tv Political Campaigns Money and Ethics CSPAN November 29, 2015 1:05pm-2:21pm EST
and what it can do in agriculture, i think this is a problem that is solvable, but it is not solvable absent that quality of governance being there. announcer: former british prime minister tony blair and howard buffett, the brother of billionaire investor warren buffett, on world hunger. that is today at 6:30 p.m. eastern right here on c-span. the head of the federal election commission recently joined political strategisttwo to look at -- joined two political strategists. this is about 1 hour 10 minutes. >> ready? good evening and welcome to today's, meeting of the commonwealth club of california. theplace where you're in know. find the commonwealth club on
the internet at commonwealthclub.org, or download the club's apple and android app. hanson, executive director. a member of the silicon valley advisory board of the club, and your moderator for today's program. today, we are going to take an inside look at the way political campaigns really work, and in turn, the american political system. campaigns, of course, still seem to be all about the money. and donald trump's personal funds aside, most of that money needs to be raised from various interests. "the new york times" recently reported that to date 150 families have contributed $176
million to the republican and democratic presidential campaigns. at least $250,000 per family. what monetary rules govern campaigns? and how often are they broken? what walmart campaign finance campaign in the 2016 and beyond? in the big picture view, what is the thinking that governs political campaigns? and how does that impact the messages we receive and the candidates who ultimately emerge on top? today, you will need the government official who overseas the financing of federal elections, along with two longtime strategists from opposite sides of the aisle. they will share insights on the way political campaigns are actually run. and we will ask whether it is possible to be both ethical and
victorious. it is now my pleasure to introduce our panelists. ravel is the chair of the federal election commission, having been nominated by president obama and unanimously confirmed by the u.s. senate. she previously served as vice chair and commissioner starting in 2013. prior to her federal service, ms. ravel was chair of the california fair practices commission, where she oversaw the regulation of campaign finance, ethics, and conflicts of interest related to officeholders and public employees in california. before that, she was deputy assistant attorney general for consumer litigation in the united states department of justice. veteranh is a 30 year of states and national politics.
and has directed winning campaigns from district attorney to president. mr. smith's roster of democratic party client has included hillary clinton, dianne feinstein, barbara boxer, jerry brown, richard daley, and howard dean. in california, mr. smith successfully directed los angeles mayor antonio's underdog campaign and was instrumental in the election of san francisco district attorney kamala harris as california's attorney general. and san francisco mayor gavin newsom as california's lieutenant governor. he also ran san francisco mayor eddie lee's first campaign. times" has called him "legendary." it sounds like the end of your career rather than the beginning of it. mr. smith: i certainly can't run in the republican party. mr. hanson: ben ginsberg -- in
2004 election cycles, and played a central role in the 2000 florida recount. 2008, he served as national counsel to the romney for president campaign. he currently represents numerous political parties, individuals, and corporations specializing in election law issues. mr. ginsburg also serves as counsel to the republican governors association. he has been a guest lecturer at the stanford university law school, a fellow at harvard's institute for policy. before entering law school, mr. ginsburg spent five years as a journalist. please welcome all of our panelists. [applause]
mr. hanson: ms. ravel, what powers does the federal election commission have? and what does it mean to oversee federal elections? , i wasn't you know certain you're going to ask that question. i don't know if you have all seen "the house of cards," there is an actual part in it where the main character, frank underwood, is about to run for president. and there is concern by the members of his party about super pacs and the influence super
pacs have. and he said in response, "i'm not the fcc. i cannot wave a magic wand." and i just wanted to be known that the sec doesn't wave -- fcc doesn't wave magic want at all. basically, the fcc oversees campaign finance issues. it does not oversee campaigns generally or elections, even though that is in its title. what we are mainly concerned with is disclosure. it was established after watergate and the purpose of it was to restore trust in government because watergate was essentially a campaign finance issue, and there was a lot of sense of distrust and the
public. and it was necessary to have an agency that could both require disclosure and also enforce because previously to that there had not been any enforcement mechanism. mr. hanson: so what kind of issues come before the fcc? ms. ravel: there is a variety. give opinions to people who come before esther asked us about our regulations and the applicability of them and the law to something that they look to do. for example, we were asked to look at whether or not bitcoin could be used in campaigns. and how it fit-- in with the election laws that are required. we are also charged with the responsibility of issuing
regulations relating to new laws and campaign finance issues. for example, the only regulations that we were able to agree on during my tenure were regulations to implement certain aspects of citizens united, and the decision. and, of course, people can file complaints for violations. and it can range anywhere -- i can talk about is now because they are public, although we decide them in confidence -- there was an allegation despite the fact that he was in jail about jesse jackson and his use of campaign funds for his personal use and for purchasing make coats for his -- mink coats for his spouse. >> this is jesse jackson junior. ms. ravel: junior.
