FCC can help keep elections honest and transparent

We’ve only had a break from those nasty political ads for just a few months.  But, get ready.
The negative attack ads are coming back in a big way. Shadowy outside groups are already trickling into the Bluegrass state in anticipation of the 2014 Senate race there.  And, soon there’ll be no end in sight.
It’s something I’m pretty familiar with: some of these same groups spent more than $20 million in Florida in an attempt to distort my record during the 2012 election. They ran ads that were deemed “pants on fire” false by independent fact checkers like PolitiFact and Yet third-party group spending on these ads hit record highs during the 2012 election cycle as a whole. 


Learning the lessons of the Irish peace process

In December 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Dublin City University (DCU) to launch the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR). This is an important new initiative that will ensure the lessons learned in the Irish peace process can be applied elsewhere in conflict and post-conflict societies. 

The achievement of peace in Ireland involved a process of unparalleled complexity involving community, economic, religious and international relations.  The new Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR) at DCU will ensure that the definitive story of the Irish peace process is captured, analyzed with academic rigor and made available to actors in various peace processes globally. In the institute today, leading academic experts in international relations, security policy, conflict resolution, law, enterprise and other relevant areas are working on:


Attack ads do not promote social welfare

Last month, former Democratic congressional candidate Dr. David Gill, his campaign committee, and my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sued the IRS for misinterpreting the Tax Code and creating a loophole that allows some tax-exempt organizations to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political activity while keeping their donors secret.
According to federal law, groups seeking tax exempt status under section 501(c)(4) must be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”  The IRS, however, issued a regulation undermining this clear language by requiring such groups only to be “primarily engaged” in promoting social welfare. This has allowed some groups to conclude up to 49 percent of their overall activities may be political. The lawsuit simply asks the court to require the IRS to interpret and apply the law the way Congress wrote it.


US should support self-determination in Falkland Islands

On his first international tour as secretary of State, John Kerry started in London — a decision that highlights America’s essential relationship with the United Kingdom. And while I am pleased that Secretary Kerry chose to visit the U.K., I am disappointed that he failed to offer support for the Falkland Islands. By failing to acknowledge the right of self-determination for free people, Secretary Kerry undermined what makes our country great — our unqualified support for freedom from tyranny and oppression. He also missed an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the United States and the U.K.


Energy trade, not restrictions or taxes. will advance growth

In less than a decade, the role of unconventional oil and gas has dramatically changed the energy outlook in the United States. Over the next 20 years, US natural gas and coal exports will increase and oil imports will decline steadily.
Abundant domestic energy can be a huge driver of the U.S. economy. In order to facilitate economic growth we need to move away from policies based on energy scarcity to our new reality of abundance – an abundance that can benefit our nation’s long-term economic outlook enormously.


Section 5 of Voting Rights Act must be protected

Last weekend, I joined The Faith and Politics Institute on their annual Congressional Civil Rights pilgrimage to Alabama. I’ve taken this trip several times, but its significance this year could not be more poignant. While we have come a long way and much progress has been made, the many battles fought forty eight years ago in Selma are still raging, but this time we’re not fighting in the streets, we’re fighting in the courts.

Last week, some of my colleagues and I took that fight to the steps of the Supreme Court to rally in support of the most effective Civil Rights legislation ever enacted by Congress, The Voting Rights Act.


Selling out women and families in sequestration

It sure looks like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can’t get enough of giving women the short end of the stick. Just two weeks after voting against the Violence Against Women Act, McConnell continues to play games with the health and safety of Kentucky women.
VAWA did finally pass, after a seemingly endless fight championed by pro-choice Democratic women in the House and Senate. But just hours after Republicans were finally shamed in to voting for this vital piece of legislation, they grabbed at the first opportunity to weaken it.


Study shows Super PACs made mockery of campaign law

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave rise to outside groups that could accept unlimited contributions to influence elections, was not intended to eviscerate laws limiting the size of contributions to candidates and parties. But the data from the 2012 elections show that it has effectively done so.

In Citizens United, the court assumed that independent expenditures by outside groups — unlike contributions to candidates and parties — do not pose a threat of corrupting elected officials. Therefore, the court concluded that independent expenditures cannot be regulated.


Karl Rove: The biggest loser

While Barack Obama is busy shredding the Constitution, Washington, D.C. insider Karl Rove is busy trying to destroy what is left of the Republican Party by launching a multi-million dollar Super PAC to usurp representative democracy, disenfranchise American voters, and concentrate even more power in Washington DC.
Rove and the professional “consultant class” think that only Washington D.C. insiders like them – not the American people – should get to decide who runs for public office.
That’s why he is launching the “Conservative Victory Project” – a Super PAC whose mandate is to wrestle local decision-making power away from the American people, so that only Washington DC insiders can hand-pick our candidates – against our will – again.


Establishment Republicans plan to perpetuate losing formula

The Tea Party movement is a major force in American politics because people are sick and tired of the tax-and-spend policies and crony capitalism of both political parties. Now we learn of the newly launched Conservative Victory Project that wants to push the Tea Party out and replace them with the failed strategies of 2008 and 2012.
After Election Night 2012, even some Tea Party members bought into the false narrative of devastating losses in the Tea Party’s conservative ranks. However, the Tea Party grew in Congress with the election of 27 new Tea Party conservatives to the House and three new Tea Party Senators. The movement again exhibited electoral strength even while the GOP establishment stumbled badly.