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.


Campaign Finance/Elections

Washington Post: Can unlimited contributions to political parties really reduce polarization? –> Important corrective from Lee Drutman on the notion that we just need to get rid of party limits to reduce polarization, with this conclusion: “Like most factors in political life, polarization is complicated. The likelihood that polarization can be reduced by a single institutional change is doubtful. We ought to be especially careful when that institutional change – allowing unlimited contributions to parties – comes with the danger of further empowering a very small, unrepresentative and highly polarized slice of the population that accounts for the vast majority of high-dollar donations.”

The Hill: Dems to Obama: Issue executive order on campaign spending –> 104 House members and 26 Senators sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to sign an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending: “With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by Executive Order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner.” Tweet from Nancy Pelosi.

Quad City Times: Congress becomes lobbyist training school –> Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) on his bill with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists: “Unfortunately, growing numbers of these public servants are leveraging their constituents’ trust for cold, hard cash after leaving Capitol Hill.”

Washington Post: Congressional Democrats to introduce new Voting Rights Act fix –> Good: “Congressional Democrats are expected to unveil new legislation this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday, that if passed would restore the requirement for federal approval for voting procedure changes in some states, a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court two years ago.” The Nation, MSNBC.

Brennan Center: Super PACs Gobbling Up Democracy? –> Here’s a Q&A with the Brennan Center’s Brent Feguson on super PACs: “Super PACs spend millions to help get their candidates elected; when a candidate wins thanks to that support, the super PAC and its funders are likely to have more access and influence over government policy than the other 99.9 percent of citizens.”

News & Observer: A way to make US campaigns powered by people, not money –> Nice op-ed in North Carolina by NC PIRG’s Katherine Kehoe: “Poll after poll has shown that Americans get it: Their voices are being drowned out by those who can afford to spend millions. Luckily, there are some possible solutions gaining traction on Capitol Hill. Bills in the Senate and House would give candidates a way to fund campaigns by appealing to the people they’re seeking to represent instead of spending months searching for a few big checks.”

Huffington Post: Making the Economy Work for the Many and Not the Few #12: Most Important of All, Get Big Money Out of Politics –> Robert Reich says “nothing we need to do as a nation is possible unless we limit the political power of the moneyed interests.”

Washington Post: Gyrocopter pilot says no plea deal if prosecutors insist on long prison term –> “The Florida postal worker who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol this spring said Monday that he opposes any plea deal with prosecutors that requires a prison term of ‘several years,’ saying his actions were a ‘pure act of civil disobedience.'”

Congress/Admin/2016

Washington Post: Corn refiners declare war on sugar, conservative groups jump onboard –> One of the best parts of this story on the corn industry going after sugar is that a spokesperson for Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, filled with top GOP donors and funded by billionaire energy industry moguls Charles and David Koch, hits someone else for being in bed with a big industry: “We’re not real interested in climbing in bed with the corn lobby to accuse the sugar industry of being prostitutes. We oppose all forms of corporate welfare.”

POLITICO: Chris Christie to announce 2016 bid as early as next week –> Interesting nugget in this story about a completely independent and not at all coordinated super PAC created to boost Chris Christie: “In addition to building a campaign apparatus, Christie has also hired for a super PAC, America Leads, that will be supporting his candidacy.”

Wall Street Journal: Jeb Bush Picks Woody Johnson as Finance Chairman –> NY Jets owner and almost-billionaire Woody Johnson will serve as Jeb Bush’s finance chairman.

POLITICO: Shakeup continues at pro-Clinton super PAC –> “Guy Cecil, the new head of Priorities USA, has replaced the group’s recently hired finance director and hired two major ad-firms – the latest moves in a major makeover of the underperforming pro-Clinton super PAC.”

CNN: From living rooms to Lady Gaga, Clinton on aggressive fundraising push –> Clinton “has personally attended nearly 50 closed-door fundraising events so far, according to a CNN tally, which vastly outnumbers the introductory sessions she has held with voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.” A few at law firms.

