Votelaw -- Law and Politics

At the intersection of law and politics: Campaign finance, redistricting, election law and administration, and politicians in legal trouble.


This blog has moved Please go to my new blog site.
Maintenance work There will be little blogging for a day or two while I do some behind the scenes maintenance.


Hawaii criminal complaint in campaign finance case Honolulu attorney Edward Y.C. Chun has been charged with assising a corporation in reimbursing contributions made by three employees to the campaign of Mayor Jeremy Harris, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
Kentucky GOP primary for governor Cong. Ernie Fletcher won the Republican primary for governor with 57% of the vote. State Rep. Steve Nunn, who tried to have Fletcher removed from the ballot, received 13%. Nunn claimed that Fletcher was disqualified by the removal of his running mate Hunter Bates on the grounds that Bates had not met the 7-year residency requirement. See the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Louisiana redistricting The Justice Department has precleared the Louisiana House redistricting plan, according to the Associated Press.
New York City council term limits extension Here is a more complete story from Newsday on the state appellate decision Monday to allow some city council members to serve 10 years instead of the "two terms" provided in a voter-approved referendum. The City Council had amended the law to allow members forced to serve a two-year term after redistricting to serve that term plus two 4-year terms.
Canada begins consideration of electoral system reform Rick Hasen has a post on his Election Law blog about the publication of the discussion paper, "Renewing Democracy: Debating Electoral Reform in Canada." I thought that I had mentioned that report months ago, but can't find it. Those interested in true reform of the electoral system would do well to review this report. I'm currently having a good time blogging about the efforts of the GOP to redo the congressional districts in Texas and Colorado to give themselves an advantage. If some sort of proportional system were used, the incentive or opportunity to gerrymander would vanish. For instance, if Alabama used the system called Additonal Member System in Scotland and Mixed-Member Proportional Voting in New Zealand, we could scrap our 7 congressional districts and replace them with 4 districts. Each would elect one member of Congress using the same system we do now. In addition, each voter would have a second vote to cast for a party. If the Republicans got about 5/7 of the statewide "party-choosing" vote, they would get 5 members of the total delegation; if they had won 3 of the 4 districts seats, they would get two elected from their statewide list. If they had won only 2 district seats, they would get all three of the statewide seats. What's the point in gerrymandering to screw the other party, if the other party is going to get a fair share of the seats no matter how gerrymandered the system? Note: This Additional Member System is used in Germany, but I don't remember the German term for it.
More fallout from the Texas redistricting saga Josh Marshall, whose Talking Points Memo has done a lot on the Texas story, has a column in The Hill today concerning the efforts of Tom DeLay to get federal involvement in the efforts to track down the runaway Democrats. The Democrats, in the meanwhile, are asking for "who knew what when" in the request from the Texas DPS to the Homeland Security Department to track the plane of one Democrat. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Public Safety Commission refused to discuss the matter with a Democratic legislator. The Dallas Morning News also has a story. AP is now reporting that Texas DPS has destroyed the records requesting the search. Finally, KRIS-TV reports a conservative group has threatened to file a bar complaint against the legislator-attorneys in the Killer D's for "resisting arrest" when they refused to return to Texas when confronted by the Texas DPS in Armore, OK.
Colorado congressional district maps Daniel Smith, of the U of Denver pol sci depaprtment, has clued me into the link to find the 2003 congressional plan passed by the legislature and now under attack. Go here and click on "View Interactive Legislative District Maps" -- yes, that's what it says and the link confused me too.
Mississippi judicial campaign investigation The Biloxi Sun Herald reports today that Richard Scruggs paid off an $80,000 campaign loan for Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz. Scruggs has 4 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The paper does not say whether Diaz has recused himself from those cases.
Colorado redistricting The Legislature has hired Richard Westfall to represent it in the suit brought by Sen. Mary Ann "Moe" Keller against the new redistricting plan. See the AP story in the Rocky Mountain News. For some reason, Democrats have objected to spending taxpayer money on this suit, according to the Denver Post. Sen. John Andrews, the sponsor of the redistricting, defends his conduct in a letter to the Denver Post (it's the 4th down.)


