Morning Reads

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

Just as Doug Hughes, the man who flew his gyrocopter onto the Capitol lawn to protest money in politics, arrived in Washington yesterday ahead of today’s scheduled court hearing, the federal government took what looked to be a pretty strong-armed negotiating tactic to get him to take a deal (and keep him from having his day in court) — they indicted him on six counts and he could face nearly 10 years in prison. He’s still expected to appear today around 1:30 p.m. at the Pettyman Courthouse on Constitution Avenue.

Hughes, in an interview with USA Today, doesn’t appear to be backing down from his fight:  “I don’t believe a jury of 12 people is going to convict me of a felony when my intention was not do anything except to get Congress to work for the people.”

Campaign Finance/Elections

The American Prospect: Why Citizens United Just Scratches the Surface –> Smart piece from Demos’ Brenda Wright and Adam Lioz on comments by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that their Supreme Court nominees would overturn Citizens United. It’s bigger than that: “the Court needs to consider a broader set of values, beyond just clean governance, as compelling reasons to limit big money: from guaranteeing all Americans the opportunity for an equal voice in the political process to promoting government that’s accountable to voters, not just a few wealthy donors.”

The Hill: Investors urge corporate political spending disclosure –> “Dozens of investor groups are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to rid politics of so-called dark money from corporations by requiring them to disclose political spending.” Rockefeller Brothers Fund spokesman to NPR: “We’re just saying, shareholders have a right to know what public companies are spending to influence the political process.”

Huffington Post: Roiled in Partisan Deadlock, FEC Is Failing –> Public Citizen’s Craig Holman: “… the percentage of deadlocked votes remains at unprecedented high levels and the number of enforcement actions has plummeted to all-time lows.”

CNS: 9th Upholds Flurry of HI Election-Finance Laws –> Including a giving ban on government contractors: “Several of Hawaii’s campaign-finance laws challenged by a construction firm are not unconstitutional, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.” Rick Hasen.

Statesman Journal: Campaign contribution limits gaining momentum, backers say –> “Legislation to impose campaign contribution limits in Oregon is gaining support, its backers told the Statesman Journal editorial board Tuesday.”

Times-Record: Groups Seek Tougher Disclosure Laws, Oppose Citizens United Ruling –> In Arkansas: “A coalition of groups marched and held a news conference Tuesday touting support for a proposed ballot initiative that would toughen disclosure rules and call on Arkansas to join the fight to overturn the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.”

Natch: RT @AaronScherb: House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee votes 13-17 against amendment requiring disclosure of political ads at FCC:


Huffington Post: Republicans Very Troubled by Clinton Donors, See No Conflict with Their Own Dark Money –> Paul Blumenthal: “In embracing this critique of the Clinton Foundation, Republicans are investing in a view of money in politics that they have otherwise rejected in recent years: that spending money to gain influence over or access to elected or appointed officials represents a conflict of interest or an appearance of corruption or could even lead to outright corruption.”

National Journal: Republican Candidate Adopts Jeb Bush Super-PAC Strategy for the Senate –> The Jeb Bush style of running for office: “Allies of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who told Florida Republican Party leaders over the weekend that he’s considering a Senate run, say he will wait to formally announce his candidacy until he’s had time to meet with prospective donors via a newly minted super PAC.”

WSJ: Hillary Clinton Super PAC Struggles to Raise Money –> Lots of good nuggets in here on the Clinton super PAC struggling to raise money, including: “[t]wo people at the New York meeting said Mrs. Clinton, when asked about campaign finance, spoke at length about the problems with super PACs and the Supreme Court ruling that allowed for unlimited contributions.” NYT and POLITICO on some staffing issues there.

OpenSecrets: Big speech could mean big money for Paul camp –> On Rand Paul’s “filibuster” yesterday: “the presidential candidate’s fundraising is likely to get a big boost” from it.

