Democratic-sponsored campaign finance legislation that could give their party a permanent political advantage should be filibustered by the GOP, former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith tells Newsmax.TV.
He currently serves as chairman of the Alexandria, Va.-based Center for Competitive Politics, teaches law at Capital University and is regarded as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on campaign finance law.
“I think the question is whether there are any Republican senators who are gullible enough to not filibuster this and let the Democrats institute a permanent advantage in the elections,” Smith says.
President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the House and the Senate are pushing this legislation, known as the DISCLOSE Act, to circumvent the Citizens United v. United States Supreme Court decision from earlier this year that lifted the ban on how corporations or unions can spend money to influence elections.
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The DISCLOSE Act aims to affect the current election cycle because it would take effect 30 days after passage.
Traditionally, campaign finance laws have limited contributions from groups supporting both parties, namely unions and corporations, but Smith says this is not the case this time.
“This legislation is one of the most partisan pieces of legislation to come down the pike,” Smith says. “One of the things about campaign finance regulations is it’s always used for partisan advantages and to insulate incumbents, but at least there is a veneer of some sort of bipartisanship.
“The court freed up both unions and corporations to participate in elections, but this legislation attempts to put the clamps back down only on corporations, and it is clearly because Democrats believe that corporations are going to favor Republicans in the elections.”
The bill contains numerous “absurd” regulations such as having as many as six disclaimers in a 30-second ad regarding who paid for it, he says.
The Citizens United decision sought to answer whether or not corporations or unions could spend money and speak about politics and politicians. The Obama administration, led by Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as solicitor general, took the position they could not.
“This a pretty extreme position for the government to take when you think about it because they are saying corporations cannot spend a penny in an election,” he says. “And that meant, and the government argued, that a corporation could not publish a book or distribute a book or a movie.
“It’s met with a lot of hysteria in the press, but I think when a lot of people really look at the basic ruling and remember that the government’s position was it could censor books and movies, I think most people will find it’s a very agreeable decision.”
Asked by Newsmax.TV about Kagan’s record on campaign finance, Smith said her published record has been rather thin because she has not published a lot of material on the subject.
“She played her cards throughout her career, politically, very close to the vest, so people are asking maybe where she stands,” he says.
Kagan’s work in the Citizens United case provides glimpses of her position because she tried backing away slightly from the government’s earlier holding that books and movies could be censored.
“Sen. [Mitch] McConnell has been asking, ‘What does she personally believe and to what extent was she merely arguing for the government to put the best case forward?’” Smith says. “I think we have a reason to know if our Supreme Court justices think the government has the power under the First Amendment to ban books and movies.”
Kagan’s lack of experience on the bench should not disqualify her for the high court alone, Smith says, but people need to know where she stands on important constitutional issues and her confirmation hearings should not be rushed.
“ A good hearing is necessary,” he says. “A good thorough vetting of her real judicial philosophy, trying to get a handle on the kind of judge she would be, is very important, much more important than if she had been a judge who had a lot of decisions we could look at.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Smith also said:
- Not much can be done about Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak’s claim that the White House offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the Senate race against Sen. Arlen Specter.
- The standard of political ethics will be decided by voters in the ballot box.
- Democrats and the Obama administration have grandstanded about lobbyists and political corruption, but they have engaged in “typical Washington insider dealing” since they took control in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
- The Obama administration’s position on the Arizona immigration law seeks to excite the far-left and excite a small portion of its base.
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