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 Adam Smith of the non-partisan campaign finance reform group, Every Voice.

David Koch, in an interview with The Larry Kudlow Show over the weekend, on 2016 presidential candidates: “We are thinking of supporting several Republicans.”

And the Center for Public Integrity’s Carrie Levine has this interesting story today: “Just outside Cincinnati, tucked among insurance agencies, hair salons and a yoga studio, is the nexus of one of the nation’s most mysterious networks pouring secret money into elections.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

USA Today: 2016 presidential campaigns chase money, with no cop on the beat –> Editorial on the FEC, lax coordination rules, and big money in 2016: “It’s a reason why Americans don’t vote, why elections seem like arms races, and why the next president will get to office with an indelible taint.”  But according to the Center for Competitive Politics’ Brad Smith: everything is awesome.

The Hill: Push to name donors in political ads hits FCC roadblock –> FCC Chair Tom Wheeler seems uninterested in moving on political ad disclosure.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) vetoed a bill on the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend that would have restored the right to vote to 40,000 Marylanders. Brennan Center’s Tomas Lopez calls it a “failure of leadership.”

The Hill: We are gyrocopter –> A bipartisan pair of former members of Congress, Reps Connie Morella (R-MD) and Dan Glickman (D-KS), have this op-ed on Doug Hughes and money in politics: “We know that our elected officials can’t do their jobs effectively when they have to spend half their day raising money for the next campaign, or when leadership positions are assigned on the basis of fundraising success rather than expertise or experience.”

Bloomberg: Presidential Candidates Continue to Take Shots at the Supreme Court –> That includes Citizens United.

New York Times: I.R.S. Seeks to Define Political Activity for Nonprofits –> “The Internal Revenue Service could issue as early as next month new draft regulations governing political activity by tax-exempt organizations, according to a notice issued on Thursday. But it remains unlikely that the new rules would be in place before the 2016 election.”

FEC Chair Ann Ravel responds to FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman’s criticism.


MSNBC: Don’t count Bernie Sanders out –> With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) set to officially kick off his presidential campaign today, Steve Kornacki says you shouldn’t count him out because, for one reason, “wealth concentration and corporate power are unusually prominent in the national debate.”

Washington Post: GOP’s fight for 2016 nomination likely to drag on longer than party desires –> One reason the GOP nomination fight is likely to last a while: “Virtually every candidate — from the Jeb Bushes of the world on down — has an ‘independent’ organization aligned with their campaign.” A+ for adding quotes around independent, WaPo.

With news that Charter is planning a merger with Time Warner, get ready for another Washington influence battle, although Charter’s K Street imprint is a bit smaller than Comcast’s.

The Intercept: Media executives are salivating over big money flooding the 2016 election cycle –> Lee Fang looks at what some media company execs are saying about the upcoming election (hint: $$$$).

Texas Tribune: Presidential Hopefuls Lining Up at Texas ATM –> “Texas is set to experience another wave of presidential fundraising as the 2016 race kicks into high gear, with at least four White House hopefuls turning to the state that evokes endless comparisons to an ATM in the next several weeks.”

The wrongful termination trial against Sheldon Adelson and his company will not get in the way of his 2016 fundraising — the trial will continue, a judge ruled this weekend.

Center for Public Integrity: Liberal operatives paid big bucks by embattled pro-Clinton super PAC –> “Priorities USA Action made the handsome payments to Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney — or companies connected to them — during 2013 and 2014, when the formerly pro-Barack Obama super PAC effectively went dormant, neither raising money nor spending its reserves directly on midterm elections.”

NYT: Martin O’Malley Readies His Hat Outside the Ring –> “Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has spent the last two weeks building momentum — and, presumably, a war chest — ahead of his anticipated announcement for a 2016 presidential bid.”

In her commencement address at Oberlin this weekend, Michelle Obama talked a lot about the importance of voting and civic engagement, as well as the “the negative ads” and political polarization.

USA Today: The only Hillary alternative –> Michael Wolff makes the case for a Mike Bloomberg presidential bid: “A Michael Bloomberg-size fortune in effect neutralizes the issue of outside money in politics. Why donate money which, against the Bloomberg resources, only has ever-diminishing value? Other billionaires would sensibly retreat.”

Washington Post: Kentucky conflict? Paul, McConnell start to clash –> In this story on Rand Paul’s stand on surveillance programs: “Asked about those dismissing his surveillance stand as a fundraising ploy as he left the Capitol early Saturday, Paul said, ‘I think people don’t question my sincerity.'”

