In The Wall Street Journal: Campaign-Finance Laws Created Candidate Bloomberg: They Don’t Level The Field; They Tilt It To The Advantage Of Billionaires, Especially If They Own Media Firms

Brad Smith and I have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the harm created by campaign finance laws. Since campaign finance laws carry criminal penalties, they are something that interests the Crime Prevention Research Center. The laws create a very uneven playing field, with a very wealthy person such as Michael Bloomberg particularly advantaged. But Bloomberg is also benefited and able to influence the election in other ways because he owns a large media company.
Here is their article:
In the entire 2016 campaign cycle, corporations spent less than $300 million on federal races, less than 5% of total spending. Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already spent more than $360 million on cable, broadcast and radio advertisements since declaring his candidacy in mid-November. That doesn’t include Mr. Bloomberg’s spending on staff, office space, logistics and internet advertising. Overturning Citizens United wouldn’t touch that money.
“It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent typifies liberal angst with the claim that Mr. Bloomberg’s spending “threatens to constitute a moral and political disaster.”
Whether Mr. Bloomberg’s ad barrage translates to more than a brief blip in the polls remains to be seen—he was savaged by his rivals in his first debate.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s ad campaign is likely to help the eventual Democratic nominee, whether it is Mr. Bloomberg or someone else. Many of his ads directly attack President Trump. Since Mr. Bloomberg is a candidate, federal law mandates that he get the lowest unit ad rate. If Mr. Bloomberg used the same money to fund a super PAC, it would have to pay market rates. Thus being a candidate wins Mr. Bloomberg an advantage in softening up Mr. Trump for the Democratic nominee. At the same time, super PACs backing other candidates have to pay far more for their ads than Mr. Bloomberg does, while their campaigns are subject to strict limits on the size of contributions they can receive. The former mayor doesn’t need contributions.
But all this misses an even bigger elephant in the room: Bloomberg Media, which Mr. Bloomberg owns. Federal law exempts the institutional press from campaign finance restrictions, allowing media corporations to coordinate their spending with campaigns—which is illegal for other corporations—and to avoid burdensome reporting requirements, all the while spending what they want to elect their favored candidates. Favorable media coverage—or hostile coverage of an opponent—is invaluable.
A media corporation owned or controlled by a candidate is excluded from the exemption unless its coverage is part of “a general pattern of campaign-related news” that gives “reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates.” But unless and until they are formally nominated, Mr. Bloomberg and President Trump are not, under the law, considered “opposing candidates.” The law holds that until then, Mr. Bloomberg is competing only with other Democrats for the nomination. So for now, Bloomberg News is free to trash the president and his policies all it wants.
Thus, attacking the president and sparing his Democratic rivals is the official policy of Bloomberg News and its 2,700 reporters. Bloomberg’s editor in chief has written, “We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike . . . and we will extend the same policy to his [Democratic] rivals.” But it “will continue to investigate the Trump administration.”
Even if Mr. Bloomberg becomes the Democratic nominee, there is no way to prevent Bloomberg News from shaping its coverage of the economy and current events to help its owner’s candidacy or harm the president’s. For example, despite the strong economy, on a recent weekend Bloomberg News headlines included: “In Hot U.S. Jobs Market, Half of College Grads Are Missing Out,” “All the Ways Stock Market Bulls Have Gone Off the Rails. Again,” and “China Trade War Walloped More Than Half of U.S. States in 2019.”
Wage growth has been strong, and those with lower incomes have seen the largest percentage increases. But this decline in income inequality is no reason to celebrate at Bloomberg News, which frets, “In recent years, while high-school graduates have seen a sharp pickup in earnings, the lower-earning half of college graduates haven’t—and the gap between them is now the smallest in 15 years.” 
Bloomberg News also runs regular over-the-top opinion pieces criticizing Mr. Trump, with headlines such as: “An Unrestrained Trump May End Up Trapping Himself,” “Trump Is Already Making Stuff Up About Voter Fraud,” and “Trump’s Tariffs Haven’t Rescued American Steel.” Again, all from a single weekend.
The value of these stories to Democrats in general, and to Mr. Bloomberg in particular, almost certainly exceeds Mr. Bloomberg’s advertising expenditures. But there is no way that the government could or should police Bloomberg News’s content for political bias.
Further, Bloomberg News’s headlines and stories are not substantially different from those one finds in the Washington Post (owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos), the New York Times(which is controlled by the Sulzberger family and for several years counted Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim as its largest shareholder), or most other traditional news outlets. Meanwhile, candidates operate under strict limits on contributions, making it difficult to counteract the influence of magnates with newspapers.
The whole saga illustrates the impossibility of putting government in control of campaign speech, and the unfairness that results from trying. Campaign finance laws don’t equalize political influence—they give an advantage to some of the richest and most powerful men in America. 
Congressional Democrats have busied themselves with proposing constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United. That’s small beer. If Democrats want to make campaigns “equal,” they’ll have to repeal the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedom. I doubt they want to go that far. 
Mr. Smith served as chairman of the Federal Election Commission, 2001-05, and is chairman of the Institute for Free Speech. Mr. Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.


Just call him Mayor Ban, Michael Bloomberg's list of bans while he was mayor

CNS News has put together a list of 32 bans imposed by Michael Bloomberg when he was mayor.

