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4/7/17 Clips – GOP hands gift to big donors, when a lobbyist runs for governor

April 7, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Yesterday, Republicans paved the way to hand a gift to billionaires and corporate interests in the form of a Supreme Court nominee who would had them even more power. Here’s a sampling of reactions:

  • Every Voice’s David Donnelly: “Let’s be clear: Neil Gorsuch will be another vote on the Supreme Court to empower the powerful and make it harder for everyday people to be heard in our elections, and Senate Republicans just broke the rules to make it happen.”
  • Demos’ Heather McGhee: “The next Supreme Court justice will have a pivotal role in ensuring our Constitution protects the rights and voices of all Americans.  Judge Gorsuch has the potential to be the deciding vote to destroy the few remaining safeguards against big money dominating our politics completely…If Judge Gorsuch cannot garner 60 votes, the proper course is to change the nominee, not the Senate rules.”
  • End Citizens United’s Tiffany Muller: “A vote for Gorsuch is a vote to keep in place the rigged system in Washington where the people who can write the biggest checks have the biggest say. Judge Gorsuch has ruled that corporations are people, and should he serve on the Supreme Court, we can expect more corporate money to flood into our elections and big campaign donors will continue to have undue influence over our government.”
  • Sen. Chris Murphy: RT @ChrisMurphyCT I voted no on Gorsuch. “Originalism” isn’t mainstream – it’s just right wing cover for bending the Constitution to corporate interests.

Concern about the power of big donors drove opposition to Gorsuch’s nomination, as a new ReThink Media memo details.

Ahead of the vote, Senators Patty Murray, Jeff Merkley, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, and Chris Van Hollen join groups opposing the nomination including Every Voice for a press conference and rally to call on their Republican colleagues not to break Senate rules in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch. (Video)

Also, protestors from the Democracy Spring were arrested on Capitol Hill for protesting the nomination. They stood in the center of the Hart Senate office building chanting and holding a signs such as “Stop Gorsuch, Defend Democracy”. USA Today has a video recap.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

In the New York Times’ guide to running for office, they feature the city’s small donor public financing system and it’s benefits: “The city’s public financing program will match, in a ratio of six to one, donations of up to $175 given by a city resident to a candidate. So if a person gives a candidate $100, the city matches that amount with $600, for a total of $700. If you take matching funds, your spending limit is capped at $364,000. “Which means you don’t have to go begging to deep-pocketed special interests,” said Matt Sollars, the director of public relations for the city’s Campaign Finance Board.”

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘No PAC Act’ offers voters hope to be heard’
Former FEC commissioner Ann Ravel: “During the last election cycle, six congressional candidates proved that you can run a competitive, successful race without relying on corporate political-action-committee funding. Two of those candidates now have a bill to prohibit candidates from accepting corporate PAC funds. Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, and Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, have introduced the No PAC Act. If it becomes law, then it would be a positive step toward reducing the undue influence of corporations and special interests in the political process.”

Issue One: Bipartisan FEC overhaul bill introduced by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH)
“Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) re-introduced their bipartisan bill to overhaul the gridlocked Federal Election Commission (FEC) and begin enforcing the nation’s election laws again.” Also, Rep. Kilmer too to the House floor to call for closing the foreign money loophole on the Senate floor (video).

MassLive: Massachusetts judge upholds ban on corporate contributions to politicians
“A Suffolk Superior Court judge has upheld Massachusetts campaign finance laws, which bar political contributions by businesses but allow contributions by unions.”

Washington Post: We’re surprisingly close to our first constitutional convention since 1787. Bad idea.
Washington Post editorialized on why calling for a constitutional convention, even for a popular idea like overturning Citizens United, is a bad idea.

The Oklahoman: Morrissette: Outside money ‘major factor’ in Ward 4 outcome
As a reminder that the power of big money in politics stretches to every level of government, here’s a recession speech for a city council candidate who had a lot to say about money in politics: “A major factor in the determination of this race came in a last-minute influx of more than $44,000 from dark money, money from a third party not directly affiliated with a candidate on the ballot and not subject to the same limits as a campaign under Oklahoma law.”