With George Pataki expected to announce his presidential campaign this week, a reminder that he has called for a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

Houston Chronicle: Bush’s sons to raise money in Houston for dad’s super PAC –> “Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and younger brother Jeb Bush, Jr. once again are tapping into the Texas fundraising circuit next week, with stops in Houston and Dallas to raise cash for their father’s probable 2016 presidential bid.”

Mother Jones: Is Marco Rubio This Eccentric Billionaire’s New Pet Project? –> Will Oracle’s Larry Ellison spend big money to boost Marco Rubio? “Given that Ellison might become one of the major players of the 2016 election, here are five things to know about him.”

POLITICO: Silda Wall Spitzer hosts Hillary fundraiser –> “Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s ex-wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, is hosting a $2,700-a-head fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on June 1 in Manhattan, from 12 to 2 p.m., billed as ‘a conversation with Hillary Clinton.'”

Gannett: Super PACs test Sen. Lindsey Graham’s commitment to campaign finance reform –> It’s hard to take a knife to a gun fight: “Sen. Lindsey Graham’s all-but-official presidential campaign likely will draw support from super PACs, but the South Carolina Republican said this should be the last election where wealthy donors are allowed to write such huge checks.”

Apologies to the Center for Responsive Politics for missing some of their good reporting last week: departed congressional members find new homes on K Street and TPP, Morgan Stanley and Hillary.

Observer: ‘Who’s Gonna Pay for It?’ Christie Fires Back at Protesters After Fundraiser –> As Chris Christie held a fundraiser for his leadership PAC at “the exclusive” 21 Club in Manhattan on Friday, protesters were outside demanding he support paid sick leave.

Sen. Marco Rubio is raising money in Chicago and Las Vegas this week. Hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer is hosting Chris Christie today.

National Journal: Chuck Schumer Wants Kay Hagan Back –> Will former Sen. Kay Hagan run against Sen. Richard Burr in 2016? “And there’s nobody who has put money together in the same stratosphere as Kay Hagan.”

Cincinnati Enquirer: Portman popular with big donors, and it shows –> “The reason for Portman’s fundraising prowess? He showers donors with attention, sending them emails and giving out his cell phone number.”

Sun-Times: Inside Aaron Schock’s fundraising: The Marco Rubio connection –> Interesting look at a 2014 Aaron Schock fundraiser that featured Marco Rubio: “An issue for the federal authorities looking at Schock may be that there are no records of in-kind contributions for the Aug. 19 event – expenses unaccounted for in federal disclosure reports.” And that’s not Schock’s only problem: what about those donor swaps?

Huffington Post: Kathleen Matthews Made An Awkward Donation For A Future Democratic Candidate –> Democrat Kathleen Matthews, expected to run for Congress in Maryland, donated $2,600 to vulnerable GOP Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) last fall.

Tom Toles looks at the general election debate.

NYT: John Murphy, Staten Island Congressman Convicted in Abscam Sting, Dies –> “John M. Murphy, who represented Staten Island in Congress for 18 years before being caught taking a $50,000 cash payment in the Abscam sting operation in the late 1970s, died Monday at a Staten Island hospital. He was 88.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Group pulls ads targeting Bishop, Stewart as they hurry to announce stands against Export-Import Bank –> Two Utah Republicans announced their opposition to the Ex-Im Bank after Club for Growth threatened a big ad campaign against them.


Mother Jones: How Scott Walker and His Allies Hijacked the Wisconsin Supreme Court –> Important read on Scott Walker and what he and his allies have done to the state supreme court.

AP: Lawmakers reject proposal for 72-hour donation reporting –> “Nevada lawmakers have rejected a proposal that would have created much more substantial restrictions on campaign finance reporting. Assembly members voted to kill an amendment to SB307 on Thursday night.”

Facing South: Mapping the risk of judicial corruption –> Helpful: “The map below shows whether each US state holds judicial elections and, if so, whether the state bans solicitation of campaign contributions by judges and to what degree.”

Capital New York: Cuomo’s approval rating sinks again –> “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s job approval rating sank again this month, a new poll shows, as voters continue to see corruption as a major problem in state government.” Half-measures on reform aren’t cutting it.

CNN: Ex-Israeli PM Ehud Olmert sentenced for taking bribes from US businessman –> “Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been sentenced to eight months in prison for taking cash from an American businessman. He was also fined $25,700.”

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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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