Governor rejects four New Hampshire political reform measures
Political reform advocates in New Hampshire hit a wall last week when Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed four election transparency bills.
All moved smoothly through the Democrat-controlled legislature, although only one of the vetoed bills cleared with bipartisan support.
Sununu did sign one minor campaign finance bill backed by Republicans in Concord; it will set limits on giving to elected state officials' inaugural committees and compel such groups to disclose more about their spending.
The four rejected measures would have:
- Prevented doctors, attorneys and other principals of limited liability companies from evading campaign donation limits by making their donations in the names of their LLCs. The governor said changing the current law, which permits these people to donate as individuals and anonymously as business proprietors, would have infringed on their speech rights.
- Expanded the definition of a political advocacy organization, which would have subjected more of them to disclose their election spending activity. This was the measure that got GOP votes, but Sununu said it too would have restricted free speech.
- Called on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment allowing campaign finance restrictions, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's ruling creating wide latitude for money in politics under the First Amendment. New Hampshire would have been the 20th state calling for a so-called 28th Amendment.
- Allowed the limited release of personal voter information in cases alleging the infringement of voting rights.
The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."
Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.
Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.
The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.
A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.
Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.