and we have a number of personal use kinds of issues. there are complaints about illegal court a nation because the supreme court has said that coordinateper to with independent groups. and the candidates. because that is a protection of the law so that there can be independent, truly independent expenditures. mr. hanson: let's get it on the table. you have been quoted, saying that the commission doesn't have much hope of doing its work during the 2016 election cycle split between-3 democrats and republicans. and republicans have been quoted as saying the role of the commission is not to enforce the
laws, which are implied, but to protect free speech in elections. who is right? ms. ravel: of course, i think i'm right. [laughter] there is no question about that. there is a lot of case law that says that the role of a regulatory and administrative agency is not to determine constitutionality of the law. my view is there are certain laws, the federal election campaign act, that we are sworn to uphold. decidinghat includes that certain campaigns, certain committees are required to disclose who their donors are so that there is no dark money in our elections. those are things that i think we are required to do. thaty view of this is
there is a statement that free speech needs to be upheld -- we certainly agree that the first amendment needs to be respected in so far as the supreme court, which is the arbiter of those issues, or other courts have so mandated in cases that are similar. mr. hanson: we are going to get to you, ben, so the republicans needn't be worried. [laughter] ace, you are a democratic campaign manager. can you help us understand what a campaign manager's job is and what you see as your role. mr. smith: sure. one of the biggest jobs is spending the money. [laughter] but before i start, let me say
one thing, which is that -- [indiscernible] -- is one of my heroes. a public official had the guts, in 2012, to actually enforce the laws in the waning days of the 2012 election, and go all the way to the california supreme court and take on the dark money and actually put it on the front pages of the newspapers of california so voters could fairly judge how money was influencing the election. and so i have to say you are a great example of how it works. [applause] mr. hanson: what do you do as a campaign manager? [laughter] was that a diversion? was that a debate trick? thinkith: i actually money is actually a little
overestimated in the sense that there is not a direct correlation to spending money and winning campaigns. win needs that when -- to have a certain amount of money. -- fornia such a big state and i think one of the real questions to ask in this context is what are the real purposes. , i pulled of curious out the book from 1974 when secretary of state jerry brown passed proposition nine. and one of the early political formats in the country. when you read through it, you read through the findings and declarations, and all the public ills that this is supposed to cure, every one of them, too
much money, too much influence, not enough reporting, not enough good people running for office -- they are all true today 40 some years later. the real question to ask is what has been the effect of these laws on all those very high-minded things that are things we should strive for? and are there other ways to do that? mr. hanson: ok. we are going to come back to talk more about that, but ben, can you tell us -- you have been at the center of much of presidential politics for the last 16 years. can you tell us what a council to a campaign really does? and what your role is? mr. ginsberg: first of all, thanks very much for having me. it is great to be back again -- amongst the republican base. [laughter] me hireho -- who hire me because they want to run legal and ethical campaigns. that is what an election lawyer
essentially does. and all campaigns, but especially presidential campaigns, are really like start up businesses in many ways. albeit in a heavily regulated environment. so there are the election laws, the laws involving how you get people out to vote, small business laws -- employment laws, contract disputes -- so it really is a broad, really marvelously diverse sort of a practice really at the heart of getting people who you believe in a lector to office. mr. hanson: so, is -- is there a sense amongst candidates that you deal with that all of these requirements for reporting and such are burdensome? or is there a sense that these are a part of running for office and satisfactory public's need to know? mr. ginsberg: i think they are
pretty much baked into the cake. ace raised a really good point, which is after this particular scheme of running elections since the 1970's, what have you achieved? is at achieving its purpose? doesn't get in the way of campaigns being able to reach the people? and you've got terrible turnout statistics. maybe 50% of the population turns out the vote. so it is not a system that is enhancing participation in any noticeable way. mr. hanson: and to what do you attribute that decline in people voting and, if you like, the lack of trust in the process? mr. ginsberg: i am not sure it is a lack of trust in the a processo much as that doesn't involve people enough. one of the impacts on limiting what candidates can raise and spend, yet having a robust first amendment that the supreme court
has enforced with back since 1976 and the first case to question the campaign finance laws, is really how do you run a campaign, as ace says, getting to talk to enough people, but also spreading out your base and getting people who are not intuitively involved in politics or enjoy politics to know what is going on and want to participate. in that sense, this is not a system you can point to and say it has helped. mr. hanson: let's come back to a fundamental question that we are so far of boarding, which is what is a good campaign? what is an ethical campaign? what is a campaign that fills the role that it should play jack of do you want to start with that -- play? do you want to start with that? ms. ravel: yes, and i would like to speak to what ben just said because what i see is campaigns
that are micro-targeting, tv or onn cable facebook, to actually only speak to people that they think are going to be likely voters for them, or people that they think are going to likely give them money. and so the campaigns themselves have limited the numbers of people that they are reaching out to. they have not try to expand the group of potentially disaffected voters. and i personally believe that the disaffection of the voters does not relate to the campaign finance laws, although we might agree that some of the laws don't enhance any trust. there is you know -- certainly a lot in jerry brown's prop nine that makes no sense,
as far as i'm concerned, in that regard. at the time, secretary of state. but nonetheless, the idea of having disclosure, having people behindrmed about who is campaigns, and the concern about the great deal of money that is being spent in super pacs, when it is only a small slice of the population that is giving that money, and the rest of the the 2014 election, there were 11% fewer individuals who contributed to campaigns. and many -- there was a whole lot more money spent. so it was, as the front page said yesterday, it is a very small group of extremely wealthy people who are now participating in campaigns.
