Morning Reads

With the headline, “Big money in politics emerges as a rising issue in 2016 campaign,” Matea Gold has this great story in the Washington Post today: “But five years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision…there are signs that politicians are beginning to confront a voter backlash.”

Open Democracy’s Dan Weeks, quoted in the article above, has this op-ed in the Concord Monitor: “Our message for the presidential candidates who are flocking to the Granite State is clear: We, as taxpaying citizens of the United States, demand equal representation. To achieve that basic end, we demand the next president work with us to stop the systemic corruption of money in politics.”

From Reuters: “US Senator Lindsey Graham has an unusual message for a potential Republican presidential candidate: He wants to stem the flow of unregulated money in politics.”

Sen. Ted Cruz on fundraising: “I’ve told my six-year-old daughter, ‘Running for office is real simple: you just surgically disconnect your shame sensor. Because you spend every day asking people for money. You walk up and say, ‘How are you doing, sir? Can I have money? Great to see you, lovely shirt, please give me money.’ That’s what running for office is like.” (This came up during a Q&A with grassroots NH activists.)

Campaign Finance/Elections

WSJ: Party Politics: FEC at Loggerheads on How to Celebrate Anniversary –> Fun story on last week’s 40th anniversary celebration at the FEC. “In the end, the question of the snacks became one shining moment of compromise: Instead of choosing between bagels and doughnuts, they served both.” I can confirm the fruity pastry thing they served was perfectly acceptable.

Every Voice: These 19 Senators Deserve a Medal for Filing Their Fundraising Reports Electronically. –> Wherein I praise the 19 Senators who filed their fundraising reports electronically. (Thanks to Michael Beckel for tracking down the list.)

Roll Call: Wham! Bam! Comic Book Ads Target SEC Chairwoman –> New story on the ads in Union Station urging SEC Chair Mary Jo White to move forward on rulemaking around political disclosure.

The Atlantic: How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy –> Lee Drutman has a new book out on lobbying and this stat is telling: “For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.”

Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin, an accomplished law professor and noted money in politics activist, announced his bid for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s seat this weekend.

Time: Dare We Call It Oligarchy? –> Gary Hart writes for Time: “The lobbying/campaign finance/access matrix has corrupted American politics, divided our nation, and is well down the road to creating a system of political oligarchy.”


The Intercept: Former Dem Senator Chris Dodd Advised Execs to Give to GOP: “Fundraising Does Have an Impact” –> Former Sen. Chris Dodd, now head of the movie industry trade association, makes an appearance in the hacked Sony emails, encouraging execs to be more bipartisan in their political giving because, “fundraising does have an impact” when it comes to the issues they care about. Whatever could he mean by impact?

NYT: Book Questions Clinton Donations –> Peter Schweizer has a new book coming out on the Clinton Foundation and its foreign donors that “asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.”

Bloomberg: Adelson May Have to Answer Ex-Macau Chief’s Casino Firing Claims –> Speaking of foreign transactions and 2016, a hearing starts Monday on the lawsuit by a former employee of Sheldon Adelson’s casino who “claims he was fired for balking at what he says were illegal demands, including to dig up information about high-ranking Macau government officials that, according to a court filing, could be used to ‘exert leverage.'”

Buzzfeed: The Money Race Begins: Clinton Schedules First Fundraisers –> “Clinton will attend the first fundraisers of the campaign later this month. There will be one event on April 28 in New York City, and one on April 30 in Washington, DC.” NYT on hitting up the “small donors” – those able to give $2,700.

NYT: Hillary Clinton Hiring of C.F.O. Is Called Signal to Possible Donors –> “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recruitment of Gary Gensler, a former top federal Wall Street regulator, as her campaign’s chief financial officer was meant to show donors she is serious about avoiding the overspending that plagued her 2008 presidential campaign, according to people briefed on the matter.”

Sen. Rand Paul really is serious about being president — he wrote a love letter to Charles and David Koch for the Time 100.

Reuters: Marco Rubio: the 2016 presidential campaign’s $40 million man –> On Sen. Marco Rubio’s fundraising: “At least seven other Rubio mega donors say their candidate has already received monetary commitments in excess of the $40 million…”

Houston Chronicle: Rubio hoping to make a cash withdrawal from Texas –> Rubio wants some of that sweet Texas cash.

Today Chris Christie has a “meet and greet” with donors in Missouri, Jeb Bush is in Seattle for two super PAC fundraisers, and Rubio is in Dallas.

