Center for Competitive Politics
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) is a conservative group that promotes the deregulation of U.S. elections, being against the McCain-Feingold act, the Disclose Act, the Fairness Doctrine, and being in favor of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which allows unlimited corporate money in elections. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which states on its website that its mission is "to educate the public on the actual effects of money in politics, and the results of a more free and competitive electoral process." The Center was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and Stephen Hoersting, formerly Smith's Legal Counsel at the Election Commission.   
(Smith was a Republican appointed to the FEC by President Clinton in 2000 as part of the statutory requirement no more than three of the FEC's six commissioners come from any one political party. His nomination was promoted by Republican Senators, but was opposed by Vice President Al Gore and others because Smith opposed campaign finance regulations and thus they considered him "unfit" to regulate those campaign finance practices. He was confirmed as part of a package deal to secure the confirmation of other nominees. In 2004, Smith was elected Chairman of the FEC. (Unlike most federal agencies, the FEC Chairman is not designated by the President. Rather, by law each year the FEC Commissioners elect one of the six Commissioners to serve as Chairman for a one year term. By custom, the Chairmanship of the Agency rotates between Republicans and Democrats; by law, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman must be from different parties.))
In August 2008, Jeanne Cummings of Politico wrote, 'Encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court, conservatives are launching a wholesale legal assault on campaign finance laws. And among the leaders is a man once charged with enforcing those laws: former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley Smith. His goals are big. He doesn't want to just scale back the laws; he wants to pretty much wipe them out.'
Bradley Smith 'opened the Center for Competitive Politics to build a case against the regulatory system that limits individual donations to candidates, reins in the role of outside groups, and bans union and corporate contributions to political parties. With financial support that came largely from individuals he declines to name, Smith opened the Center for Competitive Politics a year later to begin challenging the current campaign finance system in both federal court and the court of public opinion. "What the Center for Competitive Politics can do and is trying to do is to bring the right kind of cases before the court," Hasen said, so Chief Justice John Roberts and his new coalition of conservatives can "knock them out of the park."'
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
CCP President Sean Parnell represents CCP on the Public Safety and Elections Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). At the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting, he introduced the "Resolution in Support of Appropriate Disclosure Requirements" model policy for adoption by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force. On July 20, 2011, Parnell published an article in The Daily Caller (conservative/Republican news spin organization founded by conservative reporter Tucker Carlson and former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel) criticizing Common Cause for requesting that the Internal Revenue Service look into claims that ALEC, in violation of the laws governing 501(c)(3) organizations, has engaged in lobbying.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Opposing the Disclose Act
The DISCLOSE Act would require corporations to disclose the fact that they are giving money for campaign ads. This is in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case allowing unlimited corporate money for ads. People supporting stricter campaign finance laws say that the public has a right to know exactly who is funding political ads especially after a campaign marked by hundreds of millions of dollars in spending by groups, corporations, and unions that did not have to disclose the true source of the funding.
The Center for Competitive Politics and other groups including Americans for Tax Reform, The American Conservative Union, CatholicVote.org, and Citizens Against Government Waste argue that provisions in the DISCLOSE ACT go beyond disclosure to actually prohibit speech, and have sent a letter to Congress calling the bill "an unequivocal ban on free speech, masquerading as an exercise in accountability."
On its website, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) states that it "relies on individual and foundation support. Less than 1.5% of our funding comes from corporate support." However, the group does not identify its donors.
In its 2006 annual return to the Internal Revenue Service, the CCP states that it had total revenue of $373,571 with expenses of $284,118. It listed its 2005 income as having been $251,005. It reported income of $820,851 in 2007 and $1,425,502 in 2008. 
For 2008, Media Matters lists the following funders:
- Castle Rock Foundation ($25,000), founded with an endowment from the Adolph Coors Foundation
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ($20,000)
Lee Fang, writing at the blog "Think Progress," has claimed that Center is a "front group" of libertarian activist Howie Rich, which the Center has denied. The Center for Competitive Politics, along with groups such as the Cato Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, worked in favor of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The groups filed amicus briefs to the Court.
