Morning Reads

So, a guy named Doug Hughes landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the US Capitol yesterday to protest our broken campaign finance system. Here’s the letter he was trying to deliver to Congress. The original story in Florida announcing his effort.

Also, big news in Montana yesterday: the legislature passed a bipartisan, dark money disclosure bill: “The Montana legislature passed sweeping campaign finance legislation on Wednesday that will require the disclosure of all donors to any independent group spending money on state-level elections.” AP.

Gov. Steve Bullock (D) and State Sen. Duane Ankney (R) deserve a lot of credit for making this happen and we were proud to work with Common Cause and others to help build support to get it through the legislature.

And, in New York, because of course: “Federal prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury considering a case against the leader of the New York State Senate, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, and his son, according to people with knowledge of the matter.” Four of the last six New York Senate leaders have been indicted since 2009. Skelos is one of two who hasn’t.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Activists from Represent.Us held “Representation Day” rallies across the country yesterday, with coverage in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Northampton, Rockford, Trenton, Wichita, Massachusetts, and Rockford. Lots of photos.

CLC: Magical Thinking About Reform –> Larry Noble responds to Bob Bauer’s piece this week about disclosure: “It would, indeed, be an impressive trick if one could make us believe that eliminating the reporting of the identities of individuals who make large contributions directly to candidates was a campaign finance reform that results in greater transparency.”

This is great: FEC Chair Ann Ravel is hosting a forum in May “to begin an open discussion with scholars, social scientists, political practitioners and the public to consider why, despite record breaking numbers of women in the 114th Congress, women remain significantly under-represented in politics at all levels of government.”

B&C: Campaign Finance Groups: Don’t Limit Political File Complaints –> “Campaign finance reform groups have told the FCC it should not require complaints about political ad broadcasts” to be limited to local residents.

The New York Board of Elections will meet today and the LLC loophole that allows real estate interests and other big donors to skirt contribution limits will be on the agenda. We and other groups (and thousands of New Yorkers) told them to close it, AG Eric Schneiderman did too, so did Zephyr Teachout, and also editorial boards in Syracuse, Albany, and Rochester.


NYT: Another Clinton Now Vows to Fix Political Finance System –> Nick Confessore has a great story on Hillary Clinton’s remarks this week about money in politics, including this important detail on the 2016 race: “Even some Republican candidates and contenders have called for addressing the impact of Citizens United, or have proposed limits on some kinds of campaign contributions.” Slate.

POLITICO: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers: We get it –> On Clinton’s populist rhetoric: “But back in Manhattan, the hedge fund managers who’ve long been part of her political and fundraising networks aren’t sweating the putdown and aren’t worrying about their take-home pay just yet.”

WaPo: Clinton’s populist theme heartens liberal donors –> At the Democracy Alliance meeting this week: “But in this heart of the progressive donor world, there was relatively little angst expressed about Clinton’s seemingly clear path to the nomination.”

AP: Rubio raises $1.25M online during first day –> “Sen. Marco Rubio raised $1.25 million online during his first full day as a presidential candidate, a person close to the Florida Republican’s campaign said Wednesday.”

Miami Herald: Marco Rubio benefactors plan Florida fundraising events –> “Rubio financiers have scheduled three fund-raisers, including one in Miami on May 2 that will be hosted by auto magnate Norman Braman, former Latin Builders Association President Bernie Navarro and attorney and lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez.”

HuffPost: Ted Cruz Raises $4 Million In His First Week Running For President –> “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised more than $4 million in the first week of his presidential campaign, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.”

Derek Willis has a nice “snapshot” in the Times from yesterday’s first quarter filings.

NYT: Big Money From Super PACs Is Eroding the Power of Parties –> “The uneventful passing of April 15 is only the most subtle indication of the way super PACs are transforming the presidential nominating process. They have given candidates the ability to raise colossal sums from small but wealthy bases of support.”

Tampa Bay Times: Come on Jeb, end the farce and declare your campaign for president –> This Adam Smith agrees with Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith: “Admit it, Gov. Bush, you are running for president. To do otherwise is dishonest.”

HuffPo: Jeb Bush To Fundraise In Puerto Rico –> “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is slated to visit Puerto Rico for a fundraising trip on April 28, local GOP leadership confirmed to El Nuevo Día.”

