Morning Reads

The New York Times editorialized in favor of an SEC rule on political spending disclosure and an executive order on government contractor disclosure: “[President Obama] should issue such an order without delay, not only because it is the right thing to do for transparency, but because doing so would set a needed example for [SEC Chair Mary Jo] White, corporate leaders and anyone else in a position to provide investors with the disclosure they want and deserve.”

Which is perfect timing as these comic book-themed ads encouraging Mary Jo White to take action are up starting today in Washington’s Union Station. Accompanying video.

In other disclosure news, the Montana House gave final approval this weekend to a bipartisan dark money disclosure bill. It heads back to the state’s Senate for one more vote. One of the Republicans who supported the bill: “To me, it’s the principle and that people deserve the right to know who’s influencing their elections and who’s trying to shape their state.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

WSJ: Cuomo, New York Lawmakers Reach a Budget Deal –> In Albany: “The centerpiece of the budget agreement, an ethics overhaul, will require state lawmakers to disclose sources of outside income exceeding $1,000 a year, as well as the services they perform to receive it.”

Al Jazeera: Answer Koch Money With People Power –> Century Foundation Fellow Amy Dean: “But only by reaching out to their neighbors, working together and pooling resources can average Americans hope to match the power of those who seek to simply buy their preferred electoral outcomes.”

WaPo: Despite Citizens United, Elections Aren’t a Good Investment for Corporations –> New America’s Lee Drutman on the power of lobbying in Washington.

NYT: Campaign Money Tests Wisconsin Justices’ Impartiality –> Important read on the Wisconsin/Scott Walker case: “The case highlights how a rising tide of money in state judicial races is creating potential conflicts for judges who sit on cases involving donors.” Update on the case.

WaPo: The Brash New York Prosecutor Who’s Indicting Left and Right –> Profile of US Attorney Preet Bharara, who says “Politicians? Not scary.”

National Journal: After Schock Scandal, House Will Review Expense Rules –> “The House Administration Committee said Friday it will review its rules governing members’ official expenses, just days after Rep. Aaron Schock resigned amid a wave of allegations about the Illinois Republican’s travel and use of office funds.”


CPI: U.S. Chamber Doubling Down on Political Juggernaut –> Carrie Levine’s look at the US Chamber of Commerce’s work in 2014 and plans going forward is super interesting, including the stat that it spent just 1.4 percent of its funds helping Democrats in 2014 while it “insists it isn’t aligned with either party.” President Tom Donohue: “We’re just going to run it 24 months in a row, cycle after cycle after cycle.”

HuffPo: White House Wannabes Drawing 2016 Battle Lines in Furious Money Chase –> “The 2016 presidential election’s ‘invisible primary’ is in full swing as Republican candidates tour the country looking to secure donors for their real or potential campaigns and their super PACs.” CBS News with “an early primer for 2016 campaign fundraising.”

NYT: 2016 Hopefuls and Wealthy Are Aligned on Inequality –> Political inequality = economic inequality: “And given the attention candidates of all stripes must lavish on wealthy donors, that might explain why even relatively moderate presidential aspirants are reluctant to propose a prominent role for government in reducing inequality.”

NYT: G.O.P. Hawks Upset With Bush After Baker Speech on Israel –> Jeb Bush policy adviser James Baker is set to speak at a J Street event and someone isn’t happy: “Mr. Adelson is said to be incensed over Mr. Baker’s comments and the lack of pressure put on him by the Bush team before his address — a significant concern, given that Mr. Adelson has the resources to pour tens of millions of dollars into the Republican presidential primary.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (D-FL) will launch his presidential campaign on April 13th.

POLITICO: Cruz Vows to Shun Negative Campaigning –> That’s what super PACs are for: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is swearing off negative campaigning as he begins his run for the White House.”

POLITICO: O’Malley: Presidency No ‘Crown to Be Passed Between Two Families’ –> Martin O’Malley said this weekend that “We need a president who is ready to take on powerful and wealthy special interests” and “Right now, it’s not even a fair fight. It’s as if Wall Street owns one party and is trying to totally intimidate the other.”

