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.


With George Pataki’s 2016 entrance yesterday, we’re three for three this week as presidential candidates make money-in-politics references in their announcements:

  • On Thursday, Pataki said, “Today, there is one former member of Congress lobbying for every current member and the first thing I would do is ban members of Congress from ever lobbying. If you serve one day, you are banned, go home.” (He posed for pictures with a Stamp Stampede activist)
  • On Wednesday, Rick Santorum said, “American families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money.”
  • On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders said, “American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections… It is one person, one vote — with every citizen having an equal say — and no voter suppression. And that’s the kind of American political system we have to fight for and will fight for in this campaign.”

Will Martin O’Malley continue the trend this weekend? Previously, he has called for overturning Citizens United and endorsed the Government By the People Act.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Wall Street Journal: Former SEC Officials Want Disclosure of Corporate Political Donations –> “A bipartisan group of former top Securities and Exchange Commission officials has published an open letter to current Chairwoman Mary Jo White asking the agency to require corporations to disclose their political spending.”

Free Speech for People: Actress Debra Winger Joins Congressman Jim McGovern in Cambridge Calling for a 28th Amendment to Reclaim Democracy –> “Winger made a powerful connection between the dangers we face with unchecked corporate power tracking and targeting our communications on the Internet and the dangers we face with big money influence in our politics.”

New York Times: Polluted political games –> Great Nick Kristof column on our “disgraceful money-based political system,” with a call for President Obama to sign an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political donations.

Texas Tribune: Ethics Reform: A Guide to What’s Still Alive –> The debate continues in Texas: “The sweeping ethics overhaul that sparked such heated debate at the Capitol has gone on death watch in the final days of the 2015 session, but a few targeted efforts to increase disclosure and rein in abusive practices still have a good chance to succeed before the gavel comes down Monday.”

Campaign Legal Center: New Litigation Summary from CLC Reveals Ongoing Flood of Challenges to Campaign Finance Laws –> “Following Citizens United, ideological and interest group opponents of campaign finance regulation have continued to flood the courts with cases challenging campaign finance laws at the federal, state and municipal levels.  The number of lawsuits across the country and the number well-funded groups bringing those suits continues to grow. The Legal Center has released an updated summary of that litigation to facilitate the tracking of the long list of cases.”

Brennan Center: Courts Shine Light on Dark Money –> Ciara Torres-Spelliscy: “But on occasion the truth about the source of dark money comes out because of litigation.”

The Nation: The Conservatives Who Gutted the Voting Rights Act Are Now Challenging ‘One Person, One Vote’ –> Why you should watch Evenwel v. Abbott: “Ed Blum, who brought the case that led to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, is now going after the historic principle of ‘one person, one vote.'”

The Atlantic: Could Hillary Clinton Be the Champion Campaign-Finance Reform Needs? –> Larry Lessig: “The question is not whether Hillary Clinton is a criminal. Of course she is not. The question is whether she can carry the mantle of a reformer.” He expands on his blog.

Congress/Admin/2016

CNN: Congress flocks to Taylor Swift concert –> “A whopping 19 congressional lawmakers and political action committees are reserving private boxes to host fundraisers at Swift’s concert at Nationals Park on July 14 and 15, according to Coalescent, a fundraising firm.”

Buzzfeed: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted On Federal Charges –> Wow: “The Justice Department has indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert on reporting evasion charges and lying to the FBI as part of an effort to conceal paying off the victim of ‘prior bad acts.'” (Hastert’s lobbying firm, Dickstein Shapiro, must be paying him big bucks to be able to afford this kind of payoff.)

Heh. RT @DavidAxelrod: One irony of Hastert’s statement to FBI about not “trusting banks” is that the lobbying firm for which he worked represents them.

National Journal: Jeb Bush’s History of Outsourcing His Campaign So He Can Raise Big Money –> “As Jeb Bush circa 2015 considers pushing the campaign finance envelope by offloading expenses to an outside group, he has a ready model to emulate: Jeb Bush circa 1998. That’s the year the Republican Party of Florida paid for his TV ads, his polling, and even his campaign staff’s salaries as he ran for governor.”

Buzzfeed: Hillary Clinton Campaign Outlines Plans For Fundraising and First Big Speech –> “Hillary Clinton’s campaign aides knocked down speculation that they’re aiming to raise $2 billion for the primary and general elections, saying the total they expect to need to win the White House is closer to the $1 billion that President Barack Obama needed to win re-election in 2012.”

Washingtonian: Metro Bans Political Advertisements for the Rest of the Year –> So what ads are they going to put up at Capitol South and Union Station? “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says no more political or issue- based advertisements will appear at its stations or on its vehicles this year, an apparent response to a New York group’s latest attempt to place potentially incendiary billboards around DC’s public transportation network.”

CNN: Will Democrats keep hammering the Kochs? –> Short answer: yup. And this is a good point from American Bridge’s spox: “If you talk about the Koch brothers as an amorphous, DC big money and politics, it’s not a very effective message because people don’t see how it affects them in their daily lives. But when you can connect it to people’s lives, then it makes a lot more sense.”