South Carolina doing a mid-term redistricting The S.C. House is considering a bill to make minor changes to the court-ordered redistricting plan to reduce the number of split precincts. See the AP story here.
New York City law extending term limits is OK An appellate court has ruled that the City Council's amendment of the city term limits law is not invalid. The Council passed the law because the term limits law would have unfairly affected the members of the council whose terms are shortened to 2 years because of redistricting. Read the AP report here.
BCRA stay Thanks to Marty Ledermar Of SCOTUSblog for providing a link to the stay order and partial dissent by the 3-judge court. Two judges granted the stay and Judge Leon dissented in part.


Contributions by Iraq-rebuilding contractors Thomas Hargrove of Scripts Howard News Service reports
Construction and engineering firms seeking federal contracts to rebuild war-torn Iraq made millions of dollars in political contributions last year, including extensive use of big-money donations to the major political parties.
DSCC complains to FEC about Club for Growth ads The Rapid City Journal reported earlier this week,
Television ads that take Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to task for opposing President Bush's tax-cut package break the new federal campaign-finance laws, Democratic leaders believe. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a formal complaint against ad sponsor Club for Growth with the Federal Election Commission this week. The DSCC contends that Club for Growth uses unrestricted soft money to campaign against an individual candidate, something a new federal law says can be done only with limited hard money.
Mississippi campaign finance/bribery probe While the Washington Post has an article on this probe, the Clarion-Ledger has more details here, and here. The Biloxi Sun Herald has several articles here, here, here, and here. The basic allegation seems to be that Paul Minor is underwriting judicial election campaigns in return for rulings. Since this is before a grand jury and almost nobody is talking to the press, there are lots of rumors and inuendos in the stories.
PR in Scotland I reported earlier this week that the new coalition government in Scotland agreed to adopt Single Transferable Vote in local councils in Scotland. The Glasgow Sunday Mail reports that Labour could lose control of 7 local councils because of the new system. The Glasgow Herald has a column asking whether the proliferation of voting systems in Scotland means its voters are sophisticated or confused. The Evening Telegraph reports that Dundee's council elections using First Past The Post resulted in a proportional distribution of the seats among the parties.
Montana redistricting suit The Helena (MT) Independent Record has an editorial today commenting on the GOP effort to undo the redistricting plan of the independent commission. Yesterday, the AP reported on the initial hearing of the suit challenging the GOP's new law. The judge "challenged the assertion that legislators were acting within their constitutional power in changing the criteria for the plan after it was adopted by the Districting and Apportionment Commission in February."
Colorado redistricting Rep. McInnis and Beauprez claim that they knew nothing in advance about the filing of the redistricting plan (favorable to both) in the Colorado legislature -- despite the involvement of Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. The "Spin Cycled" column in the Denver Post offers this contrary evidence.
Texas redistricting and the flight of the Killer Ds How will history view the Killer Ds "hiding out" in Oklahoma for 4 days? The El Paso Times offers this assortment of views.


Federal probe of Ga. Speaker Paul McCord reports on Political State Report that there is a federal probe of the Georgia speaker of the house for using campaign funds for personal expenses, including making mortgage payments on his condo.
Other redistricting stories Green Party members are challenging the new redistricting plan for the Maine House because it divides the only Green-held district in the state. See the story on News 8 WMTW. Suffolk County, NY, has adopted a new redistricting plan on a party line vote. Two Ds will be paired in one district. Newsday has stories here, and here.
The Killer D's are back in Texas Here are some stories on the week-long flight of the Killer D's. Houston Chronicle, "Democrats kept an eye on each other," here    and "Glad to be back home," here Austin American Statesman -- "Wayward lawmakers back at Capitol, ready to get back to work now that redistricting is dead," here    and "Both parties emerge with greater unity," by Dave McNeely, here New York Times, "U.S. Agency to Review Its Role in Hunt for Texas Lawmaker," here


More advice sought for defense fund Another pol in trouble, James W. Treffinger, is seeking to use his leftover campaign funds for the defense of his criminal case. See his request here.
An Analysis of Election Fraud Demos has published a study of fraud in elections, "Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud." It finds that fraud is a small problem in American elections. Notice of this report came to me in "Democracy Dispatches," a email newsletter Demos sends out periodically. To see the latest issue, click here and to sign up, click here.
The Texas strays return in triumph or obliquy The Democrats have returned to the Capitol according to the Austin American-Statesman. The paper also has PDFs of the current and proposed maps. The Austin Chronicle publishes the statement of the absconding Democrats. Bob Ray Sanders has a pro-Democratic commentary in the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Colorado redistricting The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear the suit by Attorney General Ken Salazar against the Secretary of State, according to the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Salazar has argued that the legislature cannot adopt a new redistricting plan after a state court has done so (following the earlier failure of the legislature to adopt a plan). The Denver Post also has op-eds by Democratic and Republican legislators. In the meanwhile, Democrats in New Mexico and Oklahoma may seek to redraw their own plans, but national leaders are discouraging them, according to the Houston Chronicle.