Rand Paul is raising money in Florida, Marco Rubio in New York, and Jeb Bush in California.

AP: Clinton Campaign to Focus on Money for Primaries –> “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fundraising team only plans to raise money for the presidential primaries when she launches her 2016 campaign and initially will avoid general election fundraising” and other details on the finance operation.

WaPo: Cruz Claims GOP Leadership Blocked His Fundraising After Shutdown –> “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Saturday that the House Republican leadership had made it next to impossible for him to get money from Super PACs after he filibustered the Affordable Care Act in 2013 — an action that helped trigger a 16-day government shutdown.”

National Journal: Is ‘Ready for Hillary’ Ready to Go Away? –> On Ready for Hillary: “And for most of the group’s staff, Clinton’s official arrival will mean something else: unemployment — at least temporarily — and uncertainty over where to work next.”

Bloomberg: Rand Paul and the Koch Brothers Are Having a Nixon-in-China Moment –> On the Kochs embrace of criminal justice reform.

In threatening to withhold $15,000 donations from Democrats, Citi and JPMorgan set a fundraising goal last week for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that she easily hit.

WaPo: Inside the Big GOP Fight Over the Influential Export-Import Bank –> This Ex-Im fight is so interesting: “The future of an obscure but far-reaching federal agency has emerged as an early litmus test for Republican presidential contenders, who are being forced to pick sides between the GOP’s powerful business interests.”

CPI: Schumer’s Road to the Top Greased by Donations to Colleagues –> Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved quickly on word of Sen Harry Reid’s (D-NV) retirement to lockdown the party leader post. “Schumer’s leadership political action committee, known as ‘IMPACT,’ doled out almost $1.5 million from 2010 through 2014, according to data gleaned from the Federal Election Commission by the Center for Public Integrity.”

WaPo: Why Your Dreams of a Cushy Ambassadorship Can Still Come True –> Billionaires like Sheldon Adelson aren’t going to crowd out all those bundlers looking for ambassadorships: “As one former White House aide put it, they would say: ‘How am I going to live in such a small house?'”

WSJ: In Reid Retirement, Questions for Top Super PAC –> And speaking of Reid’s retirement: what happens to Senate Majority PAC? CRP on Reid’s fundraising.

The Hill: Reid Leaving Network of Lobbyists Behind –> “The news of Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) retirement sent shockwaves down K Street on Friday, where a cadre of high-profile lobbyists are known for their ties to the Democratic leader. More than two-dozen prominent K Streeters used to call Reid their boss on Capitol Hill, and now risk losing some of the luster from their brands when he exits politics.” POLITICO Influence: “Reid staffers in high demand downtown.”

The Hill: Gambling Industry Losing Key Ally –> “The gambling industry is mourning the loss of key ally, following Senate minority leader Harry Reid’s bombshell announcement Friday that he would not seek reelection in 2016.”

Arizona Republic: Arizona Congressman Checking Out McCain Challenge –> Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is open to challenging Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in a primary but he “wants groups such as Club For Growth to show him a path to victory against McCain.”

My hobby of reading New York Times obituaries led me to this quote from George Spitz, the man who helped “transform” the NYC marathon (while running for office several times): “It may seem far-fetched, and I may sound like a nut, but something must be done to reduce the cost of a campaign, or else the time will soon come when only a rich man can afford to run for even the lowliest of elective offices.”

Herald-Leader: Ethics Panel to Investigate Whether Rep. Ed Whitfield Improperly Pushed Legislation for Which His Wife Lobbied –> “The House of Representatives has created an investigative panel to probe whether Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, improperly pushed legislation that his wife lobbied on for the Humane Society.” Roll Call.

Google responds to the Wall Street Journal’s questions on its political influence with a gif of a laughing baby.


WaPo: McAuliffe Vows to Amend Ethics Bills to Close Loopholes –> “Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Friday proposed amendments to the state’s newly passed ethics bills, the latest attempt to rein in gift-giving at a state Capitol long used to unlimited freebies.”

Courier-Journal: Koch Brothers-Related PAC in Kentucky Gov Race –> “A new political action committee with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers has formed in Kentucky with plans to get involved in Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary on behalf of Hal Heiner.”

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