POLITICO: Rand Paul’s money problem –> Don’t be fooled. This story about a “money sweepstakes” and “consolation prize” isn’t about a game show, it’s about Rand Paul unsuccessfully wooing billionaires for his campaign. This web video from a pro-Paul super PAC will get some attention online today.

Bloomberg: Chris Christie and Ted Cruz Slam Iran at Adelson Event –> “Chris Christie and Ted Cruz — potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination next year — competed for the affections of one of the party’s most prized benefactors: billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.” Wall Street Journal. In a weird twist, it was Adelson — not politicians — on the auction block at the event.

QC Times: Sanders: ‘It’s not about me…it’s about you’ –> In Iowa yesterday, Sanders said, “Billionaires should not be able to buy elections.”

Yahoo: Here’s where George Pataki will look for campaign money –> “If Pataki does attract donations, they’ll come from connections he established as governor—including many of the world’s wealthiest businesspeople.”

Yahoo: Here’s where Rick Santorum gets his campaign money –> “In the past, however, Santorum has generated support from a few key money mavens he’ll no doubt lean on this time around.”

The Hill: Bush 41 fundraises for Jeb super-PAC –> “The eldest Bush is asking supporters to donate $3 to Jeb’s super-PAC, Right to Rise, and enter a raffle contest to win a picture of the pair playing tennis. He added that the super-PAC team will double all donation entries for the next 24 hours.”

National Journal: Lindsey Graham Allies Form Super PAC Ahead of 2016 Run –> Security is Strength PAC: “Allies of Lindsey Graham have created a super PAC to raise cash for the outspoken Republican senator as he prepares to launch his long-shot presidential bid in South Carolina next week.”

NYT: Gay Hotelier Who Hosted Ted Cruz Made a Campaign Donation, Too –> Remember that story about the gay hoteliers hosting Ted Cruz at their house? Turns out one of them gave $2,700 to Cruz but then asked for a refund once people learned about the meeting and got angry.

OpenSecrets: Chemical safety law rewrite triggers strong reactions –> Russ Choma looks at the ongoing fight over chemical safety regulations.

On June 17th, you can have a “Conservation with John Podesta” at this Clinton campaign fundraiser hosted by the PAC of lobby firm McGuire Woods and former Senator Evan Bayh.

AJC: Private fundraiser serves as Clinton’s campaign debut in Atlanta –> “Hillary Clinton made her first visit to Atlanta this campaign season on Thursday, but it wasn’t to hold a round-table discussion or meet with small business owners like she has in recent visits elsewhere. The Democratic front-runner’s trip took her to the Buckhead estate of A.J. Johnson, a private equity financier and a member of the Points of Light board, for a closed-door fundraiser.”

NYT: On Trade, Unions Open Aggressive Ad Campaign Against Democrats –> On his trade position: “The A.F.L.-C.I.O. will begin broadcasting advertisements in the California district of Representative Ami Bera, who has twice narrowly won election and who came out this month in favor of the trade promotion authority.”

Good point on Foster Friess saying he’ll give to dark money groups to help Rick Santorum: RT @NickConfessore: Consider: a donor says he wants to give money to elect a candidate but will give through groups that claim not to be electing candidates.

POLITICO: Ex-Schock aide dishes to FBI –> “A onetime aide to Aaron Schock told the FBI this week that the embattled ex-congressman and two employees flew on a private jet with an insurance company executive last year, prompting the adviser to raise concerns about the legality of the trip.”

Other/States

Facing South: Gov. McCrory goes to bat for Big Energy –> North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory hearts the energy industry: “The revelations by Facing South and other media outlets about McCrory’s role in the Governors Coalition also comes in the wake of growing scrutiny over the governor’s close personal and political ties to some of the nation’s most powerful energy concerns.”

Capital Tonight: Skelos And Son Indicted On Six Counts  –> With an additional indictment not mentioned in the original criminal complaint: “Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam were indicted Thursday on a half-dozen counts of extortion, bribery and fraud by US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.” Unrelated, some western New York politicos had their homes raided.

AP: Connecticut House votes to change public campaign financing rules, limit contributions –> “Connecticut’s public campaign financing program faces some major changes under a bill that has cleared the House of Representatives.”

Arizona Republic: Michele Reagan offers big assist to dark-money forces –> “Arizona continues its descent into darkness this week as the state’s chief elections officer announces that no longer will her office enforce a law designed to give candidates who are targets of political attack ads time to respond.”

Oregonian: House unanimously passes Kate Brown’s plan to remake Oregon ethics panel –> “With almost no discussion, the Oregon House on Thursday unanimously approved Gov. Kate Brown’s bid to remake the state panel that investigates ethics complaints — making it the second of Brown’s proposed ethics reforms to pass a legislative floor vote.”

Louisiana Record: Justice Hughes asked to recuse himself in several cases involving large campaign contributor –> “Three major and several independent oil companies have asked Louisiana State Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes to recuse himself in a pair environmental lawsuits up for review. They claim he is tainted by trial lawyers who spent nearly $400,000 of their own money getting him elected.”

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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