Morning Reads

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced his presidential bid yesterday and:

  • In the NYT: “On Monday, he gathered some 60 bundlers of campaign donations, from all over the country, for the breakfast; the group was scheduled to have a lunch with Rubio’s campaign team and then get to work en masse for an afternoon round of fundraising calls.” The campaign referred to donors as “national investors.”
  • According to Bloomberg, he has some big fundraising trips coming up, but also, “his advisers hope he’ll get a boost from self-made billionaire donors.”
  • And, according to Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith (no relation): “This may be the first election in which billionaires pick a presidential nominee and that’s good news for Rubio.”
  • POLITICO notes his competition with Jeb Bush, but “sources close to his finance team say that if Rubio can raise $50 million by the beginning of 2016, he can be competitive in the first four primaries.”
  • Breitbart says billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer is on the Rubio train.
  • In an interview with NPR, Rubio said, “we’re trying to raise as much money as we can and that’s important. As long as the media outlets keep charging us for advertising, we’ll have to keep raising money.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about money in politics at yesterday’s briefing (via BNA, $$) and said, “I’m not particularly optimistic about the likelihood that we’ll be able to make substantial progress,” on changing the campaign finance system. But one small, easy step the President could take would be to sign an executive order requiring contractors to disclose their political spending.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Yesterday, Every Voice joined with Citizen Action of New York, Common Cause/NY, and the Working Families Party in urging the New York Board of Elections to close the LLC loophole that allows big donors in the state to evade contribution limits. We also all encouraged our activists to contact the board about it. The loophole is on the agenda for the board’s meeting on Thursday. Times-Union, Journal-NewsRelease, NYPIRG op-ed.

MMFA: Media Largely Ignore the GOP’s Dark Money Problem –> “Media have largely ignored news that likely Republican presidential contenders in 2016 are using dark money and secretive nonprofit groups to sidestep campaign finance laws, despite continuing to scandalize publicly disclosed charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.”

WBAL: Lawmakers pass public campaign finance bill –> After Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) became the first candidate to use the state’s public financing system since 1994, the legislature just passed a bill reinstating a check-off program in hopes of putting it on strong footing for future use.

Senate Finance: Hatch Calls for IRS to Throw Out Proposed Rule Regulating Political Activity –> Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), still angry about the alleged IRS “targeting,” doesn’t want the agency to take any action to clarify 501 c4 guidelines to ensure such “targeting” wouldn’t happen again. Because OK!

Reminder: tomorrow is the deadline for filing first quarter campaign finance filings, so Senate campaigns will print out hundreds of pages (each) of fundraising reports and put them in the mail so they can be scanned and uploaded as unsearchable PDFs to the FEC website. House candidates have been filing electronically for years.

Roll Call: Pillow Talk Tests Ethics When K Street Marries Capitol Hill –> On Rep. Whitfield’s ethics case regarding his wife’s lobbying: “Beyond a few paragraphs urging ‘special caution’ when members have lobbyist family members, the exact parameters of what’s permitted in the House remain hazy.”


CPI: Rapper Pras Michel hit with campaign finance complaint –> Ready or Not, here Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 come: “Campaign finance watchdogs have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against hip-hop musician Pras Michel — one of the founders of the Fugees — and a politically active company under his control.”

It’s tax day tomorrow, MapLight asks: is money in politics to blame for complicated tax returns?

NPR: Super PACS Are Back And They Are More Powerful Than Ever –> “Presidential campaign donors can give as much as they want to super PACs. These groups aren’t officially affiliated with the candidate, but they’re changing the nature of presidential campaigns.”

AP: Dinner with Ted and Heidi Cruz? That will cost $500K –> Ted Cruz’s bundler levels: $500,000 and you’re a Founder, $250,000 a Statesman, $100,000 a General (lol), and $50,000 a Federalist. Founders get dinner with Cruz and his wife.

Mother Jones: Ted Cruz’s Big Money Man Is a Hedge Funder with a $2 Million Train Set –> On Robert Mercer, Ted Cruz’s super PAC backer: “There’s the $2 million model train set he had custom-built in his mansion — and the lawsuit he filed against the builders, saying they’d overcharged him.”

POLITICO: Hillary Clinton embraces small donors in early fundraising –> “A campaign document distributed internally Monday emphasized that Clinton will have a ‘flat fundraising structure’ and a ‘merit-based finance organization.’ She is also trying to make even small-dollar donors feel like they are part of the inner circle, including them in the kickoff finance team conference calls.”

