Money Talks: Must-Read Stories About Money and Politics

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Welcome to this week’s roundup (Jan. 6-13, 2015) of must-read stories in the world of money and politics. Check back on Tuesday afternoons for more on the increasing influence of the super-rich on the American government. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these stories and any we may have missed in the comments section below.


Here’s what people are saying this week:

red-quotation-50Inevitably, when you ask for something and someone provides it for you, you feel a sense of obligation.”

— Tracey George, Vanderbilt University professor, speaking to Al Jazeera America about research that shows campaign contributions have a measurable effect on judges’ rulings. On Jan. 20, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a Florida statute prohibiting judges from making direct solicitations.


red-quotation-50Rich liberals have gotten over any lingering qualms about writing huge checks to unlimited-money groups … that liberals including President Barack Obama had blasted as undermining American democracy.”

POLITICO reporter Kenneth P. Vogel on the biggest disclosed donors of 2014.


red-quotation-50I’m glad that Democrats have realized that being pro-business doesn’t have to mean being pro-Wall Street.”

— A senior democratic aide to the Huffington Post after the House defeated a GOP-backed Wall Street deregulation bill, thanks to votes from 44 “flip-flopping” Democrats who supported similar legislation last session.


red-quotation-50Never try and sell your clients or anybody else on crap that isn’t going to happen … Anybody on the outside who says we can change how the House or Senate works is smoking something legalized in Colorado.”

— Jim Richards of Cornerstone Government Affairs to POLITICO. With Congress back in session, lobbying firms are tasked with tempering clients’ unrealistic expectations, while looking for opportunities to add their pet projects to legislation.


red-quotation-50At a time when income inequality is much debated, the representatives we choose are overwhelmingly affluent … Struggling Americans should not assume that their elected officials understand their circumstances.”

— Center for Responsive Politics Executive Director Sheila Krumholz in an Open Secrets report on the wealth gap between the American public and their representatives. The median net worth of Congress members was $1,029,505 in 2013 — equivalent to the pooled wealth of 18 average American families.


red-quotation-50Sub-zero temperatures greet us this morning, with a brisk and deadly wind.”

— Lawrence Lessig, blogging about Day 2 of the NH Rebellion. For the second January in a row, protesters are marching across the state of New Hampshire to raise awareness of the need for campaign finance reform.


red-quotation-50I would have to concede something that I did not do … They would have given me a slap on the wrist, but an innocent person doesn’t deserve a slap on the wrist.”

— Former US Senate candidate and tea partier Christine O’Donnell to the Associated Press. O’Donnell refused to settle a lawsuit brought by the Federal Election Commission, claiming she illegally used $20,000 in campaign contributions to pay the rent for an apartment where she worked and lived in 2010-2011. The FEC seeks reimbursement and a fine.


red-quotation-50In all the conversations that I’ve had with residents throughout Washington State, I can tell you that I’ve never heard anyone — Democrat or Republican — argue that the wealthy can’t spend enough on politics.”

— Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), speaking on behalf of his Close the Floodgates Act, which would reverse the tenfold increase in the amount of money individuals can donate to political parties, which was passed late last year.

Katie Rose Quandt reports and produces for She was previously a senior fellow at Mother Jones and has written for America, In These Times and Solitary Watch. Follow her on Twitter: @katierosequandt.
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