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.

With yesterday’s New York Times/CBS poll showing broad opposition to the current campaign finance system, I thought this piece from Stan Greenberg in the Washington Monthly on Democrats and white working-class voters was interesting, specifically this point:

These voters, as we shall see, are open to an expansive Democratic economic agenda — to more benefits for child care and higher education, to tax hikes on the wealthy, to investment in infrastructure spending, and to economic policies that lead employers to boost salaries for middle- and working-class Americans, especially women. Yet they are only ready to listen when they think that Democrats understand their deeply held belief that politics has been corrupted and government has failed.

Speaking of that New York Times/CBS poll: Here are my takeaways and what I think it means, NPR, ThinkProgress had a really good-write up in its Progress Report yesterday, a piece from Common Cause, Chris Cillizza wrote what he always writes on the issue, USA Today, and Chris Hayes did a segment (go to 11:48).

And, Esquire’s Charlie Pierce: “This poll is proof that nobody’s fooling anybody anymore. The country has declined to buy the proposition that money is speech and that corporations are people deserving of rights. The country knows that its rights and its obligations to self-government have been put up for bids.”

Also, this story by The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips on the use of special license plates as political favors is great.

Campaign Finance/Elections

The Hill: Huckabee bashes campaign finance system –> On Morning Joe yesterday, Mike Huckabee called for getting rid of contribution limits while adding full disclosure of that money. “Huckabee added that the donor class forces politicians to ‘dance to [their] tune.'”

Good: RT @BrianEFallon: On Thurs, @HillaryClinton to address restrictive voting laws in states such as TX, WI and OH. Will urge steps to restore Voting Rights Act.

Democracy 21: Reform Groups Urge Senators to Co-sponsor and Support the Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act –> “In a letter sent today to Senators, reform groups strongly urged members of the Senate to support the Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2015, sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), which would limit the ability of lobbyists to use bundled contributions to buy influence with members of Congress.”


Reuters: Why US billionaires may not be able to buy the 2016 election –> Good piece by Emily Flitter: “The idea that billionaires can buy elections has taken root in the public imagination. Those billionaires are now seeing small, early signs of a pushback. Whether these are the beginning of a new trend is far too soon to say, but polls show there is wider discontent about the perceived influence of big money in US politics and a growing gulf between the country’s very rich and very poor.”

TPM: Study: Yep, American Presidents Are Guided By Wealthy Elites –> “James N. Druckman from Northwesten University and Lawrence R. Jacobs from University of Minnesota make the case that presidents from both Republican and Democratic parties mainly serve and are guided by the wishes of the wealthy and political elites and exploit public opinion in order to serve those ends.”

WSJ: O’Malley Courts Big Democratic Donors He Needs to Take on Clinton –> “Martin O’Malley is aggressively courting the Democratic donors he will need if he is to mount a serious challenge to the presumptive front runner, Hillary Clinton,” with a “campaign retreat” at the end of June for those able to raise $25,000.

Mother Jones: These 8 Republican sugar daddies are already placing their bets on 2016 –> A chart: “The 2016 election is more than a year and a half away, but conservative megadonors are already picking their favorite candidates.”

Christian Science Monitor: Quixotic quest? Why is Lincoln Chafee running for president? –> “In previous campaigns, Chafee has spent significant sums from his family fortune to further his political ambitions, for example, dropping $1.8 million on his 2010 gubernatorial bid. But running for president is significantly more expensive than seeking statewide office.”

POLITICO: Exclusive: Hillary Clinton’s jam-packed fundraising schedule –> “Hillary Clinton has an aggressive fundraising schedule featuring at least 26 donor events across the country over the next month — including stops in states she hasn’t yet visited as a candidate — according to a campaign list obtained by POLITICO.” The list includes one of my favorite names in political fundraising: Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Also one with TNR publisher Chris Hughes and a July 3rd event in New Hampshire.

NYT: Jeb Bush, Taking His Time, Tests the Legal Definition of Candidate –> “Jeb Bush is under growing pressure to acknowledge what to some voters and a number of campaign finance lawyers seems obvious: He is running for president.” Slate.

POLITICO: Marco Rubio sells his house of horrors –> “Marco Rubio finally sold his money-pit of a home in Tallahassee on Tuesday, freeing the presidential candidate from a nagging financial liability and allowing him to distance himself from his scandal-plagued co-owner, former Rep. David Rivera.”

Washington Post: The inside story of how the Clintons built a $2 billion global empire –> “Today, the Clinton Foundation is unlike anything else in the history of the nation and, perhaps, the world: It is a global philanthropic empire run by a former US president and closely affiliated with a potential future president, with the audacious goal of solving some of the world’s most vexing problems by bringing together the wealthiest, glitziest and most powerful people from every part of the planet.”

Every Voice: Lawmakers Taking Pizza “Dough” and Grocery Donations Block Nutrition Information –> Fun piece on the pizza money possibly behind a new effort in Congress to shield certain restaurants from posting calorie counts on their menus.

POLITICO: ‘Impartial’ DNC finance chief helps Hillary Clinton –> “In an apparent violation of party rules requiring Democratic National Committee officers to remain neutral in presidential primaries, the DNC’s finance chairman has been raising money for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Mercury News: Google’s massive lobbying needs to be more transparent –> Public Citizen’s Lisa Gilbert has this op-ed in California: “For shareholders to be confident that their money isn’t supporting work that opposes the Google brand, they must have access to all the information about Google’s political expenditures.”

Washington Post: Why online gambling is so central to Lindsey Graham’s 2016 hopes –> Will Lindsey Graham’s introduction of an anti-online gambling bill written by Sheldon Adelson’s lobbyist be a boost for his presidential bid?

This New York Times video explaining the current campaign finance system is very good.

OpenSecrets: Site of Clinton rally overseen by Democratic donors –> The location for Clinton’s big rally: “The park’s board members might be hard-pressed to have it any other way: Many have given money to Clinton and other Democrats in the past.”

CWA’s Larry Cohen at a TPP protest yesterday: “Which side are you on? Are you on the side of the Chamber of Commerce or the working class of America?”

AP: Election Commission Releases Guinta Investigation Files –> When you can’t trust your mom during an FEC investigation, who can you trust? “Two members of US Rep. Frank Guinta’s family appear to contradict his claims about $355,000 he spent on his 2010 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission documents released Tuesday.” WMUR.


WSJ: Vote Out All Albany Politicians, New Yorkers Say in New Poll –> Well, that’s embarrassing: “A majority of New York state voters believe all Albany elected officials should be voted out of office to provide a fresh start following a rash of public corruption scandals, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.”

ThinkProgress: Judges Considering Criminal Probe Into Scott Walker May Be Implicated In Same Offense –> In the Scott Walker/John Doe case, what about the judges? “In a newly released court filing, the prosecutor in the case raised the question of whether one or two of the justices hearing the case are implicated in the same kind of scheme.”

Denver Post: High-powered attorneys, lobbyists give big to Denver candidates –> “A host of individuals, businesses and groups — many with an interest in city decision-making — burned through their checkbooks in the lead-up to the May 5 municipal election.”

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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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