Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, as well as other news of the day, we’re pleased to publish this daily digest compiled by’s Michael Winship.

Lies, damned lies and statistics –> Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards deserved hazardous duty pay yesterday as she endured hours of yelling, haranguing and misinformation from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during hearings into the organization’s funding and those now infamous, edited videos. But she never backed down, even in the face of spurious data and misleading charts. The headline to Kimberly Truong’s article at Mashable says it all: “Congressmen mansplain women’s health issues to Planned Parenthood president.”

Judd Legum at ThinkProgress notes, “… Even among Planned Parenthood’s fiercest critics, the hearing was not received well. Pro-life conservatives blasted the spectacle on Twitter. The editors of several prominent anti-abortion publications said the questioners were unprepared, incompetent and embarrassing.” MORE from Mother JonesRolling Stone, NPR.

Meanwhile, Did Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis secretly meet with the Pope? Her lawyer says yes.

No time for cowards –> Writing about John Boehner in The New Yorker, Jeff Toobin notes, “He fought the good fight against the extremists in his Republican caucus, the narrative goes, but his solid Midwestern virtues (he’s from Ohio) were ultimately no contest for the extremism of the Tea Party. This interpretation is far too generous to Boehner, whose failures, political and substantive, were due mostly to cowardice. The tragedy of Boehner is that he could have been a great Speaker, even on his own terms, but instead his legacy is one of almost complete failure.”

Flash! Federal judge rules a contribution can be a bribe –> The Huffington Post’s Paul Bluemethal reports, “A district court judge on Monday dismissed four corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and his donor Salomon Melgen, but denied motions to toss out other charges including, notably, the senator’s solicitation of contributions for a super PAC.” Judge William Walls ruled that “the charges related to the super PAC contributions made by a corporation run by Melgen and solicited by Menendez would stand. In his opinion, Walls writes that ‘the Constitution does not protect an attempt to influence a public official’s acts through improper means.'”

Those meddlesome millionaires (and billionaires) –> ICYMI in yesterday’s New York Times, Ashley Parker reported, “In an election cycle that is already on track to break spending records, and with few limits on contributions to “super PACs” and other outside groups, big donors have never been more important. No longer satisfied with sitting on the sidelines and writing big checks, many of them are eager to play larger roles in the campaigns…

“On one hand, the campaigns and their affiliated groups rely on the financial support and appreciate the occasional insights that come from people who have been successful in other fields. On the other hand, they find themselves devoting more and more time to stroking donors’ egos, weighing their ideas, and soothing supporters whose panicked phone calls can be prompted by anything from an alarming Twitter post to a small stumble on a morning show.”

Teachout’s big surprise –> Law professor, historian and former NY gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout is now CEO of MAYDAY.US, the campaign finance reform group founded by Larry Lessig. MAYDAY just conducted a survey, and Teachout writes at The Huffington Post, “I assumed that because no major Republican candidates are talking about public financing of elections, we’d see low support [among GOP voters] for public financing and fundamental reform. Not because I think public financing is a partisan issue… But national Republican leaders have been weak and absent on the issue, talking vaguely about reform and corruption but silent on how to do anything meaningful about it.

“But here’s what we learned: Supporters of Republican presidential candidates want to see fundamental structural change in how we fund elections as badly as Democrats do.”

New Twitter subscriber –> Edward Snowden, already exchanging tweets with, among others, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Long but very worthwhile reads –> Election Law Blog’s Rick Hasen at Talking Points Memo on “Why The Most Urgent Civil Rights Cause Of Our Time Is The Supreme Court Itself.” AND, Moyers & Company guest and New York Times Magazine chief national correspondent Mark Leibovich on why “Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere.”

ALSO, Patrick Kingsley at The Guardian on a day in the life of a refugee rescue ship: “’This job must be done,’ the captain says. ‘In the sea there must be no sinking. God gives life so people must live.'”

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