt our government is extremely interested in UBS AG’s business.

      1. What business does the AFL-CIO have being involved in US politics?

      2. “Corporations themselves cannot donate to political campaigns, even after Citizen’s United.”
        There’s an importan tdistinction to be made here: Corporations cannot contribute DIRECTLY to political campaigns. (At least in theory.) But they have found a way around this stipulation by creating PACs that can then contribute directly to a canditate. This is also a way to get around the limits that are placed on direct contributions. It’s called a loophole.

        What it means to say that Goldman Sachs gave $994,795 to Barack Obama is that the number includes contributions from its employees, owners, and immediate family members of the previous two, as well as political action committees.

        So while its correct to say that corporations THEORETICALLY cannot make direct contributions to a canditate, in practice they have little trouble making sure their money reaches candidates.

        You did not address the matter of foreign corporations contributing to political campaigns in the United States. Again, theoretically, they can’t do this but 1997 article from the Washington Post illustrates how they get around barriers to doing so:

        “let’s look at just three examples where powerful evidence exists that foreign money was able to enter our political system disguised as soft money contributions from U.S.-based donors.

        Exhibit 1. Charlie Trie. An FBI investigator, working for the Senate committee, testified that Trie, an American citizen and Clinton/DNC fund-raiser, had laundered foreign contributions on behalf of his “business partner,” Ng Lap Seng, a Macao real estate tycoon, in contributing $220,000 to the DNC. The FBI investigator pointed to more than $900,000 that had been wired to Trie from Ng and used, in part, to pay for Trie’s soft money contributions to the DNC.

        Ng, we recently learned, got to visit the White House on a dozen occasions, from June 1994 to October 1996, and enjoyed a rare opportunity to be a guest at a dinner held in the president’s personal residence.

        Exhibit 2. Johnny Chung. Chung, an American citizen, gave a $50,000 soft money contribution, made out to the DNC, to a White House staff member. It was part of his efforts, Chung has said, to obtain White House access and VIP treatment for five Chinese businessmen. A DNC official, who earlier had turned down the contribution, testified, “I had a sense that he might be taking money from them . . . and then giving it to us.”

        Chung reportedly received a $150,000 wire transfer from the Bank of China shortly before he made the soft money contribution.

        The Chinese businessmen got their White House access and VIP treatment.

        Chung, who contributed $366,000 to the DNC between December 1994 and September 1996, and visited the White House dozens of times, recently said, in a bid for the sound bite Hall Of Fame, “I see the White House is like a subway ? you have to put in coins to open the gates.” The DNC recently returned Chung’s $366,000 because, according to a DNC audit, it was not able to confirm the money actually came from Chung.

        Exhibit 3. Ambrose Young. Young, a Hong Kong businessman, funded a loan guarantee for a $2.1 million loan made to the National Policy Forum, a Republican Party arm founded and headed by then-RNC Chairman Haley Barbour. Young funded the guarantee by transferring money from his Hong Kong company to a U.S. subsidiary of the company, which then used the money to guarantee the loan received by the Policy Forum.

        The Policy Forum, in turn, transferred the bulk of the $2.1 million loan it received to the RNC, which used the foreign-sponsored funds to make soft money expenditures in connection with the 1994 congressional races.

        Barbour’s claim that he did not know foreign funds were used for the loan guarantee was directly challenged in testimony and depositions from at least four other individuals, including former RNC head Richard Richards, and Young, who stated that Barbour was told the funds he wanted would come from a foreign source.

        The only reason we know the details of how these contributions and numerous other foreign donations were laundered into our national elections is that an unprecedented campaign finance investigation is being conducted into the unprecedented campaign finance scandal that occurred last year.”

        Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..081097.htm

        Again I re-iterate that nonchalance is not the proper attitude to take here. People are smart, clever, resourceful. They will look for ways around any barrier to spending money on US politics, or might we say invest in USA, Inc. More often than not, they will find loopholes and exploit them. That is, unless we pay attention to what’s going on.

        1. Big Goverment has enormous power to *uck up people’s lives.

          The perfectly natural response to this is to expect people to go enormous lengths to ensure that Big Government is *ucking up somebody else’s life.

          The solution is not to give Big Goverment greater power to *uck up people’s lives.

  16. I think what your trying to say is something like “power corrupts, etc, etc.” “Big Government” is not the only place where people have enough power to cause damage. Big Corporations can have just as much power.

    Yet, the whole big government/big corporation dichotomy is false. We’re talking about some nasty aspects of human nature that can be just as prevelent whether your a “public servent” in a bureaucracy or on the board of a multibillion dollar corporation. They’re both as dangerous. Thoughtful individuals like Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson acknowledged this.

    But what happens too often is that rather than thinking about things, people just offer a pre-programmed ideology and just chant slogans rather than taking a closer look at things. That’s just too time consuming and rarely offers any instant gratification. So Ted S., you’re really not helping. Try a little harder. Narrow ideologies are not going to solve the country’s problems.

  17. Robert has found the truth. If you are given a trillion bucks for nothing, why would you risk lending good for nuthin middle class idiots money?

  18. The problem is that bill which is to be taken care of then only the problem will going to be end .

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