Colorado redistricting The Colorado attorney general has filed a petition in the state supreme court asking it to rule that the redistricting law is illegal, according to a Denver Post columnist and news story. An editorial in the Post comments on the suit. Another story is in the Rocky Mountain News.
The latest "news" on the Texas strays Willie Nelson has sent his good wishes, some red bandanas, and whiskey to the Democratic legislators holed up in Armore, OK, according to the AP. A federal agency that is supposed to track terrorists was asked to trace the private plane of one of the Democrats, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Another story reports that the GOP leadership has stopped trying to arrest the legislators. Speaker Tom Craddick admits that the redistricting bill (along with everything else not voted on) will die tonight at midnight, News 8 Austin reports.
Campaign Legal Center comments on Rep. Majette's request for Advsiory Opinion Rep. Denise Majette has asked for an Advisory Opinion about the creation of a Legal Defense Fund. The Campaign Legal Center has filed a comment pointing out the effect of the BCRA on the proposed fund.


The Forum I received the following notice tonight: The Berkeley Electronic Press, together with editor Nelson W. Polsby of UC Berkeley and managing editor Raymond J. La Raja of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is pleased to announce a new issue of The Forum, a journal of applied research in contemporary politics. In the third issue of The Forum, we give an early preview of the 2004 Elections with a focus on the Democratic presidential nominations, including discussions of front-loading, campaign money, the divided electorate, and the strategic advantages of each major party. Most articles address what Democrats must do to be competitive against George W. Bush. Additional articles about the elections are forthcoming. Among the published articles (see conclusion of message for full citations and abstracts, or click links to view full text): The purpose of The Forum ( ) is to provide an outlet for professionally informed commentary on issues in contemporary American politics: issues engaging parties, elections, the news media, Congress, the Presidency, and trends in public policy relating to the functioning of these major American political institutions such as electoral reform, campaign finance, Presidential popularity and Congressional productivity. To submit your next paper to The Forum, visit and click the "Submit Article" link in the upper right corner. _______________________ CITATIONS & ABSTRACTS OF PUBLISHED ARTICLES Nelson W. Polsby (2003) "How to Spin the 2002 Election", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 1. ABSTRACT: Professor Polsby explains that the 2002 elections ended in nearly a draw, even though the conventional wisdom is that the Republicans won a clear victory. Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde (2003) "Will Changing the Rules Change the Game?: Front-loading and the 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 2. ABSTRACT: Professors Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde discuss the major reform introduced by the Democratic Party for its 2004 presidential nomination contest-rules that will lead to a large number of delegates being chosen early in the delegate selection window. They show that the 2004 contest will be more "front-loaded" than any contest since the Democrats introduced a delegate selection "window" in 1980. They argue that these rules, along with the large field of Democratic contenders, make it more likely that no clear winner will emerge before the Democratic Party nomination convention. Gerald Pomper (2003) "The Presidential Election of 2004", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 3. ABSTRACT: Professor Pomper speculates on the likely outcome and meaning of the 2004 presidential elections. Given the power of the White House to influence events and media coverage, as well as the emerging electoral advantages of the Republican Party, Pomper believes George W. Bush will be returned to office. He points to three trends in particular that favor the GOP: recent shifts in electoral votes, financial wealth and voter turnout. A presidential victory for the Republicans raises prospects for party dominance in Congress and the courts, with long-term consequences favoring conservative policies. Democrats must hope that fears of terrorism will recede, and that voters will place renewed emphasis on egalitarianism, especially with the expansion of the Hispanic and African-American electorate. John K. White and John Zogby (2003) "The Fifty-Something President", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 4. ABSTRACT: Looking back in recent presidential history, the authors show that Bush appears to defy prior trends with his high approval ratings in the third year. They explain, however, that he is vulnerable in 2004, particularly because he has not created a governing majority for his domestic agenda. The sharpening partisan divide among the electorate, especially on lifestyle issues, shows that Bush lacks the broad support his father enjoyed immediately after the first Gulf War. To win in 2004, Democrats must find a way to neutralize Bush's advantages on security, run on issues that emphasize job security, and prevent the president from winning over Hispanic voters. L. Sandy Maisel (2003) "Pick a Name. Any Name.", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 6. ABSTRACT: Professor Maisel identifies the Democratic presidential candidates with the best prospects and explains what each must do to win the nomination. He evaluates the candidates based on four aspects of the campaign: fundraising, geographic constituency, name recognition and ideological constituency. The unusually heavy frontloaded nomination process gives candidates with the strongest finances and organization better odds than ever to be the Democratic nominee.
