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.


The US Chamber of Commerce, the biggest lobby group in Washington, and its foreign affiliates have become the “hammer” for the tobacco industry around the world, according to this must-read New York Times story on the group.

And this interesting nugget on these affiliates offering foreign companies access to the US government as a selling point for membership: “For foreign companies, membership comes with ‘access to the US Embassy’ according to the Cambodian branch, and entree to ‘the US government,’ according to the Azerbaijan branch. Members in Hanoi get an invitation to an annual trip to ‘lobby Congress and the administration’ in Washington.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

New York Times: Supreme Court Rebuffs Lawmakers Over Independent Redistricting Panel –> Very good news from the Supreme Court yesterday: “The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Arizona’s voters were entitled to try to make the process of drawing congressional district lines less partisan by creating an independent redistricting commission.” Statement from Common Cause

New York Times: At the Supreme Court, a Win for Direct Democracy –> Richard Pildes on the decision: “As a result, direct democracy will remain available to constrain partisan gerrymandering and other ways legislatures seek to manipulate democratic purposes for self-serving reasons.” Rick Hasen.

Brennan Center: Why the Arizona redistricting decision matters –> Wendy Weiser: “the Court left open what historically has been one of the few effective tools citizens have had not only to combat partisan gerrymandering, but to enact other election reforms like Washington State’s top-two primary system.”

Center for Public Integrity: Gridlocked elections watchdog goes two years without top lawyer –> No General Counsel: “The Federal Election Commission, a bipartisan agency charged with enforcing and administering the nation’s campaign laws, will next month zoom past a fairly preposterous milestone given its mission: two years without anyone leading its nonpartisan legal office.”

AP: Supreme Court denies Renzi appeal of conviction –> Also at the Supreme Court yesterday: “The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from former Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi seeking a new trial after his conviction on public corruption, money laundering and other charges.”

The Hill: Supreme Court denies states’ request for proof of voter citizenship –> And another good thing from SCOTUS: “The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case allowing states to require proof of citizenship for those applying to vote in federal elections, effectively upholding a lower court ruling against Kansas and Arizona.” Rick Hasen.

The Hill: FCC again signals no plan to require political ads to name top donors –> I missed this at the end of last week: “Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler again signaled his agency is not focusing on a Democratic push that would require some political ads to name the top donors behind them.”

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) has this graphic about his new bipartisan bill to reform the FEC.

The Intercept: Obama could fix dark money, but would rather just yell at Republicans about it –> On Obama and a dark money executive order: “Republicans do still face the very real danger that his spokesperson will say mildly disapproving things about them.”

Congress/Admin/2016

Des Moines Register: Jindal returns to Iowa with stops in 3 towns –> The interesting part about this story on Bobby Jindal’s town hall meetings in Iowa this week is that they are being sponsored by his super PAC. How’d they get that coordinated?

Here’s a Q&A with the Washington Post’s Matea Gold about what she’s looking for in the upcoming FEC filings.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton Faces a More Liberal Democratic Fund-Raising Landscape –> Nick Confessore and Derek Willis have this super interesting story on Democratic fundraising: “Hillary Rodham Clinton will seek out donors to her presidential campaign from a Democratic fund-raising landscape vastly altered since her first presidential bid and far more ideologically aligned with the party’s liberal activists.”

USA Today: Republican field races to catch up to Bush fundraising –> “As the first big fundraising deadline of the 2016 White House contest approaches, the major Republican contenders are scrambling to secure the money needed to keep their political ambitions alive in a crowded and still growing field.”

National Journal: Chris Christie’s biggest backer: Would I write a check for $10 million? No –> Shane Goldmacher interviews billionaire GOP donor, and Chris Christie supporter, Ken Langone about 2016 and what he’ll be doing to help the governor: “I’m relentless. I’m not going to stop. I put a mirror under your nose. If I see mist, I ask you for money. If there’s nothing there, I’m talking to a stiff.” Bloomberg.

