RNC conference call: BCRA lawsuit

posted at 11:05 am on November 13, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

RNC chair Mike Duncan held a conference call today to discuss the lawsuits it has filed to challenge the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), better known as McCain-Feingold.  The irony of filing suit against one of the banner achievements of its presidential nominee did not go unnoticed.  Duncan, currently embroiled in a battle to keep his position as chair after two successive national-election defeats, wants an end to the BCRA so that political parties can return to traditional building roles in the states:

Mr. Duncan said one suit will be filed in the District of Columbia to strike down the soft-money ban that is the central tenet of the McCain-Feingold Act — formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. “Soft money” is largely unrestricted contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions.

The second suit will be in a Louisiana federal court to strike down the limits under the law Mr. McCain co-sponsored with Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, that control coordination between parties and their candidates.

“It prohibits us from spending over $84,000 in coordination with a candidate in a congressional race,” Mr. Duncan said. “That means we have to find some group to raise and spend money but without any coordination” with the candidate, his campaign or the RNC.

Duncan called from the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami.  The governors were apprised of the lawsuit last night.

They want the soft-money ban lifted immediately, especially for Virginia and New Jersey.  They want to raise money for the state parties in order to compete for statehouse races.  This impacts redistricting, and Duncan wants to ensure that Republicans have a voice in that in 2010.  It also impacts standing in lawsuits; the RNC has to be able to spend money on lawyers in redistricting challenges.  In California, the RNC cannot raise money for initiatives.

Duncan wants to get rid of the coordination rules, and are targeting William Jefferson’s district in order to overturn them.  In order to get around them now, they have to donate to independent-expenditure units, which removes all controls on messaging.  It encourages corruption to third parties and eliminates the accountability which prevents it within the political parties.

Questions:

  • Erick Erickson: Why wait until after the election, and doesn’t it slap John McCain in the face? — They had to wait for an election to show the damage done by the application of the law.  They’ve also been encouraged by the direction of the court in the last couple of decisions on the BCRA.
  • Me: Is this part of an effort to recapture the conservative message after two successive national-election failures? — This is a center right nation and the GOP is a conservative party. This is about protecting freedom of speech.
  • Reed Wilson, RCP: Do you think this will go all the way to the Supreme Court, and is the redistricting focus a catch-up plan regarding the Democrats?  Duncan feels very good about this; the earlier case involving McConnell went almost directly to SCOTUS, and the Louisiana case needs to be resolved by December.  They’ve been working hard on redistricting for a while.
  • Ross Kaminski, Human Events: McConnell lacked standing for some of his claims; will that be a problem for the RNC?  Duncan says they have “a compelling fact circumstance” that shows they’ve been impacted negatively by this.

It’s too bad that the RNC didn’t try this after 2006.  Most of the “compelling fact circumstance[s]” could have been established in that cycle as well.  It may have been a little embarrassing to have lawsuits attempting to overturn the nominee’s agenda during the presidential campaign, but (a) we lost anyway, and (b) it may have kept McCain from winning the nomination in the end.

Nevertheless, this is a good move by the Republican Party to end government control of legitimate political activity and political speech.  Hopefully, the Supreme Court will finally dismantle the BCRA and force Congress to adopt the more open-source approach of requiring 100% transparency on all donations instead.


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Finally.

Aurvant on November 13, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Wonder how The One will justify opposition to this? I’ve no doubt He will.

EconomicNeocon on November 13, 2008 at 11:12 AM

BCRA should never have been enacted by Congress in the first place.
It should never have been signed into law by President Bush in the second place.
It should never have been upheld (in part) by the Supreme Court in the third place.

It is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

rbj on November 13, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Too little too late Mikey. You gotta go!

Where is our will to fight these commie bastards?

ReaganConservative3 on November 13, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Irony abounds. It is a shame McCain wasn’t able to address this issue during his playtime with Letterman.

a capella on November 13, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Some day there will be one of those tragic operas written about the life of John McCain. I still like him. His life just got really complicated. The thing is, I think he had the best shot of any Republican to win this year. There just wasn’t room for error. McCain-Feingold made it tougher on McCain, ironically.

indythinker on November 13, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Mike Duncan is a lawyer himself and was general counsel of the RNC for several years before becoming Chairman. I think he knows what he is talking about here. If the RNC could have challenged BCRA in 2006, I think it would have.

A lot of people saw this coming, and knew that the Democrats were backing BCRA because it would hurt the RNC.

rockmom on November 13, 2008 at 11:17 AM

A more useful action</B

Would be something aimed at forcing a review of donations to Obama.

There’s little doubt he accepted illegal donations, and little doubt those donations were illegal. So why no go after him?

Paul Murphy on November 13, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Wrong time for this fight. This should have been fought on philisophical grounds years ago…

It shows how far off of messege the Repubs have gone that they do this NOW, after just putting up for President the guy who wrote this abortion of a bill.

Real attack they need to make is that it just plain does nto work. It favors some groups over others, and its implementation mechanism is so flawed that it only limits the speech of those who follow the law.

Use the same standard they use for Civil Rights violations, where causation does not need to be prooven… you just have to proove that some statistical anomaly exists.