AP: Starting small: Clinton goes for low-key events, fundraising –> Starting small, but “[a]dvisers have set a modest goal of raising $100 million for the primary campaign and will not initially accept donations for the general election.” Modest, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

WSJ: Clinton Aides Recruit ‘Hillstarters’ in $1 Billion Fundraising Drive –> “The Clinton high command – including John Podesta, Robby Mook and Huma Abedin — spent more than a half hour on the phone with some of Mrs. Clinton’s most loyal supporters, who are being asked to join a fundraising team called ‘Hillstarters,’ people on the call said.”

In The Nation on questions Clinton should answer, Public Citizen’s Rob Weismann asks where she stands on money in politics — from a constitutional amendment to small donor public financing and an SEC disclosure rule (she has touched on the issue and supported a public financing bill in the Senate).

National Journal: Democrats Fundraise Off Clinton’s Announcement — Even If They Can’t Endorse Her –> “It’s only Hillary Clinton’s first full day as a candidate, and political operatives already are filling Democrats’ inboxes to the brim with fundraising requests. But most of those requests are not coming from the former Secretary of State’s newly launched presidential campaign.”

WaPo: He’s along for the ride with Martin O’Malley –> On Martin O’Malley and his big donor pal, John Coale: “A retired, once-flamboyant trial lawyer who made millions off the tobacco wars of the 1990s, Coale is using his private jet to ferry O’Malley around early nominating states as the still largely unknown Democrat weighs a long-shot presidential bid.”

Oregonian: Jeb Bush to hold Portland fundraisers for his super-PAC next week –> Both are for his super PAC that he’ll be completely independent of IF he becomes a candidate: “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will make a pair of fundraising stops in Portland next week that looks as if they will attract many of the the state’s longtime establishment Republican donors.”

Reuters: ‘Slicing and dicing’: How some US firms could win big in 2016 elections –> “By one estimate US online political advertising could quadruple to nearly $1 billion in the 2016 election, creating huge opportunities for digital strategy firms eager to capitalize on a shift from traditional mediums like television.”

Years ago as a state lawmaker, Gov. Scott Walker proposed a bill that would have “required independent groups to provide scripts of their ads to the government 24 hours before running them; prohibited political action committees from transferring more than $5,000 to one another; and lifted spending limits for candidates who took public money for campaigns if they came under attack from outside groups.”

USA Today: Ex-lawmakers swing through the revolving door –> “Nearly one-quarter of the lawmakers who left Congress recently are working in positions aimed at influencing government policy, even though they are barred from lobbying their former colleagues and Capitol Hill staff.”

POLITICO: Tom Steyer stars as liberal donors gather –> “Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s fingerprints are all over this week’s spring meeting of the Democracy Alliance — an indication that the influential coalition of liberal donors intends to spend big to elevate climate change, and that Steyer plans to be at the forefront of the push.”

Congressional recess is over–it’s fundraising time.

POLITICO: Boehner’s first-quarter haul: $5.4 million –> “House Speaker John Boehner raised more than $5.4 million in the first three months of 2015, a massive haul that illustrates once again that he’s the central money figure among GOP lawmakers.”

The AP is hiring a campaign finance reporter.

McClatchy: Burr raises $1.8M for campaign –> “Republican US Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem has raised nearly $1.8 million toward a re-election campaign that has yet to have an opponent.” Charlotte Observer.

Star Tribune: Three months after big fine, FEC again warns state GOP to clear up paperwork –> “The Federal Election Commission warned the Minnesota Republican Party that it must straighten out its paperwork and clarify its 2014 year-end reports by mid-May, due to several mistakes.”

Kennebec Journal: Poliquin raises $700K in three months for 2016 re-election bid –> In Maine 2: “It’s a huge haul for Poliquin, who raised $700,000 to Cain’s $136,000 in 2015’s first quarter.”


WaPo: Treasurer of former DC Council campaign is sentenced to prison –> “The treasurer of a disgraced former DC Council member’s campaign was sentenced Monday to 16 months in prison for funneling campaign money into his personal bank account.”

Upstate New York voters are not impressed by new ethics rules passed by the legislature.

Florida News Service: Florida Lawmakers Reel In the Cash in Days, Hours Before Session Starts –> “Florida lawmakers are barred from raising campaign cash during the legislative session. But during the days and hours before the annual session started March 3, about $1.3 million poured into lawmakers’ campaign accounts — with large chunks of money coming from businesses or groups with interests in the Capitol, according to newly filed campaign-finance reports.”

NYT: Ex-Governor Will Lead New Fund at Bain Capital –> “The former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, has joined the private equity firm Bain Capital as a partner to focus on socially oriented investments, a person briefed on the matter said on Monday.”

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Adam Smith is the communications director at Every Voice. He has worked in money-in-politics advocacy since 2006, managing or advising communications efforts for policy and field campaigns in Congress and states across the country. As communications director, he manages media relations and oversees the research and digital teams. Follow him on Twitter: @asmith83.
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