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.

Good for them. FEC Chair Ann Ravel and her colleague Ellen Weintraub aren’t taking the agency’s dysfunction sitting down, USA Today reported yesterday. The two “are filing a formal petition, urging their own agency to write rules to clamp down on unfettered political spending and unmask the anonymous money flooding US elections.” Usually, such petitions are filed by individuals or groups outside the agency. Here’s the petition.

Ravel to CNN: “People will say: ‘You’re the chair of the commission. You should work from within.’ I tried. We needed to take more creative avenues to try and get public disclosure.” Mother Jones.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Washington Monthly: Interview with John Sarbanes –> Great interview with Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) about his Government By the People Act: “It’s not about limiting speech. It’s about adding speech for people who don’t have it.” And Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a cosponsor of Sarbanes’ bill, will hold a telephone town hall on campaign finance for his constituents on Thursday, with special guest Trevor Potter.

Times-Tribune: One candle in darkness –> Editorial from Pittsburgh calling on President Obama to sign an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.

Slate: Is Hillary Clinton Dooming Real Election Reform? –> Rick Hasen thinks Hillary Clinton’s being too partisan in the voting rights fight.

Roll Call: Return to Sender? House Rules May Thwart Delivery of Doug Hughes’ Letter –> Joe Lane volunteered to deliver the letters to Congress that Doug Hughes was unable to after his gyrocopter flight, but House and Senate rules may keep him from doing that.

CBS News: State leaders seek to shine light on election spending –> Great story about what’s happening outside Washington: “Leaders in Washington aren’t doing much about it, but at the state level, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are considering ways to give voters more information about who’s bankrolling expensive attack ads and shadowy robo-calls.”

Medium: Frodo Baggins for President –> Larry Lessig: “If this change is going to happen, it needs a different kind of champion. One who can’t afford — politically — to let it go, because success on this issue is the only measure of her success generally.”

Boston Globe: Citizens United shouldn’t get all the blame –> Lawyer and free speech advocate Wendy Kaminer on Citizens United: “While reducing this complex ruling to a political symbol helps aspiring reformers raise funds and aspiring Democratic presidents organize support, it harms public understanding of electoral speech and spending, and the complicated legal regime that governs them.”

WDIO: Nolan Proposing Campaign Finance Reform, Limits to Campaign Season –> “Before political spending ramps up for the 2016 election, Congressman Rick Nolan is proposing legislation he said could bring dramatic changes to campaign financing.”

Wall Street Journal: Return of the Speech Police –> LOL: “You won’t read much about it in the Beltway press corps, but a behind-the-scenes effort is under way to lobby the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department to stifle free political speech the way the Internal Revenue Service did in 2012.” Wait until you see our fancy SPEECH POLICE badges!

Free Beacon: Tony Podesta, Lobbyist and Dem Fundraiser, Decries Lobbyist Fundraisers –> I missed this detail in last week’s Center for Public Integrity story about Sen. Bennet’s new bill to ban lobbyist bundling. Super lobbyist Tony Podesta: “I’m in favor of banning not just lobbyist bundling but lobbyist contributions.”


Jeb Bush’s new campaign manager, appropriately, has a Twitter profile picture (for now) that’s just a big dollar sign. Maybe a hint at the campaign logo?

AP: Bush fundraising machine preparing for campaign’s launch –> After Bush’s announcement next week, he will “begin an 11-city fundraising tour in Washington on June 19 that will include stops in Florida, New York, Chicago, Texas and Atlanta.”

National Journal: How do presidential candidates spend $1 billion? –> “To answer that question, National Journal used data from the Federal Election Commission and The Center For Responsive Politics to break down President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign expenditures.”

NPR: Billionaire Or Bust: Who Are Rich Backers Lining Up With? –> What could go wrong? “This presidential campaign is turning out to be ‘Billionaire or Bust,’ especially for Bush and other Republicans. The candidates need multimillion-dollar super PACs to help them win, while those super PACs need the candidates to recruit wealthy donors.”

