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Money In Politics Consensus Answers

01 Feb 2016 2:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

On January 20, several members met to discuss the consensus questions for the LWV US Money In Politics Review. The following answers were adopted by consensus at that meeting and approved by the Board at their January meeting. ("__" indicates a possible answer was not selected; "X" indicates the selected answer.)

PART I QUESTIONS: Democratic Values and Interests with Respect to Financing Political Campaigns

1.    What should be the goals and purposes of campaign finance regulation? 
(Please respond to each item in Question 1.)

a.  Seek political equality for all citizens.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

b.  Protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

c.  Enable candidates to compete equitably for public office.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

d.  Ensure that candidates have sufficient funds to communicate their messages to the public.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

e.  Ensure that economic and corporate interests are part of election dialogue.
            __  Agree     __  Disagree     X  No consensus

f.  Provide voters sufficient information about candidates and campaign issues to make informed choices.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

g.  Ensure the public’s right to know who is using money to influence elections.  
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

h.  Combat corruption and undue influence in government.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

2. Evaluate whether the following activities are types of political corruption:
(Please respond to each item in Question 2.)

a.    A candidate or officeholder agrees to vote or work in favor of a donor’s interests in exchange for a campaign contribution.
        X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

b.   An officeholder or her/his staff gives greater access to donors.
            __  Agree     __  Disagree     X  No consensus

c.   An officeholder votes or works to support policies that reflect the preferences of individuals or organizations in order to attract contributions from them.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

d.  An office holder seeks political contributions implying that there will be retribution unless a donation is given.
            X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

e.   The results of the political process consistently favor the interests of significant campaign contributors.
            __  Agree     __  Disagree     X  No consensus

OPTIONAL COMMENTS (250 word limit):

Question 1: Economic and corporate interests are two different things, and they should not dominate other interests such as social, labor, and environmental interests.

Question 2: Activities (b) and (e) can be or could indicate political corruption, but it depends on the particular facts.

PART II QUESTIONS:  First Amendment Protections for Speakers and Activities in Political Campaigns

1.    Many different individuals and organizations use a variety of methods to communicate their views to voters in candidate elections.  Should spending to influence an election by any of the following be limited? (Please respond to each item in Question 1.)

a.  Individual citizens, including wealthy individuals like George Soros and the Koch     Brothers.
    __ Spending banned    __ Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     X No consensus

b.  Political Action Committees, sponsored by an organization, such as the League of Conservation Voters, Chevron, the American Bankers Association, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), whose campaign spending comes from contributions by individuals associated with the sponsoring organization, such as employees, stockholders, members and volunteers.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

c.  For-profit organizations, like Exxon, Ben and Jerry’s, General Motors, and Starbucks, from their corporate treasury funds.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

d.  Trade associations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Wind Energy Association, and the American Petroleum Institute, from the association’s general treasury funds.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

e.  Labor unions, like the United Autoworkers and Service Employees International, from the union’s general treasury funds.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

f.  Non-profit organizations, like the Sierra Club, Wisconsin Right to Life, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, American Crossroads, and Priorities USA, from the organization’s general treasury funds.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

g.  Non-partisan voter registration and GOTV (get out the vote) organizations and activities, like the LWV and Nonprofit Vote.
    __ Spending banned    __ Some spending limits    X Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

h.  Political parties, like the Republicans, Libertarians, and Democrats.
    __ Spending banned    __ Some spending limits    X Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

i.  Candidates for public office spending money the candidate has raised from contributors.
    __ Spending banned    __ Some spending limits    X Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

j.  Candidates for public office spending their own money.
    __ Spending banned    __ Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     X No consensus

2.  The press plays a major role in candidate elections through editorial endorsements, news coverage, and other communications directly to the public that are often important to the outcome.  Should such spending to influence an election by any of the following be limited?
(Please respond to each item in Question 2.)

a.  Newspapers, like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

b.   Television and other electronic media, like Fox News, CNN. MSNBC and CBS.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending     __ No consensus

c.   Internet communications, like Huffington Post, Breitbart, Daily Kos, and individual bloggers.
    __ Spending banned    X Some spending limits    __ Unlimited spending    __ No consensus

OPTIONAL COMMENTS (250 word limit):

Question 1(i): We assume this concerns candidates spending from their own campaign fund for their own campaign, not for another candidate’s.

PART III QUESTIONS:  Methods for Regulating Campaign Finance to Protect the Democratic Process

1.    In order to achieve the goals for campaign finance regulation, should the League support? (Please respond to each item in Question 1 a and b.)

a.   Abolishing SuperPACs and spending coordinated or directed by candidates, other than a candidate’s own single campaign committee.
                X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

b.   Restrictions on direct donations and bundling by lobbyists? (Restrictions may include monetary limits as well as other regulations.)
                X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

c.   Public funding for candidates?   Should the League support:
(You may respond to more than one item in Question 1 c.)

i.   Voluntary public financing of elections where candidates who choose to participate must also abide by reasonable spending limits?
                X  Agree     __  Disagree     __  No consensus

ii.   Mandatory public financing of elections where candidates must participate and abide by reasonable spending limits?
                __  Agree     __  Disagree     X  No consensus

iii.   Public financing without spending limits on candidates? 
                __  Agree     X  Disagree     __  No consensus

2.    How should campaign finance regulations be administered and enforced?
    (You may choose more than one response for Question 2.)

__ a.  By an even-numbered commission with equal representation by the two major political     parties to ensure partisan fairness (current Federal Election Commission [FEC] structure)?

X b.  By an odd-numbered commission with at least one independent or nonpartisan commissioner to ensure decisions can be made in case of partisan deadlock?

X c. By structural and budget changes to the FEC (e.g., commission appointments, staffing, security, budget, decision making process) that would allow the agency to function effectively and meet its legislative and regulatory mandates.

__ d.  No consensus.

OPTIONAL COMMENTS (250 word limit):

Question 2: We would prefer more than one nonpartisan, independent Commissioner.

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