Guarantee incumbent reelection act in Iowa

I thought this may be something from the Onion until I found the text of the bill online at the Iowa General Assembly Web site. A Republican and a Democrat in the House teamed up to put a bill together ensuring campaign literature would not include caricatures of the target candidate.

But that’s not all. Iowa representatives Richard Anderson (R) and Mary Mascher (D) introduced HF 229, an act “prohibiting the distribution of campaign material without the consent of the candidate benefiting from that material, restricting the content of certain types of campaign material, and providing remedies and a penalty”.

In a nutshell, from Section 1…

The general assembly declares that a compelling state interest exists in regulating the generation or distribution of campaign material that has not been approved by the candidate who would benefit from that campaign material, in order to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the electoral process.

What this means is that political action committees or other groups – like the National Rifle Association or the National Education Association – can not release advertising that “attacks” a candidate without prior written authorization from the candidate (or candidates?) who would benefit from such advertising.

Benefit? What are they kidding? What if the public learns something new about a candidate? Here is some additional text from the proposed bill.

  1. A person shall not distribute any campaign material concerning a target candidate with the intent to encourage the recipient of that campaign material to vote against that target candidate, without first … obtaining, in writing, the prior consent of the beneficiary candidate to the distribution of the campaign material.
  2. A person shall not distribute any campaign material that contains a cartoon, caricature, or defacement of the personal likeness of a target candidate.
  3. A person shall not distribute any campaign material that contains photographs or other depictions of human role playing, except of a candidate who has approved the campaign material.
  4. A person shall not distribute any campaign material regarding a vote cast by a target candidate who is a member of a house of the general assembly if a majority of the membership of the house of which the target candidate is a member voted in the same manner as the target candidate and if the majority of those members of that house of the general assembly who are affiliated with the political party which is not the party of the target candidate voted in the same manner as the target candidate.
  5. Campaign material that refers to a prior vote cast by a target candidate on an issue must disclose all of the following:
    a. The total votes cast for and against the issue.
    b. The total votes cast on the issue by members of each political party of the membership of the legislative chamber of which the target candidate is a member.

The penalty – if the attacked candidate complains – would be a civil fine of no more than $2,000.

The bill will not pass Constitutional muster, but why do these representatives spend time putting this crap legislation together? What kind of effort goes into producing a bill that has no chance at all to make it out of a committee?

Hat tip to Eugene at Vololkh Conspiracy, and his hat tip went to Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog.

3 replies
  1. PatRiot
    PatRiot says:

    Keep one eye on the DC elite, the other at the state level.  This is well orchestrated at both levels  Iowa takes freedom of speech,  CT takes freedom of religion, DC and Chicago take the 2nd amendment by banning guns.  A precedent set at the state level can go national and vice versa.   Universal health care –  attacking at all levels of Gov't at once.  What strings came attached to our states Federal bailout money? 

    We that have awoken must wake the rest before it is too late.

    Another friend of G.W.(Geo. Washington).

  2. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    The "foot in the door" was McCain-Feingold.  Restriction of free speech is counter to the First Amendment.

    How much do you want to bet that this legislation does not apply to one sided newspaper "reporting?"

    We used to worry about the slow erosion of our real and guaranteed rights as spelled out by the Constitution, but now the Democrats seem to be on a fast track, wholesale attempt to consolidate their power and position before the next significant election in 2010.

    You can never get rid of new taxes, and you can't easily restore lost rights.  Both are the things you get from Democrats…

  3. Lazybum
    Lazybum says:

    Coming under the radar to a state near YOU. Wake up, people!

    First amendment? what first amendment? have you seen any first amendment around here? I haven't seen any first amendment anywhere….darn kids….what the heck did they do with that pesky first amendment….hey-do you see that 2nd amendment around here anywhere?

    Well, we probably don't need them anymore, they just seem to get in the way.

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