Tester-Wyden bill would result in donor intimidation

Dec. 11, 2018, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following stating blasting S.J. Res. 64:

“The effect of the landmark NAACP v. Alabama was to protect organization members and donors from threats of political violence. The Treasury Department guidance rescinding the requirement that 501(c)(4) members’ names be submitted to the IRS protects their First Amendment rights and meets the full intent of that Supreme Court case. A vote for the Tester-Wyden bill S.J. Res. 64 is vote for donor intimidation, and is inconsistent with the basic right to free speech. We praise the Treasury Department for ending the temptation of illegally leaking information in the wake of the recent IRS politicization scandals. It is unconscionable for any senator to even contemplate rolling back this important regulatory change that affirms NAACP v. Alabama.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 1003 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG experts.

###

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam protects confidential tax records from political disclosure in bill

April 29, 2016, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in support of legislation by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) that will protect the confidential tax information of supporters of non-profit, tax-exempt groups from politically motivated disclosures by government officials:

“The proven politicization of both the Internal Revenue Service and state and federal Justice Departments make it imperative that Congress take action to deny these political prosecutors from the means to intimidate and potentially destroy their adversaries.  One simple step is the elimination of the IRS requirement that donors to non-profit, tax exempt organizations be disclosed to the IRS at all.

“This disclosure serves no valid purpose, and in this increasingly hostile environment toward free speech, it is stifling.  In California, state Attorney General Kamala Harris demanded that her office receive Schedule B information from a non-profit public policy adversary, and was rebuffed in U.S. District Court.  Harris’ office had demonstrated a clear pattern of disclosing Schedule B donor information in violation of the law making the legal promise of privacy a myth in the once golden state.

“In NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court decided decades ago that donor information to non-profit, tax-exempt groups must be shielded from public disclosure to avoid political and state intimidation.  Now, in this increasingly hostile political environment, donors on either side of any policy issue need to be similarly shielded from harassment or even threats of violence.

“Americans for Limited Government urges Congress to pass legislation by Representative Peter Roskam which eliminates the reporting requirements of private donor information.  One thing that the nation should have learned through the Lois Lerner IRS scandal is that no information is safe in the hands of motivated, partisan government employees, and the only way to prevent abuse is to deny them the information in the first place.

“Protecting the First Amendment right to political engagement trumps any bureaucratic desire to collect data, and Congress needs to put the Roskam First Amendment protection bill on the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 106 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

###

 

ALG Blasts White House Executive Order Silencing Dissent

April 20th, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today condemned a draft executive order by the White House to compel companies to disclose donations to non-profit groups that might make independent expenditures during an election cycle.

The executive order would apply to “[a]ny contributions made to third party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation that parties would use those contributions to make independent expenditures or electioneering communications.”

“The White House cannot arbitrarily amend federal contractor requirements without a vote in Congress. This is an end-run around the constitutional process, with the Obama Administration once again attempting to implement administratively what it cannot achieve legislatively,” Wilson declared.

He explained, “In this case, the White House could not get the DISCLOSE Act passed, and so the draft executive order compels federal contractors to publicize donations to third parties that make independent expenditures in election cycles that are otherwise shielded from public scrutiny under federal law.”

Wilson added, “It’s nothing more than a cynical gag order issued by executive decree with no basis in the duly enacted laws of the land. As part of the contract-awarding process, the White House wants to know who is giving to whom and will surely make decisions based on that knowledge.”

The executive order would apply to any donations in excess of $5,000 in a given year. Any contractor that donates in excess of the specified minimum to an organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate would have their names submitted tohttp://data.gov.

“These disclosure requirements, as intended and designed, will have a chilling effect on speech, which is why they previously have been found to be unconstitutional,” Wilson said, pointing to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958).

Then Justice John Marshall Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

“There is no question that individuals’ speech is stifled by excessive disclosure requirements on independent expenditures. The Obama Administration is once again attempting to shame and intimidate certain corporations, groups, and individuals from saying anything about elections. Free speech is now an executive order away from being abolished,” Wilson said.

Wilson concluded, “It is outrageous that Obama is making political contributions a criterion for getting a contract with the federal government. This is corrupt Chicago-style politics at its worse.”

Attachments:

Draft Executive Order, The White House, April 13th, 2011 at www.getliberty.org/files/DraftExecutiveOrder4-13-11.pdf.

Disclosure is Overrated”, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

###

ALG Praises Senate Republicans For Blocking “Obama’s Political Speech Gag Order”

July 27th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today praised Senate Republicans for blocking the DISCLOSE Act that Wilson said “is nothing more than Barack Obama’s political speech gag order to silence dissent in an election year.”

