Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date with all the news on how money continues to corrupt American government and politics, is pleased to be publishing this daily digest of money and politics news compiled and edited by Adam Smith, communications director of the non-partisan campaign finance reform group, Every Voice.

The Koch brothers’ political machine is expanding into new states and recruiting new donors, according to this POLITICO article by Ken Vogel. Their aim is to shape the Republican Party — and the presidential field — headed into 2016.

Yesterday in Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) signed into law bipartisan legislation to increase disclosure of dark money political spending. Here’s Paul Blumenthal’s story explaining the bill and our statement.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Stars and Stripes: Rare internal voice of dissent leaving US Army to start nonprofit –> “After three lonely years firing missiles at the military power structure, Lt. Col. Danny Davis is leaving the Army with a new target in sight: big money in politics.”

MSNBC: New study rebuts John Roberts on Voting Rights Act –> “A comprehensive new study by a renowned historian and expert in voting discrimination suggests what voting rights advocates have been saying all along: that Roberts got it wrong” in Shelby.

Bloomberg: Congressional Democrats Reignite Efforts to Control Money in Politics –> Headed by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD): “A week after a Florida man illegally landed his gyrocopter at the US Capitol to deliver a message on the need for campaign finance reform, US House Democrats on Wednesday announced the ‘relaunch’ of a task force to push toward that same goal.” Here’s our statement.

Public Citizen: Political shareholder spending resolutions: the big 10 –> “Investors across the country are gearing up to take on corporate executives at annual shareholder meetings. Shareholders have filed more than 100 resolutions at companies asking for more information about electioneering and lobbying spending.”

Daily Star: Court upholds campaign finance reporting requirement –> “Groups attacking politicians can’t hide their funding sources simply by claiming they’re ‘educating’ voters on issues, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded Tuesday.”


NYT: Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company –> Several Clinton Foundation stories this morning including this one on a Russian company that took over a Canadian one with uranium-mining stakes: “But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.”

WaPo: For Clintons, speech income shows how their wealth is intertwined with charity –> “Bill Clinton was paid at least $26 million in speaking fees by companies and organizations that are also major donors to the foundation he created after leaving the White House, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records and foundation data.”

POLITICO: Book alleges donor cash influenced Hillary’s stance on Colombia trade deal –> “Hillary Clinton’s role as secretary of state had a direct impact on the business interests of Canadian mogul Frank Giustra, a ‘friend of Bill’ and major donor to the Clinton Foundation who benefited from her support of a 2011 free trade agreement, a much-anticipated new book alleges.” It looks like the foundation has some filing errors.

Bloomberg: Hillary Clinton Campaign Ramps Up Attack on Follow-the-Money Book –> “Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign ramped up its effort to paint a forthcoming book on the subject as little more than a partisan attack that lacks ‘a shred of evidence’ supporting its claims.”

Salon: Jeb the Destroyer –> Rick Hasen on Jeb’s plan to delegate tasks to his totally independent super PAC: “His approach will be the new model of presidential funding in future elections and greatly increases the threat that large donors will have even greater influence over electoral and policy outcomes than they already have.”

Reuters: Why Jeb Bush’s super PAC plan is potentially illegal –> Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer writes the play may be illegal: “Under a little-noted provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, if a candidate or officeholder or their proxies is directly or indirectly involved in ‘establishing, financing, maintaining or controlling’ an outside entity, like an individual-candidate super PAC, it is illegal for the super PAC to receive or spend contributions that exceed the limit on contributions to a federal PAC of $5,000 per donor per year.”

HuffPost: Wealthy Donors Are Throwing Way More Money At The Republican Party This Year –> Taking advantage of the new party limits: “In the first three months of 2015, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the three main party committees for Republicans collected more than $5 million for three newly created accounts — the headquarters, convention and legal services accounts — as well as for the expanded recount account.”

POLITICO: Marco Rubio takes lead in Sheldon Adelson primary –> “Before Iowa and New Hampshire, GOP candidates are competing in the Sheldon Adelson primary, and some will travel to his posh Venetian hotel in Las Vegas this weekend in hopes of winning it. But one candidate — Marco Rubio — has emerged as the clear frontrunner, according to nearly a half-dozen sources close to the multi-billionaire casino mogul.”

WaPo: Republican Jewish Coalition says it sees fundraising boom –> “The Republican Jewish Coalition — whose board includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and other GOP megadonors — has brought in scores of new contributors alarmed by the open sparring between President Obama and Netanyahu over how to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities, said Matthew Brooks, the RJC’s executive director.”

Tampa Bay Times: Norman Braman begins financing pro-Rubio Super PAC –> Marco Rubio’s super PAC sugar daddy Norman Braman revealed Wednesday that he’s funding a Rubio Super PAC, but did not get into specifics. “It will be significant and it will all be public,” Braman said. “It’s what the law is. It’s what the Supreme Court decided. Would I rather see a different system? Of course I would. It’s pathetic that all this money that goes into these political campaigns can’t be channeled (in a different way). But you have to compete.”

The Hill: Pressure mounting for GOP lobbyists to deliver –> They didn’t spend all that money for nothing: “Republican lobbyists are facing high expectations from clients to show results and prove their worth now that the GOP controls both the House and Senate.” Here’s a list of first quarter lobbying revenue.

The Intercept: Taco Bell lobbyists thank congressional staff with 6,000 tacos –> “On Tuesday afternoon, to thank congressional staffers for all they do on behalf of the fast food industry, franchisees hosted their annual reception at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, a free food give way in which staffers and interns gorged themselves on unlimited free Taco Bell tacos and nachos.”

Roll Call: GOP Leaders Tap K Street, Wall Street Cash –> On joint fundraising committees by GOP leaders: “Republicans have been much swifter to leverage the fundraising power of such joint campaign accounts than Democrats, tapping CEOs, investment bankers and K Street lobbyists for donations in the $40,000, $50,000 and even $100,000 range.”

CRP: For Earth Day, Industry-Backed Republicans Look to Delay Power Plant Rules While Obama Talks Them Up –> “Back in Washington, House Republicans observed the occasion with a subcommittee vote on a measure that would delay those rules. The sponsors of the bill, as it turns out, are pretty tight with electric utilities and oil and gas interests.”

The Hill: Former Dem senator joins top lobby firm –> “Former Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a strategic adviser in its government relations department.”


Times Union: Huge tax break in play for builders –> A big tax break for NYC’s wealthiest developers is under consideration in Albany. Citizen Action’s Jess Wisneski: “If 421-a is renewed this session, it will be the clearest example of wealthy campaign contributors’ return on investment.”

Wichita Eagle: Kobach PAC now embroiled in state naming-law issue; ‘stupid’ PAC gets letter from ethics panel –> Due to some naming rules for PACs in Kansas, “It’s Time to Fix Stupid” will have to change its name to “to more clearly reflect your interest.” Feel like it’s pretty clear.

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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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