Indiana election cases Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog was nice enough to send me a note about two cases from earlier in the year. First, a decision by the state supreme court imposing a redistricting plan for the Indianapolis City/County Council. The Court reversed the lower court decision because its plan was "uniformly supported by one major political party and uniformly opposed by the other [and therefore] incompatible with applicable principles of both the appearance and fact of judicial independence and neutrality." Second, a superior court instated two losing candidates after they challenged the winners on the grounds that the winner were convicted felons and therefore ineligible to hold office.
Texas Redistricting Maps To view the current plan for Texas congressional districts, go to the Texas Legislative Council site, and click on "View Current Districts." To view the proposed GOP plan, go to the same site, click on "RedViewer," click on "All Other Redistricting Plans," and choose Plan 1180.
Colorado redistricting map The maps and data for the Congressional plan adopted by the Colorado court in early 2002 is here (Colorado official site) or here (NCEC site). When I find a link to the new map, I will post it. In the meanwhile, here is the act.
Scotland to adopted Proportional Representation for local elections According to the BBC and the Edinburgh Evening News, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have reached an agreement for a coalition government in Scotland. One key point of the agreement is to introduce Single Transferable Vote at local council elections by 2007. See the Lib Dem Manifesto. Labour had opposed STV at the local level, according to an earlier BBC story. The Scottish Parliament is elected using the system called Additional Member System in Britain. It is the same system used in Germany and New Zealand. Voters elect one or two MPs for each constituency and also vote for a party on a regional list. Members are elected from the regional list so that the total number of party members in that region is proportional to the regional vote for the party. Here is the BBC slide on AMS. Here are the results according to the Lib Dems site. To see a different view, go here and click on "Hollyrood Results" on the right margin.
Suffolk County NY redistricting in court The Suffolk County legislature failed to reach an agreement on a redistricting plan yesterday. "U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt has scheduled a hearing in a lawsuit filed by Suffolk Hispanic and African-American residents who say the legislature has failed to act in a timely manner to draw new lines. The current boundaries, they say, violate their rights by dividing minority communities among legislative districts," according to Newsday.
Today's roundup of stories on the Texas strays Google News has 543 stories on the absconding Texas legislators. Here are the ones that seem to add some new information:    Tom DeLay wants the feds to arrest the legislators, while the Texas DPS harasses legislators' families-- Houston Chronicle    The Hill    The Republicans are running ads for the arrest of some Democrats, publishing decks of cards with their pictures --Austin American-Statesman    "House to stay shut, absentees vow" -- Houston Chronicle    Who's to blame? They are, say both sides -- Dallas Morning News


Roundup on other redistricting news Montana: The Great Falls Tribune reports, as does the Billings Gazette, that the Legislature has adopted an act to force the Secretary of State to reject the redistricting plan adopted by the Districting and Apportionment Commission. Seems that the Dems ended up with a 3-2 majority on the Commission, and the GOP claims that the Commission plan is pro-Democratic. For information on the commission and its work, go here. Suffolk County, NY: Unless the Suffolk county legislature was able to adopt a redistricting plan today, a federal court will be hearing the matter tomorrow, Newsday reports. Time is short: the Democrats are supposed to nominate candidates next week, and Republicans the week after. Louisiana: Gov. Foster has signed the bills redistricting the state house and senate, according to the AP. The new redistricting was necessary because of a district court's rejection of the previous plans. See the NAACP LDF's statement on the case.
The latest on the Texas strays The Dallas Morning News has this light-hearted story about the runaways in their "hideout" in Oklahoma. Fox News reports that one Democrat was arrested near her Austin apartment.
AG won't defend new Colorado redistricting plan The Rocky Mountain News reports that the state Attorney General refuses to defend the suit against the new congressional redistricting plan. The Secretary of State is looking for an attorney to defend the plan.
Latest on Texas redistricting The Washington Post, The Hill, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Dallas Morning News have stories on the flight of the Democratic House members to stop action on the congressional redistricting bill. The Texas papers report that the Dems are in a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, OK, and the Texas law officers are seeking federal authority to arrest the legislators.
Providian National Bank wants to market political party affinity credit cards Providian National Bank, a large credit card issuer, has requested an advisory opinion from the FEC whether it may enter into agreements with national political parties to use their mailing lists to solicit customers for credit cards branded with the political party name and symbol. If the customer chose a rebate credit card, he or she could direct that the rebate be paid to the political party.


