Tag Archives: Federal Election Commission

Rep. Mark Amodei: We Don’t Have Enough Corporate Money in Politics?

Nevada’s own Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2) may believe there isn’t enough corporate money in politics — On April 17, 2017 he introduced H.R. 2101, the Prior Approval Reform Act, which would make it easier for business trade associations to make political contributions.  Ah, just what we need! More corporate money in our political system!

The bill has the blessing of the Association of General Contractors, which posted the following argument on line in May, 2017:

“This legislation would repeal the prior approval requirement that is unfairly imposed upon and discriminates against corporate-member trade association PACs, like AGC PAC.

As you may know, the Federal Election Campaign Act requires the political action committee (PAC) of a trade association with corporate members, like AGC of America, to obtain prior approval in writing from a member corporation before communicating detailed information about the PAC and/or soliciting its executive or administrative staff. Furthermore, the regulation states that a corporate member may approve solicitations by only one trade association per calendar year.

AGC members have a constitutional right to join together in support of or in opposition to candidates for political office. Requiring prior approval discourages our members from participating in the association’s PAC, and creates an unequal playing field that restricts your First Amendment rights to free speech.”

Oh, the horror — “burdensome regulations” which seek to limit corporate political activities like soliciting money from members for advertising campaigns.  Notice please that nothing in the rationale posits that trade associations are not allowed to indulge in money gathering and expenditures — only that they have to get prior approval.  They certainly aren’t forbidden from engaging in PACs, the post only asserts that the corporations find this regulation ‘discouraging.’

The contractors take their argument a step further in this letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan: (pdf)

“Trade associations, like AGC, are discriminated against because their PACs are the only political committees that must first obtain exclusive permission from member companies before soliciting eligible individuals for support. No other class of PAC, including corporate, labor union, and individual membership association, is subject to the prior approval requirement. The requirement also restricts the First Amendment rights of AGC member company employees. The hardworking men and women in the construction industry are often frustrated that their company must first grant permission before they can be asked to make a personal contribution. It makes no sense that they can be solicited by individual member PACs and outside groups, but not by the trade association in which they participate unless their company provides its permission. Members of AGC have a constitutional right to join together in support of, or in opposition to, candidates for political office.”

Humm, a “hardworking” person in the construction sector can’t be solicited for a contribution unless the member company approves.  Let’s take a look at the trade associations which would benefit from this “reform,”  the list would include the following — America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, CTIA the Wireless Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, The Internet Association (Facebook, Google, Amazon), Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Global Automakers, Growth Energy, Airports Council International, Airlines for America,  International Franchise Association, the American Medical Association, Motion Picture Association of America, US Chamber of Commerce, American Chemistry Council, US Travel Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Interstate Natural Gas Association, Business Roundtable, Nuclear Energy Institute, American Gaming Association, National Retail Federation, Independent Petroleum Association, Information Technology Industry Council, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Realtors, American Bankers Association… if these are the top trade association lobby organizations in Washington, D.C. it’s hard to see precisely how these powerful outfits are “discouraged” from political participation by a “burdensome” regulation that requires them to get permission from their components before soliciting donations from their employees.

What we have here, compliments of Nevada Representative Mark Amodei, is yet another proposal designed to insert even more corporate money into the American political process.  Thus much for representing the “little guy.”

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Filed under Amodei, Nevada politics, Politics

The Happy Hackers Act HR 634: A Second Look

Let’s return for a moment to HR 634, otherwise known in this space as the “Happy Hackers Act of 2017.”

The link above should take you to the text of the bill as introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS).  In one page the bill terminates the Election Assistance Commission, puts the OMB in charge of “transition,” fobs the duties off on the dysfunctional FEC, and off we go into the wild west of happy hackers.

The bill was introduced on January 24, 2017 and was reported out on a 6-3 party line vote in the House Committee on Administration on February 7th, the same day Democrats filed objections  (pdf) to the measure with the House Committee on Administration.  Democrats noted that the EAC plays a “critical role in holding voting machine vendors accountable and ensuring certification standards remain high.”

Placing jurisdiction over federal election system regulation in the hands of the FEC is cynical at best and destructive at worst.  Atlantic magazine reported in December 2013 that the FEC was “broken” amid a flood of cases of questionable money flowing into campaigns, with feuds boiling between commissioners, and a hack attack attributed to agents of the Chinese government. Two years later the New York Times reported the FEC was incapable of curbing election abuses in the upcoming 2016 elections.   On February 20, 2017 the Chairwoman of the FEC resigned.   It is into the hands of this commission, now with one independent,  three Republicans, one Democrat, and one vacant seat, that the House Administration Committee wants to place the future of voting machines and certification standards.   The ill-advised HR 634 would place certification standards in the hands of an underfunded, understaffed (300 employees to cover 8,000 election jurisdictions in 50 states plus the District of Columbia) agency.  This is conducive to yet another layer of backlogs as questions raised about voting machine security and certification standards would be added to an already debilitated commission. If the intention is to slash oversight on voting machine/system security HR 634 would certainly accomplish that goal.

We’ve been the unfortunate recipient of hacking into our elections at the hands of the Russian government (2016) a conclusion reached by 16 intelligence agencies and the intelligence community leadership, despite the President’s feckless commentary on the subject; and if security standards are unenforced then we’re at even greater risk of intrusion into what has heretofore been unavailable to Russian hackers — the actual vote tally itself.

It’s unfortunate the bill was reported out of committee last February, it would be even more lamentable if the bill were to make it to the floor for a vote; and yet

more calamitous should the bill pass the House of Representatives.


Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) can be reached at 5310 Kietzke Lane #103, Reno, Nevada 89511; 905 Railroad Street #104D, Elko, NV 89801; or 332 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Representative Ruben Kihuen (D-NV4): 313 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515; 2250 North Las Vegas Blvd #500, North Las Vegas, NV 89030

Representative Jacky Rosen (D-NV3): 8872 S. Eastern Avenue #220, Las Vegas, NV 89123; 413 Cannon Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1): 2464 Rayburn Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; 495 S. Main St. 3rd floor, Las Vegas, NV 89101.

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Filed under Congress, Nevada politics, Politics, Voting