February 15, 2012
It's well known that the Supreme Court in its 2010 Citizens United decision lifted restrictions on political advertising by unions and corporations, contributing to the orgy of special-interest spending already on view in the 2012 presidential campaign. Less noted was the decision's reaffirmation of the constitutionality of laws requiring disclosure of the identities of political donors. Yet as the campaign already has demonstrated, Congress has not done nearly enough to shine the light of disclosure on who is bankrolling efforts on behalf of particular candidates, including those sponsored by supposedly independent "super PACs.
January 19, 2012 |
Trevor Potter is an unlikely repeat guest for a late-night comedy show. As the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, the courtly Washington lawyer is a leading expert on campaign finance law -- not the kind of material that generates a lot of laughs. So the fact that he's appeared seven times on "The Colbert Report" in the last year, helping host Stephen Colbert set up his own "super PAC" as part of a mischievous political parody, underscores an unexpected development in the 2012 presidential race: Super PACs have seized the zeitgeist.
September 28, 2011 |
Bill Miller, the man who helped build the U.S. Chamber of Commerce into one of the country's most influential political machines, will leave his post as political director to become a partner in the Washington office of the London-based public relations firm the Brunswick Group. His departure means that the Chamber will be without one of its most skilled political hands on the eve of the 2012 election. Although his move has not been officially announced, Chamber officials said Wednesday afternoon they will continue the aggressive political activism that Miller helped to develop.
May 5, 2011
Offering specious arguments about free speech and intimidation, Republicans are trying to derail an executive order by the Obama administration that would shed light on the political activities of government contractors. The order would require them to disclose any contributions they make to organizations that engage in political advertising, including the Chamber of Commerce and the shadowy groups known as 501c(4)s. In that way voters would know who was behind advertisements by groups with vague or innocuous names.
October 30, 2010
A political action committee formed by the California Chamber of Commerce has spent more than $3.8 million in recent weeks to defeat the Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner, Assemblyman Dave Jones of Sacramento. Almost three-fourths of the PAC's money for the final campaign push has come from the insurance companies that would be regulated by the winner of the race between Jones and Republican Assemblyman Mike Villines of Clovis. Meanwhile, political committees backed largely by trial lawyers spent at least $420,000 on radio ads during the same period to support Jones and bash Villines.
June 18, 2010
At the last minute, House sponsors of a bill designed to shed light on who is funding political advertisements have eliminated a serious objection to the legislation: that it provided special treatment for the National Rifle Assn. Now the House should pass the bill. Known as the DISCLOSE Act, the legislation is a response to a wrongheaded Supreme Court decision that came down in January allowing corporations to use their treasury funds to sponsor election-related ads. The bill would require corporations, unions, advocacy groups and some nonprofits to disclose the names of their top donors.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 2, 2010 |
If you have children of an impressionable age, and you haven't already taken this precaution, I'm advising that you immediately take your television outside and smash it with a sledgehammer before the next political ad is aired. Children should not see this stuff. It's toxic, it will arrest development and is guaranteed to corrupt all sense of civility. Adults shouldn't see them either, but after years of exposure, we're already damaged for life. The basic formula in running for governor of California — and to establish yourself as a trustworthy leader — is to misrepresent who you are, to accuse your opponents of torturing toddlers and small pets, and to address voters as if they were no smarter than soft-boiled eggs.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2010 |
There's ample baggage to hang around Jerry Brown's neck from his stint as governor way back when. But it does not include his being a tax-and-spender. Brown never raised general taxes. In fact, he reduced the income tax. If anything, Brown didn't spend enough. Ask anyone who was paying attention during that 1975-1983 period and you'll probably hear a complaint that the young governor allowed the state's infrastructure to begin decaying. He especially didn't invest enough in highways and universities.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 5, 2010 |
Republican Meg Whitman's unprecedented spending spree in the race for governor has rocketed her into a narrow lead against Democrat Jerry Brown, while incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is holding her own as a trio of little-known GOP candidates vies to challenge her, a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll has found. Whitman, who gave her campaign a record-breaking $39 million to finance a blistering pace of recent television advertising, carried 44% of voters to Brown's 41%. The campaign by Brown, the former governor and current attorney general, has been the antithesis of Whitman's, operating under the radar except for a brief burst of publicity in early March when he announced his intention to run. In her first bid for elective office, Whitman was easily outdistancing her fellow Republican, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, with a 40-point lead in the poll as they move toward the June primary.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 2010 |
The campaign to legalize marijuana in California kicked off this week, just days after the initiative made the ballot, with a radio ad saying many law enforcement professionals know marijuana laws have failed and calling the measure "a common sense solution." The ad features Jeffrey Studdard, a former school district police officer and reserve L.A. County sheriff's deputy. Studdard says that he has "seen firsthand that the current approach on cannabis is simply not working," explaining that the fight against marijuana has led to "violent drug cartels" and "dealers in our schools and our streets" without reducing consumption.