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.

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News have released a new poll on money in politics, making that two of the country’s highest-circulation papers releasing surveys on the subject in just a few weeks.

  • “Americans express far more alarm about the influence of money in politics than the fact that another Bush and Clinton are running for the White House.”
  • “Asked to rank their top concerns about the upcoming presidential election, one-third of Americans pointed to the sway that companies and wealthy individuals may have over the outcome, more than for any of five other issues tested.”
  • And, “The influence of wealthy donors was the primary concern for independents.”
  • Voters are also pessimistic that change is possible, a reminder of how important it is that candidates talk about solutions and not just criticize the problem.

Campaign Finance/Elections

AP: FEC sues Utah businessman over donations to 2 US senators –> “The Federal Election Commission is suing a Utah businessman, saying he made $170,000 in illegal campaign contributions to US Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Mike Lee of Utah and former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in 2009 and 2010.”

Time: Third-Party Advocates File Lawsuit Over Presidential Debates –> “A coalition of advocates for third parties in presidential elections is filing a lawsuit Monday against barriers to entry in presidential debates.”

Campaign Finance Institute: Independent spending after Citizens United had unpredicted effects in Congressional primaries –> “This paper examines how Citizens United affected the balance of power in and among ‘outside’ groups in congressional primaries through 2014.”


POLITICO: Lobbyists: Easy target, easy touch –> Great piece on 2016 candidates attacking lobbyists while still taking their money. “But as voters grow increasingly frustrated with Washington, turning their backs on their wealthy DC friends — at least on the stump — is a calculation many candidates have been willing to make.”

Washington Post: Bernie Sanders hits the Las Vegas Strip, takes aim at billionaire Sheldon Adelson –> “Directly across the Las Vegas Strip from the Venetian, the lavish hotel and casino built by wealthy political donor Sheldon Adelson, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders rallied more than 700 supporters here Friday to join his revolution against the billionaire class whose greed he says is crushing the United States.” It sure is interesting that the candidate talking most about the wealthy’s influence in politics is getting the biggest crowds, huh?

Huffington Post: EMILY’s List Already Raising Big Bucks For Hillary Clinton –> “Hillary Clinton is already seeing a windfall in contributions from EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women that endorsed her campaign in April.”

Greenwich Time: Jeb Bush lines up lucrative return to Greenwich –> “Bush is setting out to raise $300,000 to $400,000 from a fundraising reception at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich, according to multiple people familiar with the event, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak for the campaign.”

Boston Globe: Gun rights lobbyists netted 7 times the money as gun control counterparts –> In the Washington influence game, “In 2013 and 2014, gun control groups were outspent 7 to 1 by their gun rights opponents.”

In an interview in Nevada, Hillary Clinton talked about the “tremendous lobbying pressure from the gun lobby.” And, on the WTF podcast released today, President Obama said, “unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong.”

Bloomberg: Hillary Clinton Makes End-of-Quarter Cash Dash –> “Hillary Clinton is sprinting to the end of the first fundraising quarter of her presidential campaign and into the next one, with more than two dozen finance events on her schedule for the next two weeks.” She’s in Indianapolis today.

Bloomberg: A New ‘Pro-Rand Paul’ Super-PAC is Making Paul’s Official Super-PAC Nervous –> There are dueling super PACs in Rand Paul world and it might cause some problems.

Hollywood Reporter: Bernie Sanders Wows Hollywood Progressives at Two LA Fundraisers –> Bernie Sanders slipped into Los Angeles Saturday for a few fundraisers, telling the crowd, “I don’t believe that the men and women who defended American democracy fought to create a situation where billionaires own the political process.”

OpenSecrets: Three of five senators running for WH have big backing from lobbyists –> “Three of the five US senators running for president have made super-fans out of a few K Street lobbyists, an analysis of campaign finance data by OpenSecrets Blog shows.”

New York Times: Campaign Donations Linked to White Supremacist –> “The leader of a white supremacist group that has been linked to Dylann Roof, the suspect in the murder of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, SC, church last week, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including those of 2016 presidential contenders such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, records show.” Ted Cruz is returning the money and I bet he’ll be joined by others soon.

Los Angeles Times: Obama, Clinton mining state’s gold, not voters –> Ouch: “Last week proved anew just how convincingly California has become the place where politicians go to rich people’s homes to talk about the lives of less-fortunate people they rarely meet.”

Washington Post: Scott Walker unveils new Web site as he stockpiles money for likely presidential bid –> “Scott Walker is making an early push to stockpile money for his likely presidential bid, asking donors to raise $27,000 by mid-July, when he is expected to launch a White House campaign.”

SCTimes: Michele Bachmann is still in a race — for money –> “Michele Bachmann hasn’t run for office in nearly three years, but the former Minnesota congresswoman is still raising cash and spending lavishly, dropping $300 on limousines in New York right around Thanksgiving and staying last fall at the luxurious L’Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills, where most rooms go for $400 a night or higher.”

Center for Public Integrity: Industry lobbies hard to snuff out tax on medical devices –> “If there ever was a piece of legislation influenced by campaign contributions and lobbyists, the bill to repeal a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers, which the House passed last Thursday, would be it.”

POLITICO: Lawmaker on Ex-Im ads: ‘That is a cheap shot’ –> “The Club for Growth is pumping $1 million into ads against House Republicans — including spots that draw comparisons with Barack Obama — as part of its all-out war against the Export-Import Bank. But the targets of the Club’s wrath are firing back.”

Roll Call: NRSC Bests DSCC in May Fundraising  –> “The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised nearly $1 million more than its Democratic counterpart in May, according to figures provided to CQ Roll Call.” But the DCCC outraised the NRCC.

Sun-Times: Jesse Jackson Jr. likely to serve home confinement in Washington –> “Sometime Monday — perhaps even before dawn — former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. will leave a halfway house in Baltimore to finish his prison sentence in home confinement, likely at his house here, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.”


Courier-Journal: AT&T executives give to Ky Democratic Party –> “The Kentucky Democratic Party benefited from a jolt of new out-of-state contributors in May – 14 executives of AT&T who combined gave $12,550 to the party in this crucial gubernatorial election year,” after the state gave AT&T what it wanted in the last legislative session.

Chicago Tribune: Ex-CEO of red light camera vendor pleads guilty to Ohio bribe scheme –> “The former head of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. — already embroiled in an alleged $2 million bribery scheme that ended the company’s red light camera contract in Chicago — pleaded guilty Friday in a federal bribery probe in Ohio.” The scheme involved campaign cash to elected officials to keep contracts.

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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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