Morning Reads

With Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) retirement announcement last week, Vox reminds us of this story: “When a man tried to offer Reid a bribe in 1978, he reported it to the FBI. They set up a sting, but Reid ended up going off-script and choking the criminal as he was about to be arrested.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

Bloomberg: Look Up in the Sky! Caped SEC Chief Urged to Curb Campaign Cash –> On the new effort urging the SEC to adopt a political spending transparency rule. Lisa Gilbert: “It’s their mandate to do this for investors. It gets harder and harder to ignore when you have state treasurers weighing in, a collection of institutional investors, and a massive amount of retail investors supporting it.” Public Citizen news release.

Diamondback: US Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John Sarbanes Discuss Campaign Financing With UMD Students –> On last night’s money-in-politics forum at College Park. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “We, of course, pride ourselves in the words that we have a government for the people, of the people, by the people. Of course, we meant to spell by ‘B-Y,’ not ‘B-U-Y.’” Van Hollen sent a letter to President Obama last week urging him to sign an executive order on government contractor transparency.

Brennan Center: Federal Contractors Should Disclose Political Spending –> “Ahead of the 2016 election entering full swing, President Obama should mandate disclosure of political spending by government contractors to boost public confidence in government, argues a new Brennan Center analysis issued today.”

WSJ: New Ethics Measures in Albany Get Tepid Response –> A deal on ethics has been reached in Albany and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says, “I don’t think that this is going to get at the root of corruption.” (He’s right.) The bill itself hasn’t actually been disclosed yet either.

The Hill: Universal Voting Would Be Good for Our Democracy –> I missed this great piece from J. Mijin Cha last week on President Obama’s suggestion of mandatory voting. “More people voting means wealthy campaign donors have less influence because elected officials will have to be more responsive to their voting constituents and not just to donors. This threat is one of the fundamental reasons why anti-voting advocates have launched a full-on assault against the right to vote. ”

HuffPost: Most Americans Want Their State to Make Voter Registration Easier –> “A 54 percent majority of Americans say they’d favor an automatic registration law in their state, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, while 55 percent favor allowing eligible citizens to register on the day of an election.”

Perkins Coie: FEC’s McCain Decision Opens Still Another Path for Independent Expenditures –> “An overlooked enforcement decision by the Federal Election Commission involving Senator John McCain’s 2010 campaign may put another type of player onto a campaign field that has become increasingly dominated by super PACs, nonprofits and non-candidate groups — other candidates’ campaigns.”


NPR: Money Rules: Candidates Go Around The Law, As Cash Records to Be Smashed –> “By not declaring, and thus not being constrained by federal limits, they are free to coax billionaires into writing multi-million dollar checks. In other words, they can raise more money, more easily, than if they were official candidates, spending it to set up staff and travel to places like Iowa and New Hampshire freely.”

CRP: ‘I’m Not a Candidate’: How Presidential Hopefuls Get Around Finance Rules –> Russ Choma and The Guardian’s Dan Roberts on not-candidates stretching the limits this cycle: “A joint analysis by the Guardian and the Center for Responsive Politics has found multiple instances where politicians do appear to have sailed dangerously close to the definitions used by regulators.”

As Jeb Bush began a “a four-day, five-city fundraising tour” in California yesterday (including one with a “yachtsman”), he was asked by Hugh Hewitt if he was a candidate. “Not today,” he replied.

POLITICO: Hillary Clinton Advisers Take Early State Tour –> Also today in not-candidates: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager-in-waiting Robby Mook and Democratic operative Marlon Marshall are spending time in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, meeting with political influencers in the first two voting states in the presidential nominating process, a Democratic source confirmed on Monday.”

WaPo: Marco Rubio Is a Much Better Fundraiser Than You Think He Is –> “Because every conversation I have with a member of the Republican political class about Rubio begins and ends with some version of ‘Can he raise the money?'” (Yes, probably.)

NYT: Amid Inquiry, Menendez Finds Well of Support Among Jewish Leaders –> As Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) awaits DOJ action: “In his moment of political peril, Mr. Menendez, who has denied any wrongdoing, has found perhaps his deepest well of support in the expansive pro-Israel community, including prominent Jewish Democrats concerned about the direction of White House negotiations with Iran.”

Sen. Reid to CNN on going after the Koch brothers –> “No one would help me, they were afraid they’d go after them. So I did it on my own. That’s what I felt I had to do.” (Also, see his comments about the rules change debate)

Tom Toles on the renovations of the Capitol dome.

WSJ: Chris Christie to Hold Fundraiser for Iowa Sen. Grassley –> It’s a good time to be a candidate for office in Iowa and New Hampshire: “Gov. Chris Christie is bringing a slice of Iowa to New Jersey in June with the Republican holding a fundraiser for GOP Sen. Charles Grassley.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has raised over $100,000 off last week’s threats from Wall Street banks to withhold cash from Democrats.

CPI: Rapper-Backed Group Illustrates Blind Spot in Political Transparency –> Ready or Not for this story, here it is: Did you know Fugees founder Pras was behind “one of the largest donations to a super PAC” by an LLC?

WSJ: Key Senator to Take Closer Look at FTC-Google Meetings –> Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “plans to ask the Federal Trade Commission for information about meetings it had with Google Inc. executives while the FTC was investigating the company for possible antitrust violations.” The Hill. Awkward: He has a fundraiser with Google today.

CRP: Company Awarded First Federal Offshore Wind Farm Spends Big in DC –> “It has been nearly 15 years since a proposal to build wind turbines in federal waters was first floated by Cape Wind, but a Virginia power company with a much more substantial Washington money presence is poised to take the baton over the finish line.”

I was cleaning up my office yesterday and found this 1996 report from the Center for Responsive Politics, “Wall Street Goes to Washington.” Weird how people in it were already complaining about Elizabeth Warren.

USA Today: Aaron Schock is Gone, But Will ‘Downton Abbey’ Look Remain? –> Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-IL) resignation becomes official today.


NYT: Exposing Hedge Fund Politics in New York –> Really awesome work going on in New York exposing the political influence of hedge funders: “It is aimed at outlining the ways hedge funds bleed the economy through self-interested practice and then extend the damage through the lavish purchase of political influence.”

Capitol Media Services: Boost in Campaign Contribution Limits Gets Preliminary OK –> In Arizona: “State senators voted Monday to let special interests give candidates more money, while throwing another roadblock in the path of voters wanting to enact their own laws.”

AP: Analysis: Many Minnesota Lawmakers Make Move to Lobbyist –> In Minnesota: “Many states and the US government have limits against quick moves for lawmakers to become lobbyists. Minnesota does not have a law, but the state House has a rule calling for a one-year cooling off period that’s often ignored. There’s no penalty for violating it.”

Sherlock star Martin Freeman cut an ad for the Labour party ahead of May’s British elections and he uses some familiar language: “… Labour will make sure the economy works for all of us, not just the privileged few.”

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