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.

Good Friday morning everyone. Here’s what happened on the campaign trail yesterday:

  • Hillary Clinton called for automatic voter registration and criticized efforts in the states to make it harder to vote. On the Supreme Court and the Voting Rights Act, she said, “We need a Supreme Court who cares more about the right to vote of a person than the right to buy an election of a corporation.” Worth noting: that quote was tweeted from her personal account too.
  • Rick Perry, in a speech announcing his presidential bid, said, “And health insurers will have to earn the right to your money, instead of lobbying Washington to force you to hand it over.”
  • Martin O’Malley, to Bloomberg about the Citizens United litmus test for Supreme Court nominees: “I would appoint judges who don’t think corporations are people. We need to overturn Citizens United. And we need to recognize that big money is having a corrupting influence on our politics.”
  • Lincoln Chafee, for that same article: “I believe Citizens United should be overturned and as a US senator, I voted against Sam Alito.”

Just a quick reminder: we’re keeping track of what 2016 candidates are saying about money in politics on this tumblr.

And, finally, pour one out for Politwoops, a site from the Sunlight Foundation that tracked deleted tweets by elected officials. Out of the blue, Twitter decided to shut it off.

Campaign Finance/Elections

MMFA: Campaign Finance Reform Advocates: Media Should “Significantly Increase Coverage” Of Money In Politics –> It’s not just about the money chase, but the impact of it on policy and what can be done to address it: “A coalition of 18 groups that advocate for campaign finance reform are calling on broadcast media outlets to devote more coverage to America’s broken campaign finance system and the need for reforms, especially as some estimates suggest that spending for the 2016 presidential election could top $10 billion.”

Roll Call: The Real Security Threat: Big Money in Politics –> Great column from Donna Brazile on Doug Hughes and his gyrocopter. “We understand the problem so well that 90 percent of Americans believe we need to fix the way money and elections intertwine. But currently, less than 10 percent of us believe something can be done about it. Hughes was trying to boost that second number up to 10 percent, 20 percent, 50 percent.”

The Hill: Republican FEC commissioner admittedly blocking complaints against Republicans –> Campaign Legal Center’s Paul Ryan on FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman’s assertion that the agency should slow down investigations into complaints because more are filed against Republican groups. “Commissioner Goodman’s remarks are akin to a judge saying ‘I don’t like people who bring lawsuits, especially lawsuits against my party, so I’m just not going to hear those cases.’ So much for nonpartisan justice!” And they’re ready to take action.

Sunlight: Bennet looks to ban lobbyist bundlers, close the 20 percent loophole and more –> The lobbyist bundling ban is the big hook in Sen. Bennet’s new bill, but also in there: it closes the 20 percent loophole that allows folks “to avoid registering as lobbyists, claiming that covered activities take up a smaller percentage of their time.”

The Blaze: Cracking Down on Corrupt Campaign Cash: Hillary Clinton’s Donor Problem Shows Why We Need Reform –> Free Speech for People’s Ron Fein: “This big money system is the root of the problem. It affects nearly all candidates for public office, not just Clinton. But we can fix it.”

Washington Post: The IRS chief’s mistake about ‘dark money’ –> Did the IRS commissioner get it wrong in recent comments about 501(c)4s and dark money? George Washington University Professor Miriam Galston thinks so: “The commissioner’s statement was inconsistent with the legislation under which the IRS operates, contravenes a long line of judicial opinions and is bad public policy.”

Demos: On Two-Year Anniversary of the VRA’s Repeal, New Evidence That Voter ID Laws are Racially Biased –> From Sean McElwee: “As we near the two-year anniversary of Congress gutting the Voting Rights Act, Demos has found new evidence of racial bias in the passage of voter ID laws.”

Former Czech Republic ambassador Norm Eisen, who before that oversaw ethics and campaign finance issues for the White House, spoke before the Italian parliament this week: “I would like to offer some perspectives from the US as you consider the adoption of a code of ethical conduct for the Italian Parliament.”


Examiner: Jeb Bush invites top fundraisers to special Kennebunkport gathering –> “Jeb Bush will officially launch his presidential campaign on June 15, but the former Florida governor began raising money for ‘Jeb 2016, Inc.’ on Thursday, inviting successful bundlers to a special event at the Bush family compound in Maine in July.” The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus has some more on his post-announcement fundraising.

