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March 15, 2012

Jefferson County contractor wants to bust the aggregate contribution limits in federal elections

iWatch News reports: As unlimited contributions flow into super PACs this year, one man is at the center of a new effort to allow people to donate more money, to more candidates, at the national stage.

"I don't believe government is there to limit us," Shaun McCutcheon told iWatch News.

McCutcheon is a 44-year-old general contractor in Alabama. He's the owner, founder and president of Coalmont Electrical Development. He's a member of the Republican Party who admits he may have a bit of a libertarian streak. And he's also the treasurer of a super PAC called the "Conservative Action Fund."

That's a group that spent more than $43,000 opposing House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in Tuesday's GOP primary in Alabama, although it has mostly targeted Democrats with its attacks. -- Read the whole story --> GOP super PAC men seek to overturn donation limits | iWatch News by The Center for Public Integrity

McCutcheon's request for an advisory opinion is available here

* If I had called him "local man," you would have thought it was an Onion story.

February 20, 2007

Questions for and about von Spakovsky

Gerry Hebert writes on the Campaign Legal Center Blog: A number of Federal Election Commissioners will face confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary this year, but one of them deserves particular attention. The politically-expedited career of Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky, both as a recess appointee to the FEC and previously as an attorney at the Department of Justice, warrants careful scrutiny by the Committee. The record that has already developed about von Spakovsky is a disturbing one for an individual charged with enforcing the nation’s election laws. ...

The evidence that has become public since [the decision to preclear the Texas redistricting in 2003] demonstrates that the decision to overrule the career professionals was made purely based on politics by a number of political appointees in the Department of Justice, including Hans von Spakovsky—who President Bush later rewarded with a recess appointment to the Federal Election Commission. ...

DOJ lawyers, many of whom have now left the Department, have informally told me that von Spakovsky played a central role in the decision to approve the Texas plan. This was confirmed in a recently published book on the Texas redistricting case entitled “Lines in Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom DeLay by Steve Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff writes:

“The political appointees at Justice controlled how the department would handle the decisions surrounding Texas redistricting, and none of them with any ambition to remain active in this Republican administration or in the Republican Party could dare allow any departmental action to delay or to block it. Loyal service would be rewarded. Hans von Spakovsky, who led the battle within Civil Rights Division to approve the Texas redistricting in 2003, was appointed by President Bush to the Federal Election commission in 2006. The appointment was an interim appointment not requiring U.S. Senate confirmation.” -- Campaign Legal Center blog: "So exactly where were you, Hans von Spakovsky, on the nights in question"ť

July 12, 2006

"Revitalizing Democracy" video

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy has posted the video of the “Revitalizing Democracy” panel at its recent National Convention. On June 17, ACS hosted a panel at its 2006 National Convention exploring the sources of the growing sense of disenfranchisement among Americans and avenues for reform that could make our democratic system more responsive to ordinary Americans. Panelists explored issues such as the impact of money in politics and campaign finance reform, the effect of redistricting on political polarization, the merits of the electoral college, how technology will affect political campaigning in the coming years and the implementation of the Help American Vote Act. Panelists also discussed ways that we can encourage a national conversation on these issues and broaden participation in our democracy. Included on the panel were:

  • Ron Klain, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Revolution LLC; former assistant to President Clinton; former Chief of Staff and Counsel to Vice President Gore;
  • Donna Brazile, Brazile and Associates, LLC; former campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore;
  • Representative Artur Davis (D-AL);
  • Heather Gerken, Professor of Law, Yale Law School;
  • Benjamin Ginsberg, Patton Boggs LLP;
  • Robert Lenhard, Vice Chairman, Federal Election Commission; and
  • John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for American Progress; former Chief of Staff to President Clinton.
  • December 17, 2005

    President nominates 4 for FEC

    The Washington Post reports: President Bush nominated two controversial lawyers to the Federal Election Commission yesterday: Hans von Spakovsky who helped Georgia win approval of a disputed voter-identification law, and Robert D. Lenhard, who was part of a legal team that challenged the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

    In addition, Bush proposed a second term for commissioner David M. Mason and nominated Steven T. Walther, a Nevada lawyer with close ties to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

    Von Spakovsky and Mason are Republican appointees, while Lenhard and Walther are Democratic picks for the bipartisan six-member commission.

    In a letter to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) wrote that he is "extremely troubled" by the von Spakovsky nomination. Kennedy contends that von Spakovsky "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws." -- Bush Picks Controversial Nominees for FEC

    December 16, 2005

    Bush nominates DOJ lawyer to FEC

    The Dallas Morning News reports: In a move that inflamed minority activists and Democrats, President Bush on Friday named a Justice Department lawyer who played a pivotal role in the Texas redistricting fight to the Federal Election Commission.

    Hans von Spakovsky was one of the political appointees involved in approving the Texas congressional redistricting plan. A memo leaked two weeks ago showed that decision came despite unanimous objections from career lawyers in the civil rights division who found the Texas remap violated minority rights.

    "People who do the political dirty work of this administration get promoted," said Rolando Rios, regional counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which intends to try to block his Senate confirmation. "We're very concerned when you appoint somebody to the FEC who has absolutely no sensitivity to the voting rights of minorities. ... That's outrageous."

    White House officials defended the nomination for the FEC, which regulates campaign finance.

    "The president believes that he will take a fair and accurate view of the federal regulations and also the role that the agency plays in rule making," said White House spokeswoman Erin Healy. -- KRT Wire | 12/16/2005 | FEC nominee draws ire of minority activists

    October 10, 2004

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