What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Big Money Push to Help GOP Save Congress From Trump

Good morning! Here’s your daily digest of money-and-politics news and the headlines of the day.

Morning Reads: GOP Donors Push to Save Congress From Trump

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) talks to reporters after the weekly Republican policy luncheon with Senate GOP leaders, November 10, 2015. Ayotte is in a tough reelection race against Democratic State Governor Maggie Hassan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Holding the line in the states –> “Establishment Republicans and their big-money allies are rushing to build a multistate defense system to protect Senate and House candidates, fearing that the party could lose its hold on Congress if Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket in November,” Matea Gold and Paul Kane report at The Washington Post. “The behemoth Koch operation — which aims to spend almost $900 million before the November elections — is now considering abandoning Trump as a nominee and focusing its resources on behalf of GOP congressional candidates.”

And Eliza Newlin-Carney writes for The American Prospect, “The money will be concentrated on nine competitive contests in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Depending on how the GOP presidential primary unfolds, now-safe Republican seats in Arizona and Missouri could come into play as well… Democrats predict that they will be outspent again in this year’s Senate contests, but that they will have enough money to get their message out. If they win, however, it won’t prove that money doesn’t matter — only that even money can’t hold back a tidal wave.”

Foreign entanglements –> In his State of the Union address soon after Citizens United came down, Obama said the decision would allow foreign special interests to pour money into our elections — to which Justice Samuel Alito, who had sided with the court’s majority, shook his head and appeared to mouth the words “not true.” At The Intercept, Jon Schwarz writes, “Alito was right to the extent that Citizens United didn’t change the law that forbids political spending by ‘foreign nationals’ (which covers foreign governments, corporations, and individuals)… But what Citizens United did do was make it possible for U.S. corporations to spend unlimited amounts directly from their corporate treasuries on electioneering — and the money in corporate treasuries belongs to the company’s shareholders.” Many of those shareholders may be the aforementioned “foreign nationals.”

FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub described a plan to change this in The New York Times this week, but acknowledged to Schwarz that Republican commissioners at the famously deadlocked agency will almost certainly prevent her idea from getting very far.

And, at Bloomberg, Bill Allison writes, “A nonprofit with ties to Senator John McCain received a $1 million donation from the government of Saudi Arabia in 2014, according to documents filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service… [Public Citizen’s Craig] Holman said that the Clinton Foundation, whose top donors include Australia, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Sweden, may have started the trend of foreign governments donating to nonprofits connected to political figures.”

New dog whistle –> At Slate, Jamelle Bouie points to a recent article by Kevin Williamson in the conservative National Review in which Williamson wrote, “If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy… The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die.” Bouie observes, “… More whites than ever are sinking toward the bottom, living in the same conditions that have faced black Americans for decades. And suddenly, conservatives are talking about them in the same way…

“The inversion of status, or at least a dramatic decline in status, is happening. National Review did us the service of making that explicit. The big question—perhaps the single largest question of American history—is whether this will inspire empathy and fellow feeling with minorities or just become tinder for the ongoing racial reaction.”

Harbinger of things to come? –> Trump won Louisiana, but Cruz has managed to wrangle the system so that he will head to the convention in Cleveland with the majority of the state’s delegates. TPM’s Tierney Sneed explains what happened — and suggests that the fight over delegates in this state could be the first of many as Republican elites steer toward a contested convention.

And, at our site, Michael Winship takes a hard look at the Democratic Party’s system of “superdelegates” — elected officials and party insiders who get a vote at the convention. Most have declared for Clinton but the Sanders campaign is trying to persuade them otherwise.

Taking on the misinformation industry –> David Heath at the Center for Public Integrity: “A group of U.S. senators has asked the National Institutes of Health to make it easier to tell who funds research published in scientific journals. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, on Wednesday released a letter sent to NIH Director Francis Collins asking that the National Library of Medicine make changes to its public database of 25 million journal articles, called PubMed, to reveal conflicts of interest in research.” The letter follows reporting by Heath on the ways corporations hire scientists to produce research showing their own products are safe, even when they’re not. According to Blumenthal’s letter, industry now employs “more scientists than nonprofits, universities and the government combined,” and cites “growing concerns about objectivity in numerous scientific disciplines — including nutrition science and research on health risk from chemicals.”

What’s the standing record? –> “On Wednesday, The Huffington Post assigned five and a half reporters to look into a roughly 12,000-word transcript of Trump’s town hall event on CNN the night before. It took us hours, but in all, we found 71 separate instances in which Trump made a claim that was inaccurate, misleading or deeply questionable. That’s basically one falsehood every 169 words (counting the words uttered by moderator Anderson Cooper), or 1.16 falsehoods every minute (the town hall lasted an hour, including commercial breaks).”

Morning Reads was written by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!


We produce this news digest every weekday. You can Sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.