Morning Reads

Good morning! Here’s your daily digest of money-in-politics news and the headlines of the day, compiled by’s John Light. (You can sign up to receive Morning Reads daily in your inbox!)

NY AG: Time for that Exxon investigation –> New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is the first law enforcement agency to begin investigating the oil giant over its alleged efforts to mislead the public and its investors on climate change. Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss report for The New York Times that the AG’s office subpoenaed “extensive financial records, emails and other documents.”

Violating election law? –> Two watchdog organizations are asking the Justice Department to investigate a dark money 501(c)(4) group that has spent $5 million on ads backing Marco Rubio, and raised a total of $18 million. Unlike super PACs, 501(c)(4)s can shield their donors’ identities — but they also are supposed to promote nonpartisan “social welfare,” not spend millions backing one man’s bid for president. Pema Levy reports for Mother Jones.

Courting the moneyman –> While making the case to voters that he didn’t need a billionaire other than himself to fund his campaign, Trump sent “an inscribed booklet of glossy photos” to right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul active in American and Israeli politics. The photos showed Trump being honored at the Algemeiner Jewish 100 Gala dinner, a ceremony to recognize individuals “for their continued support of Israel and the Jewish people.” Maggie Haberman reports for the NYT.

First close look at TPP –> “As expert analysis of the long-shrouded, newly publicized TransPacific Partnership (TPP) final text continued to roll out on Thursday, consensus formed around one fundamental assessment of the 12-nation pact: It’s worse than we thought,” Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams.

More money, more problems –> Wisconsin is set to vote on a first-in-the-nation undermining of campaign finance laws that would allow campaigns and parties to raise more money and to coordinate with dark money groups running ads on on behalf of candidates. Donors may also no longer be required to report their employers. Bob Biersack at the Center for Responsive Politics: “The proposal is misguided in critical ways and would lead to less transparency in the system.”

We have met the enemy and he is us –> As climate change progresses, scientists are increasingly able to link weather trends and even in some cases specific weather events to the effects of more atmospheric CO2. A new NOAA report pulls together research suggesting that wildfires in California, a particularly severe winter in the midwest, and droughts in the Middle East and Africa are linked to human-induced climate change. Tim McDonnell reports for Mother Jones, “Generally speaking, temperature-related events were more closely aligned with climate change than precipitation-related events.”

Falling down –> America’s infrastructure is crumbling, and it’s killing more and more people. Ron Nixon at NYT: “Studies have shown that a lack of investment in public infrastructure costs billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, as people sit in traffic or wait for delayed shipments. But experts on transportation infrastructure say the economic measures obscure the more dire threat to public safety: Every year, hundreds of deaths, illnesses and injuries can be attributed to the failure of bridges, dams, roads and other decaying structures.”

Ben Carson’s hip-hop strategy –> Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign released a radio ad yesterday of the surgeon candidate talking about freedom set to a hip-hop beat from rapper Aspiring Mogul, a move the campaign hopes will help win over young black voters by appealing to them, according to the campaign, “in a language that they prefer” and “in a cultural format that they appreciate.” It’s a sort of reverse Southern strategy, D. R. Tucker writes at The Washington Spectator.

BUT many remain skeptical, to say the least. Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli: “When you say things like ‘Obamacare is the worst thing that’s happened to America since slavery’ and describe the youth-driven Black Lives Matter as ‘sickening’ and accuse them of ‘bullying’ people, who cares about your rap ad?” AND Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about Carson’s candidacy at Time magazine: “His repressive, muddled and pious policies and opinions often run against our Constitution — but his questionable proposals will likely, thankfully, be doomed by his lack of political expertise.”

More details on Kunduz hospital bombing –> A new Doctors Without Borders report claims that an American gunship killed doctors and medical staff fleeing the organization’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the US bombed it. Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept: “The report also claims that just a day before the bombing, an unnamed US government official in Washington, D.C. had contacted the organization asking whether any Taliban fighters were ‘holed up’ at the Kunduz hospital facility.”

Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a sense of humor –> So why do so many comedians support his campaign? Ben Terris investigates for The Washington Post.

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