Salon: The Jebbening is nigh: Bush will finally stop making a flagrant mockery of election law –> “On June 15, Jeb will make a very special announcement that will, in all likelihood, vault him into official candidate status. In doing so, he’ll put an end to one of the longest-running farces in modern campaign history.”

Washington Post: Indictment cuts both ways as Perry launches bid –> “When Perry launched a second bid for the White House on Thursday, he likely became the first credible major-party candidate to run for president while under indictment, adding to his underdog status in an already crowded GOP field.”

USA Today: Rand Paul used NSA fight to draw clicks, dollars –> Good piece on Rand Paul using the NSA fight to raise money, but his campaign insists “fundraising was not the goal of his crusade against the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance, which the senator viewed as illegal under the Fourth Amendment.” Also this quote from a political science professor: “In this modern era, you’d love to have a crazy billionaire in the closet you can roll out when the money gets tight.”

CNN: Can conservatives find their footing in Hollywood in 2016? –> Democrats have no problem raising money in Hollywood, but Republicans… “Now the Republican Jewish Coalition, with its roster of influential donors and board members, is looking to raise the profile of Hollywood conservatives at their annual gala Sunday night in Beverly Hills.” Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Ron Johnson.

National Journal: An Adelson Backs Lindsey Graham for President –> Lindsey Graham announced to his finance team: “Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and highly sought-after Republican mega-donor, still isn’t sure which Republican presidential candidate he will back for the nomination in 2016. But Adelson’s younger, lesser-known brother has lent his support to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s long-shot White House bid.” Ron Perelman likes Lindsey too.

Daily Beast: Feds Blast Ted Cruz’s Shady Donations –> The FEC sent Ted Cruz “three separate letters noting his team’s hiccups with campaign finance laws. One noted that the senator’s team has accepted contributions that appear to go above the legal limit.”

USA Today: Super PAC looks to boost Perry in Iowa –> “Freshly minted presidential candidate Rick Perry has little public support in Iowa polls, but a super PAC is launching a 30-second spot to see if advertising can buy him an early share of the GOP electorate and cement the belief that he has a shot in Iowa.” Turn Left on Main Street –> Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: “So plutocratic Republican apologists like Peter Wehner, the corporate Democrats of Clinton, Inc., and killjoys like Congressman Delaney will double down against Bernie Sanders, just as they have against all those in politics before them who champion bottom-up democracy.”

Los Angeles Times: Kevin McCarthy’s flair for fundraising fuels his swift rise to power in House –> On Kevin McCarthy: “He may lack some of the qualities of previous top party leaders in the House – the grand political vision of Newt Gingrich, the deal-making savvy of Tip O’Neill, the strong arm of Tom DeLay. But McCarthy excels at something else that has become key to leadership in Congress: recruiting candidates and raising money for them.” (Fun detail in here: he has spent $140,000 at steakhouses.)

WMUR: NHGOP chair Horn says Guinta ‘lied, betrayed public trust’ –> New Hampshire Republicans really don’t want Frank Guinta on the playground this cycle: “State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn has politically abandoned US Rep. Frank Guinta, telling fellow party leaders on Thursday she no longer believes his explanation for his campaign finance violations, saying he has ‘lied and betrayed the public trust.'”

Roll Call: America Rising Hires Three for 2016 –> “Republican opposition research firm America Rising will announce Thursday three new additions to its senior leadership team for the 2016 cycle, as well as a handful of promotions, according to a release provided first to CQ Roll Call.”

Journal Star: Federal agents raid former US Rep. Aaron Schock’s Junction City office on Thursday –> Wow: “More than a dozen federal agents on Thursday converged on former US Rep. Aaron Schock’s campaign office in Junction City to execute a search warrant.”

OpenSecrets: Harvard’s billionaire benefactor also a GOP sugar daddy –> Billionaire John Paulson, who announced a $400M gift to financially-strapped Harvard University, is also a big political giver.

And your Friday read: Miss Piggy explains why she’s a feminist pig.


Daily Press: Donors love General Assembly incumbents –> In Virginia (and basically everywhere), “even when incumbents face an easy — unopposed — ride back into office, they’re raking in thousands from special interests with long General Assembly wish lists, the latest campaign finance reports filed at the state Department of Elections show.”

Daily News: Group urges state probe of LLC loophole for campaign donations –> NYPIRG “urged state election officials Thursday to investigate how deep-pocketed donors use the so-called LLC loophole to circumvent contribution 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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