Draft advisory opinion on refunds to contributors The General Counsel has circulated to the FEC commissioners a draft advsiory opinion to the Virginia Highlands Advancement Fund. The VHAF received a refund from the IRS and wants to know what it may do with the funds. The draft opinion advises that the Fund should make pro rata refunds to its contributors.
Colorado redistricting plan revised, Dems sue The Colorado papers have several stories concerning the hasty adoption of a new congressional redistricting plan in Colorado, and the suit by the Democrats to block the new plan. See the stories in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the Aurora Sentinel, and AP via the
More on redistricting in Texas The Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle reports that John Alford, a Rice University political scientist who has advised Republicans on redistricting, has denounced the proposed redistricting plan as "a pro-Republican partisan gerrymander on top of an already pro-Republican existing plan." The Austin American-Statesman reports that one Democratic House member has filed suit in a federal court in Laredo, claiming that "the Republican-backed plans violate a section of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires information about election-related activities to be published and distributed in English and other languages. He said notices about public hearings were not printed in Spanish."
Texas House Democrats walk out Charles Kuffner of Political State Report says that 52 House Democrats have taken off for parts unknown to protest the Republican redistricting plan, among other things. The House rules require 100 members (2/3) for a quorum. The 52 absconders make it impossible to obtain a quorum.
Legal Times wrap up on McConnell v. FEC Despite the title, "Campaign Finance Ruling Gives No Satisfaction" reports on both the good and the bad points for lots of positions in the case.


Wisconsin corruption trial
Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who faces felony charges of misconduct in public office, has used nearly $100,000 from his campaign fund to pay for his legal defense, federal records show. ... State law allows politicians to use campaign money for their legal defense against alleged campaign finance or election law violations as long as they get the donors' permission. ... Jay Heck, director of the reform group Common Cause in Wisconsin, ... questioned whether Jensen can use his campaign funds to defend himself when he was not charged with either a campaign finance or elections law violation.
Madison Capital Times
Colorado GOP plans another Congressional redistricting Luis at Poltical state Report has a post on the plan to remap the congressional districts in Colorado.
Katrina Leung Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points has a long post about the failure of the media to mention Katrina Leung's fundraising for Republicans when reporting her indictment for passing secrets to the Chinese. (Thanks to TalkLeft for the link.) TPM has these follow-ups: here, here, here.
IRS publishes Q&A on new Section 527 requirements The Internal Revenue Service has published a Revenue Ruling in a question and answer format on the new requirements for political organizations. Here is the introduction to the Ruling:
On November 2, 2002, Pub. L. 107-276 was enacted, amending § 527 of the Code. The new law amends the reporting and disclosure requirements for tax-exempt political organizations described in § 527 with respect to the following: (1) notice of status, (2) periodic reports of contributions and expenditures, and (3) annual returns. This revenue ruling provides questions and answers relating to the reporting and disclosure requirements for political organizations described in § 527, as amended by Pub. L. 107-276.
Many parties seek stay on BCRA ruling After the NRA filed its motion to stay the decision in McConnell v FEC, the court entered an order requiring all motions to be filed by noon on Friday. The order is here. You may see the stay applications at the Campaign Media Center's site.
Texas Democrats sue over campaign violations, while GOP proposes another shafting Two Democrats who lost in legislative races are suing Texans for a Republican Majority (founded by Cong. Tom DeLay) for not reporting all the funds it collected and expended on behalf of winning Republican candidates. Under Texas law, losing candidates may sue for twice the amount not reported. See the story in the Houston Chronicle. (Thanks to Jim Dedman for the link.) To view the contribution and expenditure reports TRM filed with the Internal Revenue Service, click here. In the meanwhile, the Republican majority in the Texas legislature is now proposing a new Congressional plan that will increase the number of Republicans in the Congressional delegation. See the Houston Chronicle stories here and here.
The Drug Czar and Nevada campaign finance disclsoure The National Law Journal reports,
Federal "drug czar" John P. Walters campaigned against a Nevada ballot proposal to legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana, but he refuses on constitutional grounds to file a campaign spending report. ... Special Assistant Attorney General Jonathan L. Andrews wrote that it is "extremely likely" the courts would find Walters immune from compliance with state law. The opinion cited an 1890 decision immunizing federal officers operating within the normal scope of their duties. In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 (1890). ... Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Walters also campaigned against marijuana decriminalization measures in Ohio and Arizona but only Nevada has a relevant disclosure law. He contends that the Nevada campaign reporting statute is binding on Walters by the terms of the U.S. Supreme Court's Johnson v. Maryland, 254 U.S. 51, which says federal employees must obey all state regulations, such as building codes or traffic laws, that do not "frustrate the full effectiveness of federal law."