ProPublica: The Super Rich Have a New Way to Buy Elections –> “ProPublica’s analysis identified 59 super PACs that received at least 80 percent of their funding from one individual during the 2014 cycle. They raised a total of $113 million, compared with the $33 million raised by the 34 such groups that existed in 2012.”

NYT: Walker Run Could Bring Scrutiny to New ‘Super PAC’ –> “The new ‘super PAC’ supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s likely presidential campaign is raising eyebrows in his home state of Wisconsin, where there are lingering legal questions surrounding coordination between him and outside conservative groups.”

POLITICO: Marco Rubio’s secret weapon –> On Marco Rubio super fan, billionaire Norman Braman. “The Miami businessman, Braman’s friends say, is considering spending anywhere from $10 million to $25 million — and possibly even more — on Rubio’s behalf.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders on on Fox News Sunday: “I do have doubts that Hillary Clinton or any Republican out there will take on big-money special interests.”

NaJo: Mike Huckabee Says He’s Formed an Exploratory Committee for a Presidential Run –> “Taking another concrete step towards a 2016 presidential run, Mike Huckabee said Friday that he formed an exploratory committee for a bid in early April.”

WaPo: Senate races in 2016 look poised to set spending records –> “Yes, the 2016 presidential race will be the most expensive in history. But the battle for control of the US Senate in November 2016 also looks likely to smash spending records.”

Cartoons from Tom Toles and Rob Rogers on the gyrocopter guy and Matt Wuerker on McConnell and big coal.

And speaking of Doug Hughes, gyrocopter guy, he spoke to the AP: “The message was two pages long to Congress that they are going to have to face the issue, OK, of campaign-finance reform and honesty and government so that they work for the people.”

ThinkProgress: Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants, Report Says –> Gross: “Private prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep immigrants in detention centers, a new report released Wednesday found.”

The Nation: Why Are Political Groups Pretending to Be Debt Collectors? –> Michael Whitney on all those “final notice you haven’t paid your dues” fundraising emails: “But I have to wonder if even a moment of panic that something is wrong with your personal finances is irresponsible — and even predatory — especially in times of financial malaise.”

The Hill: Myanmar hires lobbyists ahead of key elections –> “The government of Myanmar has hired lobbyists in Washington for the first time in more than a decade, signing a contract worth $840,000 with the Podesta Group.” But will they serve Pinot Noir at their receptions?

The Hill: Senate fundraising winners and losers –> Who raised the most money last quarter? Here you go. Roll Call has your “interesting” facts.

The Hill: Senate GOP brings in $4.9M for March –> “The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee had its best fundraising month of the year in March, pulling in $4.9 million.”

POLITICO: Bill Shuster relationship a ‘tremendous conflict of interest’ –> “Good government groups said House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s attempt to avoid a conflict of interest in dating an airline industry lobbyist at the same time he heads a committee that oversees the industry doesn’t pass the perception test.”

National Journal: Indian-American Donors Rally to Elect More Indian-Americans to Congress in 2016 –> “Across the country, the Indian-American community is growing in political strength, and it’s showing up in fundraising reports from Maryland to Iowa to California.”

SaintPetersBlog: Self-styled DC “outsider” Steve Southerland turns up as Washington lobbyist –> Former Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) campained as an outsider taking on the Washington establishment but now that Southerland has accepted a job as senior vice president at the Washington, DC-based Capitol Hill Consulting Group,  a lot of that rhetoric looks plumb silly.”

This is a completely unrelated, but delightful story on how historical plaques get made.


WaPo: Half-measures on ethics in Virginia –> Virginia lawmakers did SOMETHING about ethics, the Washington Post editorializes, but  “the law is unfortunately as notable for what it omits as for what it includes.”

The Albany-Times Union rips into the New York Board of Elections on its LLC loophole vote last week: “Yet corruption was on full public display when the two Republican commissioners on the state Board of Elections went out of their way Thursday to preserve a loophole in New York’s campaign finance rules, one that allows rich contributors to skirt the laws that the board is supposed to enforce.”

Buffalo News: Leaked emails show Hollywood arranging Cuomo fundraiser, jet travel –> “A close friend of Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to arrange private jet travel for Gov. Andrew Cuomo after movie industry moguls threw him a $25,000-per-person fundraiser last year in Hollywood, according to emails WikiLeaks released Thursday.”

Courier Journal: Dark money taints Kentucky elections –> Kentucky’s dean of political reporting Al Cross: “But we don’t know, and that’s the biggest problem. When people use mass communication to deliver messages related to an election, we deserve to know who’s talking.”

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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.

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