The CCP releases regular research studies on the role of money in US elections. This research has been criticized by groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice, which generally takes the opposite side from the CCP on questions of campaign finance and corporate speech. The Brennan Center argues that the CCP's research is plagued by methodological flaws and inappropriate conclusions drawn from undisclosed data points. CCP's original research reports, as well as copies of legal briefs, legislative testimony, and commentary published by the organization, are available through the organization's website.
On its website the CCP lists its staff, as of May 2010, as being:
- Sean Parnell, President
- Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Co-Founder
- Stephen M. Hoersting, Vice President and Co-Founder
- Benjamin Barr, Of Counsel
- Amanda Robey, Director of External Relations
- Michael Tokarchick, External Relations Associate
- William Vogel Associate
- Matt Neese, Research Associate
- Laura Renz, Research & Government Relations Director
- April Owens, Office Manager
- Martha Correo, Government Relations Assistant
- Jeff Patch, Communications Manager
- Josh Zinman, Communications Associate
- Erik S. Jaffe, P.C., Litigation Consultant
Board of Academic Advisors
- Lillian R. BeVier, John S. Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law University of Virginia School of Law
- Joel M. Gora, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Brooklyn Law School
- Allison R. Hayward, Assistant Professor at George Mason University School of Law and the host of SkepticsEye.com
- Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research
- Jeffrey Milyo, Associate Professor of Economics and the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri
- Michael C. Munger, Chairman, Department of Political Science, Duke University
- David M. Primo, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Rochester
- Larry J. Sabato, Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Political Science, University of Virginia, and Director, UVA Center for Politics
124 S. West Street, Suite 201
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703) 894-6800
Fax: (703) 894-6811
Email: sparnell AT campaignfreedom.org
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, "About Center for Competitive Politics", Center for Competitive Politics website, accessed February 2009.
- ↑ Mark Arsenault, "Congress trying to ease campaign finance rules", The Boston Globe, May 24, 2010.
- ↑ Susan Crabtree, "Sen. Kerry backs changing Constitution to deal with Supreme Court decision", The Hill, February 2, 2010.
- ↑ Robert Barnes, "Roberts Court rulings on campaign finance reveal shifting makeup, forceful role", Washington Post/Democracy 21, October 29, 2010.
- ↑ http://www.jedreport.com/2008/12/just-who-is-bradley-a-smith.html
- ↑ Jeanne Cummings, "Conservatives plot on campaign finance", Politico, August 12, 2008.
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, "Public Safety and Elections Task Force Meeting," agenda and meeting materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ Sean Parnell, Common Cause’s selective outrage, The Daily Caller, July 20, 2011
- ↑ Susan Crabtree, "Supreme Court won't hear challenge on campaign disclosure", The Campaign Legal Center, November 1, 2010.
- ↑ David A. Patten, "GOP Makes Last-Minute Bid to Derail 'Disclose' Act", NewsMax.com, June 14, 2010.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, "Support Center for Competitive Politics", Center for Competitive Politics website, accessed February 2009.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, "2006 IRS Return", Guidestar, August 2007, page 1.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, "2008 IRS Return", Guidestar.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, Media Matters, accessed November 2010.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics "Press Release" Center for Competitive Politics, May 3, 2010]
- ↑ Lee Feng, "Secretive Right-Wing Plutocrats Use Front Groups To Attack New Campaign Finance Disclosure Bill", Think Progress, May 1, 2010.
- ↑ MacCleery, Laura, "CCP Survey Debunker", Brennan Center for Justice website, accessed February 2009.
- ↑ Center for Competitive Politics, "CCP Staff", Center for Competitive Politics website, accessed February 2009.
- Craig Aaron, "Fairness Doctrine: Secret Republican Agenda Exposed!", The Huffington Post, January 8, 2009.
- Peter Overby, "In Congress, A Showdown Over Campaign Money", NPR, July 20, 2010.
- Dan Eggen, "Special-Interest Spending Surges in State Supreme Court Campaigns", Common Dreams/The Washington Post, August 16, 2010.
- Eric Lichtblau, "Long Battle of Foes of Campaign Finance Rules Shifts Landscape" New York Times, Oct. 15, 2010.