Clips Round-up for 3/23/12
Campaign Finance/Fair Elections
Newsday: Public financing for NYS campaigns
Great op-ed in New York by Maria Magdalena Flores: "Candidates rarely court low-income voters of color. With campaign costs rapidly increasing, politicians instead spend time wining and dining wealthy potential donors. For candidates running in poor areas, fundraising usually doesn't even happen in their own districts."
NYT: Insider trading bank for lawmakers clears Congress
The weakened version of the STOCK Act passed the Senate yesterday, sending it to the President to sign. This line: "The lopsided votes showed lawmakers desperate to regain public trust in an election year, when the public approval rating of Congress has sunk below 15 percent. " More at WaPo,
WaPo: Supreme Court needs to set out a process to handle conflicts of interest
Former Sen. Arlen Specter gives a shout-out to Common Cause in this op-ed about ethics for the Supreme Court. "Although the Supreme Court could always have the last word, it would be wise to act on its own initiative to provide transparency and assure the public of the justices' impartiality and integrity."
PCAF: NRA political spending highlights troubling consequences of special interest influence
PCAF released a statement yesterday about the NRA's political spending and the troubling consequences such influence has through passing laws like the "Stand Your Ground" laws that could let Trayvon Martin's killer go free. David Donnelly: "In this day and age, the cold, hard, truth is that laws in America aren't passed because they're a good idea or because they're just. Laws are passed because they've got powerful backers, like ALEC and the NRA, and because lawmakers and political parties are paid to pass them. The 99 percent of us who can't afford to make large contributions ultimately pay the price. We pay it in higher gas prices, in job loss due to unfair trade deals, in higher tax rates on us than on the largest corporations. And we're learning that we even may pay for it in the lives of our children."
Super PACs: Chamber of Commerce's new competition
"The new dynamic raises questions about what role the Chamber will play in 2012 and beyond, now that it’s not the only game in town. The Chamber’s made some early aggressive moves that suggest it senses a threat to its dominance and is eager to remind a crowded field that it’s on top." In the battle between super PACs and the Chamber, I think we already know who loser will be.
Forbes: 40 behind-the-scenes billionaires funding the 2012 election
"A trawl through campaign finance disclosures collated by the Sunlight Foundation shows more than 10% of Forbes 400 rich list members have handed over cash to these action groups either personally or via their companies. It’s worth noting that all of these PACs are officially independent of any politician, but are generally linked to one presidential candidate or cause."
Sunlight Foundation: Banking money fuels senators who want to slow down Volcker
Report from former Public Campaign staffer Nancy Watzman: "The six senators who introduced legislation Thursday to slow down implementation of the 'Volcker rule,' designed to prohibit banks from profiting from trading on their own accounts, are the recipients of ample amounts of campaign cash from the financial industry."
Republic Report: Congressman Blasts "Big Oil" then fundraises with lobbyist that represents Exxon the very next day
To be fair to Rep. Martin Heinrich, he gets that the system is broken and is a leading supporter of the Fair Elections Now Act and a co-sponsor of a constitutional amendment.
Roll Call: Internet PAC goes after Lamar Smith
"Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) became the unofficial enemy of the Internet after he introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act. Now, donors to a new Reddit-based PAC have picked him as their first target." Interestringly, their second priority is campaign finance reform.
OpenSecrets: Romney's bundlers: More of them, but candidate is still disclosing only the lobbyists
"Thirteen bundlers who are lobbyists, including six new names, raised $545,000 for Mitt Romney's campaign in February. So far, 22 lobbyist-bundlers have raised $2.9 million for Romney."
Boston Globe: Flow of congressional campaign money can be a family affair, says a new watchdog report
One of the more striking parts about the CREW report: "More staggering is the $150 million in legislative earmarks to organizations affiliated to the congressmen and their family members." More at Roll Call.
Roll Call: Lobbyists gear up for corporate tax fight
"Nothing motivates Members of Congress like a looming deadline. So K Streeters who are pushing for a lower corporate tax rate have started an aggressive lobbying campaign to tick down the final days until the United States’ rate becomes the highest."
Politico: Messianic Jewish group paid Rick Santorum
Oops: "The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America paid Santorum $6,000 to speak at its 2010 annual conference, according to a filing released Wednesday showing a total of nearly $95,000 in speaking fees that Santorum previously failed to disclose."
WaPo: Conservative groups confronting super PACs
"With the preponderance of new super PACs, some argue that anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks no longer have the power they once did to threaten incumbents."
Athens Banner-Herald: Broun gained personally from campaign contributions
CREW's new report making it back home: "Almost $30,000 in campaign contributions wound up in U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s wallet in the form of interest on personal loans he made to his campaign, according to an ethics report released Thursday."
WaPo: There's a PAC for that
Al Kamen's latest column: "The Supreme Court’s blessing of super PACs has flipped political fundraising on its ear, but it’s also sparked a wave of creativity, as each PAC tries to separate itself from the rest of the pack. Super PAC monikers run the gamut, from downright bizarre to stirringly sentimental."
Roll Call: Mitt Romney far outraises GOP rivals
"Mitt Romney’s campaign remains driven by large donors over small donors, according to an analysis released today by the Campaign Finance Institute, but the former Massachusetts governor is at least tapping some new funding sources." Full CFI report.
Huffington Post: Harold Simmons' super PAC donations fuel bitter, extended Republican primary
"Billionaire industrialist Harold Simmons is pumping millions into super PACs to fight, in his words, 'that socialist,' President Barack Obama. A closer look at his contributions suggests that while he certainly hopes to oust Obama, Simmons' political giving has another goal as well: establishing his own influence within the Republican Party no matter who wins the nomination."
CNN: New female super PAC's latest step
"ShePAC, a new super PAC focused on supporting Republican women, announced its advisory board Thursday, intended to bolster the independent organization."
Sun-Sentinel: When money talks, members of Congress listen very closely
Anthony Orlando writes, "I'm not saying we shouldn't try. I'm saying this problem predates Super PACs. It goes so much deeper than lobbying and campaign contributions. The elite have always had the ear of Congress. They have always been Congress. They have always owned the media. They have always controlled the conversation. And they do not speak for us."
US News and World Report: Supreme Court has made ugly U.S. politics even uglier
"The Supreme Court has done the impossible by making American politics even worse than it already was. The bomb that the court dropped on campaigns was the infamous Citizens United decision."
San Antonio Express-News: FEC: Perry can use leftover campaign funds
"The Federal Electoral Commission voted Thursday to allow Gov. Rick Perry to transfer about $500,000 in unspent funds from his failed presidential bid to begin his own Super PAC or to replenish his state political committee's coffers."
The Hill: Senate to vote on bill killing oil tax breaks
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a procedural vote Monday on legislation to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for the largest oil companies."
AP: State lawmakers vote to overturn Citizens United
"The California Assembly passed a resolution Thursday calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision, which held that corporations can spend unlimited sums to influence elections."
AP: Judge dismisses Goldwater institute lawsuit
Nice: "An Arizona judge is dismissing a lawsuit accusing a state agency of illegally spending public money to promote the state's public campaign finance system."