but there doesn't seem to be an incentive, there doesn't seem to be a view. and i think it is an ethical question in some ways. that if you are looking at the longview and you are going to be up legislator or even an executive, wouldn't you want to include the majority of the american people and what their interests are? success is -- because this is a representative democracy. mr. hanson: so a good campaign is one that attracts a wide range of funders, as well as people paying attention to the message? ms. ravel: yes, because i think funders -- once they give, even if it is a small amount, they become more connected to the issues and to the candidates. mr. hanson: would you all agree, ben or ace? and how do you achieve more
participation via contributions than we have today with a focus on whether it is 150 or 250 families? i think the: question is more fundamental -- mr. smith: i think the question is more fundamental. the best is i read on the presidential race was written by a television critic of the "new as much as wehere may not love donald trump here in san francisco, he actually understands how the audience is and how to connect with folks in the world believe that -- in the world we live in an admittedly a chunk of the pie. but the critic compared the other campaigns to running the equivalent of at sullivan shows. and i think there is a lot of evils in politics, and i think a lot of them go back to other things -- the overuse of
polling, the belief that you are just going to figure out what people want to hear and just say it instead of actually taking stands and being controversial. so i think it is more fundamental. mr. hanson: do you think candidates show that tendency more frequently now of finding out what people want to hear? mr. smith: no question about it. something that i think will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually, but it is going to take -- it always takes systems a long time to correct the change. i think we are probably at the front end of that. mr. hanson: do you agree with that, ben? that candidates are -- you know -- speaking to their polling rather than speaking to their beliefs? mr. ginsberg: i think it is hard to generalize that. i think there is too much of that. if anything, the trump-carson-bernie sanders, there are people who are really not listening to their polls and
at least for now i haven't the most -- are having the most success. i think a good campaign is a campaign with a candidate knows what he or she stands for. articulate a message to do that. goes out and looks for people who will support those principled beliefs. campaignsf anything, do not rely on my crook targeting. what a good campaign will do is talk about the broad issues and the broad philosophies of the client. and use micro-targeting as a tool underneath that. the most successful micro-targeting is -- and that is sort of drilling down into people's characteristics -- but the most successful micro-targeting our people whose campaigns find voters who basically agree with the candidate kevin participated. expanding the electorate is the most prized gift a campaign
manager can ever give a candidate. and that is by philosophy and to message that excites people who don't normally get excited. got to face the money question head-on, and what its effect is on these developments lately. does the fact that super pacs are so much a part of the equation today, even to the standpoint where in reporting how much money candidates have raised, the press has been raisedg the campaigns and the independent committees, the super pacs, what they are raising. and that has been the prominence more often of these large givers. is that getting in the way of the broader participation? mr. ginsberg: i think what you described in the system is today is a system that is dysfunctional and upside down. the core of today's
campaign-finance system is to limit what candidates and political parties can raise. truth of the matter is super pacs, according to the supreme court, have a right to say what they want to say. when you limit the amount of money the candidates can raise, areaffect -- in effect you enhancing the value of what he super pa -- what a super pac brings. campaigns control the message and the debate, and not super pacs. then you don't limit candidates. and that makes super pacs sort of a less essential to the process. they have less space in which to operate. mr. hanson: so does that imply your policy prescription at this point is to take the caps off the individual campaigns, as well as the super pacs?