POLITICO: Clinton Foundation limits foreign donations –> “The Clinton Foundation — facing mounting criticism for accepting foreign funding and struggling to raise money for a planned June conference in Greece — has agreed to limit, but not eliminate, donations from foreign governments.” WaPo, WSJ.

Mother Jones: Billionaire Casino Magnate Sheldon Aldelson’s Israeli Paper Is Obsessed With Marco Rubio –> “Israel-watchers on Twitter have pointed out that Israel Hayom, the daily newspaper owned by Adelson, has been particularly interested in the junior senator from Florida.”

The Hill: Schumer may shatter fundraising records for Democrats –> As Democratic Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer is expected to make bank. “The New York Democrat has developed a reputation as a tenacious money magnet who doesn’t take no for an answer. When handed a $25,000 check, he’s been known to respond, ‘You can do a little better than that.'”

WSJ: RNC Reports Record March Fundraising Haul –> “The Republican National Committee raised $11.2 million last month — significantly more than it took in during the same period leading up to the 2012 presidential election, and a record in a non-election year.”

LA Times: Harris Senate run fueled by lawyers, Hollywood executives –> [State Attorney General Kamala] “Harris, the only well-known Democrat in the race, raised $2.5 million in the three months that ended March 31, much of it from the legal and entertainment industries, according to the report she filed with the Federal Election Commission.”

In other Senate fundraising news: Missouri, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and more from National Journal.

Dispatch: Four Ohio lawmakers top the $1 million marker for re-election bids –> “At least four Ohio lawmakers have more than $1 million in the bank well over a year before the November 2016 elections.”

Bloomberg: Inside the First Super-PAC Dedicated to Collecting Data All About You –> Ready for Hillary: “All told, it pulled in more than four million names, and information on 135,000 individual donors. But it’s the depth of what the data reveals about those names that holds the most value for Clinton’s team.” Also ready for Hillary? America Rising.

National Journal: The Firm Powering Marco Rubio’s ‘Moneyball’ Campaign –> On Marco Rubio’s data driven campaign: “It’s not just spending less, it’s using data to spend strategically.”

The Hill: K St. swarms on Pentagon’s ‘wish lists’ –> “The re-emergence of Pentagon ‘wish lists’ to Congress has ignited a fierce lobbying battle among some of the world’s largest contractors, who are now vying to supply the yet unfunded equipment, weaponry and services.”

NYT: Ben Bernanke Will Work With Citadel, a Hedge Fund, as an Adviser –> Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will join Citadel, a hedge fund founded by billionaire Ken Griffin, the man who said the wealthy have “insufficient influence” in the political system. Natch.

NYT: Senator Menendez’s Legal Fund Raised $431,000 in First Quarter of 2015 –> “Senator Robert Menendez, who was indicted this month on federal bribery charges, raised nearly $431,000 for his legal defense fund in the first quarter of the year, according to a report prepared for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.” A slim majority of New Jersey voters think Sen. Bob Menendez should resign.

The Hill: Drama continues at McBee Strategic –> “At a cocktail reception celebrating the merger of lobby shop McBee Strategic with powerful DC law firm Wiley Rein Tuesday evening, a top executive from McBee was served with lawsuit papers. The drama surrounding lobbying firm McBee Strategic isn’t over.”

AP: Schock donor sues ex-US congressman seeking reimbursement –> “Former US Rep. Aaron Schock’s legal problems expanded Wednesday as a contributor sued to force the repayment of millions of campaign dollars, saying he was tricked into believing the young lawmaker who has since resigned amid questions about his spending was ‘a breath of fresh air’ in a corruption-riddled state.” He’s in a lot of debt for legal bills (also spent $3k at Tiffany for bowls).


HuffPost: Chicago Progressives Emboldened After Rahm Emanuel’s Super PAC Fails To Beat Them –> The Rahm super PAC had some trouble down ballot: “However, in all three races where the group challenged a progressive incumbent, the incumbent won.”

Tallahassee Democrat: Online voter registration moving in House, Senate –> In Florida, “Online voter registration provisions are reaching the finish line as the legislative session heads into its final two weeks.”

To read more go to

You can get our Morning Reads delivered to your inbox every weekday! Just enter your email address below…

Adam Smith is the communications director at Every Voice. He has worked in money-in-politics advocacy since 2006, managing or advising communications efforts for policy and field campaigns in Congress and states across the country. As communications director, he manages media relations and oversees the research and digital teams. Follow him on Twitter: @asmith83.

  • submit to reddit