Eric Holder’s Speech PolicePosted: March 10, 2015
Justice gears up to prosecute campaign ‘coordination.’
You know the 2016 election is heating up when the Justice Department announces it’s gearing up to prosecute campaign-finance “coordination” between candidates and outside groups. If you thought the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits was troubling, watch what Justice can do to criminalize political speech.
Justice said in a recent statement that it plans to “aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity.” That’s a warning for Republican candidates and the SuperPacs that support them. Note to major players: The federal government can subpoena your documents, email, computers and bank records in a political fishing expedition conducted by the FBI.
“A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.”
Under federal law, a campaign expenditure is illegally coordinated when it meets certain tests for content and conduct. The content of an ad must either advocate for a candidate or mention the candidate by name in the 60 days before a general election. The conduct amounts to illegal coordination if there is material involvement or substantial discussion between a SuperPac and a candidate regarding that election-related content.
“Ms. Lerner knows all about campaign “coordination,” having led a multiyear FEC coordination investigation into the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Ms. Lerner was pursuing a theory that the group had illegally coordinated its issue advocacy with candidates. That theory was rejected in federal court.”
A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.
“GOP campaigns better lawyer up because Mr. Pilger’s speech police are gunning for you.”
We’ve seen how this wrecking ball works in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker ’s conservative allies had their records seized and homes raided based on mere claims of coordination. Justice is now essentially giving itself sway to probe every Republican presidential campaign based on an accusation from some left-wing activist.
Justice is also elbowing into an area handled by the Federal Election Commission, which is responsible for civil campaign finance violations. The Justice Department traditionally handles knowing and willful violations of the law, a smaller subset of campaign offenses….(read more)
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