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 publish 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.

Campaign Finance/Elections

New report from Public Citizen –> “If President Barack Obama were to issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending, it would reach at least 70 percent of the Fortune 100 companies.”

The Nation: Will the Courts Finally Block Texas’ Worst-in-the-Nation Voter-ID Law? –> “The Texas voter ID law is once again before a court on Tuesday, when the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will consider whether to uphold a lower-court decision striking down the law as an ‘unconstitutional poll tax.'”

Salon: Scalia and Roberts don’t know best: Here’s how we take our politics back from reactionary court and billionaire donors –> Maryland State Senator and congressional candidate Jamie Raskin has this op-ed on the fight for a constitutional amendment to address Citizens United: “But if you listened only to some of my colleagues in the legal establishment, you might never know that our unfolding Bill of Rights is a dynamic chronicle of the democratic struggles of the people for participatory political equality nor would you know that the people have often had to override reactionary decisions of the Supreme Court in the process.”

Post-Courier: Amend the Constitution to fix campaign funding –> Former Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) has this op-ed: “Let’s first amend the Constitution to empower Congress to ‘limit or control spending in federal elections.’ Once empowered, fundraising will be limited, partisanship will be limited, gridlock will be broken, lobbyists will be limited and Congress can take control of the government. Instead of working for themselves fundraising, members of Congress can go back to working for the government.”

Huffington Post: Return the Right to Vote to ‘Missing Men’ –> Common Cause’s Allegra Chapman, on felon disenfranchisement laws: “These laws, disproportionately affecting men of color, oftentimes for having committed the same drug crimes as whites, have collectively resulted in the elimination of 5.85 million voices from the political process. Without those voices, underrepresented communities go further marginalized.”


Bloomberg: Billionaire Auditions Spook Conservatives –> Jeanne Cummings: “Not all conservatives are thrilled to watch the growing influence of conservative billionaires in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.” Former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) calls it “not optimal” and former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA): “It’s probably not a great image for the potential presidential nominees to be seen marching up to a bunch of billionaires.”

Huffington Post: How Jeb Bush Is Thumbing His Nose At Voters With His Super PAC Scheme –> Paul Blumenthal has a great interview with Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer on Jeb’s scheme and how we got here: “These are not insurmountable problems. What is currently insurmountable is a Congress that won’t address fundamental problems and an enforcement agency that won’t do its job. I do not expect that to last forever.” Bush also faces another FEC complaint.

Miami Herald: Jeb Bush, still not a presidential candidate, trumpets fund-raising haul –> Nice quote from Every Voice’s David Donnelly in this Miami Herald story on Jeb’s joke of a non-campaign: “By flouting the law and delaying an announcement of his candidacy for President, Jeb Bush is letting million-dollar donors underwrite his campaign, effectively placing the White House on the auction block. His actions only deepen the cynicism that Americans acutely feel about a political system that works for those at the top, and not for the rest of us.” WSJ. He has held 60 fundraisers this year.

Bloomberg: Why Jeb Bush’s ‘Record Sum’ Might Not Matter –> On Jeb’s “record” fundraising: “The question is whether donors writing six- and seven-figure checks can take the place of thousands of small donors and, if not, how successful will Bush be at creating grassroots enthusiasm?”

I missed this great quote from Newt Gingrich in this Washington Post story yesterday, on big donors in 2016: “this year, instead of buying a new yacht, I’m going to spend $70 million on a candidate.”

Vox –> “At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place, according to a Vox analysis of foundation records and federal lobbying disclosures.” NPR on Clinton Foundation transparency.

POLITICO: Labor’s letter to Hillary Clinton –> “When the country’s most powerful union leader delivers what’s being billed as ‘major address’ on Tuesday, it will be widely seen as a memo to Hillary Clinton outlining what she must do to earn organized labor’s support.”

Tampa Bay Times: Marco Rubio’s finances have presented an opportunity — and a curse –> “Yet Rubio’s story also raises old criticisms that he has lacked personal fiscal discipline, got special financial favors and abused campaign funds.”

WSJ: Clinton, Rubio and Bush to Hold Fundraisers in Washington on Thursday –> Thursday night in DC: Sen. Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton will hold fundraisers across the street from each other. I’m hoping Wayne Berman and John Podesta lead a scene like this.

NYT: Head Start for Jeb Bush Campaign Is Part of Scott Walker’s Plan –> Gov. Scott Walker’s team “is quietly recruiting volunteer fund-raisers, known as bundlers. They now number about 50 in 30 states — a shadow corps ready to compete with Mr. Bush as soon as Mr. Walker officially announces his candidacy, which is likely to be in June.” And, “[t]he governor’s allies expect the new pro-Walker super PAC, Unintimidated, to raise between $50 million and $75 million by the end of the 2016 nominating contest.” Christie PAC holding DC fundraiser at lobbying firm headed by Haley Barbour –> BGR Group: “One of Washington’s top lobbying firms is hosting a fundraiser Tuesday for Gov. Chris Christie’s leadership political action committee as he considers whether to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.”

