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: W.H., Watchdogs rail against ‘dark money’ provision tucked into House bill –> Good Tom Hamburger story on House Republicans doing their best to protect dark money corporate spending in politics. It also includes this quote from the White House, after the spokesperson declines to discuss a proposed executive order on disclosure of government contractor spending: “We believe Republicans should be taking steps to fix the campaign finance system, not trying to protect their ability to accept dark money.”

Huffington Post: Corporate Greed Must End –> Sen. Bernie Sanders, in an op-ed, writes: “As a result of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, corporations and the very wealthy are now spending billions to elect candidates who will represent their interests. That is why we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections.”

Reflector: Big money harms elections –> Nice letter from NCPIRG’s Katherine Kehoe praising Republican Rep. Walter Jones for cosponsoring the Government By the People Act.

Morning Consult: Why the FEC’s Deadlock Won’t Change Any Time Soon –> “But there is no sign of a wholesale change at the Federal Election Commission for what might seem like a bizarre reason: There aren’t enough qualified lawyers in Washington.”

Congress/Admin/2016

Just one month after Sheldon and Miriam Adelson each gave $226,800 to Senate Republicans, those Senate Republicans (including presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham) yesterday introduced his bill to ban online gambling.

National Journal: Inside the Mind of an Uncommitted Republican Mega-Donor –> Adam Wollner interviews Frank VanderSloot, a big GOP donor, and offers some details on how much time a few candidates–especially Marco Rubio–are spending to woo him (access that regular voters could only dream of).

Vox: The first-ever Super PAC criminal is going to jail. But the real scandal is what’s legal. –> “This month, the first person ever was sentenced to prison for illegal use of a Super PAC. Don’t expect many more to follow in his footsteps. As the 2016 campaign gears up, these big-money outside groups and the donors behind them are more influential, and less independent from the candidates, than ever.”

National Journal: Jeb Bush’s Super PAC is Blurring ‘Jeb!’ Signs in Its Own Ad. Here’s Why. –> Ok I did not know this: Right to Rise PAC’s new ad for Jeb “the group is blurring the multitude of ‘Jeb!’ stickers and signage in the Miami crowd. It’s not for style. It’s to comply with the law. Federal election law says that broadcasting written or graphic materials prepared by a campaign amounts to a contribution and, thus, is subject to campaign-contribution limits.”

Ted Cruz: Sen. Cruz: It’s Time to Break the Washington Cartel –> In a speech yesterday at the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Ted Cruz explained, “A bill is set to come before Congress, and career politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder. Corrupt backroom deals result in one interest group getting preferences over the other, although you give the other a chance to outbid them.” Cruz’s one reform suggestion, banning former members from becoming lobbyists, is fine but his other, that we need to get rid of contribution limits, will only make this problem he describes worse. It’s hard to square the conflicting rhetoric.

CNN: GOP 2016ers battle for second in fundraising war –> A good read: “It’s already clear that Jeb Bush will come out on top regardless of whether he hits or even surpasses the $100 million target many in the donor world set for the former Florida governor. The more interesting question, many donors and campaign operatives say, is who will come in second.”

Yahoo: Here’s where Bobby Jindal gets his campaign money –> Bobby Jindal is running for president and he “enters the presidential race with a funding deficit that seems likely to get worse.” More from the Center for Public Integrity. In a brief mention in his announcement yesterday, Jindal said, “We reformed our ethics laws.”

MSNBC: Bernie Sanders: I have taken on big money interests –> Sen. Sanders on Morning Joe yesterday: “I have taken on every element of big money interests in this country.”

Mother Jones: You’re Going to See an Explosion of Online Political Ads in 2016 –> This cycle, “[e]very device you own, from your smartphone to your Kindle to your iWatch, will be a delivery vehicle for attack ads and other campaign spots.”

Every Voice: Real Housewives Have Real Influence in Politics –> Our intern Bianca is obsessed with the Real Housewives so she’s starting a series of blog posts about the reality stars’ political giving.

CNBC: Senators rake in big money from pro-trade donors –> On the trade bill that passed the Senate yesterday: “industries, such as banks, insurance companies, utilities and many more, that back the bill in its current form have donated $218.4 million to current senators since October 2008, according to money in politics researcher MapLight.”

POLITICO: Well-funded vets groups prepare for 2016 battle –> “The effectiveness of the two groups, which are increasingly important to their respective parties in promoting national-security strategy, is a testament to the ability of military issues to sway public opinion — and the willingness of mega-donors on both sides to pour money into causes that tap into that power.”

Cap Times: Ron Johnson, Russ Feingold trade barbs on PACUR payment, PAC spending –> “A little more than a month into the race, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s and Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold’s teams continue to trade barbs over campaign finance issues, each accusing the other of gaming the system.” (And Johnson still won’t say whether he’ll agree to an outside spending pledge proposed by Feingold.)

WPRI: Martin O’Malley holding fundraiser in RI next month –> “Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will visit the state on the evening of Tuesday, July 7, for a ‘cookout’ fundraiser at the Jamestown home of former Princeton Review CEO Michael Perik and his wife, Liz, according to an invitation obtained by WPRI.com.”

National Journal: Boehner vs.-Freedom-Caucus Battle Escalates –> Speaker Boehner is not taking dissension in his ranks lightly and those feeling the pain “are rethinking paying their dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

Time: FEC Tells ‘Jews for Cruz’ PAC to Change Its Name –> “Jews for Cruz, a political action committee (PAC) of Jewish-American Ted Cruz supporters, will have to change its name.”

Other/States

Michigan Campaign Finance Network: Dark Money and Justice, Michigan is like no other state. –> Wow: “A record $42.5 million was spent for candidate-focused television advertising that was not reported to the State in 2014, including $35.2 million in the gubernatorial campaign between incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger, former congressman Mark Schauer.”

Bloomberg: This Is How Uber Takes Over a City –> “Although Uber promotes itself as a great disrupter, it’s quickly mastered the old art of political influence. Over the past year, Uber built one of the largest and most successful lobbying forces in the country, with a presence in almost every statehouse.”

Capital New York: Sampson disputes ‘corruption,’ cooperation as trial begins –> “The trial of State Senator John Sampson began in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday morning, as lawyers from both sides presented opening statements to the jury, with defense attorneys disputing the idea that Sampson was the latest in a string of political corruption cases.”

News.com: Tony Abbott says Victorian Liberal party fundraising theme of stripping citizenship from terrorists ‘poor taste’ –> Australian politics, not so different than here: “Tony Abbott said he was unaware of a fundraising campaign being used by the Liberal party, which uses the theme of stripping citizenship from terrorists. The Victorian division of the Liberals are using the theme of stripping citizenship from terrorists to raise funds for the party’s election campaign.”

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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