  1. Smoking in commercial establishments like bars and restaurants (2003)
  2. Smoking in public spaces (2011)
  3. Cigarette sales to those under 21 (2013)
  4. Sales of "flavored" tobacco products (2009)
  5. Smoking e-cigarettes in public spaces (2013) ***
  6. Cigarette in-store displays (2013)
  7. Cars in Times Square (2009)
  8. Cars from driving in newly created bike lanes (2007-2013)
  9. Cars causing congestion below 60th Street in Manhattan (2007)*
  10. Speeding on residential "slow zones" (2013)
  11. Illegal guns (2006-2013) **
  12. Sodium levels in processed foods (2010) **
  13. Trans-fats in restaurants (2006)
  14. Loud headphones (2013) **
  15. Styrofoam packaging in single-service food items(2013)
  16. Sodas larger than 16 ounces (2012) *
  17. Collection of yard waste and grass clippings during certain times of year (2003-2013)
  18. Organic food waste from landfills (2013) **
  19. Commercial music over 45 decibels (2013)
  20. Chain restaurant menus without calorie counts(2008)
  21. The posting of signs in "city-owned grassy areas"(2013)
  22. Non-fuel-efficient cabs (2007)
  23. New cabs that aren't Nissan NV200s (2013) *
  24. Greenhouse gas emissions (2007)
  25. Government buildings that aren't LEED-certified(2005)
  26. Non-hurricane-proof buildings in coastal areas(2013)
  27. Black roofs (2009) **
  28. Construction cranes over 25 years old (2013)
  29. No. 6 and No. 4 "heavy" heating oils (2011)
  30. Less than a 2-1 ratio of female and male restrooms in new public buildings (2005)
  31. Cell phones in schools (2006)
  32. Two-term limits for city elected officials (2008) *
* Overruled/appealed ban
** Suggested/voluntary ban
*** Proposed/pending ban



Some cases of violence against Republicans

We will add more cases as we have time to find them. With comments such as this by Debbie Wasserman Schultz last October, it isn't too surprising that there is violence against Republicans.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ to KEN CUCCINELLI: "you want to block all immigration and made life harder for immigrants and you have demonstrated that you will pursue this heinous white supremacist ideology at all costs even if it means making critically ill children your collateral damage in the process."

1) Chicago Tribune, February 21, 2020: "Hobart couple accused of driving boys off the road for having Trump flags on their bikes: court documents"

A Hobart couple has been charged with intimidation and criminal recklessness after being accused of driving a set of twins off the road in July for having pro-Trump flags on their bikes.   
Kyren G. Perry-Jones, 23, and Cailyn M. Smith, 18, have each been charged with two counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness, both felony charges, as well as one count each of misdemeanor theft and criminal mischief in the July 22 incident, according to a probable cause affidavit. Charges were filed Feb. 20 because detectives were waiting information from Snapchat, a social media platform.
2) Union Leader (NH), February 21, 2020 
A man has been arrested in Windham, New Hampshire, after slapping a 15-year-old boy across the face and attacking two others on the day of the state primary for supporting our president, leaving one victim with a fractured jaw. The disgusting man did so, shouting “F- — you,” as he passed their pro-Trump tent outside a local polling place. According to the boy’s mother, he remains traumatized by the attack. . . .
3) WSMV News Channel 4 Nashville, February 11, 2020: Woman punches man in Broadway bar over MAGA-style birthday hat
. . . Daniel Sprague was at The Stage bar on Broadway sporting a gift his wife gave him for his 50th birthday bash—a hat that says "Make 50 Great Again." The hat is styled to look like a "Make America Great Again" hat that supporters of President Donald Trump wear.  "People were just coming up to me and, you know, just loving the little word play on the hat and taking pictures and wishing me happy birthday," Sprague told News4.  However, one woman at the bar was not as amused.  "At one point," Sprague said, "A female came up from behind me, spun me around, and punched me in the face and then grabbed my hat off my head and was just yelling, 'How dare you.'" . . .
4) News 4 Jacksonville, Florida, February 8, 2020: Man accused of driving through Republican voter registration tent arrested
Hours after a van plowed through a Republican Party tent where volunteers were registering voters, Jacksonville police arrested a 27-year-old man on two counts of aggravated assault on a person over 65 years old, criminal mischief and driving without a license.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified Gregory William Loel Timm as the person behind the wheel of the van that struck the tent set up the parking lot of a Walmart Superstore at the corner of Atlantic and Kernan boulevards about 3:50 p.m. Saturday.
5) AP, October 15, 2018: Suspicious envelope causes ricin scare at Sen. Collins’ home
A hazardous materials team was dispatched to the home of Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Monday after her husband received a letter with a note saying the envelope contained ricin.  The FBI said preliminary tests on the letter and its contents indicated that there was no threat to the public, and the senator and her husband were allowed to stay in the home Monday night.  It was unclear who sent the letter and why. But critics have hurled threats at Collins and her staff over her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
6) KMSP, October 16, 2018: Two Minnesota GOP candidates say they were attacked, punched
In a sign of how heated the fall campaign has become, two Minnesota Republicans say they were attacked and punched in separate incidents over the weekend.  State Representative Sarah Anderson of Plymouth said she had confronted a man for kicking her campaign sign when he charged at her. First-time candidate Shane Mekeland of Becker said he suffered a concussion after a man punched him in the face at a Benton County restaurant.  

7) Wyoming Tribune Eagle, October 25, 2018: Man charged with Republican headquarters fire in Laramie

LARAMIE – A man was charged by federal prosecutors Tuesday for the apparent act of arson at Laramie’s downtown Republican headquarters in September.  Keller Sorber was charge after an investigation that hinged on DNA testing and an undercover operation. . . .
8) Of course, there are uncomfortable cases against Sarah Sanders and Ted Cruz.

Other cases available here.

There are other cases of people threatening violence.

February 2020: Here is a case from Arizona State University of a student who threatened to "slash Republican throats."