Morning Reads

Wow:  An “associate” of Sen. Ted Cruz “tells Bloomberg that a cluster of affiliated super-political action committees was formed only this week, and among them they are expected to have $31 million in the bank by Friday.” (Note that it’s a Cruz source, not a super PAC one, who  knows the independent group’s fundraising details.)

Also: “The PAC names are ‘Keep the Promise,’ ‘Keep the Promise II,’ and ‘Keep the Promise III.'” Keep the Promise III: Texas Drift is the worst of the Keep the Promise franchise, in my opinion.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Examiner: Norquist Book: IRS assault on Tea Party saved Obama’s presidency –> Grover Norquist’s claims about the impact of alleged “targeting” at the IRS during the 2012 election are laughable but it’s good to see his implicit acknowledgment that the 501 c 4s he’s aligned with have a primary purpose of winning elections.

The Record: Analysis: Menendez case indicates a shift by federal watchdogs –> Some interesting stuff from election lawyers on the Menendez indictment, including this from Brett Kappel: “People are looking at this as though the Justice Department feels it has to step in in the place of the Federal Election Commission and be the primary enforcer, or at least a more assertive enforcer, of campaign finance laws in light of the lack of action by the FEC.”

Baltimore Sun: Senate gives preliminary OK to call for constitutional convention –> “After a vigorous debate over the scope of the First Amendment and whether corporations should have the same rights as people, the Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a joint resolution calling for a national constitutional convention to deal with the issue of money in politics.”

Thursday at 2 pm: a Twitter town hall on an executive order to require government contractors to disclose political spending.


USA Today: 2016 money chase: Where the contenders stand –> “The public won’t see any reports detailing the fundraising and spending by most of these committees until July. A look at some of their early fundraising operations.”

Reuters: Rand Paul’s campaign website accepts bitcoin donations –> Rand Paul is the first presidential candidate to accept bitcoin contributions, following FEC approval of such donations last year. WaPo. (FWIW, nobody really donated in the currency to the candidates who accepted it in 2014).

NYT: Rand Paul Is Trying to Match His Father’s Success With Small Donors –> Rand Paul is in. Will his father’s base of donors help? “We don’t know the answer. The reason it’s hard to know is that the elder Mr. Paul was so good at raising money in small amounts.” WSJ on Paul and Ted Cruz trying to win the small money game.

Mother Jones: The Scandal That Could Blow Up Rand Paul’s Machine –> Andy Kroll on the 2012 Iowa pay-for-endorsement scheme that could come back to haunt Paul’s campaign.

Christian Science Monitor: Rand Paul enters 2016 fray: how big money changes GOP calculus –> “Like Mr. Gingrich, who was a thorn in Mr. Romney’s side for longer than the Republican establishment might have wished, this year’s crop of would-be Republican presidents are filling up on fundraising, making them relatively immune to what the party wants.”

Buzzfeed: Rubio Skipped Closed-Door Briefing On ISIS For Fundraising Trip –> I’m a big fan of making candidates defend skipping official duties to raise money: “While Sen. Marco Rubio was on a big fundraising swing through California, he missed a top secret intelligence briefing on ISIS from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and two closed Intelligence Committee briefings from that period, according to records.”

Buzzfeed: Rubio Wooed Pro-Israel Crowd At Paul Singer’s House –> And he performed well: “Sen. Marco Rubio was the featured guest at an event at Republican donor Paul Singer’s place in New York last Monday attended by influential Republican foreign policy hawks.”

AP: Bush PAC details second round of political contributions –> “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is releasing a list of Republicans he’s giving money to from his political action committee as he moves closer to launching his all-but-declared candidacy for president.”

The Hill: Paul hints at Clinton Foundation scandal –> Some leaky investigators in Congress? Paul yesterday: “There’s going to be something coming out in the next few weeks of companies she approved deals for … [that gave] significant amounts, over $100 million, being given to her foundation.”

WSJ: Reid Backs Progressive Group’s 2016 Ideas –> Good: the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s “Ready for Boldness” campaign urging presidential candidates to support “big, bold economic-populist ideas” has a money in politics component.