“The so-called DISCLOSE Act imposes arduous regulations on corporations and non-profits and is explicitly designed to intimidate dissent, all in violation of the First Amendment. Senate Republicans deserve the praise of all freedom-loving Americans who believe that free, unrestricted political speech is a basic and fundamental right under the Constitution,” said Wilson.

“This is intended to intimidate certain groups and individuals from saying anything at all and into giving up their First Amendment rights. It’s a cynical gag order,” Wilson said.

The final vote in the Senate was 57 to 41.

The Act’s disclosure requirements includes any expenditures in excess of $10,000 of express advocacy for or against a candidate up to 20 days before an election and in excess of $1,000 within 20 days before an election, which must be reported to the FEC within 24 hours. The disclosure requirements extend to 120 days prior to the first presidential primary or caucus, and 90 days before the first Congressional primary or caucus, and extend through general election day.

Anyone who invests or donates in excess of the specified minimums to a company or organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate, except for media organizations and other exempt entities, would have their names submitted to the FEC.

“These disclosure requirements have a chilling effect on speech, which is why they previously have been found to be unconstitutional,” Wilson said. “If these sorts of requirements were in place during the ratification of the Constitution, there wouldn’t have been Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, which were published under pseudonyms.”

“There is no question that individuals’ speech is stifled by excessive disclosure requirements on independent expenditures,” Wilson said, pointing to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958). Then Justice John Marshall Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

“The sole intent of authors of this legislation is to shame and intimidate certain corporations, groups, and individuals from saying anything about elections, and there is no question that it was unconstitutional,” Wilson concluded.

Attachments:

“ALG Urges Senate to Reject First Amendment Restrictions; Highlights NRA, Media Carve-Outs,” July 26th, 2010.

“Disclosure is Overrated”, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

###

ALG Urges Senate to Reject First Amendment Restrictions; Highlights NRA, Media Carve-Outs

July 26th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today urged the Senate to reject the DISCLOSE Act that Wilson said “imposes tortuous regulations on corporations and non-profits while exempting media organizations, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, unions and others.”

“Senator Chuck Schumer cares less about disclosure and more about creating an unlevel playing field as it relates to campaign speech. The Senate has done nothing to remove the special carve-outs for certain organizations, despite the controversy over the House passage of this legislation. Congress still believes it has the power to hand out privileged speech licenses to the highest bidders,” Wilson said.

“The Senate version of the bill still includes the blanket exemption for media organizations, which can say whatever they want about candidates, for or against, without any regulation or disclosure at all,” Wilson said.

According to 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: “The term ‘expenditure’ does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication”. This media exemption to campaign regulation is reinforced in the DISCLOSE Act’s language on page 24.

“No bribery crisis of elected officials has ever emerged over editorial endorsements by newspapers or any other media outlet, and yet they have long been exempted from disclosure. Meanwhile, we assume that such a crisis exists with all other speech,” Wilson has previously stated.

After criticism from both sides of the aisle, the NRA carve-out was broadened to exempt organizations meeting the following criteria: at least 500,000 dues paying members (down from 1 million), members in all 50 states, receives no more than 15 percent of total funding from corporations or labor organizations, and doesn’t use corporate or union money to pay for campaign-related expenses.

Labor unions too received an exemption since only aggregate contributions of over $600 would be disclosed — most union dues are less than that.

The previous House vote passing the legislation was 219 in favor, and 206 opposed.

The Act’s disclosure requirements include any expenditures in excess of $10,000 of express advocacy for or against a candidate up to 20 days before an election and in excess of $1,000 within 20 days before an election, which must be reported to the FEC within 24 hours. The disclosure requirements extend to 120 days prior to the first presidential primary or caucus, and 90 days before the first Congressional primary or caucus, and extend through general election day. Anyone who invests or donates in excess of the specified minimums to a company or organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate, except for media organizations and other exempt entities, would have to have their names submitted to the FEC.

Wilson said the Senate was not consistently applying First Amendment protections. “The way news media is given a blanket protection is the standard that should apply to everyone, especially when it comes to independent expenditures. The First Amendment protects political speech from restriction, even if the backers of ads do not wish to have their pictures featured in ads.”

Wilson pointed to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958). Then Justice John Marshall Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Wilson concluded, “The Senate has an opportunity to reject the special favors that are being extended by the DISCLOSE Act, which is more about who is exempted and the advantage they will gain than who is regulated and restricted. These special carve-outs are precisely what have the American people in a complete uproar over Washington politics. Instead, it is time simply apply the First Amendment across the board and, with it, unregulated, unrestricted political speech for everyone.”

Attachments:

Disclosure is Overrated, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

###

ALG Condemns House for Passing First Amendment Restrictions, Urges Senate to Block Bill

June 25th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today condemned the House of Representatives for passing the DISCLOSE Act that Wilson described as “an egregious violation of First Amendment rights, requiring most corporations and non-profits to comply with labyrinthine regulations while improperly exempting media organizations, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, most unions and others.”