Kentucky governor's race The Louisville Courier-Journal reports today:
Front-runner Ernie Fletcher can remain on the May 20 Republican primary ballot for governor because he had the right to name a new running mate for lieutenant governor, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday.
Meanwhile, among the Democrats ...
Two Democratic candidates for governor released a flurry of TV ads and e-mails Tuesday attacking front-runner Ben Chandler on charges of plagiarism, falsification of documents and questionable campaign contributions, less than two weeks before the primary election. ... In one new ad aired Tuesday, Lunsford's running mate, former federal prosecutor Barbara Edelman, lambastes Chandler for taking campaign contributions from people who were later indicted for vote fraud and for accepting contributions from people who are under investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
(from the Kentucky Post)


McConnell v FEC As usual, the Campaign Legal Center is doing a great job in gathering and putting on the web all the documents in the McConnell case. In addition to the decision and opinions, the CLC has posted summaries by many of the interested parties, a link to the documents unsealed by the court, and the stay motions filed in the case. To see the jurisdictional statement filed by McConnell, go here. (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link to the latter.)


Jurisdictional Statement Filed by Opponents of Campaign Finance Law SCOTUSblog reports: The lead plaintiffs in McConnell v. FEC have already filed a jurisdictional statement in the Supreme Court seeking review of those portions of the three-judge court's opinion that upheld significant provisions of the BCRA, and that concluded that challenges to other provisions were nonjusticiable at this time. [Thanks to Goldstein & Howe for making this available.]
Purdue v. Baker SCOTUSblog reports today: The Georgia Supreme Court has announced it will be web-casting the oral argument in Purdue v. Baker, the fight over whether the state AG or instead the governor, has control over redistricting litigation now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The argument will be tomorrow at 10am, and the web-cast is supposed to be available at this link. Many thanks to the reader who passed the notice on to us. [That's 6 May at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.]


AO request: Home Depot Home Depot, Inc., has requested an Advsory Opinion. It wishes to give a pin advertising the company's separate segreted fund to the contributions to the fund. Home Depot wants to know if it can give these pins and whether the employees can wear them. (Warning: I have been able to read the request online, but any attempt to print it has frozen my computer.)
AO request: Rep. Majette's defense fund Rep. Denise Majette (D-Ga4) defeated Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary last year. Supporters of McKinney have brought suit against Majette charging violations of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution because an alleged conspiracy to have Republicans vote in the Democratic primary. Majette has requested an Advisory Opinion that funds raised for a defense fund are not contributions under the Federal Election Campaign Act. The request and its supporting documents are 163 pages long. If you are interested in the suit by the McKinney backers, you can find it in the attachments to the request.
FEC Advisory Opinion re payroll deductions for PAC At the meeting on 8 May, the FEC will consider the draft Advosory Opinion to the Public Services Enterprise Group, Inc.. PSEG wants to transfer all payroll deduction authorization from one separate segregated fund to another. The draft authorizes this if certain conditions are met.
FEC Advisory Opinion re payroll deductions for PAC At the meeting on 8 May, the FEC will consider the draft Advosory Opinion to the Public Services Enterprise Group, Inc.. PSEG wants to transfer all payroll deduction authorization from one separate segregated fund to another. The draft authorizes this if certain conditions are met.
McConnell v FEC fallout Can parties start raising and spending soft money? That's the question discussed in this article from the New York Times and this one in the Washington Post. While I have been tied up in depositions (yes, even on Saturday), Rick Hasen, Howard Bashman, and SCOTUSblog have been collecting news stories and making intelligent commentary about the case.


