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3/15/17 Clips – Senators must press Gorsuch on money in politics

March 15, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Yesterday, 121 groups including democracy, civil rights, environmental, and labor groups sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging senators to press Supreme Court nominee Judge Gorsuch to clarify his position on the power of big money in politics and whether he will put everyday people ahead of the wealthy and powerful. Congressman John Sarbanes and 110 of his House colleagues also sent a letter urging their Senate colleagues to investigate Judge Gorsuch’s views on money in politics.

As Roll Call reports, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joined Rep. Sarbanes and leaders from Every Voice, Demos, NAACP, and CWA for a press call to respond to the letters and talk about why he plans to press Gorsuch on the matter. Sen. Whitehouse said of Gorsuch, “He does not come into this with the benefit of the doubt in his favor” and commented that adding Sen. Gorsuch to the Court would likely allow the conservative majority to go on a “shopping spree” to “help corporations against people.”

A new report from Demos called “Court Cash” finds that most of the big money behind the 2016 election directly resulted from Supreme Court decisions. RT Demos.

Sean McElwee, Adam Lioz, and Juhem Navarro-Rivera of Demos in Salon piece titled “SCOTUS makes it rain”: “At next week’s hearings, it is critical that Senate Judiciary Committee members press Gorsuch for his views on whether the Constitution empowers the people and U.S. representatives to pass commonsense protections against big money. Voters won’t like what they learn, if Gorsuch answers such questions at all.” More on Judge Gorsuch’s extreme views.

Rep. Sarbanes in the Baltimore Sun discussing Judge Gorsuch: “He hasn’t written a lot explicitly on this topic, but he’s written enough to signal that he seems to be moving in the wrong direction here. That’s why it’s so important that these questions be put to him in his confirmation hearing.”

Nick Nyhart of Every Voice Center: “Time after time, Judge Gorsuch has sided with the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else. If promoted to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch could hand even more influence to big donors and corporations in our elections. Senators have a responsibility to press Judge Gorsuch at his hearing on whether he will side with everyday Americans and ensure the influence of money in politics is kept in check.” RT these questions for senators to ask Gorsuch.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Washington Examiner: Being in Congress is still all about fundraising, and voters are tired of it
Co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus and former Republican Member of Congress Zach Wamp: “Members of Congress are getting an earful from constituents in town halls across the country about their passions and gripes with government. But it was a woman protesting outside while waiting to speak with her senator who best summed up voters’ frustration with Washington: ‘They spend a lot of time with lobbyists and fundraising. We wish they would spend that much time with us — all their constituents.'”

New York Times: Neil Gorsuch Has Web of Ties to Secretive Billionaire
Judge Gorsuch’s record makes clear he’d give billionaire donors like Philip Anschutz, who this New York Times piece profiles, even more power to influence our elections.

Wisconsin Gazette: A plea to reject Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court
Leaders from One Wisconsin Institute, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Voces de la Frontera, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, 9 to 5 Wisconsin, andWisconsin Voices write that Judge Gorsuch’s views on money in politics are one of the reasons to reject his nomination: “According to Gorsuch’s ideology corporations can be persons when it comes to exercising rights. This is a foreboding omen for those concerned about the unlimited corporate spending in elections unleashed by the Citizens United decision.”

Seattle Weekly: Jon Grant Says He’s Signing Seattle’s Homeless Up for Democracy Vouchers
Seattle City Council candidate Jon Grant sees Seattle’s new democracy voucher program as an opportunity to give a voice to the homeless in city politics. Grant: “Seattle has been particularly cruel to its homeless community members by constantly sweeping encampments. If the homeless were brought into the political process and could access democracy vouchers to fund candidates who fight for their interests Seattle might start taking a more compassionate approach”

Congress/Administration

Mother Jones: Here’s the Biggest Revelation From Donald Trump’s Leaked Tax Return
Biggest take-away from last night’s revelations? The tax plan Donald Trump proposed during the 2016 campaign would hugely benefit him — by nearly wiping out his tax burden.

Washington Post: Trump picks another Goldman banker for senior post, in sharp break from campaign bashing
The nomination of Goldman Sachs managing director James Donovan as deputy treasury secretary is the fifth Goldman person to claim a senior role in Trump’s administration: “During the campaign, Trump said Wall Street was at fault for many of the problems facing the middle class, citing greed and a cozy relationship with Washington as allowing trade imbalances and corruption. He has, however, promised to roll back regulations put in place to crack down on banking practices after the financial crisis, a promise that has helped push banking stocks higher in recent months.” As Politico reports, Wall Street is “relieved”!

ProPublica: For-Profit Colleges Gain Beachhead in Trump Administration
A lobbyist Taylor Hansen who once represented for-profit colleges now gets to push the same agenda (to get rid of rules that hold pro-profit schools accountable for ensuring their graduates are gainfully employed) from the inside of the administration: “Last week, that goal started to become a reality. The U.S. Department of Education delayed the deadline for colleges to comply with certain provisions of gainful employment, saying it plans to review the rule. By then, Hansen was watching from the inside, benefiting from the Trump administration’s ethics policies that allow former lobbyists to work for agencies they have recently tried to influence.”

CNN: Ethics complaint filed against White House official
CREW filed a complaint with the White House yesterday: “a White House official appears to have attended meetings with corporate executives earlier this year while he personally held stock in the companies.”

New York Times: Kushners, Trump In-Laws, Weigh $400 Million Deal With Chinese Firm
Yup: “If signed, the potential agreement would create a financial marriage of two politically powerful families in the world’s two biggest economies, but it would also present the possibility of glaring conflicts of interest.”

Palm Beach Post: Yachts of Trump financial backer, Russian oligarch seen close together
“The coincidences are piling up.”

Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold isn’t giving up on finding out what the Trump Organization has done with profits from foreign governments using Trump hotels.

Huffington Post: New TV Ads Hit SCOTUS Nominee For Putting Corporations Over People
A new ad that the Constitutional Responsibility Project is airing in Arizona, Nevada, and DC asks: “Why did he side with corporations in 91 percent of pension cases? Why did he make it harder to hold Wall Street accountable, or for women to get birth control? Tell senators, ‘No answers, no confirmation’”

George W. Bush will headline a re-election fundraiser for Sen. Jeff Flake next month.

States/Other

KELO: Final IM 22 replacement bills signed into law by Daugaard
But it’s still not what South Dakota voters wanted.

KRWG: Campaign Disclosure & Public Financing Fixes Go To Governor
Common Cause New Mexico has this write up on the money-in-politics reforms headed to the governor to increase transparency and accountability in state elections.

Post and Courier: South Carolina bill trying to shine light on ‘dark money’ stalls in Senate panel
“Political advocacy groups told state lawmakers Tuesday a proposed law to rid South Carolina of anonymous campaign donations and so-called “dark money” infringes on free speech.”

Associated Press: Election Watchdog Finally Has Enough Members to Act
“New Jersey’s election watchdog agency can again begin voting on punishments for campaign finance, lobbying and pay-to-play violations after going a year without meeting.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director