National Voting Rights Institute
Campaign Finance is a Voting Rights Issue
Make the Connection
NVRI E-Update: July 2004
Notes from Stuart Comstock-Gay, Executive Director

Friends,

The Democratic National Convention is soon upon us. The Republican Convention is not far behind. Money is still flowing freely in the political world. And NVRI keeps on working. Here's the latest…

  1. Beat the DNC traffic rush in Boston - join us on July 22 instead
  2. One of the most troubling and controversial Supreme Court cases of the last 30 years…
  3. On big contributions to independent political committees - NVRI and others file amicus memorandum

1.  Beat the DNC traffic rush in Boston - join us on July 22 instead

NVRI's fundraising reception with Celinda Lake is still scheduled for July 22, and tickets are still available. While the city will be overwhelmed with the Democratic Convention the following week, NVRI's event is a good kickoff to the condition of political campaigns in America. Lake is one of the nation's leading political strategists and pollsters, and has a powerful analysis not just of poll numbers, but also of fundraising numbers in elections. Tickets are $250, $100 and $50 for the 5 pm event, which is being held at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Boston. For more information or tickets, contact Pamela Sheward (psheward@nvri.org), or 617-624-3900 x.14.

Earlier in the week, NVRI General Counsel John Bonifaz will be speaking at a National Lawyers Guild event about "Campaign Finance Reform: A Civil Rights issue," at Cargill Hall, room 97 on the Northeastern College Campus from 2-3 pm on Tuesday the 20th. And NVRI Executive Director Stuart Comstock-Gay will be a panelist on Wednesday July 21 Alliance for Democracy workshop entitled "The Election Can Be Stolen in November: Prevention and Cure." The workshop is at 7:15 pm at Simmon College. (See www.thealliancefordemocracy.org or 781-894-1179).

 

2.  One of the most troubling and controversial Supreme Court cases of the last 30 years…

The major push is on. In April the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Albuquerque's campaign spending limits law. This now sets up a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Supreme Court review of the controversial 1976 decision (Buckley v. Valeo) which opened the door to ever increasing campaign expenditures. Within the next two weeks, NVRI will announce a new coalition intent on revisiting Buckley, and allowing democracy to flourish. Keep watch. You'll hear from us soon.

 

3.  On big contributions to independent political committees - NVRI and others file amicus memorandum

Individual contributions to political committees that make only independent expenditures can be limited, according to NVRI, Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 in a joint amicus memorandum submitted last week in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In the case, North Carolina Right to Life (NCRL) argues that limits on contributions to its political committee (or PAC) are unconstitutional because the committee conducts its electoral advocacy independently of candidate campaigns. NVRI and its fellow amici argue that the contribution limits are constitutional regardless of whether the money is ultimately spent in coordination with candidates or independently. The memorandum points to the Supreme Court's recent decision in McConnell v. FEC, which held that contributions used for so-called independent advocacy can still cause corruption. Indeed, the political party contributions limits upheld in McConnell applied to funds used for independent advocacy.

Previously the Fourth Circuit had ruled in NCRL's favor. The Supreme Court then granted certiorari in the case, and remanded it to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration in light of McConnell. The court of appeals asked the parties for memoranda addressing the impact of McConnell on the issues in the case.

Click here to see the memorandum.

 

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As always, keep in touch.

Best wishes,

Stu

 

Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute
617-624-3900
scg@nvri.org



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