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The 96 percent, tax lobbyists gear up, and more news for 10/30/17

October 30, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Raise your hand if you spent the weekend binge watching TV? Stranger Things 2, anyone?

Well, it’s back to reality as Washington faces an extremely busy week: Mueller’s first charges, unveiling tax cut legislation, a foreign trip, and the nomination of a new fed chair.

If things are feeling too divisive, take heart in the fact that there is still something that 96 percent of Americans can agree on. A new poll from the Washington Post shows that 96 percent of Americans assign a lot or some blame to money in politics for our current political dysfunction.

And, don’t forget the 96 percent can work to do something about it. In NBC News, Fred Wertheimer makes the case for a small-donor revolution. From The Union, the case for public financing of elections. And in the Chicago Tribune, this letter to the editor that makes a lot of sense: “Why hasn’t there been campaign funding reform? To me it is common sense that if we want qualified people to be our leaders, they should be elected on their merit and not on their ability to buy the office.”

Today’s clips email was created with the help of Francoise Stovall and Meghan Faulkner. As always, feel free to send your money-in-politics news tips to laura@everyvoice.org.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Greensboro News and Record: In North Carolina, Democracy’s Last Stand
“The truth is, the N.C. General Assembly was actively tampering with the courts in North Carolina long before Congress blocked the Supreme Court appointment of Merrick Garland. The state has been a testing ground for many of the regressive GOP policies and underhanded tactics now making their way to the national stage. As Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) described the strategy in a recent podcast, if you don’t like the outcome, change the rules.”

New York Times: Black Executives Join Forces, Forming a PAC to Back Them Up
“By early 2018, the group hopes to start a political action committee, creating a new fund-raising model for corporate executives of color. The group would support candidates of any political party who fit the PAC’s agenda.”

LA Times: Want to Attack Foreign Election Meddling? Hold Internet Ads to the Same Standard as Radio and TV
The LA Times Editorial Board comes out in favor of the Honest Ads Act.

Bitcoin News Service: Kansas Declares Bitcoin Unsuitable for Campaign Contributions
Adam is still on sabbatical, but this is one of his favorite corners of campaign finance law: the use of cryptocurrencies. “For the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, Bitcoin’s pseudonymity makes it unsuitable for campaign fundraising in local elections. They announced their decision on Wednesday in response to a request from a candidate querying the legality of accepting contributions using Bitcoin.”

Congress/Administration

Washington Post: Republicans, Desperate for a Win, Already Face Setbacks as They Prepare to Unveil Tax Bill This Week
Lobbyists are fighting back hard to protect their industry’s preferred tax breaks. “Ryan and Brady had been hoping to stave off corporate defections as long as possible, arguing that the plan’s benefits to the economy would outweigh the loss of any industry-specific tax break. But a decision to roll back key itemized deductions has already alienated the home builders as well as the National Association of Realtors, both major lobbying forces on Capitol Hill.”

LA Times: Puerto Rico Says It’s Scrapping $300-million Whitefish Contract Amid Increased Scrutiny
Good news! Puerto Rico is saying no that extremely shady no-bid contract that benefitted a big Trump donor. “Democrats also have questioned the role of HBC Investments, a key financial backer of Whitefish Energy. The Dallas-based company’s founder and general partner, Joe Colonnetta, has contributed thousands of dollars to Trump and other Republicans.” New York Times

Newsweek: Anyone who Supports Donald Trump Jeopardizes Their Own Re-Election, Jeff Flake Says
The implication being that if he did still have fundraising calls to make, he wouldn’t be speaking out. “I don’t have any fundraising calls to make,” Flake said. “That in itself is a pretty good feeling.”

Bloomberg: Christie Says He’s Not Sure Trump Will Seek Second Term in 2020
If he’s not running then what is he raising so much money for? “Trump has already begun raising money for a re-election campaign. He’s taken in $22 million for his campaign, including $14.2 million that came via his joint fundraising committees, which also benefit the Republican National Committee. Overall, Trump’s three committees have raised $37.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.”

New York Times: No Profit in Betsy DeVos
Your regular reminder that Betsy DeVos bought her way into the cabinet and is totally unqualified for the job: “When no one was watching she hired a lot of people that come from the for-profit colleges,” complained Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who feels the additions are far more interested in protecting their old associates than in overseeing them.”

Following Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Koch’s deep affection and support for Mike Pence, the LA Times has this cartoon and The Nation has this interview with Jane Mayer.

New York Times: The Little-Known Pragmatist Who Is Shaping the Trump Tax Cuts
Ah yes, just the populist everyman to steer tax policy: “Mr. Muzinich, a 39-year-old newcomer to Washington, has emerged as a central player in the Trump administration’s tax overhaul effort. The former investment banker and hedge fund manager is the Treasury point man on taxes.”

Backed by UnitedHealth, HHS nominee would now help oversee it
Surprise, surprise: “Five months after President Donald Trump nominated Stephen Parente to be an assistant secretary for Health and Human Services, the nation’s largest health insurer quietly gave a $1.2 million gift to a tiny academic research center that Parente helped found and served as director over the past decade.”

States/Other

CBS Philly: Proposal To Provide Public Financing For Philly Campaigns In Limbo
“The proposed matching funds program would make Philadelphia elections cleaner and fairer,” Cooke argued. “It would also empower Philadelphians by amplifying the impact of small dollar contributions and will encourage candidates to focus their time and fundraising on regular constituents, thereby diversifying the donor base.”

Huffington Post: Virginia’s GOP Governor Hopeful Takes Aim At Voting Rights Again
Restoring the voting rights of former felons who have served their time is 100 percent the right thing to do and Ed Gillespie should be ashamed of himself for this line of attack. “The new Gillespie ad accuses McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Gillespie’s opponent in the race, of making Virginians less safe by restoring former felons’ right to vote.”

The Nation: Meet the Black Woman Candidate Who’ll Talk to Men in Confederate-Flag T-Shirts
Great profile on Every Voice endorsed candidate for Virginia Delegate, Jennifer Carroll Foy.

Chicago Tribune: Emanuel’s Ethics Board Walks Back $2,500 Fines Against 3 Who Illegally Lobbied Him
Well this certainly doesn’t look good: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Board of Ethics announced Thursday that it has vacated $2,500 fines it issued against two of the mayor’s friends and an alderman’s husband after the panel found they illegally lobbied him on his personal email account.”

Connecticut Mirror: Tucked in Budget: Shorter Leash on Election Watchdogs
The Citizens’ Election Program in Connecticut survived the last budget process, but not without some provisions to weaken it: “The new provision increasing maximum contributions from $100 to $250 could ease qualifying for public financing, as a candidate could raise more money from fewer donors. To qualify, a candidate for the House must raise $5,000 in contributions of no more than $100. A Senate candidate must raise $15,000.”

Washington Post: Citizen Obama, Welcome to Jury Duty
In other news, unprecedented numbers of Chicagoans are not trying to get out of jury duty next month: “Obama, a constitutional scholar who frequently invokes messages of civic engagement, plans to serve next month, the county’s chief judge told the Chicago Tribune on Friday.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director