In 2010, Citizens United paved the way for an influx of "dark money" (previously)--funds given to politically active nonprofits and limited liability companies that aren't required to disclose donors' names--into American elections. How to keep tabs on such groups? Dark Money Watch is one place to start.
In case you were wondering about [a conspicuous lack of] the Koch Brothers' involvement in the 2016 US political elections, here is the inside scoop. [more inside]
Jane Mayer takes on the Koch Brothers [1,2,3] - "For decades, billionaire libertarians Charles and David Koch have spent millions trying to reduce the size of government and slash regulations, making the brothers a target of the political Left and campaign finance reformers. But few people have dug deeper into the Koch empire and family history than New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, author of the new book 'Dark Money'. Among other revelations, she alleges that the brothers hired private detectives to investigate her after she published articles critical of them. We talk to Mayer about the book and about what the rise of Donald Trump means for the Kochs and their allies." (previously)
The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election — They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy. [more inside]
Kochs Plan to Spend $900 Million on 2016 Campaign - "an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history... These donors represent the largest concentration of political money outside the party establishment, one that has achieved enormous power in Republican circles in recent years. Now the Kochs' network will embark on its largest drive ever to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party's dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government."
Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
It started with a warehouse in the town of Milford. Now the investigation of Delaware businessman Christopher Tigani has expanded from a shady land deal to $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions to everybody from state legislators to Vice President Joe Biden. [more inside]
Follow the money. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.
It's time to find out who owns your democracy, and how they bought it. Do you feel like US campaign finance is hopelessly shrouded in mystery? Fear not citizen, there's a website for that: The Center for Responsive Politics has made available a well-organized, highly detailed database of their analysis of US campaign finance to shine a bright nonpartisan light on the green underbelly of US democracy. [more inside]
Metafilter's Own Sean Tevis ran for the Kansas State Legislature using the web as his main fund raising tool. His fund raising was spectacularly successful, raising in excess of $100,000 -- over 70% of which was in amounts lower than $50.00. The Republicans criticized this tactics, and he lost. Although he took no PAC or Lobbyist contributions, some in Kansas politics feel that he's not been transparent enough about who gave to him, so Republican Scott Schwab has introduced LD 2244 (.pdf) - informally known as the Sean Tevis Bill. [more inside]
Many people are up in arms (heh) over the Supreme Court's decision regarding gun control, but rather less press is being given to another opinion handed down today: Davis v. FEC. The issue was the constitutionality of the "Millionaire's Amendment", which allowed for political candidates facing self-funding challengers who intended to spend more than $350,000 to raise more money from individual donors than they would otherwise be allowed to do. In a 5-4 decision, the court found the law unconstitutional. [more inside]
Last year, as McCain's campaign seemed stumbling into the grave, it applied for federal matching funds for the primary season. After Super Tuesday, McCain withdrew from the system. Or did he? If he didn't, he's capped at $54 million to spend till September -- and he's already spent $50 million of it. Former FEC Chairman Brad Smith tells, in bravura detail, the whole whirling story. (via Election Law Blog) [more inside]
A very big day for the Supreme Court. In Morse v. Fredrick, the Court ruled that a school could suspend a child for holding up a "Bong HiTs for Jesus" banner. (Previous post here). In Hein v. Freedom from Religion, the Court held that taxpayers lacked standing to challenged Faith Based Initiatives (previous discussions). In Wilke v. Robbins, the Court held that land owners do not have Bivens claims if the federal government harasses landowners for easements. In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Court held that the portion of the campaign finance law which had blackout periods before elections on issue advocacy advertising was an unconstitutional restriction of speech (other). This Thursday, the Justices will deliver their last opinions of the term, including a death penalty case and the school assignment cases. (Opinions are .pdfs)
Nice work if you can get it. Bloggers are an increasingly important part of modern elections -- something that becomes immediately obvious when you look at FEC filings. Bloggers are increasingly starting to rake in the campaign cash. Initially inspired by this feature from The Hotline, Bill Beutler combed through the FEC records and broke down what candidates were paying what bloggers how much in the current election.
