Money Talks: Must-Read Stories About Money and Politics

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Welcome to this week’s roundup (Feb. 17-24, 2015) of must-read stories in the world of money and politics. Check back on Tuesday afternoons for more on the ever-increasing influence of the super-rich on the American government. In the comments section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on these stories and any we may have missed.


Here’s what people are saying this week:

red-quotation-50Should the city of Chicago or the state of Illinois reduce the influence of special interest money in elections by financing campaigns using small contributions from individuals and a limited amount of public money?”

— A question put to voters Tuesday in Chicago. The ballot initiative to introduce publicly financed campaigns has the support of all five mayoral candidates.


red-quotation-50Today, the litmus test is, ‘Where are you on your own government spying and hacking American companies?’ If you can’t say without any caveats, commas, equivocations, walk-backs that the answer is no, then you’re just not going to get anywhere out here.”

— Wade Randlett, a Bay Area-based Democratic fundraiser, on whether Hillary Clinton can win over Silicon Valley. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Bay Area is Clinton’s biggest opportunity to expand her 2008 fundraising base.


red-quotation-50Surely California voters are entitled to information as to whether it is even citizens of their own republic who are supporting or opposing a California ballot measure.”

— Ciara Torres-Spelliscy of the Brennan Center for Justice on a pending Supreme Court petition filed by ProtectMarriage. The group seeks exemption from disclosure laws, claiming their officers, recipients and donors could be subject to “threats, harassment, or reprisals” if disclosed.


red-quotation-50Commissioner Goodman is mistaken about the intent of CREW’s proposal. The goal is to close a loophole in disclosure laws, not censor speech about issues on the Internet.”

— Adam Rappaport of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Federal Election Commissioner Lee Goodman recently condemned a proposal that would allow the FEC to regulate certain online campaign activity. Here, Rappaport responds that Goodman “simply is wrong,” pointing out that one PAC alone, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, spent am undisclosed $750,000 on digital ads last fall.


red-quotation-50Everyone thinks you’re a stoner if you support marijuana reform, but that’s just not the case. I don’t enjoy smoking pot. I don’t wear tie-dye shirts. And I don’t wear flip-flops.”

— Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, telling The Hill about life as a marijuana lobbyist. Riffle says Congress members take him more seriously and are more eager to meet than in past years.


red-quotation-50The problem with an elected judiciary, is sometimes, the right decision is neither easy nor popular. And yet, campaigns force judges to look over their shoulder on every ruling. Because, while political attack ads can be aggressive, judicial attack ads can be downright horrifying.”

— John Oliver, outlining the insanity of judicial elections in Sunday’s Last Week Tonight monologue.


red-quotation-50There are some academic studies that have suggested that judges do change their behavior. So for example, in election years, if you look at judges’ sentencing decisions, judges tend to be harder on crime.”

— Alicia Bannon of the Brennan Center for Justice, explaining the problems with elected judges on Last Week Tonight. Watch the video below:


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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