McConnell v FCC The Court has issued the McConnell decision. Get it here. The main opinion is 171 pages, and pages 5-15 contain a summary of all the rulings. Each of the judges wrote separately on some issues. The Court also issued a ruling on the sealed material -- it appears that much of the information previously sealed must be refiled as part of the public record. This is the summary (page number are included): 5 I. DESCRIPTION AND CHART OF THE COURT’S RULINGS In light of the number of provisions in BCRA being challenged, the complexity of the issues presented by each challenge, and the variety of positions and voting combinations taken by the three judges on this District Court, we set forth a brief description and a chart, on a section by section basis, of the various rulings A. Title I Section 323(a) of BCRA bans national parties from soliciting, receiving, directing, 6 transferring, and spending nonfederal funds (i.e., soft money). Judge Henderson strikes this section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, files a concurrence, joining with Judge Henderson, except with respect to the ban on national parties from using (i.e., ?directing,? ?transferring,? and ?spending?) nonfederal funds (i.e., soft money) for ?federal election activity? of the type defined in Section 301(20)(A)(iii). As to that type of conduct, Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress’s ban on the use of nonfederal funds by national parties for Section 301(20)(A)(iii) communications. Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds Section 323 (a) in its entirety. Accordingly, Judge Leon’s decision regarding Section 323(a) controls. Section 323(b) prohibits state parties from using nonfederal money for ?federal election activities? as defined in Section 301(20)(A) of BCRA. Judge Henderson strikes these sections down as unconstitutional in their entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, joins Judge Henderson in a separate concurrence, but only with respect to those party activities set forth in Subsections (i), (ii), and (iv) of Section 301(20)(A). As to Section 301(20)(A)(iii), Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress’s prohibition on state and local parties from spending nonfederal funds for communications that promote, oppose, attack or support a specific federal candidate. In a separate opinion, Judge Kollar Kotelly finds Section 323(b) constitutional and concurs with Judge Leon’s discussion of Section 301 (20)(A)(iii). Section 323(d) prohibits national, state, and local parties from soliciting funds for, or 7 making donations, to § 501(c) organizations that make expenditures, or disbursements, in connection with federal elections, or to § 527 national organizations. Judge Henderson strikes this section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, joins in that conclusion in a separate concurrence. Judge Kollar-Kotelly files a separate dissent in which she finds the entire section constitutional. Section 323(e) prohibits, but for certain enumerated exceptions, federal officeholders and candidates from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending, nonfederal money in connection with any local, state, or federal election. Judge Henderson and Judge Kollar-Kotelly, for different reasons, in separate opinions uphold the constitutionality of this section in its entirety. Judge Leon concurs with respect to the restriction on federal officeholders and candidates receiving, directing, transferring or spending any nonfederal funds in connection with any federal or state election, but files a separate dissent with regard to any prohibitions on a federal candidate, or officeholder, from soliciting funds for the national parties. Section 323(f) prohibits state officeholders and candidates from using nonfederal funds for public communications that refer to a clearly identified candidate for federal office and that promote, oppose, attack, or support a candidate for this office. Judge Leon upholds this section in its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs with Judge Leon’s opinion. Judge Henderson, dissents and finds the entire section unconstitutional. 8 B. Title II Section 201 of BCRA sets forth a primary, and ?backup? definition, of an ?electioneering communication? (i.e., so-called ?issue ads?). In addition, it sets forth certain disclosure requirements for those who fund these electioneering communications. Judge Henderson strikes down both the primary and backup definition as unconstitutional. Judge Leon, for different reasons, concurs in her judgment with respect to the primary definition. Judge Kollar-Kotelly dissents and upholds the primary definition as constitutional as discussed in her separate opinion. With respect to the backup definition, Judge Leon, who writes a separate opinion, upholds its constitutionality with its final clause severed. Judge Kollar-Kotelly, as expressed in her opinion, concurs in that conclusion solely as an alternative to this Court’s finding that the primary definition is unconstitutional. Finally, with regard to Section 201’s disclosure requirements, Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold their constitutionality with one exception. Judge Henderson strikes down the disclosures requirements in a separate dissent. Section 202 provides that disbursements by persons for electioneering communications, or contracts to purchase the same, that are coordinated with either a federal candidate or a candidate committee, or a political party committee will be treated as contributions to that candidate’s campaign or political party committee. Judge Kollar- Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find this section constitutional. Judge Henderson, in a separate dissent concludes that this Section is 9 unconstitutionally overbroad. Section 203 of Title II prohibits labor unions, corporations and national banks from using money from their general treasury to fund ?electioneering communications,? as defined by Section 201. Instead, under Section 203, such communications must be paid from a separately segregated fund (?SSF?). Section 203 also includes an exception from the SSF requirement for certain nonprofit corporations (i.e., the ?Snowe-Jeffords exception?). Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds this section as constitutional. Judge Leon joins Judge Kollar- Kotelly’s opinion upholding the constitutionality of this section as it applies to the backup definition in Section 201. Judge Henderson strikes down this Section as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon additionally uphold the disclosure and SSF requirements as well as the Snowe-Jeffords exemption provision for certain nonprofit corporations organized under Sections 501(c)(4) and 527 of the Internal Revenue Code in their respective opinions. Section 204 (?The Wellstone Amendment?), in effect, withdraws the Snowe-Jeffords exception of Section 203. Judge Henderson strikes down Section 204 in its entirety. Judge Leon concurs in her result as it applies to MCFL exempt organizations only. As to nonprofit corporations that do not qualify for the MCFL exemption, Judge Leon concurs with Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s conclusion, but for different reasons, in upholding Section 204 as it applies to non MCFL organizations. Section 212 provides certain reporting requirements for independent expenditures. 10 Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, conclude that challenge to this provision is not ripe for review, and therefore hold that the Court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the plaintiffs’ challenges at this time. Judge Henderson dissents from this view and finds Section 212 unconstitutional in its entirety. Section 213 requires national parties, in essence, to choose between making coordinated expenditures under the Party Expenditures Provision or unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of their federal candidates. All three judges concur that this section is unconstitutional. Judge Henderson’s opinion includes a discussion of her separate reasons. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon’s separate opinion on this section. Section 214 addresses coordinated expenditures paid for by persons other than party committees and candidate committees. Section 214 repeals the current FEC regulations on coordinated expenditures, and directs the FEC to promulgate new regulations that do not require ?an agreement or formal collaboration to establish coordination.? Judge Kollar- Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find that the plaintiffs’ challenge under Section 214(b) and Section 214(c) is nonjusticiable and the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to consider their challenge. As to Sections 214(a) and 214(d), however, they find those sections constitutional for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion. Judge Henderson dissents, finding the Section unconstitutional in its entirety. C. Title III and V Sections 304, 316, & 319, collectively known as the ?Millionaire Provisions,? allow 11 opponents of self-financed candidates, and in certain circumstances, to raise money in larger increments and accept unlimited coordinated party expenditures. All three judges conclude, for the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson’s opinion, that this Court lacks standing to entertain challenges to these provisions. Section 305 denies a candidate the ?lowest unit charge? for broadcast advertisements on radio and television unless the candidate promises not to refer to another candidate in his or her advertisements. For the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson’s opinion, all three judges conclude that this Court lacks standing to entertain the plaintiffs’ challenge at this time. As explained in Judge Henderson’s opinion, the Court similarly finds that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge Section 307, which increases and indexes contribution limits. Section 311 establishes certain disclosure requirements for the sponsors of electioneering communications. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold this provision as constitutional. Judge Henderson, dissents, and finds this section unconstitutional for the reasons set forth in her opinion. Section 318 prohibits donations by minors to federal candidates, or to a committee of a political party. All three judges agree that this section is unconstitutional. Each judge writes a separate concurrence setting forth his/her reasoning as to this section. Section 504 requires broadcast licenses to collect and disclose records of any request to purchase broadcast time for communications that ?is made by or on behalf of a legally qualified candidate for public office? or that relates ?to any political matter of national importance,? including communications relating to ?a legally qualified candidate,? ?any election to federal office,? and ?a national legislative issue of public importance.? Judge Henderson finds this section unconstitutional. Judge Leon and Judge Kollar-Kotelly, concur in that result, but not in her reasoning. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon’s separate opinion on this section.