Concord Monitor: With Sanders and Chafee in state, Clinton and O’Malley supporters on hand, Democratic competition on full display in NH –> Spotted in New Hampshire this weekend doing important work: “Also at the event was campaign finance reformer and Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig, who continued his calls asking New Hampshire residents to make election funding a priority as they vet candidates in the months ahead.”

Daily Times Herald: O’Malley: Big money men put nation on brink of ‘pitchforks’ –> In Iowa: Martin O’Malley “supports publicly financed campaigns, and says the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which allows for unlimited expenditures for interest groups, has turned American politics into a highest-bidder auction.” He told the crowd, “Citizens United should be called ‘Citizens Don’t Matter.'”

Boston Globe: Heavy hitters raising cash for Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley –> “Prominent members of a Massachusetts Democratic fund-raising network that boosted Barack Obama in 2008 and Deval Patrick two years earlier are hosting high-dollar events for presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Tuesday.”

National Journal: Money for Now, Money for Later –> “Every 2016 candidate is collecting contributions up to $2,700—that’s the legal limit for what they can raise, per individual donor, and spend during the primaries. But some politicians are soliciting cash above that level, building up a general-election bankroll that they can’t touch during the primary and can use only if they become the nominee.”

AP: Everybody’s Got an Angle for Raising Campaign Cash –> “When it comes to raising money by email, everybody’s got an angle. Some of the ‘ask’ strategies being employed by the 2016 presidential candidates.”

Roll Call: Cruz Says McConnell Misled on Funding Incumbents –> “Sen. Ted Cruz is suggesting current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell misled him about the objectives of the National Republican Senatorial Committee last cycle.”

CNN: Source: Koch brothers have yet to give money to any GOP candidate –> “Charles and David Koch have not cut a check to any of the Republican presidential hopefuls, according to a person familiar with their political activities. Nor do the brothers plan to jump into the fray ahead of a June 30 fundraising deadline that has candidates scrambling for cash.”

Washington Post: How Marco Rubio turned political star power into a soaring personal income –> As Marco Rubio rose through the ranks of the Florida House he found some nice work outside the legislature: “About 80 percent of his total income during his state House tenure came from Florida law firms that lobby state and local governments, according to a Washington Post analysis of state financial disclosure forms.

New York Times: Rand Paul Mixes With the Marijuana Crowd to Raise Funds –> Today, Rand Paul “is scheduled to hold a fundraising reception at the Cannabis Business Summit meeting in Denver.”

Washington Post: Brother, can you spare a dollar? Clinton asking for $1 donations as deadline nears –> “With an important fundraising deadline approaching on Tuesday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton has been attending one, two or sometimes three ticket-only events nearly every day, while her campaign hits up potential supporters for online contributions as small as $1.”

Washington Post: The Podesta Group has earned at least $1.15m lobbying for Puerto Rico –> “The Puerto Rico Treasury Department has paid lobbyists at Podesta Group — the firm founded by Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta — at least $150,000 so far this year in part to lobby on a bill that would grant the US territory the same protection under Chapter 9 bankruptcy as US states, according to lobbying records.”

Other/States

Houston Chronicle: Politicians seek to boost donations on eve of reporting deadline –> From the Texas ATM in Houston: “With one day left in the second quarter, political candidates for offices from City Council to the presidency are squeezing in last-minute fundraisers and donor calls, hoping to boost their accounts in time for the dollars to show up on July’s finance reports, often used to gauge a candidate’s viability.”

Times Union: The election fix is still in –> Editorial in New York: “Why do they fear a more honest system? The state Legislature left a big issue undone last week: fixing New York’s election system. That’s not to be confused, as the Legislature so often does, with fixing elections in New York.”

To read more go to everyvoice.org.


You can get our Morning Reads delivered to your inbox every weekday! Just enter your email address below…

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.

  • submit to reddit