Morning Reads

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) officially announces his presidential campaign today and:

  • The WSJ explains that he has set up a joint fundraising committee between his Senate and presidential campaigns, an unusual move (with some advantages). Also in this story, I call joint funders “one-stop shopping for the busy billionaire on the go.” On money bombing.
  • Paul has tapped Jesse Benton, last seen resigning from McConnell’s 2014 campaign “amid bribery scandal,” to lead his super PAC, which hopes to raise $20 to $30 million.
  • Paul really wants that tech cash, but there are some obstacles, including “He spoke, for example, against the Obama administration’s position on net neutrality, a salient and emotional issue among the younger, Web-savvy crowd.”
  • He’ll face a $1M ad blitz right out of the gate: “The 30-second spot will hit Paul on Wednesday…for comments he once made suggesting that Iran doesn’t pose a national security threat to the United States.”
  • The Center for Public Integrity has 12 things you should know.

And, one flashback, as the White House faces pressure on an executive order on disclosure. Paul, in January: “I think there’s a possibility of campaign finance reform that would include a contractual clause in government contracts to say that if I’m gonna give you $1 billion to do work for the government you will agree not to do certain things to lobby government for more money. So I think there is the ability to have some campaign finance reform.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

Warren Buffett, in an interview with CNN: “With Citizens United and other decisions that enable the rich to contribute really unlimited amounts, that actually tilts the balance even more toward the ultra-rich…The unlimited giving to parties, to candidates, really pushes us more toward a plutocracy.”

POLITICO: To Get Ahead in Congress: Skip Governing, Raise Money –> The Campaign Legal Center’s Trevor Potter and Meredith McGehee look at the rise and fall of Aaron Schock: “Instead, the true scandal is that he was doing what all ‘successful’ Members of Congress now do — ignoring Congressional grunt work and instead raising money.” Also, grand jury testimony begins today.

Greenpeace: Where is Mary Jo White? –> Greenpeace blogs in support of a presidential executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.

AP: Protesters inside Supreme Court face harsher charges –> Whoa: “Protesters who demonstrated inside the US Supreme Court are facing the threat of a year in jail and stiff fines, a sign that prosecutors and the justices themselves are losing patience over the courtroom interruptions after the third protest in just over a year.”

Reuters: US Supreme Court Declines To Review North Carolina Voting Law –> “The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the legality of new Republican-backed voting restrictions in North Carolina that were part of a law opponents argued was aimed at making it harder for voters who tend to favor Democrats to cast ballots.” Good voting rights news in Georgia.

Nice: Free Speech for People has added former Montana Justice James Nelson and the Democracy’s Initiative’s Greg Moore to their board.

Legislative Gazette: Congressman Tonko joins Albany rally to call for campaign finance reform –> Nice to see members like Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) join rallies like this: “We need to be the government of the many, not the government of money. I believe it is important for us to have accountability and transparency.” Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) held a forum with CoPIRG on money in politics and other members have been tweeting up a storm recently.

Harmon Curran: Court Rulings Reject California’s Demand for Charitable Donor Identities –> “In an important development for all 501(c)(3) organizations raising money in California, two recent court rulings could effectively prevent the California Attorney General’s office from collecting the names and addresses of contributors to charities that solicit funds in the state.”


American Prospect: In 2016, Money Will Matter More Than Ever, Yet Not At All –> The sheer amount of money in our system is a problem, sure, but as Paul Waldman notes here, “The real problem with all this election spending isn’t what happens during the campaign, it’s what happens after.”

The FEC has released its analysis of 2014 election spending. There was a decrease in overall congressional candidate fundraising last cycle, but as BNA notes ($$), “[t]he total number of candidates running for Congress also was down significantly.”

POLITICO: Rubio fundraiser seeking $10 billion federal contract –> Sen. Marco Rubio chairs a subcommittee that has oversight on the Coast Guard and last night he “was scheduled to attend a fundraising event Monday night at the home of a major Florida shipbuilder who is competing for a multibillion dollar contract from the Coast Guard.” Weird coincidence!

AP: As Clinton begins, her super PAC plans to fold –> Right after she announces, Ready for Hillary “will begin winding down its operations — just as the Democrat opens her White House campaign.” And that announcement is expected any day now.

Examiner: Jeb Bush takes his time –> Bush is really just trolling the FEC right now: “The Floridian is scheduled through at least May 25 to headline several fundraisers for” his super PAC and leadership PAC, in several cities. Tribune wire. Vox on him “stretching the limits.”

Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) raised $2M in the first quarter, California AG and Senate candidate Kamala Harris raised $2.5M, Sen. Roy Blunt (D-MO) raised $1M and his likely opponent Jason Kander raised $780k in six weeks, half a mill for Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL.)

NYT: Boeing and Delta Spend Millions in Fight Over Export-Import Bank’s Existence –> Boeing and Delta are spending big bucks over the Export-Import fight and their lobbyists have lots of connections to congressional leadership.

National Journal: This Is the End for Washington’s Most Frenzied Lobbying Extravaganza –> “When the Senate reconvenes next week, it is expected to quickly pass the House’s bipartisan deal to permanently end the so-called Medicare ‘doc fix’ — one of Capitol Hill’s least favorite rituals. But while it was a routine headache for lawmakers, it has also been a lobbying bonanza for K Street and the special interests it represents.”

HuffPost: Tom Steyer Launches Effort To Defeat 2016 Climate Denier Candidates –> “Tom Steyer’s climate-focused political group is already gearing up for the 2016 presidential race, announcing on Monday a new effort that will focus on putting Republican candidates on the defense when it comes to global warming.”

Bloomberg: Joe Biden to Address Secretive Network of Gay Donors –> Joe Biden will speak at Tim Gill’s OutGiving Conference in May.

CNN: Jindal group sent cease and desist letter over ‘American Future’ –> This is kind of funny: “The American Future Fund, an Iowa-based nonprofit with an electioneering arm, American Future Fund Political Action, has sent a cease and desist letter to Jindal’s newly launched political committee, the American Future Project.” Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah.

Boston Globe: Not in Kansas anymore –> “O’Neill and Associates, the heavily Democratic public affairs firm based in Boston, is adding to its GOP ranks by bringing on board former Kansas Republican congressman Todd Tiahrt, executives confirmed to the Globe this week.”

WaPo: Climate-change deniers are in retreat –> Dana Milbank takes on ALEC’s attempt to silence opponents over its position on climate change. TPM.


Watch the election results in Ferguson, Missouri tonight. And Chicago’s mayoral run-off!

AP: RI owed $2.2M for late campaign finance reports –> “Nearly 300 ex-candidates and political action committees collectively owe Rhode Island $2.2 million in fines for not filing campaign finance reports on time.”

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