mr. ginsberg: you can't put limits on the super pacs, so what i would do is increase tremendously what candidates can raise themselves with the political parties and raise and spend on behalf of their political candidates so that it is the candidates who control the message and the way a campaign is taking place now. but i wouldn't limit super pacs. i don't think that is acceptable first amendment doctrine to -- doctrine. mr. hanson: comments from either of you? certainly, there have been complaints filed regarding coordination that if federal elections commission has not been able to undertake examination of. is that the issue we ought to be focusing on? ms. ravel: i think ultimately not. i have to disagree to some extent because i do think that the main concern is that because
people are relying -- candidates are relying -- on super pacs and wealthy individuals to fund their campaigns, not even related to polling or anything else or having a message, a lot of them seem to be -- appear to be getting their messages from super pacs because the people who are the big donors to those super pacs -- there have been a number of newspaper reports where they want to take a more active oral in determining what -- more active role in determining what the campaign policy is. takingon't think that off the cap for the candidates is going to ameliorate that problem. i totally agree it is a problem, but it is a problem that is of the supreme court's making. but taking off the cap is just
going to mean that the same thing is true for the candidates and the parties, and everyone will be beholden to the policy interests of a small group of people who have a lot of money, such as the ones whose houses were displayed on the front page of the "new york times" yesterday. and i don't have any problem with people having a lot of money and contribute into campaigns, but it needs to be more equal in the sense that candidates have the incentive to try to reach out to more people. mr. hanson: ace, is there any way out of this dilemma of the supreme court has spoken regarding super pacs, and now the money is flowing so freely? mr. smith: to borrow from yiddish, i think it is a shranda. it is something that is running campaigns. we had to deal with it and live
with it. i think one of the astonishing things i find is just the vast amount of money that gets wasted by super pacs and is used poorly because there isn't candidate control. so there does need to be a return to the equilibrium. i also think the other thing that is troubling about the whole move toward super pacs is that they get used as vehicles for all kinds of other things. you know, ultimately part of the problem is to some degree or another by having -- i actually think all the caps shouldn't be lifted, but i think there are two restrictive right now. and we have kind of said we are going to make beer and wine legal, and surprised when somebody else makes hard liquor. interesting,t was justice john paul stevens in his
book last year, one of his proposed 6th amendments would rivers basically the super pac decision, citizens united. what about so-called dark money? welfare organizations that have spent money on campaigns and do not have to report their donors? problem in terms of the credibility of elections and the ethics of elections? from each of your standpoint. mr. smith: i think it is a huge problem. i think it is a shame. one of the things that is odd about living in california is that in california we actually have all three species of campaign systems. we have the -- kind of the federal system, which is restricting of contributions and types of contributions. you have some ultra-orthodox
municipal elections, where there is actual ceilings in the amount of money can spend. .nd there are matching funds and that we have the initiative system, which is literally the wild west. you can raise any amount of money, all you have to do is report it. areink as long as there truthful reporting and people can figure out where the money is coming from and how much money is being spent, i think voters are very smart. in california, as everyone knows, we have a history as a stage going back decades of not electing self funders because voters are very, very aware of money and politics and will base their decisions upon that. ben, the whole issue of welfare organizations spending a lot of money, i don't
know whether you have clients who were in this space, but to what extent from your analysis of elections and the fairness of elections -- is that a problem? or is that not? mr. ginsberg: i think if you are talking about providing information to voters, then the social welfare organizations on both the left and the right provide a service and a function, in terms of hitting out more information than there would be without them. back to think it goes the system of limiting candidates. that if you allow candidates to have sufficient funds to air all their messages, then there simply becomes less of a need for social welfare organizations to do what they are doing or super pacs to do what they are doing. so the kind of system we have had in place since the early 1970's has really created the problem of both dark money, soft
money, social welfare organizations, whatever terms you want to use, and super pacs. mr. hanson: let me just at this point for the benefit of the radio audience say that you are listening to the commonwealth club of california program. we are discussing the intersection of political campaigns, money, and ethics. and ultimately the future of politics in the united states. ravel,elists are ann chair of the federal election commission, ace smith, a strategist whose inclines has included hillary clinton and dianne feinstein, and benjamin ginsberg, a republican strategist, who was national strategist to mitt romney's campaign in 2008 and the bush-cheney campaign's of 2000 and 2004. , andprofessor kirk hanson
the program moderator. you will also find video of the commonwealth club programs online at the club's youtube channel. we are going to go in a moment to the questions -- lots of good questions -- that you have already submitted, but there is at least two other areas which people who debate the ethics of campaigns have raised. not just the money issues that you all have raised here, but they are the issues of redistricting and gerrymandering, and the manipulation that may have gone on there and what party or another, and the politics of voter access, be it the number of hours a poll is open or, here in california now, you are automatically registered the moment to apply for a driver's license. as of yesterday, when governor