Romeo13 on November 13, 2008 at 11:18 AM

I have posted this in 2 previous threads, but bears repeating again:
Obama campaign contributions will not be investigahttp://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15497.htmlted:

Hey McCain, doesn’t feel good when your own dog bites you in the a$$, does it?

beththebaker on November 13, 2008 at 11:19 AM

oops,, link didn’t function: here goes:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15497.html

beththebaker on November 13, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Would be something aimed at forcing a review of donations to Obama.

There’s little doubt he accepted illegal donations, and little doubt those donations were illegal. So why no go after him?

Paul Murphy on November 13, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Please see my link posted above… just whistling Dixie!

beththebaker on November 13, 2008 at 11:22 AM

We all know the congresscritters are bought and piad for. Just tell me who bought them and you paid for them and then let me make up my mind on who to vote for.

unseen on November 13, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Hey McCain, doesn’t feel good when your own dog bites you in the a$$, does it?

The fact that they didn’t see what MF was from the beginning is what’s so troubling – I guess better late than never

Rightwaywin on November 13, 2008 at 11:31 AM

I don’t think McCain will ever admit that MF was a bad idea and that’s one of his biggest problem. He can’t even say the word conservative without stuttering.

Rightwaywin on November 13, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Eh, no matter how much you are allowed to give and to whom, you will still all be racists if you don’t completely support Baracky Hussein Omarxa.

Racists.

Bishop on November 13, 2008 at 11:33 AM

“Wonder how The One will justify opposition to this? I’ve no doubt He will.”

I’m SURE that the “o” will use the DOJ vigorously and often during his rein of terror.

CH on November 13, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Nothing we do will have any effect unless the huge ideological disparity in the education system and in the media is addressed.

Soros and company poured millions into their propaganda campaign, via purchasing programs and textbooks for primary, secondary and higher educaion.

Can you say brainwash?

eaglesdontflock on November 13, 2008 at 11:43 AM

At least this might see the light of day before the Supreme Court is stacked against us. I hope so. But this is an example, as indicated by many here, of the Republicans embarking on the right cause, but WAY too late when it comes to making a significant impact on elections. Better late than never more than applies, and let us hope the GOP does not apply these same actions in MN, AK and GA Senate races! Dittos to 2010 Congressional races!

freeus on November 13, 2008 at 11:53 AM

hmmm,,

MF.. McCain Feingold..

Mother F..

more than a coincidence? I think not..

DaveC on November 13, 2008 at 12:07 PM

Every problem we face today was yesterday’s solution. McCain-Feingold was inacted with the best intentions but didn’t prevent the Dems from outflanking the GOP with their fundraising strategies. It should be repealed and the internet contribution laws should be transformed to prevent the kind of illegal donations that happened this year to the Obama campaign. We should either have no laws of accountability or we should have laws where every dollar is directly tied to the donors social security number because the middle path hasn’t worked. Hope we choose wisely.

DL13 on November 13, 2008 at 12:08 PM

I saw on Oreilly was on GMA, he asked Diane who was the RNC chair, she didn’t know…. I didn’t know.. Who knew who this man was???

WE WANT MICHAEL STEELE….

reshas1 on November 13, 2008 at 12:10 PM

I know this might be sacrilege over here, but, we HAVE TO reach out to Ron Paul conservative libertarian folks. Everyone thinks he is a total loon, but, the appeal is revolution…as in, BRING BACK our liberty. All liberty. He had a crazy big movement and fundraising. Tap into that conservatism and you have gold.

Mommypundit on November 13, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Nothing we do will have any effect unless the huge ideological disparity in the education system and in the media is addressed.

Soros and company poured millions into their propaganda campaign, via purchasing programs and textbooks for primary, secondary and higher educaion.

Can you say brainwash?

eaglesdontflock on November 13, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Well, funny you say that…if you read the history of the NEA, it is purposefully subversive and communist in nature. They have been nurturing this ideology for a long time. The book I read was chilling…and it went all the way down to phonics and sight reading. The educational system was bought a long time ago.

We have conservative teachers…but they have to be constitutionally literate and perhaps form a conservative teachers Pac. Taking back the schools for liberty and allowing for competition, not ideology. We need to purge this place of liberals. Secular humanism/communism/marxism, what have you, worldview matters!!! Let’s pray it isn’t too late. Time to get smart.

Mommypundit on November 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Current campaign finance law is a travesty against our political process. Remove all the laws and replace them with one simple law if the real goal is transparency: Every contribution no matter whether it be $1 or $10,000,000 gets reported. This will let the people know who the candidates are indebted to and they can decide whether or not it matters to them

Done That on November 13, 2008 at 12:38 PM

The entire RNC leadership should resign and go to the devil. I can’t say anything about them beyond that in polite company.

dogsoldier on November 13, 2008 at 2:49 PM

Mommypundit on November 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM

eaglesdontflock on November 13, 2008 at 3:59 PM

oops, forgot my thought:-)

Obama is going after home school, that’s one of the little sidebars. We can no longer avoid the chaos by putting our children in private schools or homeschooling.

A well-planned, concerted effort to recruit conservative teachers, principals, administrators, school boards, the whole nine yards. Just like they did 50 years ago.

eaglesdontflock on November 13, 2008 at 4:01 PM