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.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) re-introduced his Fair Elections Now Act yesterday with 17 of his colleagues. Here’s what it would do. He said in a statement: “Unless we curb the growing influence of big money in politics, our democracy is threatened. I’m introducing the Fair Elections Now Act to put the power of our political system back into the hands of the American people, where it belongs.” Other statements from Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ed Markey.

Every Voice Center Legislative Director Will Roberts: “In contrast to the daily stories of presidential candidates parading themselves in front of billionaires, the Fair Elections Now Act will empower everyday people in congressional elections.” U.S. PIRGProgress Illinois. And here’s a Storify of the Senators and other groups who tweeted about it yesterday.

And, Joe Lane made it to Congress to drop off the letters Doug Hughes was trying to deliver in his gyrocopter.

Campaign Finance/Elections

Campaigns and Elections: It’s PAC season: time to put the firewall up attorneys say –> “Even before Tyler Harber’s sentenced in the first criminal prosecution of illegal coordination, the consulting industry has reacted. Firms doing PAC and campaign work increasingly are installing office firewalls to stop the spread of proprietary information between assigned employees.”

Sunlight: Hastert case points to a much bigger source of scandal –> Bill Alison: “With US asset records awash in meaningless names of LLCs, trusts and other pseudonyms that hide the owners of a property, it’s impossible to follow the money. And that’s the real scandal of which Hastert was one small aspect.”

FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman says he has been misunderstood.


Washington Post: How Jeb Bush’s campaign ran off course before it even began –> There’s a lot going on in this story on Jeb’s campaign but this line sticks out: “the discussions flared into arguments about how to divvy up money and resources between Bush’s allied super PAC and his official campaign.” Not even trying!

POLITICO: Jeb Bush on pace to raise $100 million –> Jeb might still bring in $100M, if you combine his various committees (and you probably should, they aren’t independent at all as the story above shows). “But whether it’s over or under $100 million has taken on outsized importance because donors and Republican power brokers now expect it to crack that level and will be disappointed if it doesn’t. And Bush and his aides are looking to change the narrative of the campaign from one of staff shake-ups and sagging poll numbers back to one of overwhelming financial strength.”

Yahoo: The Koch brothers and the Republican Party go to war — with each other –> “The RNC is now openly arguing, however, that the Kochs’ political operation is trying to control the Republican Party’s master voter file, and to gain influence over — some even say control of — the GOP.” And hearing a line like this from the RNC, which has fought campaign finance restrictions, is pretty delicious: “I think it’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how.” Call me, RNC, let’s discuss policy solutions!

POLITICO: Bill Clinton says he’ll stop giving paid speeches if Hillary wins –> “Bill Clinton would likely not continue to give paid speeches if his wife, Hillary, were elected president, he said Wednesday.” He also said, “There had been a lot of money that we didn’t take … one or two places that we didn’t go into because we have a strict no-corruption policy.”

Boston Herald: Hillary Clinton hosted at private Chestnut Hill fundraiser –> “Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton swooped through Boston yesterday with two closed-door fundraisers, where she sought to frame herself as her own candidate by putting an emphasis on small businesses, according to one attendee.” And she raised $300k in Rhode Island.

Washington Post: Ex-Im Bank fight translates into K Street cash –> Good piece on the Export-Import fight: “It has also unleashed a flurry of lobbying, with trade groups trying to prove their mettle to members and independent firms raking in the cash as they join the fray, proving once again how much a new policy fight in Washington can be a boon for K Street.”

AP: Groups seek release of investigator report on Las Vegas Sands filed as evidence in lawsuit –> That’s the company owned by top GOP donor Sheldon Adelson: “A news organization and nonprofit group want a Nevada judge to unseal a private investigator’s report that they say may tie casino company Las Vegas Sands Corp. to organized crime in Asia.”

New York Observer: Bipartisan Agreement: Foreign Governments Pay Former Senate Leaders to Sell TPP –> Ari Rabin-Havt has this piece on the lobbyists working for foreign governments on the trade fight: “Foreign governments are running sophisticated operations to influence Congress and gather intelligence in Washington as the negotiations proceed.”

Post-Dispatch: Blunt says he’ll keep Hastert donations –> Sen. Roy Blunt says he won’t return donations from embattled former speaker Denny Hastert. He said, “Returning donations gives some sense that you are going to look at the behavior of everybody who gives money to a campaign. I don’t know if I have time to do that and I would expect not to be returning donations to anybody.”

Yahoo: DC watchdog group calls for feds to probe alleged election and tax law violations by NRA –> Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington “asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the National Rifle Association for failing to disclose $33.5 million in political expenditures on its tax returns over a six-year period.”

President Obama has a Democratic National Committee fundraiser here in town today.

The Hill: Amid ban attempts, powdered-alcohol maker turns to K Street –> “The manufacturer of powdered alcohol has hired its first K Street firm as part of an uphill battle for acceptance. Arizona-based Lipsmark — which makes the product, called Palcohol — brought on Federal Advocates, Inc., a Virginia lobby firm, according to newly filed disclosure forms.”

Miami Herald: Ex-congressman’s top aide to plead guilty to breaking election law –> “A former campaign manager for one-time Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia plans to plead guilty Thursday in Miami federal court to financing a tea party candidate in a scheme to siphon votes from his Republican nemesis.”

OpenSecrets: McDonald’s puts a smile on with Gibbs, whatever he may have said at White House podium –> Former White House spox Robert Gibbs is working for McDonald’s now and CRP looks at their footprint in Washington.


ThinkProgress: One Governor’s Audacious, Unprecedented Effort To Use Personal Wealth To Re-Create The Legislature –> “Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) may be pushing campaign finance and political spending into uncharted waters as he asserts himself in the first major battle of his tenure. Hanging over the legislature’s otherwise ordinary political wrangling to avert a budget catastrophe is a mammoth war chest, which the state’s governor has begun to deploy in an effort to re-create the legislature into one more sympathetic to his controversial agenda.”

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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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