brown signed that provision. are those important dimensions in your estimations to fair election campaigns? ann? my ravel: it is not within area, with regards to redistricting, so i think i will pass on that one. but the issue of voter access, i think, is important. but to follow up on something said,s said, -- that ace which i think is true, the real issue, in california anyway -- this is a true nationwide because, obviously, we know there are states that are trying to prohibit people from being able to vote, and that is -- is seriously problematic, but i think in california for the most
part, the issue that is more important is trying to get the message out to those people who are not now voting in a -- in a seriously low numbers that they are voting, particularly in california, but all over the country. i think it is the lowest number of people voting since world war ii. and somehow, we need to -- the candidates need to -- talk to the public about things that are important to them and figure to ways to reach individuals get them to understand how important it is to participate in our political system. mr. smith: i am not sure i have the answer to how you would change her, but i would make one observation, which is that it is can a fascinating if you look at turnout in elections. what has happened is that the -- it will be very high during a
presidential general and even presidential primary, then you ine these deep, deep dips turnout in the elections in between. we miss a elections and other statewide elections. my only personal theory, which i attribute to is that the consumption news i think has changed fundamentally, and the consumption of news which used to be based upon reading newspapers, which were kind of largely locally-based news, made up the bottom of your news pyramid it -- say, 20 years ago -- and the top of your news pyramid was national and international news. i think we have moved to a news consumption society where it is quite flipped. and the local issues are seen as rather miniscule and are the top of the pyramid. i don't know how we change it. and my personal believe is that what we need to do is
consolidate elections much more. we need to move these municipal and state what elections to presidential elections, where we know there is going to be high turnout, and really kind of go with what we know -- you know -- a pattern that is historic and we know will be there. i think that is probably the best solution. mr. hanson: these two areas, ben, either voter access or the others? mr. ginsberg: well, on redistricting, i was council at the republican national committee in the 1990's, and we bought a family dog about that time and nature gerrymander. [laughter] look, redistricting has been described as a source of polarization in the country and in sort of rigging districts. it is hard to make the argument that the senate of the united
states is a less polarized place than the u.s. house. there is no redistricting in the u.s. senate. there is in the house. wonident obama, when he election, 136 of the 39 largest metropolitan areas. and the rest of the country, mitt romney one. -- won. that is a polarized country in which redistricting and gerrymandering has nothing to do with that. so i think that the evil of gerrymandering and redistricting is somewhat overblown. on ballot access, i had the honor of cochairing the presidential commission on election administration with bob bauer, an excellent lawyer in washington and represented president obama's campaign. so we looked carefully at the issues of access to polling places. every legally qualified voter should not have any obstacles in his or her way when they go to
vote. and that is pretty plain and simple. and so the details of that and the problems that occur tend to be very locally oriented. california, for example, has some great solutions to allowing people every opportunity to vote. i think that if you look at the country in the different mechanisms that states have, a election administrators on the local state level to everything they can to allow people to vote without barriers. the problem really goes back to the question we were discussing earlier about why are so many individuals not turning out to vote, but i don't think it is barriers that get put in their way. mr. hanson: let me go to the questions now. and there is some pushback around the question of independent activities in the super pacs.
just asking whether that is even possible to have the kind of money we haven't super pacs are not have acquitted and aided in some way, explicitly not implicitly, with the campaigns. mr. ginsberg: i made it is sort of an interesting -- i mean it is sort of an interesting question in the way that it is phrased. if you shutdown the free press any-- there wouldn't be implicit quite a nation between outside groups and campaigns. but so much today in the environment in which we are in which there is so much public information and so much is written that if a campaign puts on its website "we think it is important to talk about taxes this week," a super pac is going to read it. do you want to shut down the federal communications
requirements that all television be available online where a campaign is advertising or where a super pac is advertising? that is something that got put in as additional disclosure. a super pac can read -- a super pac can read what a campaign is doing, and a campaign can read what a super pac is doing. ms. ravel: however -- [laughter] i actually agree with a small portion of what is going on in the super pacs that ben talked about, but what we are now seeing in the 2016 elections i go are super pacs that are called buddy pacs, pacs that are associated or only contributing to a particular candidate. arein some cases, they
using videos, they are appearing at campaign functions and doing almost the entire job of the campaign. they are -- you know -- making other communications with reporters relating to the campaign. they are doing a lot of things that go beyond what you -- what ben was talking about. i'm not saying that that is necessarily quite a nation under the law, but you have to remember that the reason that there are laws relating to court a nation with candidates is that the supreme court said there is no danger with program will -- p roquo corruption with a super pac interacting with a candidate if they are truly independent. but if there is any quite a nation between them, then certainly -- if there is any
coordination between them, then certainly there is the appearance. mr. ginsberg: the federal election commission hasn't updated the coordination regs fo r, what, 20 years? ms. ravel: that is correct. mr. ginsberg: so you can't take the position that somebody is violating the law when the law doesn't cover the position. even if you believe the law should cover it, it doesn't now. wasndly, and i know this considered by you, but if you are going to say that the federal election commission is dysfunctional, then the -- the effect of that is to tell super pacs all across the spectrum that nothing is going to happen if you push the envelope on laws that are 20 years old. so this is kind of a situation of your own creation in a lot of
