Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, is pleased to publish this daily digest of money and politics news compiled and edited by Laura Friedenbach of the non-partisan campaign finance reform group, Every Voice.

2016 contenders are using super PACs to exploit regulatory gray areas like never before.

The New York Times reports, “With striking speed, the 2016 contenders are exploiting loopholes and regulatory gray areas to transform the way presidential campaigns are organized and paid for.”

And from NPR: “Nowadays, the art of campaign-finance lawyering lies in determining what a definition fails to say — and then driving a cash-filled truck through the loophole.”

Also, more GOP 2016 announcements to come:

  • MSNBC: Lindsey Graham to make ‘very important’ 2016 announcement today
  • Associated Press: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will say on June 4th if he is running for president
  • POLITICO: Rick Santorum will announce whether he will run for president in his hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania, on May 27
  • NBC: Former New York Gov. George Pataki will announce whether or not he will run on May 28

Campaign Finance/Elections

NPR: Taking Aim At Money In Politics, Feingold Announces Comeback Bid –> Russ Feingold announced his run to reclaim the US Senate seat he lost to Ron Johnson, saying in announcement video: “People tell me all the time that our politics in Washington are broken and that multimillionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling all the shots. They especially say this about the US Senate, and it’s hard not to agree.” AP, Reuters, CBS, HuffPost, The Hill. Big money is expected to pour in on both sides for the Feingold-Johnson rematch.

Washington Post: Doug Hughes: I flew a gyrocopter onto the Capitol Lawn to save our democracy –> Gyrocopter man speaks out: “There is no silver bullet solution to the corruption in Washington and many state capitols. The problem is complex, but the solution begins with principles Americans share: We want to live in a 21st-century democracy where everyone has a right to know who is influencing our government, everyone has a voice, everyone participates, everyone plays by the same set of commonsense rules and everyone is held accountable if they break faith with those rules.” Doug Hughes is expected in court in DC this week.

CNN: Super-donors raise for endangered GOP senators –> “A group of powerful Republican donors are hosting two fundraisers in New York City next month to help a dozen sitting senators — including Arizona Sen. John McCain — that they say face some of the toughest reelection fights next year.”

Boston Globe: Undaunted, Lessig’s group focuses on Congress –> “The super PAC to end all super PACs – Mayday PAC– has started its 2015 grassroots efforts to lobby members of Congress to pass campaign finance reform laws.”


Washington Post: Hillary Clinton’s litmus test for Supreme Court nominees: a pledge to overturn Citizens United –> “Hillary Clinton told a group of her top fundraisers Thursday that if she is elected president, her nominees to the Supreme Court will have to share her belief that the court’s 2010 Citizens United decision must be overturned, according to people who heard her remarks. Clinton’s emphatic opposition to the ruling, which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums on independent political activity, garnered the strongest applause of the afternoon from the more than 200 party financiers gathered in Brooklyn for a closed-door briefing from the Democratic candidate and her senior aides, according to some of those present.” POLITICO.

Beyonce wants Hillary to run the world. Bloomberg reports that Manhattan moguls, including Beyonce, turned out for Hillary’s NY fundraiser.

Associated Press: Hillary and Bill Clinton report earning more than $30M from speeches, book in past 16 months –> FEC reports show the Clintons “amassed more than $25 million in speaking fees and Hillary Clinton earned more than $5 million from her 2014 memoir, ‘Hard Choices.'” MSNBC, Reuters, USA Today.

Hillary has gone more than three weeks without taking questions from reporters.

Wall Street Journal: With Another Bush Eyeing White House, Family Money Machine Springs to Life –> “Jeb Bush, who opened the door to a presidential campaign five months ago, is now reaping a record-setting haul thanks to a donor network that stretches back to his father’s election to Congress in 1966.”

Business Insider: Martin O’Malley schedules presidential fundraiser for eve of his big announcement –> “O’Malley aides have previously told The Washington Post that he intends to announce his decision whether or not to run on May 30 in Baltimore, Maryland… The May 29 fundraiser is hosted by Martin Knott, a Baltimore-area businessman who has raised money for the former governor in the past. MSNBC reported that Knott is expected to become the O’Malley campaign’s finance chair.”

American Democracy Legal Fund filed an FEC complaint against Mike Huckabee for comment during campaign announcement soliciting million dollar donations.

Washington Post: Rubio: Need for ‘access to cash’ led me to pull out some retirement savings –> In another sign that running for president is an expensive business, Sen. Marco Rubio explained that he dipped into his retirement savings to help cover the costs. Also, Tampa Bay Times gives a breakdown of Rubio’s recent income including $30,000 in book royalties in 2014.