The Hill: At K Street’s No. 1 lobby shop, ties to Clinton run deep –> “K Street’s top moneymaker, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, has strong ties to Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign, putting the firm in a plum position to impact the 2016 election cycle and cement its standing among Washington lobby shops in a potential Clinton administration.”

The Hill: Small donations adding up to big money for Ben Carson –> “Ben Carson has raised more than $6 million since he launched his presidential exploratory committee in early March, and the Republican White House hopeful is confident he can rake in more than $50 million. The retired neurosurgeon attracted more than 120,000 donations, according to campaign numbers provided to The Hill. That comes out to an average donation of about $50.”

Washington Post: Scandal-plagued Frank Guinta reaped thousands from GOP presidential candidates –> Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) is having plenty of problems with the FEC and the Post reports that as a New Hampshire rep, he’s gotten lots of love from GOP presidential candidates.

Journal-Sentinel: Records indicate Scott Walker was copied on letter promising loan to donor –> Missed this earlier in the week: “State records say that Gov. Scott Walker received a copy of a 2011 letter pledging a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company headed by a Walker donor, seemingly contradicting statements by the governor and his aides that he was not aware of the award.”

Center for Public Integrity: Charlie Rangel is retiring. So why is he raising campaign cash? –> Rep. Charlie Rangel is retiring after this term, but he’s still raising money.

OpenSecrets: Departed members of the 113th Congress find new homes on K Street, and elsewhere –> “CRP’s revolving door data, which we will continue to update, shows that 42 of the 75 who left Capitol Hill at the end of the last Congress or sometime during that two-year term are currently employed — 18 of them by lobbying firms or law firms that also lobby.”

Newt Gingrich will once again become a K Street historian. The Hill.

CT Post: Following Coast Guard graduation, Obama makes fundraising stop in Stamford –> “President Barack Obama tapped Connecticut’s vast pipeline of political cash Wednesday for Democrats, squeezing in a fundraising stop in Stamford after lunching with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the Coast Guard Academy graduation in New London.”

Re/Code: Silicon Valley’s Army of Advocates in Washington –> “… the people on this list are among the lobbyists and advocates helping tech companies — large and small — navigate the mystifying world of Washington in an effort to keep innovation flourishing.”

OpenSecrets: “Campaign donor” is not a job — but occupation can predict party preference –> CRP looks at the occupations people list on their contribution forms and where they stack up on liberal and conservative lines. “Producers” gave $2M in 2014 with 94 percent to Democrats and CEOs gave $6.1M with 98.4 percent to Republicans.

Washington Post: NRSC outraises DSCC in April, boasts far lower debt burden –> “The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which slightly outraised its Democratic counterpart in April, made a multi-million dollar payment on its debt last month and now carries a burden less than one-third the size of that held by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

A funny #tbt courtesy of Roll Call: the time a softball game between the FEC and DOJ ended up in a shoving match.


News & Observer: Major GOP donor withholds $25,000 contribution over NC House budget –> A major North Carolina Republican donor told legislative leaders that if they wanted his $25,000 donation, they’d have to pass a budget that, basically, included more tax cuts and “better education” (more voucher money for his “growing chain” of charter schools?).

ProPublica: Hacked Sony Emails Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Political Dealings in LA –> “Messages reviewed by ProPublica and The Los Angeles Times show that the top executive at [Sony], who also sits on the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, last year directed a $25,000 Sony contribution to a state super PAC. The politician who founded the PAC later cast a crucial vote backing millions of dollars in public funding for the museum’s expansion.”

LA Times: Feds probing alleged voting rights violations involving disabled Californians –> “Federal authorities are investigating allegations that California and its courts are unlawfully denying voting rights to some intellectually disabled residents, according to documents released Wednesday.”

Indy Star: Hogsett proposes ‘Disclose Indy’ ethics reforms –> “Indianapolis mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett on Wednesday proposed a series of ethics reforms that include new restrictions on lobbyists, a government transparency website and term limits.”

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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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