Information You Need to Make Up Your Own Mind

"... [A]s far back as the Radio Act of 1927 and continuing with Section 317 of the Communications Act of 1934 there has been an unvarying requirement that all matter broadcast by any station for a valuable consideration is to be announced as paid for or furnished, and by whom." -- Federal Communications Commission, Sponsorship Identification Rules, 1975

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We Must Draft Reforms That Can Survive Constitutional Review

The Federal Election Campaign Act is far from a perfect system. But the reason for its deficiencies lies not in its drafting, but rather in its repeated dismemberment by the Supreme Court. The court has been as much a player in the field of campaign finance as Congress. Any solution must take its active — and increasingly activist — role into account.

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California’s FPPC Provides Example for Dysfunctional Federal Agencies to Follow - Trevor Potter’s 40th Anniversary Keynote Address

On September 17th, Trevor Potter delivered the keynote address at the 40th anniversary of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Potter praised the outstanding work of the FPPC and compared it to its dysfunctional federal cousin, the Federal Election Commission – also created 40 years ago in the wake of Watergate. Potter reviewed how we arrived in this Wild West era of campaign finance and suggested ways to fix it and restore the public’s faith in its elected officials.

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What's Next for Campaign Finance Reform?

The constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision came up short in the Senate. Such things are no easy lift. But while it failed to garner the supermajority vote, the Senate's consideration and debate provided an avenue to keep people who are appalled by the current campaign finance system energized and engaged. Now it is time to harness that energy for some shorter-term battles that are worth fighting even though we have five Supreme Court Justices who have taken the position that the selling of access and influence by American lawmakers is not a problem. Increased disclosure, curbing coordination, preventing rampant abuse of the tax code and updating other federal regulations will help bring reality closer in line with the "Wonderland" described in Justice Anthony Kennedy's Citizens United decision.

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Complicated Times: Speech and Advocacy in a Changing Environment

I would like to speak as the emissary of an outlier among philosophically conservative private foundations.  Our organization, the Stuart Family Foundation, has consistently supported campaign finance reform along the lines of McCain-Feingold / BCRA.  This reflects the judgment and experiences of our founder, Ambassador Robert D. Stuart, Jr., who after many decades of fund-raising on behalf of the GOP, came to realize in the 1990s that the soft-money loophole had corrupted the action of the Congress and was undermining public faith in the integrity of elections.  This conviction has placed us sharply at odds with other conservative philanthropies, so I would like to talk a bit about why conservatives seem generally opposed to campaign finance reform and what might be done to bring them around, for without their support, for the foreseeable future, nothing will change for the better.

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