Yesterday we released a new episode of our podcast Every Voice Speaks, which brings you money in politics news from around the country. This week, I talked to my colleague Crystal about the Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan progress on money in politics reform in the states, and more. Listen on iTunes or Stitcher, and don’t miss a single episode by subscribing in your podcast app on your phone!

Congress/Administration

Washington Post: Gillespie seeks ban on personal use of campaign funds and slower ‘revolving door’
Interesting how Ed Gillespie’s role as a former lobbyist — and importantly, what voters might think about that fact — is shaping his race: “Ed Gillespie, a former Washington lobbyist and Republican strategist running for governor of Virginia, vowed Thursday to ban the personal use of campaign funds and to slow the “revolving door” between government service and the lucrative world of lobbying.”

Wall Street Journal: Donors’ Enthusiasm for Trump Energizes RNC Fundraising
“The Republican National Committee, together with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, raised more than $53 million in the first quarter of 2017, according to party and campaign officials, fueled by the same class of online donors who flocked to Mr. Trump last year.”

Roll Call: Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff Raises $8.3M
For reference, the average amount raised by winning 2016 Senate candidates was $10.4M over the entire election cycle: “Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff raised $8.3 million during the first quarter of the year, his campaign announced Wednesday night. It’s a stunning haul, especially for a 30-year-old first-time candidate who’s running as a Democrat in a traditionally Republican House district.”

The Intercept: Terrorism Smear Campaign Against Democratic Contender for Congress Run By Saudi Lobbyist
“A Republican super PAC has paid for a television ad attacking Democrat Jon Ossoff… for producing video content for Al Jazeera. The ad assails Al Jazeera as a “mouthpiece for terrorists,” … Ironically, the Super PAC, called the Congressional Leadership Fund, is chaired by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman — a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers and one of the countries most responsible for exporting extremism.”

The Wichita Eagle: National Republicans pour last-minute money into Estes-Thompson race
“With less than a week to go until Election Day, a national Republican group has stepped into Kansas’ 4th District race, spending $92,000 supporting Republican Ron Estes and opposing his Democratic rival James Thompson, federal forms show.”

Newsweek: Meet The Billionaires Who Run Trump’s Government
“Trump voters know they’ve had a government for billionaires—that’s one reason they’re so mad—but to have one by billionaires means the Mighty Oz is now setting the nation’s agenda, and there is no curtain.”

Ahead of President Xi’s visit, American Bridge has this handy resource: “A Guide to Trump’s Many Potential Conflicts With China”

Center for Responsive Politics: Mischaracterization of Judicial Crisis Network’s ads reduces transparency, group says
“According to the Campaign Legal Center’s letter, the subject matter of JCN’s ads — the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees — qualifies as a political matter “of national importance.” The ad filings do not reflect that, however; although some stations have had JCN amend its filings, many have not. The result is that individuals and organizations are prevented from accessing information to which they are legally entitled under FCC regulations.”

States/Other

Argus Leader: They’re back: ethics measure backers file constitutional amendment
In South Dakota: “After lawmakers struck their voter-approved ballot measure, supporters of a campaign finance and ethics proposal said Thursday that they’ll take another run at the ballot in 2018. This time they’ll make the proposal legislator-proof by bringing it as a constitutional amendment”

In Wisconsin, eight more communities have voted in support of a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United bringing the total to an impressive 102 Wisconsin communities to have called for an Amendment.

North Jersey: N.J. election watchdog: state needs pay-to-play reform
“Political contributions made by New Jersey’s public contractors declined in 2016 for the third year in a row, but the state’s election watchdog remains concerned about the role of groups that can skirt pay-to-play laws. Businesses with public contracts in the state donated $8.1 million last year to candidates, political parties and other groups in New Jersey, according to a preliminary analysis conducted by the Election Law Enforcement Commission.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director