Morning Reads

This Nick Confessore and Maggie Haberman piece in the Times this weekend on Jeb’s “inevitability” is very good, with details on calls from Sheldon Adelson, dinners with hedge funder Paul Singer, and more: “Several donors said it was too early to line up behind one candidate, or hinted that Mr. Bush should not take their support for granted.”

With big corporations dropping ALEC like fourth period French, the organization would very much appreciate it if Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters would stop calling them climate deniers, and they’ve sent a cease and desist letter to make their case. Common Cause statement.

Campaign Finance/Elections

HuffPost: Bob Menendez Corruption Case Reads Like An Indictment Of Citizens United Ruling, Too  –> Paul Blumenthal: “This is exactly the kind of behavior that Kennedy could not fathom happening.” WaPo editorial: “The reality of corrupt politics — money for favors — is growing more evident by the day.”

The Hill: President should act to make campaign financing transparent –> Public Campaign President Nick Nyhart has this op-ed calling on President Obama to sign an executive order requiring contractors to disclosure their political spending.

There were rallies around the country Thursday urging President Obama to sign the executive order. Here’s a round-up of pictures and news stories. In response to a question about the executive order, a White House spokesman said Friday, “this is an issue that is important to the president.”

Seattle Times: Seattle initiative drive seeks public campaign financing, reform –>
Our friends in Seattle have filed a pretty bold ballot initiative for November that would create a small donor public financing system through a voucher program, address contribution limits, and tighten enforcement, among other things. The city has to approve it before signature gathering begins. The Stranger.

New paper in the American Journal of Political Science  –> “In the experiment, a political organization attempted to schedule meetings between 191 congressional offices and the organization’s members in their districts who were campaign donors. However, the organization randomly assigned whether it revealed to congressional offices that prospective attendees had contributed to campaigns. When informed prospective attendees were political donors, senior policy makers made themselves available between three and four times more often.”

HuffPost: The Surprising Voting Rights Issue Both Democrats and Republicans Support –> Good to see bipartisan support growing for this: “… It turns out there is at least one voting rights issue that Republicans can get behind: reinstating voting rights to certain criminals after they get out of prison.”

With Rand Paul set to launch his campaign tomorrow, Playbook reports his “top issues” will include “IRS reform, term limits.”


LAT: Presidential candidates-to-be make the most of fundraising rule-bending –>
“The charade comes to an end this month for many of the 2016 presidential contenders, who have long avoided saying they are running — while they are so obviously running — in order to sidestep rules that burden declared candidates.”

MSNBC: Clinton hopes to tap small-donor network that beat her in 2008 –> “In another break from her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton plans to focus far greater attention on energizing the grassroots base and raising money for her anticipated 2016 presidential run through small contributions.” CNN with some details on the not-candidate’s campaign in waiting.

National Journal: Rand Paul Taps House GOP’s Troublemakers to Boost 2016 Campaign –> Are you a member of Congress that wants to support Rand for President? Here’s your job: “Personally call your 10 best donors and recruit them for Team Rand. … Provide a list of your political staff that is willing to help Team Rand… Provide a list of your $500+ donors and send a letter to that group…”

National Journal: Rand Paul’s Team Shopping for TV Time In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina –> “Days before Rand Paul plans to officially launch his presidential campaign, his longtime media-buying firm is shopping around for April and May television ad time in the first three states on the primary calendar—potentially including a half-hour, infomercial-style block in Des Moines.”

Politico: Gary Hart: Billion-dollar Clinton campaign should ‘frighten’ Americans –> Hart: “The prospect of a billion-dollar Clinton campaign “ought to frighten every American and “[t]he post-Citizens United campaign finance environment has sullied the presidential process, he said.”

Automotive News: Dealers place bets on presidential election –> I believe this is the first Automotive News story in the daily clips: “It’s still early in the presidential election cycle — the Iowa caucuses are some nine months away — but the contest for dollars is well under way, and some high-profile auto dealers have begun placing their political bets.”

WSJ: Fans of ‘Ready For Hillary’ Headed to Emily’s List –> “Should Mrs. Clinton declare she is running for president, Ready for Hillary’s 2.2 million Facebook fans and 145,000 Twitter followers will be donated to Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to supporting Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, Ready for Hillary said.”

Politico: Florida’s fundraising explosion –> On the battle for Florida donors: “Indeed, the Sunshine State is steadily growing as a fundraising mecca.” Also of note: Rubio fundraising with Sheldon Adelson’s people tomorrow (they had dinner together in March when he was in DC).