LA Times: Forget voters: presidential rivals battle to win over billionaires –> More on billionaire primary, with this quote from Sen. Lindsey Graham: “The race for the billionaires — it’s changed everything.”

New York Times: Struggles With Finances Track Marco Rubio’s Career –> “As he rose in politics, [Marco Rubio] sometimes intermingled personal and political money — using a state Republican Party credit card years ago to pay for a paving project at his home and for travel to a family reunion, and putting his relatives on campaign payrolls.”

OpenSecrets: Outdoor clothing industry takes a hike to DC –> “The trade group for outdoor retail companies, the aptly named Outdoor Industry Association, spent a record $360,000 in 2014 lobbying Congress on the US OUTDOOR Act and the Affordable Footwear Act, among other issues.”

Washington Post: How cheap is Hillary Clinton’s campaign? This cheap. –> The Clinton campaign is running on the cheap, “partly for show — to demonstrate that Clinton is buckling down and making a 180-degree turn away from the dysfunction of her failed 2008 campaign.

The Hill: Qatar leans on K Street connections –> “Controversy surrounding the World Cup is spilling over onto K Street, where a key player in the scandal that has rocked international soccer is spending millions of dollars to improve its standing in Washington. The government of Qatar, which won the rights to hold the tournament in 2022, has shelled out more than $8.8 million on US consultants since the beginning of 2009, when the bidding began.”

Huffington Post: Hillary Clinton Heading To DC For LGBT Fundraiser –> At $2,700 a ticket: “Hillary Clinton will be in Washington, DC, on Monday night for a fundraiser hosted by and attended by predominantly lesbian supporters.” There also are a few other LGBT fundraising events for Clinton, though without her in attendance, for Pride Week. Hillary Clinton coming to NJ to raise money with Bon Jovi –> Doing his job to ensure she’s not Living on a Prayer to raise the money she needs: “Hillary Clinton is coming to New Jersey this month to raise money for her presidential campaign with Jon Bon Jovi.”

National Journal: A $10 Million Pledge to Push Republicans On Climate Change –> “A North Carolina Republican donor is pledging to spend $10 million through a secretive spending group to push the right to act on climate change and clean energy.” And, “he will launch a social media and online advertising blitz, backed by state and national digital advocacy efforts and a series of strategic grants, as part of a $165 million campaign run through the ClearPath Foundation.”

Washington Post: A brief and incomplete list of the dumbest things presidential campaigns have ever spent money on –> Here’s a list of some “dumb” things presidential campaigns have spent money on, including embroidered airplane seat covers and snow shovels.

POLITICO: Rick Santorum super PAC to be launched –> Some friends of Rick Santorum are in the early stages of starting a super PAC to support him (but remember, his 2012 backer Foster Friess has already indicated he’ll be giving to dark money groups this time around).

Reps. Mark Takano and Mark Takai have a little fun with their new joint fundraising committee: the Takaucus.


POLITICO: How Matt Bevin learned to love Mitch McConnell –> The forced “friendship” between Matt Bevin and Mitch McConnell is sort of delicious and Bevin “has sought to tap into McConnell’s vast fundraising network ahead of what will likely be a bruising campaign against Democrat Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general.”

Capitol Tonight: Corruption Probes Hamper Deal Making, DeFran Says –> New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco says it’s hard to get through the rest of the legislative agenda because everybody’s corrupt (okay, so that’s my paraphrase of what he said).

Boston Globe: Baker, state GOP’s use of federal funds questioned –> Oops: “Governor Charlie Baker’s political operation and the state Republican Party are relying on the party’s federally raised donations to rebuild his campaign account, despite a 1998 Massachusetts law banning the use of federal funds for state political activities.”

Dallas News: Attack ads move dark-money debate from national stage to Irving council race –> Dark money isn’t just for Congress, check out this city council race in Texas.

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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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