Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, BillMoyers.com 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.


Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced his presidential bid yesterday:

  • He said, “American families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money.”
  • This New York Times piece has a nice kicker on his big backer, Foster Friess: “The money I give will be hard to track,” said Mr. Friess, adding that he had spent $26,000 for a private jet to the rally.
  • And the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus has this, asking, can Santorum raise enough money to compete?

And former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) announced his bid this morning. Here he is a few months ago calling for a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Center for Public Integrity has nine things to know about him.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Auburn Citizen: NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman rolls out campaign finance, ethics reform plan –> It’s a good, strong plan and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers should listen: “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking another swing at ethics reform and ending corruption in Albany.”

LA Times: Montana’s rule on campaign contribution limits is headed back to court –> “A Federal appeals court Tuesday overturned a 2012 ruling that declared Montana’s restrictions on state campaign contributions unconstitutional.”

NYT: Supreme Court Litmus Testing in the 2016 Election –> Linda Greenhouse on litmus tests for Supreme Court justices: “Litmus tests can be problematic, for sure, but let’s be intrigued rather than shocked that opposition to Citizens United has emerged as the latest one.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday: “I would still argue that the worst decision the Supreme Court made was Citizens United, which has unleashed this flood of billions of dollars of unaccounted-for money that will sooner or later… lead to enough corruption that we will have a reform.”

Compliance Week: Former Commissioners Slam SEC for Inaction on Political Spending Rule –> “The latest push to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to act on a largely ignored demand that companies disclose political contributions and spending on lobbyists: pressure from former commissioners.”

Check out some great pics from yesterday’s 99Rise day of action urging President Obama to sign an executive order requiring contractor disclosure. Sacramento, the White House, Bay Area.

Congress/Admin/2016

OpenSecrets/Guardian: GOP donors use Cromnibus changes to stuff party committees’ 2016 coffers; Dem donors MIA –> On the new party limits passed last year: “A new loophole stuck into a budget bill last year allows donors to gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to political parties. However, only the Republican party is benefiting from it.”

CBS News: Watchdog groups ask DOJ to investigate Jeb Bush and his super PAC –> On yesterday’s letter from Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21: “A pair of public interest groups have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his super PAC, Right to Rise, are breaking campaign finance laws.” Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Hill, The Nation.

With former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) expected to announce his presidential bid this weekend, a reminder that he has talked about money on the trail and has endorsed both Rep. John Sarbanes’ (D-MD) Government By the People Act and overturning Citizens United.

Washington Post: O’Malley backers launch super PAC ahead of Democrat’s presidential bid –> Also this: “Associates of former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley are launching a super PAC intended to bolster the Democrat’s prospects as he formally announces his long shot presidential bid in Baltimore on Saturday.”

Sun-Sentinel: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama visit South Florida to raise political money –> And Obama was there too: “Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, begins a two-day Florida swing on Thursday to raise money to fuel her quest to reach the White House. She has two fundraisers in Miami-Dade County on Thursday. She’ll hit Broward on Friday morning, then travel to the Orlando area for a fourth money stop.”

POLITICO: Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal $10K per month while he advised on Libya –> “Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.”

Tampa Bay Times: A-list Florida fundraisers step up for Ron DeSantis Senate campaign –> Florida Senate candidate Ron DeSantis “is rolling out some top tier Florida fundraisers that show he also has considerable support in the GOP establishment.”

POLITICO: Hillary’s Pricey Fundraising Tour Hits DC –> “Tracy Bernstein, who chairs the board at Sasha Bruce, will host a private fundraiser for Clinton on Tuesday, June 9, here in Washington, as the Democratic candidate ramps up her fundraising.”

OpenSecrets: Rove’s ‘new’ group isn’t new, and that could be the point –> On Karl Rove’s new “One Nation” group: “Virginia state incorporation records show that the operatives who run Crossroads simply took over an existing 501(c)(4), and they likely did so because the group had the one thing that has been elusive to Crossroads since its founding in 2010: An approved application for tax exemption from the IRS.”

Washington Post: Ohio Gov. Kasich looks to announce 2016 presidential bid this summer –> Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) looks ready to enter the presidential race this summer with one adviser telling the Post, “The only thing that would stop him is if for some reason the money dries up. But I think it’s going to be fine.”

The Hill: American Bankers Association names Rob Nichols as CEO –> “[Former Treasury official] Rob Nichols will succeed former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating as the CEO of the American Bankers Association, the trade group said on Wednesday.”

The Hill: K Street’s gains felt at boutique firms, too –> “K Street surged in the early months of 2015, and the uptick in business ushered in by the new Republican Congress was felt well beyond Washington’s biggest lobby shops. Many smaller lobby and law firms saw relative gains, according to new analysis generated by Bloomberg Government and provided to The Hill.

Fun new feature from POLITICO on all those ads at Washington’s Union Station: “Every day the thousands of staffers passing through on their way to work are subjected to full-station blitzes intended to grab their attention and move levers with regulators or on the Hill. In this regular feature, we’ll decode the latest.”

AP: Jury convicts ex-US Senate hopeful of violating election law –> “A South Dakota jury on Wednesday convicted former US Senate candidate Annette Bosworth of election law violations.”

Other/States

Facing South: Loophole in NC election law delayed disclosure of $7 million in outside spending –> Interesting new report from our friends at the Institute for Southern Studies on how a loophole in state law led to the delay in disclosure of $7 million in outside spending.

Houston Chronicle: Dark money provision threatens ethics reform bill –> The Texas House and Senate have competing ethics bills. What’s going to happen? “Comprehensive ethics reform spurred by Gov. Greg Abbott could be torpedoed over a controversial campaign finance issue: requiring politically active nonprofits to reveal their donors.”

Times-Picayune: Report urges Louisiana to ban ‘troublesome’ utility campaign contributions –> What could go wrong: “Louisiana is one of the few states that still allow electric and gas utilities such as Entergy and Cleco to give campaign contributions directly to the state regulators that oversee them.”

To read more go to everyvoice.org.


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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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