McClatchy: Even before presidential launch, Rubio has built nationwide money machine. –> “Sen. Marco Rubio, who is likely to formally declare his intention to run for president later this month, already has built an operation that brought in cash from all corners of the nation and banked more money than similar congressional fundraising operations.”

Palm Beach Post: Harry Reid, Jon Tester steer early money to Patrick Murphy Senate campaign –> “PACs controlled by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester were among the early contributors to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s 2016 Senate campaign, putting an early establishment imprimatur on the 32-year-old congressman’s bid.”

The Hill: Karaoke group to raise money for Rand Paul 2016 –> “A Virginia youth organization vowed Saturday to hold karaoke fundraisers for the Kentucky Republican.”

NYT: GOP’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift –> “Republicans currently in the Senate raised more money during the 2014 election cycle in direct, federally regulated campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees deemed pro-Israel than their Democratic counterparts, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and analyzed for The New York Times by a second nonprofit, MapLight. The Republican advantage was the first in more than a decade.”

NYT: Menendez Has Record of Overcoming Crises –> “Mr. Menendez has rejected suggestions that he announce now, as he fights the criminal case, that he will not run for re-election in 2018, according to political associates who asked to speak anonymously about sensitive conversations.” When “Menendez fought graft, with courage.”

Tampa Bay Times: Selling off the presidency –> This column on presidential fundraising and the pro-Jeb dark money group has this great line: “And while the Republican field of possible presidential candidates is beginning to look like Animal House’s toga party, former Gov. Jeb Bush has emerged as the leading Bluto Blutarsky of fundraising bacchanalia.”

NYT: Comcast Recruits Its Beneficiaries to Lobby for Time Warner Deal –> Nonprofits, think tanks, and politicians have been offering support for the Comcast/Time Warner deal and “there is a common element to dozens of these appeals: The senders received money from Comcast in recent years, either as a charitable donation, corporate support or a political contribution, records show.”

NYT: Big Business and Anti-Gay Laws –> NYT editorial on business opposition to anti-gay laws in Indiana and Arkansas: “If corporate leaders are serious in opposing discrimination, they should refuse to finance the campaigns of lawmakers who want to deny civil rights to gays and other minority groups.” David Cay Johnston on “how corporate power and ‘religious freedom’ threaten democracy.”

Politico: The center-right fights back –> “The deep-pocketed American Action Network, which has raised over $104 million since 2011, will put $1.8 million toward ads in 76 districts touting members who stood up to right-wing pressure and supported the House leadership on the budget and bipartisan Medicare legislation.”

The Hill: Nigerian power shift leaves lucrative lobbying contracts in limbo –> “Millions of dollars in contracts held by U.S. strategists could be in jeopardy after a historic presidential election in Nigeria that marked the first time a sitting president had been defeated.”

Reuters: Nationals Park, Where Washington’s Power Elite Goes To Relax –> People in Washington love the Nationals, Reuters reports, and “[f]undraisers are frequently held at the ballpark, often attracting a who’s-who of Washington influence peddlers.”


Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge funder who once said the wealthy have “insufficient influence” in politics is a big fan of Rahm Emanuel. “Opponents of Mr. Emanuel point to these donations as an example of how Wall Street reaches into its deep pockets to ensure it has a say in policies.” To help end corruption, more limits are needed –> Public Citizen’s Craig Holman writes that Philadelphia’s campaign finance laws are good but, “The board could take one more big step. The city’s pay-to-play ordinance restricts contractor contributions to super PACs that spend more than half their funds for a single candidate, but many super PACs and contractors do not know this.” CATO’s John Samples responds.

Gotham Gazette: Advocates: Cuomo, Legislature Squandered Moment for True Reform –> Sounds like Albany: “It is said that good ideas went unused because Team Cuomo refuses to entertain anything it doesn’t come up with first and in the end what could have been a transformative moment resulted in more of the same, Cuomo’s third incremental ethics reform package in four years… revealed to most legislators with a heap of voluminous budget bills only hours before they came to a vote up against the final deadline.”

NYT: Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Raises Concerns About Partisanship –> The Wisconsin Supreme Court race is ugly: “The election is officially nonpartisan, but the ideological divides are clear. Money has poured in from far beyond Wisconsin, and harsh advertisements have filled the airwaves. Donations have poured in, including some from outside Wisconsin, and harsh advertisements have filled the state’s airwaves.”

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