WaPo: For the GOP, ‘one man, one vote’ becomes ‘one billionaire, one ballot’ –> Dana Milbank: “The outright acquisition of the primary process by the wealthy is the latest instance of the 1 percent taking over the American political system – although in this case it’s more likely the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.”

McClatchy: Rubio hauls in $2 million in quarter before presidential announcement –> “In the months before he formally announced his presidential bid, US Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida continued piling up money, pulling in $2 million from across the country and demonstrating the ability to draw the kinds of big-money checks that could be vital to fueling his run.”

Huffington Post: This 2012 Presidential Candidate Has A Good Excuse For Not Wanting To Run Again –> Former governor and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman: “The thought of going out and spending 99 percent of your time raising money, which I think is one of the great cancers that is spreading within our political system and injurious for our democracy longer-term…”

Times-Tribune: Carter: Can’t afford to be president today –> Jimmy Carter: “When I ran against Gerald Ford, who was the incumbent president, you know how much money I raised? Zero. And President Ford raised zero. And four years later when I ran against Ronald Reagan, zero. We didn’t raise any money. So we weren’t obligated to any special interest groups, and now, of course, very wealthy people are giving unlimited amounts of money, almost, because of the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United.”

Washington Post: Congressman’s fundraising trips conveniently coincided with ‘mindfulness’ events –> Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is into “mindfulness” and “he escaped the cruel winter, attending three fundraisers in California within a month — which conveniently coincided with mindfulness seminars.”

CRP: Akin Gump Tops First Quarter, Squire Patton Boggs Still Feeling the Pinch –> Akin Gump: “While K-Street business was down in the first quarter of the year, the biggest firm in the influence industry posted its best first quarter going back several years.”

KSL: Former Romney finance director courting challenger to Sen. Mike Lee –> “The man responsible for raising nearly $1 billion for Mitt Romney’s last presidential race is trying to talk a Provo business executive into running against Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.”

CRP: Leading Edge and Legacy: Google and GE Join Top Lobbying Spenders in 2015 First Quarter –> On the top lobbying spenders in the first quarter, including GE and Google.

The Hill: Japan launches major lobbying blitz on trade –> “Japan’s government has launched an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign, as the Asian power works to secure favorable language in a sweeping international trade deal in the late stages of intense negotiations.”


Bloomberg: The Dinner Proposal That Led United Into Corruption Probe –> Gov. Chris Christie’s Port Authority Chairman dined with the executive from United Airlines one night as the company was seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars in public investment” for the Newark airport. The Chairman joked about bringing back a flight from Newark to Columbia, SC, and “the airline ultimately added the money-losing route that became known as ‘the chairman’s flight.’ Now federal prosecutors are looking into whether its genesis crossed the line from legitimate bargaining into illegal activity.”

AP: Bill to close NY campaign finance loophole clears committee –> “The New York Senate Elections Committee advanced legislation Monday to close the campaign finance loophole for limited liability companies, but the bill’s Democratic sponsor said it’s still unclear whether the chamber’s Republican majority is trying to quietly shelve it.” Video of yesterday’s Senate Dems press conference. Times-Union.

Colorado Independent: Watchdog: Citizens United violated state campaign finance law –> “On Friday, Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the secretary of state asserting that political documentary-film mill Citizens United last year failed to disclose the identity of funders who paid for ads that mentioned Gov. John Hickenlooper by name. Hickenlooper was running for reelection and the ads aired just weeks before Election Day – a no-no according to state law.”

Seattle Times: Legislature needs to pass bill to shine light on dark money –> Editorial on a dark money disclosure bill in Washington: “Campaign finance would not be so hard for lawmakers if they put the voters’ interests above their own. With the Legislature returning to Olympia for a special session, the Senate has the chance to redeem itself. Pass ESB 5153 and turn the lights on to expose dark money.”

LA Times: California’s automatic voter registration bill advances –> “A proposal to automatically register Californians to vote when they get a driver’s license was approved Monday by a state Assembly panel after Secretary of State Alex Padilla noted there are about 6.7 million state residents who are eligible but not registered.”

Chicago Tribune: Zell gives $4 million to Rauner-allied super PAC –> It’s sort of funny that Sam Zell, who basically put the Chicago Tribune into bankruptcy after buying it, is giving to a PAC called “Turnaround Illinois.”

TribLive: Lawyers donate thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania Supreme Court race –> Attorneys who might have business before the court: “Attorneys are fortifying the high-stakes, multimillion-dollar Pennsylvania Supreme Court race with hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct campaign donations.”

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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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