ways. ms. ravel: can i respond to that? mr. ginsberg: certainly you should. [laughter] ms. ravel: ok. you are a washington, d.c. lawyer, and every washington, d.c. lawyer that i have ever spoken to about this issue knew full well many years prior to my being on the fcc that it is dysfunctional, and that generally on matters of significance, and deadlocks. -- it deadlocks. and people have told me that clients, candidates, have been advised that time by election risk in "there is no pushing the envelope because the fcc will always deadlock 3-3." so that is not come from me, although i said it on the front page of the "new york times,"
but it has certainly been known for a long time. it is not new. mr. ginsberg: but yet somebody got sent to jail for illegal quite a nation this year. ms. ravel: it is from the department of justice. mr. ginsberg: well, from the department of justice, but nonetheless there is a law out there that does cover some situations. just not the ones you described. [laughter] a couple of people have raised the counter case to what we have talked about, which is obama's success in raising so much money in his reelection campaign, and attracting so many small donors. is that a counter example that disproves the concern that you all have expressed about if you times", or the "new york has expressed? mr. smith: no, because that is a phenomenon that happens in only presidential campaigns and only
with extraordinary candidates. you probably could put howard , but obama, sanders now that never happens in any other type of campaign anywhere in america except for some may be very isolated examples of incredibly hot issues. but it is a once in a decade thing. mr. hanson: so that raises the question -- we have been talking so much about presidential politics, but as a's weighted outcome of that is just one of many types of races we will be voting on next year. as the federal elections commission concerned as much with the senatorial races and the house races and so on? and should we be more word about the potential dominance by a small number of donors? have oversighto over all federal offices, so that includes congress.
i don't think there is a concern about small donors. i mean, at all. in fact, from my own perspective, i -- i am not obviously a campaign consultant, so it is interesting to hear the views about how difficult it is even in those campaigns to be able to entice small donors. and i know a lot of cities and states, too, have done some sort of matching funding. connecticut has done it. arizona used to have it. janet told me that was the reason she ran for governor in arizona -- was because they had a system to encourage and to help do some matching funding and allow for small donors. so that is a positive. the federal election commission
oversees the presidential public financing, which is only used by third-party candidates. since obama. mr. hanson: i think -- mr. ginsberg: i think there is good news and bad news with small donors. the good news is that the new technologies and the internet and being able to -- to talk to people online, to be able to send e-mails is a much less expensive way to raise small dollars. so there are more and more campaigns, i think even on the congressional and senate level, where candidates have struck a positive chord and got a ton of small donations in. the bad news is that the messaging required to get those small donations tends to be polarizing messaging. so, yeah, you are going to get more people involved with small dollar donations, but the rhetoric needed to bring in
those small dollar donors has tended to be more heated. mr. hanson: it is -- mr. smith: it is also hugely expensive, or to get past the presidential level, to create a broad -- mr. ginsberg: i think the lists are getting better and better. i think it is still cheaper than sending mail, isn't it jack of -- isn't it? mr. smith: it is. mr. hanson: we do have a number of questions about the effect of technology. ms. ravel: and that is what i wanted to raise, actually, because i think that technology may be a solution to the money in politics issue just entirely because there are a number of tech companies now, sort of democracy technology companies, and they are trying their mechanisms of bringing in support for candidates, whether it be presidential or local, that doesn't involve
contributions. that actually involves kind of commitments to candidates and hopefully getting sufficient commitments so that it totally upends the campaign finance requirements at all. which is possibly the future. optimistic are you about that future? ms. ravel: i am optimistic about it. i think it is really good to try to get -- and i think you are right that small donors now tend to be more polarized because of the ways, the mechanisms that are being used to go after the small donors, but i still go back to believing that a lot of attempt is not made to go after the disaffected, the ones who haven't made up their minds and perhaps the winter needs to be encouraged to vote. mr. hanson: it is often said that we are guilty in silicon valley and the bay area with
feeling that we are going to be saved by technology on absolutely everything. i can now add politics to that list. ms. ravel: absolutely. mr. hanson: in the interim while we are waiting to be saved by technology, there are several questions are about what structural reforms -- here about what structural reforms ought to be undertaken in the short run it do you have -- short run. do you have particular reforms? ms. ravel: i personally believe that the problem at the fcc, and a lot of people have said, well, it is because there are six members, not more than three of them may be of one political party, and it requires four .otes to do anything and as a result, it often deadlocks. but i don't have a problem with that structure at all. i can understand it very well
why congress decided that it should be that way. so that one party could not be used to go after another candidate of another party for reasons that are improper. but i think the problem is with the way that the commissioners are selected. while they are all presidential employees -- appointees, they are essentially, for the most part, selected by the majority or minority leader of the senate. and it would be so much better, i believe, if they were selected by some, you know, advisory group that would make recommendations to the president of people who would be difficult for the senate not to confirm. mr. hanson: would the two of you support that kind of a reform echo or do you -- reform? or do you have your own reforms for the fcc?
