There’s good news this morning from the Supreme Court, which is sticking with its past declarations that campaign finance disclosure requirements are constitutional.
The justices unanimously affirmed a lower court’s pro-disclosure decision in Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission. The case grew out of a non-profit group’s effort to avoid disclosing the donors who underwrote its sponsorship of a television commercial urging Colorado voters to call Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennett and ask them to support the “Justice Safety Valve Act.”
The ad did not urge a vote for or against either senator. But because Independence Institute sought to air it within 60 days of an election in which Udall was on the ballot, the Federal Election Commission asserted that it was covered by donor disclosure requirements set out in federal law.
Such “issue ads” do not carry a disclosure requirement if aired outside the 60-day window.
The Supreme Court decided the case without hearing oral arguments and today’s order in favor of disclosure was unanimous. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have previously voiced their opposition or at least skepticism about disclosure requirements. Thomas was the only member of the high court to take exception to the strong support his fellow justices voiced for the constitutionality of disclosure in Citizens United v. FEC in 2010.
Former President George W. Bush seems to be ending his self-imposed exile from political life,
The 43rd President showed up on the Today show this morning to deliver a ringing defense of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of the press, implicitly rebuking President Trump’s attacks on the news media.
"We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," Bush said. "Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."
As President, he spent a considerable portion of his time with Russian President Vladimir Putin extolling the importance of a free and independent press, Bush said.
Bush also joined the small but growing chorus of Republicans calling for a robust investigation of the Russian government’s sponsorship of cyberattacks last year on Democratic Party and some state election office computer systems
Bush said he would trust Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr to decide if a special prosecutor is necessary. "I think we all need answers ... I'm not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered."
Common Cause is among a number of advocacy groups that have called on congressional leaders to create a bipartisan select committee of members of Congress or an independent commission that would include distinguished Americans from outside government along with lawmakers to investigate Russia’s election hacking.
Through President Barack Obama's eight years in the White House, Bush stayed out the political limelight. He emerged briefly last year in an unsuccessful effort to boost the presidential candidacy of his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.