NBC: Why Jeb Bush’s ‘Running For President’ Slip Matters –> Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel with The Campaign Legal Center: “This is not a slip of the tongue but a slip of the mask, revealing what we all know to be true. He decided a long time ago and he’s playing a charade by evading campaign finance law by denying he’s a candidate.”

The Capital Times: Scott Walker pushes candidate boundaries, from 2012 recall to 2016 presidential election –> “Scott Walker is not a candidate for president. And two months before he defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a June 2012 recall election, he wasn’t a gubernatorial candidate. At least, that’s what his attorney argued in legal filings made public by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday. Just as Walker’s decision to push the boundaries on the timing of a presidential announcement has raised eyebrows among campaign finance watchdogs, the argument that he wasn’t a candidate until April 9, 2012, for a June 5 election has given some critics pause.” Walker attended two fundraisers and headlined at the GOP Lincoln Dinner on a recent trip to Iowa.

The News & Observer: Peter Sagal brings ‘Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me’ show to Durham –> Zinger from Peter Sagal: “I have been following North Carolina politics with real interest, with the rise of Art Pope and his wise and economical purchase of the state… I think he got it at a good price and I think it will increase in value and I think he’ll sell it off at a profit someday.” Sagal went on “to wonder if the state government wants to turn UNC into a welding and 8-track-repair school.”

POLITICO: GOP: Business lobby blowing it on trade –> “Top House Republicans believe the business community is blowing its chance to clinch a trade deal. Unlike unions, they say, Big Business advocates aren’t flooding Capitol phone lines. They’re not winning over skeptical Republicans. And they haven’t made much headway with business-friendly Democrats who are considering voting for the package, either.”

Sunlight Foundation: Influence peddlers seem to know more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership than Congress –> “The restrictions the Obama administration has placed on members of Congress wishing to peruse the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a managed trade agreement among the United States and 11 other countries, are something of a shock in a democratic republic… The extreme secrecy of the text hasn’t stopped interest groups from lobbying in its favor, though.”

Bloomberg: Trent Lott’s Firm Made a Fortune Lobbying for the Kremlin –> “While Russia may be angry about international sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, Beltway lawyers are mopping up and big names in lobbying are piling in. Consider that last year, the Washington, DC, lobbying firm of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott raked in $300,000 from Kremlin-controlled OAO Gazprombank, which was a target of sanctions.”

WKBN: Train companies, oil industry spend millions on Capitol Hill –> “The railroad and oil and gas industries are spending big money on Capitol Hill while Congress is looking at new rules for companies that transport crude oil by train. Data company Map Light keeps track of money being spent on campaign donations and political lobbying. The report says the railroad industry has contributed $23 million this election cycle. The company said most of that has gone to members of Congress charged with making those rules on oil trains.”


Washington Post: Montgomery council dips into reserves to fund parts of 2016 budget –> The Montgomery County Council “added $1 million to help launch the county’s new system of partial public finance for elections, which is due to begin in 2018.”

Associated Press: NY political scandals put Cuomo in hot seat –> Cuomo received $1 million from limited liability companies tied to Glenwood, the same company Skelos allegedly accepted bribes from. “Cuomo said recently that he never discussed rent laws with the company. Administration records show he met with Glenwood executives three times to discuss rent regulations in 2011, the last year they were up for renewal. Cuomo’s spokesman said later that the governor simply forgot the meetings.”

Associated Press: Arizona Clean Elections Panel Advances New ‘Dark-Money’ Spending Rules –> “The change specifies a political committee as a group that is formed shortly before or during an election cycle that gets or spends more than $500 in contributions to influence an election. Any group that fits that description would have to file campaign finance reports revealing the source of the money.”

Bloomberg: Shareholders Revolt Against Dark Money –> “On May 20, Pinnacle West Capital, the holding company that owns Arizona’s largest utility, will host its annual meeting at the Heard Museum in central Phoenix. Shareholders will elect directors and approve executive compensation packages. They’ll also vote on a less routine proposal: a requirement that Pinnacle West disclose contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in elections without identifying donors.”

Huffington Post: 3 Libertarians Fuel $7 Million Super PAC In Philadelphia’s Mayoral Democratic Primary –> “Voters will cast ballots in the Democratic primary for Philadelphia’s mayoral race on May 19, but three libertarian donors from the suburbs could really influence the contest. According to city campaign finance records, Arthur Dantchik, Joel Greenberg and Jeff Yass — heads of the trading firm Susquehanna International Group — have pumped almost $7 million into the American Cities super PAC, which backs state Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D).”

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Laura Friedenbach, Every Voice
Laura Friedenbach is the press secretary at Every Voice. You can follow her on Twitter @LauraFriedy.
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