mr. smith: i would say if you change the structure of certain aspects of elections, you actually probably impact the spending and all those aspects. if you move all of the statewide elections to presidential election years, i think you would have built in a broader, larger audience that you will not have to get out the vote. the other thing that i found intriguing and this is a little utopian, in oakland, they have ranked choice voting and i've become a big fan and i will wi. mayor's race, everyone had a limit of $400,000. everyone had the same table
stakes. but the more profound impact was in a ranked choice vote disadvantaged are tremendously if you try to do targeting. to win, you have to reach as money people as possible with a broad message because you have to get second and third place votes and so it incentivize is a more honest campaign and disincentive negative campaigning because if you go negative, you will hurt your own standing tremendously. you will -- there's actual campaign finance reforms that have a huge impact.
it would impact the structure of spending and enforcement and all of that because it would just change the way it is done. thehanges structurally to fec? come at this from a fundamentally different direction. this is corps protected first amendment speech we are talking about. a lot of the problems we are talking about have been attempts to overrate that first amendment speech so that many of the rules and regulations lead to these odd results. i would go back and have a good time going through the red book and making this much more about candidates being able to control the messaging that they do.
it reduces the necessity of outside voices because the campaigns are well enough funded and not try to overrate this area where we should be dealing in a marketplace of ideas and competing ideas. there is such a difference in the threee on republicans and democrats on the there are several questions saying is it possible .o have a bipartisan solution could we have a mccain-feingold initiative in the future? are we inevitably going to be dead in the water because of the polarization? isther any kind of movement ?ossible currently
>> i think the answer to that is yes. i think there are practitioners across the aisle who agree that what mccain feingold did in terms of restrict the ability of medical parties has had a negative effect overall. most of mccain-feingold has been and,k down by the courts with the exception of the restrictions on political parties and federalizing what get can do, i think you can some agreement across the aisle to strengthen the role of parties which in turn strengthens the ability of candidates to get out their message. i do think there can be some movement in that area. >> i am an optimist on this question and not because i believe we can kind of engineer or reengineer the laws. i don't think that will have much effect. i am an optimist because paul green thinks [indiscernible] and the truth of the matter is when you look at the california
electorates moving, it is with the independent voters. they tend to be younger, less polarized and very much more open-minded. i think that is a generation coming-of-age in this country and not just in california, but it just happened happen here first. it is coming to age which does not feel the necessity of placing themselves on the tapestry of social networks through political parties. i think that will definitely be what transforms the polarized place we live in today. ann: i agree on the fact that all innovation occurs in california than that there is a lot of hope to work across party lines in california. definitely.
it is also true that nationwide, more voters are independent and identify as independent perry that is certainly going to change the dynamic as to go forward. i think with respect to the federal election commission and the rules, i personally agree that parties should be siphoned. i do not have a problem looking at the rules related to mccain-feingold, but the question more for me is, is their willingness on the part of the republicans also -- to also look at the importance of regulation this arena? because no question, there are implications -- free speech implications, but the american public also deserves integrity
in their elections. they deserve that there is not just a free-for-all of spending, whether be from both parties or candidates or super pac's, and there needs to be robust disclosure. i think that that is the crux of the problem because i am not sure, at least in my conversations in washington, it is true here in california that republicans and democrats have voted in legislature in california to increase disclosure, but that would not be the case for washington. >> we are going to be saved by technology and youth? ann: and by california. [laughter] >> there are two questions at the questions about -- two questions or the questions about campaign in general.