Journal-Sentinel: Top mining company official was in line for DNR post, records confirm –> The Scott Walker administration almost appointed to a top natural resources position a lobbyist for a mining company proposing a mine in the state, after the company spent big bucks to elect Walker, “but backed off because of a federal law barring conflicts of interest.” (Don’t worry, they gave him another job instead). NJ scrap was nation’s most expensive for open US House seat in 2014 –> “The 3rd Congressional District race between Tom MacArthur and Aimee Belgard was the most expensive in New Jersey. It also was the most expensive open-seat contest in the country, new Federal Election Commission figures show.”

POLITICO: Republicans give Robert Menendez a pass –> Oh, politics: “The hands-off approach — while not a defense of the New Jersey senator — underscores a private GOP calculation: If Menendez lingers in office with the indictment hanging over his head, the worse it looks for Democrats.”

Buzzfeed: Cory Booker Campaign Will Keep Robert Menendez Money –> “Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign does not intend to return funds received from a political action committee associated with indicted Sen. Robert Menendez, an aide to Booker told BuzzFeed News.”

POLITICO Blast: Melgen blowback –> The last part of this sentence seems like it’d make the first part a little tricky: “The 2016 Democratic hopeful has yet to respond to questions about whether she intends to return the $8,600 Melgen and his wife, Flor, donated to [Clinton’s] 2008 presidential committee, which has since been terminated.”

E&E: Employees negotiate for industry jobs under agency’s eye –> “Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings. Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules.”

POLITICO: Feds bear down on Aaron Schock –> “Several of Schock’s highest-ranking former aides — the men and women who helped make the Illinois Republican one of the highest-profile members of Congress before he resigned in disgrace late last month — trickled into the courthouse in the afternoon to begin testifying in front of a federal grand jury investigating Schock’s handling of taxpayer money.”

Free Beacon: Read the Memo on Jack Lew’s Meeting with Tom Steyer Treasury Tried to Keep Secret –> “Federal officials in February disclosed a document detailing ways in which the Treasury Department might cooperate with billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer.”

The Hill: Senate Conservatives Fund targets McCain –> “The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) has launched an effort to defeat Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), bashing him for failing to uphold the principles of a ‘true conservative’ just hours after he announced his intention to run for re-election.”

Harlan Crow, super rich Texan and GOP political donor, is building a parking garage underneath his house, in part to accommodate guests who come for “political fundraisers.”

HuffPost: The Big Chill: How Big Money Is Buying Off Criticism of Big Money –> Common Cause Board Chair Robert Reich on the big money not just in politics, but in universities, think tanks, and nonprofits: “Even though gift agreements by universities, museums, and other nonprofits often bar donors from being involved in decisions about what’s investigated or shown, such institutions don’t want to bite hands that feed them.”


NYT: Wisconsin Re-elects Liberal Judge, but Opens Door for Conservative Chief Justice –> Wisconsin voters re-elected the “liberal” justice who faced lots of attacks, but passed a amendment that will “make this court more accountable to politics and less accountable to law.”

Oregonian: Kate Brown’s ethics reforms begin march through Oregon Legislature –> “All of Oregon’s legislative leaders but one are holding hands to push through through a package of state ethics reforms first aired last month by new Gov. Kate Brown.” Package includes: beefing up ethics commission, filings by gov spouses and advisers, and audit of public records requests.

Providence Journal: Legislative committees approve bills to close campaign finance loopholes –> In Rhode Island, “House and Senate committees on Tuesday approved bills to plug some of the loopholes that allowed former House Speaker Gordon D. Fox to loot his campaign fund — undetected for years — to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses, including his mortgage and car loans.”

Chronicle: Compromise reported on Senate ethics bill –> “A compromise has been reached to allow passage of a controversial Senate ethics bill that would allow state elected officials to be prosecuted in their home counties, rather than in Austin, the bill’s author confirmed Tuesday.”

Tribune: Rauner: Can’t trust Illinois Supreme Court justices ‘to be rational’ –> Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner took on judicial elections yestrerday: “We have a system where we elect our judges, and the trial lawyers who argue cases in front of those judges give campaign cash to those judges. It’s a corrupt system.” (One wonders if he feels the same for CEOs and companies hoping for pro-business outcomes who also give to judicial candidates.)

With 30 percent turnout–double the typical rate: “For the first time in Ferguson’s 120-year history, the City Council will have three African-American members.”

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