AP: Clinton takes a ‘just enough’ strategy to fundraising –> And from AP: “The goal when she files her first fundraising report next month is to post a number that reassures Democrats she will have the resources to compete with the eventual Republican nominee, but doesn’t chase away the small-dollar donors who would make up her strongest base of support in the general election.”

Des Moines Register: Casinos seek influence in Iowa caucus campaigns –> “The nation’s casino industry, which supports more than 1.7 million jobs in 40 states, is betting Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses will provide a good chance to promote its policy agenda.”

The Intercept: Congressman says he’ll run for president only if he can secure “big money supporters” –> Rep. Peter King on whether he’ll run for president: “It would have to be more of an indication that some of the big money supporters will be there.” And bring with them a snowball from Hell.

Sen. Ted Cruz, in an op-ed opposing the trade deal being debated in Congress: “There’s too much corporate welfare, too much cronyism and corrupt dealmaking, by the Washington cartel. For too long, career politicians in both parties have supported government of the lobbyist, by the lobbyist, and for the lobbyist – at the expense of the taxpayers.” And he’ll give a speech on “the age of cronyism” at Heritage today.

Bloomberg: Ka-Ching! Sheldon Adelson and Fellow Billionaires Boost Republican Senate –> Including big checks from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: “Republicans defending their Senate majority next year got a big boost from a handful of mega-donors, who helped propel the party’s May cash haul ahead of the Democrats’ fundraising.”

POLITICO: $1.4 million ad buy targets Obama’s Iran deal –> “Millions of dollars worth of ads will hit the airwaves this week in an effort to pressure senators to take a hard line against President Barack Obama’s nascent nuclear deal with Iran — with a June 30 deadline to wrap up the agreement just a week away.”

McClatchy: White supremacist cash went to more than 40 GOP candidates, including a black –> Oof: “White supremacist leader Earl Holt III gave more than $80,000 in campaign money in recent years to more than 40 members of Congress and candidates for federal office – all Republicans – ironically including the party’s first black congresswoman.”

The Hill: Lobbyists mobilize for ObamaCare ruling –> “Lobbyists in Washington are scrambling to prepare their clients for the chaos that would likely result from a Supreme Court striking down federal insurance subsidies under ObamaCare.”

National Journal: Masto Campaign Hires Fundraising Team –> “Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign has built its fundraising team for her upcoming swing-state Senate race.”

WMUR: Democrats call on Ayotte to return Bolton contribution –> “The state Democratic Party is calling on Republican US Sen. Kelly Ayotte to return a $5,000 contribution she received from John Bolton, citing the former United Nations ambassador’s involvement in a conservative group that produced a controversial television ad in the fall of 2014.”

WMUR: Conservative super PAC plans to spend millions on 2016 Senate race –> And speaking of the New Hampshire Senate race, billionaire-backed Ending Spending Action Fund “is setting its sights – and money — on a potential 2016 US Senate match-up between Gov. Maggie Hassan and incumbent Kelly Ayotte.”

Other/States

Capital New York: Charter advocate to raise for Cuomo in the Hamptons –> Hedge funders heart Andrew Cuomo: “On the evening of Saturday July 11, [Daniel Loeb] and his wife Margaret Munzer Loeb will host a fund-raiser for Cuomo at their residence in East Hampton, according to an invitation sent out to multiple donors and acquired by Capital.”

Courier-Journal: Bevin loaned $800K to campaign in final days –> In Kentucky: “Matt Bevin used $800,000 more of his own money to fuel his successful stretch run in the Republican primary for governor.”

POLITICO: The EU’s lobbying Full Monty –> “The European Union’s new focus on increased transparency requires political leaders and the groups hoping to influence them to be more open about their activities — mainly by disclosing a lot of information online. But there’s a catch: figuring out what it all means.”

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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