ace, you're in the last day of the campaign and a piece comes out from your component that says things that are false about you. your temptation is to do something more than simply say it is false, but you use some things you have been saving. can the typical campaign resist the temptation use the most -- to use the most damaging things you have about the opponent in the last days? ace: i think if there is something truly damaging about an opponent, it will come up in the press. >> you would have used it much earlier? ace: i would pick up my newspaper and read about it and maybe reiterate what had been set, but that is the truth of it all. we can watch too many "games of
thrones" and "house of cards" and that is not how it works. >> are there more false statements many campaigns today than when you begin your career as a campaign manager? ace: far fewer. not to talk about the crazy stuff that and supply the internet, that is different, but because i actually think in the world we live in, there is more accountability for that stuff. there is always examples that you can point to that disproves that, but i think by and large and i can go into examples, but some of the nastiest things i have seen is stuff i dug up when i looked around at things that happened in the 1940's, 1950's, 962's -- 1960's, much nastier than today. >> and john adams did pretty well as well. as a final question, let me just pause, 10 years ago, we have
restored some of the bipartisan and trust. can you explain how this youth plus internet scenario might have developed? each of you, a brief comment about what will lead us to the promised land for leaders to greater confidence in our elections. >> i believe incumbents today are going to get really fed up with the current system and the inability to control the own message. across the aisle, and come bins sitting in congress and the legislatures will decide forge a more sensible system. >> cooperation by the incumbents. ace: i think there are two things interesting happening. one is if really pay increasing
ability for the candidates to get over poll tested and nonsensical floaters and not -- stuff of voters and nonvoters looking for something different, i think that will change. and what i prefer to earlier is about the independent voters changing the balance. ann: i think that if you look at polling, there was a cbs and new york times poll about one month ago, and they said 80% of the american public are upset about the money and politics. they are upset that it appears that only the wealthiest are making all of the policy decisions by their associations candidates, and those kinds -- and this is republicans and democrats, it is the
across-the-board tash and i think that -- connecting that that sense in the american populace is going to militate for change. >> i want to thank our panelists for the precipitation -- for their participation in our discussion today. [laughter] our panelists have been the chair of the federal election commission, veteran campaign strategist ace smith and ben ginsberg, and we also want to thank our audiences here at the commonwealth club, on radio, television, and internet. i am professor kirk sampson from
santa clara university's center for applied ethics, and now this meeting of the commonwealth club of california, the place where you are in the know, is adjourned. [laughter] -- [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
the republican presidential candidates were on the sunday talk shows this morning. among the topics talk about where u.s. strategy for combating isis. here is some of what they had to say. >> what i would really like to see is an administration that really seriously sits down with our experts in that region and would ask them what is needed in order to accomplish our goal of eliminating this group of terrorists? that's what i would really like to see. >> -- >> those of us who are not experts in that area can sit around all day long talking
about we should do this and we should do that? to the't we listen people who are expert in that area and then our decision should be do we really want to give them what they need or do we want to continue playing around? >> i think we should proceed on moving forward with a no-fly zone and putting boots in the ground with a coalition of europeans and our friends in the first call for to destroy isis once and for all. >> you have called for boots on the ground before. you must more specifics. >> i'm not talking about an occupying force. i'm talking about a coalition that looks like the coalition we had the first of war. would involve our friends in the middle east and our nato allies. it -- we are not going to solve this problem with isis by
delaying or dithering, which is what we have done. zone, creating a safe zone in syria, rearming the triadin iraq and sunni leaders, have our troops be embedded with the iraqi military. all of this needs to be a strategy, not a one-off, incremental decision made by a president who wants to run out the clock. the strategy odd to be how do we inate political stability the aftermath? we have neither. >> it is delusional for president obama and hillary clinton and everyone else to say climate change is our near-term security threat. it is isis followed closely by iran and perhaps russia. president obama continues to think somehow our behavior causes terrorism, so he says the climate change summit is a
powerful rebuke. the terrorists don't care we are gathering in terrorists -- gathering in paris other than it provides a target. we don't think syrian refugees should be allowed to enter this country if we cannot that them. president obama is delusional about this and is delusional about the threat. >> we will hear from the democratic presidential candidates later today. hillary clinton, bernie sanders and martin o'malley all speak today at 9:35 tonight here on c-span. the washington center hosted for members of the white house press corps to talk about covering the presidency. they spoke about the relationship between the obama administration and the press corps and took questions from the audience of college students. this is one hour and 15 minutes.
>> good morning everyone. i'm going to have a couple of quick announcements and that we are going to have a short pause for the cameras to pick up and then kevin nunley will introduce our moderator this morning. and welcome.n i visited director of academic affairs here at the washington center and it's my great pleasure to welcome you to the second conversation in the fall 2015 leadership series. this afternoon, you will have a chance to learn about how citizens can make a difference in issues they care about. thehe conclusion of conversation, we will share some this year'sing
conversations. you have come from all around the world and we have a panel of professionals today that we could only put together here in .ashington, d c they are the folks who get to write the first draft of history. this is a good opportunity to think about the issues that you care about and the issues you want to make a near future pathways of achievement. introduce us in just a moment is our vice president of student affairs, mr. kevin nunley. [applause] >> good morning everyone. it is my pleasure to welcome our moderator, miss christi parsons.