Panel says issue ads OK during elections
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - A federal court on Thursday loosened restrictions on corporations, unions and other special interest groups that run political advertising in peak election season.
The 2-1 ruling said groups may mention candidates by name in commercials as long as they are trying to influence public policy, rather than sway an election.
The ruling came in a challenge to the so-called McCain-Feingold law designed to reduce the influence of big money in political campaigns. The law banned groups from using unrestricted money to run advertisements that name candidates two months before a general election or one month before a primary.
Wisconsin Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, has been fighting the law since 2004, when it sought to run an advertisement urging voters to contact Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, both Democrats, and ask them not to hold up President Bush's judicial nominees.
Because Feingold was running for re-election in 2004, the ad was prohibited. Wisconsin Right to Life argued that it wasn't trying to influence an election and said the law restricted its constitutional right to petition the government.
While the Right to Life group has a point, there still needs to be some type of regulation on such issue-oriented ads to halt those disingenuous ones that are trying to influence elections. I hope this ruling does not lead to the complete dismantling of the regulation.
The other major event comes from California:
Ca. court: Campaign laws apply to tribes
By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - A split California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Indian tribes, some of the state's biggest political donors, are bound by campaign-finance disclosure rules.
In a 4-3 ruling, the justices upheld a lower court decision that said tribes were subject to campaign-finance enforcement lawsuits from the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state agency that oversees elections.
The case is significant for California's political culture.
The more than 100 tribes in California, some flush with casino revenues, are major campaign donors that have reported giving at least $200 million to candidate and ballot measure campaigns during the past decade. Most already disclose donations of at least $10,000 a year, in compliance with state regulations.
The tribes sued by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to comply with disclosure rules argued they are sovereign governments, immune from most state intervention, including lawsuits to enforce state laws.
I have to agree with this ruling. These tribes may have sovereign status, but if they want to engage in campaign financing, they should have to play by the same rules as everyone else.