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.

Party-pooper Shane Goldmacher has this in National Journal on meet-the-candidate contests: “These ‘free’ trips to meet the candidate of your dreams can come with a hefty tax bill. Your flights, hotel stay, chauffeur, even your meal are all considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service.”

This quote from attorney Marcus Owen is funny: “The IRS takes the position that the actual face time with the person is of no value.” (Don’t tell big donors.)

And yesterday, Doug Hughes pleaded not guilty in federal court over his flight onto the Capitol lawn. He said: “Over time, the Congress, our Congress, has rewritten the rules to define an open marriage: They’re in bed with lobbyists, special interests, Wall Street and big banks.”

Also: “I’ll never do anything like that again. But I would do exactly as I did.”

More from: NPR, The Hill, NBC News, Roll Call. I love this picture.

Campaign Finance/Elections

The Wall Street Journal opinion page is not happy about Hillary Clinton’s comments that she’d appoint a Supreme Court justice who would oppose completely handing our elections over to the wealthiest among us.

The Nation: How the Money Primary Is Undermining Voting Rights –> Ari Berman: “When the wealthiest Americans dominate every facet of political life—from who runs, to who wins, to which issues are addressed, to how our leaders govern — what happens to the voting rights of everyone else?”

Election Law Blog — Goodman: FEC Backlog Mainly Includes Cases Against Republicans, Conservatives –> Via BNA: “Republican commissioners on the Federal Election Commission are reluctant to approve new procedures to speed up resolution of pending campaign finance enforcement matters because the backlog of pending complaints at the FEC involves many more Republicans and conservative groups than Democrats and liberal groups, according to Republican FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman.” NYT.

FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub on disclosure rulemaking: “When the Commission asks whether to open a rulemaking, and the public answers our question with tens of thousands of comments–the overwhelming majority of which demand change–we cannot ignore that call to act.”


New York Times: Rove’s Crossroads PAC Is No Longer G.O.P.’s ‘Big Dog’ –> Karl Rove is no longer the only game in town and “in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Crossroads — among the first outside groups to fully exploit the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashing wealthy donors and corporations — has been buffeted by a rapidly changing political landscape that is testing its pre-eminence, and potentially its survival.”

Washington Post: Clinton Foundation reveals up to $26 million in additional payments –> Oops: “The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.”

POLIICO: Hillary’s dash for cash –> “One month into her bid for the presidency — and without even the prospect of a serious primary challenge — Clinton’s schedule is already straining under the gargantuan task of raising somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion, the estimated amount that it will take to elect her to the White House.”

The Hill: Clintons raised at least $12 million for foundation with paid speeches –> “The Clinton family has brought in about $12 million to the Clinton Foundation by delivering paid speeches, the Foundation revealed Thursday.”

Sunlight: A lot of Washington influence is never disclosed –> Bill Allison: “There’s a lot more influence peddling in Washington than is ever disclosed to the public.

Freshman Republican Steve Knight, apologizing for bad first quarter fundraising: “We had an awful lot of issues that we were overcoming. We wanted to make sure our offices were up and going, and we were out in the district quite a bit.”

POLITICO: Frank Guinta scandal splits New Hampshire Republicans –> Rep. Frank Guinta’s (R-NH) illegal contribution scandal is splitting up state Republicans: “The sudden split between the two Republicans in the congressional delegation upended the race among GOP presidential contenders for support from local officials in the first-in-the-nation primary.” Jeb: “I am avoiding the question.”

This Breitbart piece quoting some Republican election lawyers on how Jeb Bush’s non-candidacy is violating election laws has a funny disclaimer: “Mitchell is currently advising Sen. Marco Rubio.”

CNN: Gay donor presses Marco Rubio on same-sex marriage –> “One donor identified himself as gay and asked the Florida senator to state his position on same-sex marriage during a question-and-answer session, two attendees who were in the room told CNN.”

Stephen Colbert, in his recent commencement speech at Wake Forest: “Get ready for my generation to tell you everything that can’t be done — like ending racial tension, or getting money out of politics, or lowering the world’s carbon emissions. And we should know they can’t be done. After all, we’re the ones who didn’t do them. Your job, Pro Humanitate, is to prove us wrong.”

So, The Forward has put together playing cards for Jewish billionaire political donors.

ABQ Journal: Clinton in ABQ for fundraiser in June –> “New Mexicans who want to have breakfast with Hillary Clinton will get their chance next month – as long as they have $2,700 to spare.”

POLITICO: Top health lobbyist calls it quits at key moment for Obamacare –> A big opportunity for a member to go through the revolving door: “Ignagni announced her departure from America’s Health Insurance Plans on Thursday. After more than two decades as a DC lobbying powerhouse, she’s going to run EmblemHealth, a big New York insurer.”

Buzzfeed: Ted Cruz Headlining Fundraiser For Oklahoma GOP Amid Internal Controversy –> “When presidential candidate Ted Cruz walks into the Oklahoma Republican Party fundraiser he is scheduled to headline Friday night, he will find himself in the middle of a charged intra-party battle over a staffer who was recently revealed to have a history of domestic violence.”


This Atlanta TV story on an ALEC conference in Georgia is really solid.

American Prospect: How Big Money Lost in Philly’s Mayoral Race –>”Support from unions and public-education advocates won Jim Kenney the primary election, despite $7 million in outside spending for his opponent.”

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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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