Election Law

Issues ››› Election Law
  • Discussing FEC confirmations, Wash. Post omitted that Bush withdrew nomination of chairman who questioned McCain loan

    ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

    In an article on five new FEC confirmations, The Washington Post did not note that President Bush withdrew the renomination of chairman David Mason, who has requested that Sen. John McCain assure the FEC he did not act improperly by signing a loan agreement that could have forced him to remain in the race -- even if he had no chance of winning -- in order to be eligible for public matching funds to repay the loan.

  • NY Times, ABCNews.com reported on McCain's loan, but not that its terms may mean McCain is breaking campaign finance laws

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Reporting on the $4 million loan Sen. John McCain's campaign obtained in November 2007, neither The New York Times nor ABCNews.com's Political Radar blog noted that the loan is at the center of a dispute between McCain's campaign and the FEC, whose chairman has cited the loan in taking the position that McCain cannot opt out of public financing in the primary without FEC approval.

  • Wash. Times' McCaslin misrepresented FEC spokesman, advisory opinions, to raise questions about Clinton's Elton John concert

    ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    In a column about an Elton John concert on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, The Washington Times' John McCaslin questioned whether the concert violates federal election law and wrote that FEC spokesman Bob Biersack "said he doesn't know whether the Elton John performance would be considered unlawful by FEC standards." While McCaslin later updated his column, he did not note that, according to the Clinton campaign, Biersack said: "I did not intend to convey ... that there is anything unlawful" about the concert. McCaslin also falsely asserted that a 1981 FEC advisory opinion "prohibited a foreign national artist from donating his services in connection with fundraising for a U.S. Senate campaign."

  • AP, WSJ left out FEC chairman's statement that McCain cannot withdraw from public financing system without FEC consent

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain "has decided not to accept the public matching funds," but that the Federal Election Commission "wants him to assure regulators that he did not use the promise of public money as collateral for [a] loan." The article did not mention that FEC Chairman David Mason has asserted that McCain cannot legally withdraw from the public finance system without FEC approval. Additionally, a Wall Street Journal article did not note that McCain may not be able to opt out of the public financing system.

  • Sacramento Bee uncritically reported GOP's claims about effects of CA ballot initiative

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    In reporting on a Republican-backed California ballot initiative that would award the state's electoral votes by congressional district, The Sacramento Bee stated that "Republicans behind the initiative said it would force presidential candidates to visit California more often and give more voters a voice in the presidential outcome." But the Bee did not note that there are only three congressional districts in California that Sen. John Kerry or President Bush carried by 5 percentage points or less during the 2004 presidential election; thus, if the initiative passed, campaigns would presumably have little incentive to "visit California more often," as the initiative's backers reportedly claimed. Moreover, California voters would have less influence on the outcome of elections, because voters would likely deliver fewer than the current 55 electoral votes to the winner.

  • LA Times article on CA ballot initiative omitted arguments against, ignored GOP affiliation of initiative's backers

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Los Angeles Times reported that supporters of a controversial Republican-backed California ballot initiative that would award the state's electoral votes by congressional district portray the proposal "as a way to make California's elections fair." But the article did not mention opponents' argument that the measure would not "make California's elections fair." Further, the article did not note that several of the key initiative supporters it named are prominent Republicans, or that the initiative was endorsed by the party's state convention.

  • NPR aired without challenging GOP misrepresentation of CA electoral college initiative's effect

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Reporting on a Republican-backed California ballot initiative that would award the state's electoral votes by congressional district, NPR correspondent Ina Jaffe aired an audio clip of Republican consultant Dave Gilliard, who asserted: "We want [presidential candidates] to come out here and actually campaign throughout California. We want them to go to the Central Valley, and Inland Empire, and the North Coast, and talk to Californians about what's important to California." In fact, California has only three congressional districts that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) or President Bush carried by 5 percentage points or less during the 2004 election, and thus, if the initiative passed, campaigns would presumably have little incentive "to come out here and actually campaign." Further, Jaffe's report did not note one of the major arguments made in opposition to the California initiative -- that it reapportions the electoral votes of only California, rather than applying a nationwide standard for the distribution of electoral votes.

  • California Fox affiliate misrepresented GOP's electoral-vote measure

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    On KTTV, Fox's Los Angeles affiliate, correspondent John Schwada reported that "there are several new plans to further boost the power of California voters," referring to separate Republican and Democratic ballot initiatives that would change the way the state's electoral votes are awarded. But Schwada did not explain how the Republican initiative to award votes by congressional district would "boost the power of California voters." Under the state's current winner-take-all system, California currently awards 55 electoral votes to its winner, far more than any other state. Under the GOP plan, the state would give far fewer electoral votes to its winner. This, by definition, reduces the power of California voters.

  • AP reported California GOP "endorsed" Electoral College measure, but not that top GOP lawyer initiated it

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    An Associated Press article on the California Republican Party state convention reported that "Republicans at the convention also endorsed a proposed ballot initiative to change the way the state awards electoral votes in presidential contests," but did not note that the initiative was originally proposed by a lawyer with deep ties to the state GOP or report any Democratic criticism of the proposed initiative.

  • On Fox News, "pro-reform" means favoring CA Republicans' electoral initiative, not Democrats'

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    On Fox News Live, correspondent Anita Vogel reported on a ballot initiative proposed by a Republican organization that would "divvy up" California's "55 coveted electoral votes to the winner of each congressional district, rather than the winner-take-all system currently in place." On-screen text during Vogel's report identified a spokesman for the GOP group as "pro-reform" and an opponent of the initiative as "anti-reform." However, the spokesman has criticized two other initiatives on California's electoral vote that have been proposed by Democrats.