Money & Politics

This Week in Political Money: Will Missouri Voters Get a Chance to Vote Big Money Out of Politics?

Our weekly roundup of money we're following...

This Week in Political Money

The Missouri State Capitol building (Wikimedia Commons)

We’ll be posting this roundup each week leading up to Election Day. Share your thoughts about these must-read stories and always feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.
 
 
THIS WEEK’S TOP STORY

Missouri is one of a handful of states that puts no limits on campaign donations, leading to some fairly eye-popping money-changing. But this week, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, certified that backers of an initiative to reinstate campaign finance limits in the state have gathered enough valid signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. Interestingly, the effort is in part bankrolled by Republican activists on the religious right. Congressional Republicans tend to oppose restrictions on campaign spending, but the Missourians who support campaign donation limits see an opportunity to limit spending by “elites” — including those opposing evangelical causes, such as restrictions on abortion.

A coalition of business groups now is suing keep the measure off the ballot. One of the plaintiffs: the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, which just last month gave $1 million to Consumers for Energy Fairness — a group opposed to a form of billing that advocates say will encourage the use of alternative energy, such as solar.

 
 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

As a businessman, a father and a conservative it is clear to me that Hillary Clinton is the right choice in this election.”

—Former MGM CEO and Republican donor Harry Sloan, who endorsed Clinton this week.

 
 
CAMPAIGN CASH SNAPSHOT

Figures for presidential and congressional races from the Center for Responsive Politics; figures for state races from the National Institute of Money in State Politics. All figures as of close of business Aug. 10.
 
 
CHART OF THE WEEK

This year, the large gender gap among donors seems to be narrowing slightly, with the percentage of female donors who gave more than $200 to a candidate increasing from 30 percent in 2012 to 35 percent this year, Ashley Sorenson writes for the OpenSecrets blog. Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy has quite a bit to do with this: Sorenson finds that the Democratic presidential nominee’s has more female than male donors. But, among this year’s top donors, the vast majority are still men, as the chart below shows.

STAT OF THE WEEK

340 percent

The proportion by which the number of political ads on the airwaves increased from June to July in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale television market. The state holds its congressional primaries — including a competitive race between Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson to become the Democratic Senate candidate — on Aug. 30. Via: Ad Age.
 
 
RACE OF THE WEEK

Though not the most well-financed candidate in the race, conservative radio host Jason Lewis on Tuesday won the Republican primary in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. The district is one of roughly two dozen congressional districts out of the country’s 435 that are considered “toss ups” this year. Lewis was not the first choice of the GOP establishment: He has made a number of racially charged and misogynistic statements on the air and in his books.

Yet Lewis does have some deep-pocketed fans. Among his top donors: Freedom Club of America, whose past beneficiaries included Michele Bachmann; the interestingly named Killer Whale Holdings LLC, an investment firm; and employees of Vibrant Technologies, a company that sells tech hardware.
 
 
DONOR OF THE WEEK

Exxon Mobil Corporation Political Action Committee

This group was one of several — including Koch Industries and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers — to heavily reward Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) for legislation that would delay stricter smog standards and weaken the Clean Air Act. Clean Air Watch tracked HR 4775 as Olson introduced it, attended hearings about it and championed it on the House floor — all while receiving a flurry of contributions from fossil fuel-aligned groups. “It’s noteworthy that so much corporate money rolled in, given that Olson won re-election without breaking a sweat — winning two-thirds of the vote,” Clean Air Watch’s Frank O’Donnell writes.
 
 
SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT OF THE WEEK

If you can’t attend the Olympics in Rio, the Hillary Victory Fund is offering the next best thing — the opportunity to watch two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan ice skate in Minnesota. You can get into the event for $50 — or “host” it for $2,700. (H/T: Political Party Time)
 
 

MUST-READS FROM HERE AND ELSEWHERE

John Light

Reporter/Producer

John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He’s a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.

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