“Despite all of the flak about special carve-outs for certain organizations, House Democrats embraced some of the most onerous restrictions on political speech in the history of the Republic while handing out special licenses to the highest bidders,” Wilson said.

“The legislation also leaves in place the outdated blanket exemption for media organizations, which can say whatever it is they want about candidates, for or against, without any regulation or disclosure at all,” Wilson added.

According to 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: “The term ‘expenditure’ does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication”. This media exemption to campaign regulation is reinforced in the DISCLOSE Act’s language on page 22.

“No bribery crisis of elected officials has ever emerged over editorial endorsements by newspapers or any other media outlet, and yet they have long been exempted from disclosure. Meanwhile, we assume that such a crisis exists with all other speech,” Wilson has previously stated.

After criticism from both sides of the aisle, the NRA carve-out was broadened to exempt organizations meeting the following criteria: at least 500,000 dues paying members (down from 1 million), members in all 50 states, receives no more than 15 percent of total funding from corporations or labor organizations, and doesn’t use corporate or union money to pay for campaign-related expenses.

Unions also received an exemption since only aggregate contributions of over $600 would be disclosed — most union dues are less than that.

The House vote was 219 in favor, and 206 opposed.

The Act’s disclosure requirements include any expenditures in excess of $10,000 of express advocacy for or against a candidate, which must be reported to the FEC within 24 hours. The disclosure requirements extend to 120 days prior to the first presidential primary or caucus, and 90 days before the first Congressional primary or caucus, and extend through general election day. Anyone who invests or donates $1,000 or more to the company or organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate, except for media organizations, would have to have their names submitted to the FEC.

Wilson said that Congress was not consistently applying First Amendment protections. “The exemptions that are in place for media, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, and unions are the protections that should be in place for everyone. The First Amendment protects political speech from restriction, even if backers of ads do not wish to have their pictures featured in ads,” Wilson explained.

Wilson pointed to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958). Then Justice Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Wilson urged the Senate to reject the legislation, concluding, “House Democrats have been relentless in restricting and intimidating political speech for most groups while carving out explicit exemptions for special interests that favor their policies. It is up to the Senate to rise above these crony politics that guided the passage of the DISCLOSE Act, and instead to allow the First Amendment to stand, protecting political speech for all without regulation.”

Attachments:

Disclosure is Overrated, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at [email protected] to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

###

ALG Renews Call for Congress to Reject Campaign Speech Restrictions, Extend Media Exemption to Everyone

June 23rd, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Today, the House Rules Committee is expected to send the so-called DISCLOSE Act to the floor of the House for an expected vote tomorrow, but Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson says that “House Democrats have done nothing to remove controversial campaign speech restrictions against corporations and not-for-profit organizations to endorse candidates without regulation.”

“Meanwhile, the bill still leaves in place an archaic, blanket exemption for media organizations, who do not have to disclose donors and can say what they want, when they want, for or against candidates,” Wilson said.

“No bribery crisis of elected officials has ever emerged over editorial endorsements by newspapers or any other media outlet, and yet they have long been exempted from disclosure. Meanwhile, we assume that such a crisis exists with all other speech,” Wilson said.

According to 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: “The term ‘expenditure’ does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication”. This media exemption to campaign regulation is reinforced in the DISCLOSE Act’s language on page 22.

“The First Amendment is supposed to extend to all individuals and groups of individuals, but instead Congress continues with its curious interpretation of freedom of speech and of the press where certain, politically-favored groups, including media, are completely protected from regulation, and others are not,” Wilson said.

“Why is the Los Angeles Times ‘more free’ than Exxon-Mobil?” Wilson asked.

House members have also added special exemptions for labor unions, the National Rifle Association, and reportedly AARP and the Humane Society as well, drawing criticism from both liberal and conservative groups.

The Act’s disclosure requirements include any expenditures in excess of $10,000 of express advocacy for or against a candidate, which must be reported to the FEC within 24 hours. The disclosure requirements extend to 120 days prior to the first presidential primary or caucus, and 90 days before the first Congressional primary or caucus, and extend through general election day. Anyone who invests or donates $1,000 or more to the company or organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate, except for media organizations, would have to have their names submitted to the FEC.

Wilson said that anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures should be protected as they were in NAACP v. Alabama (1958). Then Justice Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

“The Constitution only provides for one, consistent application of the First Amendment, that Congress shall make no law abridging speech under any circumstances. Yet Congress persists in attempting to do just that, and uses exemptions to their unconstitutional regulations to buy off support, whether from media or certain non-profit organizations,” Wilson concluded.

Attachments:

Disclosure is Overrated, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

###