SCOTUS strikes down campaign finance restrictions [pdf]. The Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Randall v. Sorrell, striking down limits on campaign contributions and campaign spending imposed by the state of Vermont. The Court, in a fractured opinion (six separate opinions, including two dissents), concluded that restrictions on both contributions and expenditures ran afoul of the First Amendment. More from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog. Expect more from Rick Hasen later today.
The Coming Crackdown on Political Blogging. "In just a few months... bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list...could be punished by fines." CNet's engrossing interview with an FEC commissioner who predicts major turmoil ahead as the government tries to decide if a blog link is a donation. A Brookings paper (pdf) suggest "Radical changes in modes of communication and forms of political campaigning lie not too distant on the horizon." This guy says it's all an attempt to undermine campaign finance laws by freaking out bloggers.
The Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the MoveOn.org Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law.
Al Sharpton... Republican stooge? A Village Voice investigation finds that his presidential campaign is being financed and staffed by Roger Stone, "the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami-Dade County recount in 2000." Article details some interesting financing arrangements and reveals that Stone has bragged that he gave Sharpton the ax handle he waved at a NAACP meeting to denounce Democratic racism. Sharpton wants to teach the Democrats a lesson (as he did in helping to elect Republican Mike Bloomberg mayor of New York), and Republicans are anxious to help create a division with black voters. But black voters must have seen through him, refusing to give him the South Carolina victory he needed to speak for them at the convention.
As you may have heard, long term FBI Agent and Chinese double-agent Katrina Leung was charged yesterday. What you might not have heard, if, say, you only read the CNN story, was that Leung was a prominent Republican, who probably did a good bit to subvert the campaign finance reform effort. However, this isn't being covered by ABC, CNN, Newsweek, the New York Times, or pretty much anyone with any name recognition, as TalkingPointsMemo reports. Funny how potential sabotage isn't worth mentioning in these fast times full of SARS and terror, no?
President Bush signed the campaign finance reform bill today. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky immediately filed a lawsuit to stop the bill. Campaign finance reform is one of the most widely popular bills with over 75% of voters supporting it. Why are some legislators so desperate to stop it? Maybe it's because television broadcasters don't want to lose the money paid to air political commercials.
In light of the passage of campaign finance reform, let’s see what political patronage looked like a 130 years ago.
Is this a real chance at campaign finance reform or are we just in for more partisan back and forth that in the end won't change much of anything? (NY Times link) And how long will the "Enron effect" last?
Richard Reeve calls campaign finance reform "Joke of a Nation". Sadly enough, he backs it up with some good points. Is a city, state, or national office going to become the new status symbol of conspicuous consumers?
A giant loophole in McCain-Feingold will give oil companies a total exemption from all its propsed spending restrictions. This is levelling the playing field?
Campaign finance reform gets 2 weeks of debate in the Senate starting today. It has become a battle between the McCain-Feingold bill and the Dubya-D-40 backed Hagel-Landrieu bill. Will anything meaningful get passed? Will it matter if it does?
Anyone know the URL of the site in this article? It's an interesting (if misguided) opinion piece about a database that lets you look up campaign donors by zip code. Only he never gets around to giving you the address.
Dems blast Playboy as contradictory to equal and civil rights and human dignity, but still take big campaign donations and have fundraisers at the infamous mansion.
Dems blast Playboy as contradictory to equal and civil rights and human dignity, but still take big campaign donations and have fundraisers at the infamous mansion. Seems like the Democratic party wants to have it both ways. They have taken more than $25,000 in congressional campaign funds and $8,500 for Al Gore's campaign, and a dem leader handpicked by Gore himself is throwing the August 15 bash at the Hef's house, but Playboy is now supposedly officially baaaad, mmmkay? If they're so bad, shouldn't these denunciations have come with checks, made out to Playboy, returning the campaign donations????