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Another win for Trump’s donors, The Big Money 20, and more news for 12/6/17

December 6, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

In a move that appeals to some of Donald Trump’s big-money backers, Trump alarmed Middle East leaders by deciding to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Isreal: “Mr. Trump’s pledge was extremely popular with evangelicals and pro-Israel backers, including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who donated $25 million to a political action committee supporting Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign. Mr. Adelson expressed anger when Mr. Trump signed the waiver in June to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.”

In related news, Aaron Maté asks why the media isn’t paying more attention to a Trump collusion story–just not the one you think: “What we do have is evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Israel to subvert the US government’s official position at the United Nations Security Council. Yet reaction to that news has been quite a departure from the standards of Russiagate when it comes to foreign meddling.”

Why might that be? “It is unlikely that Trump will be challenged on Israel, because his approach is harmonic with a bipartisan consensus cemented in large part by the financial contributions of billionaires like Saban and his Republican pro-Israeli government counterpart, Sheldon Adelson”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

US News: Keep Charities Charitable
Steve Spaulding of Common Cause has a warning for legislators working on the tax bill: “If the Johnson Amendment repeal makes it into the final bill and is signed into law, those donors will have new channels to secretly buy access and influence over public policy: this time with a write-off that sticks American taxpayers with the bill.”

The Hill: Congress could hardwire dark money into our democracy
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy: “Congress could turn the light on dark money by either tweaking the tax code, or the election law, or even the securities laws to the extent the dark money is coming from publicly traded companies. The Honest Ads Act would do a lot to bring clarity to who is funding what in elections. But instead, Congress is largely on a path in the other direction hardwiring dark money into our elections.”

Center for Public Integrity: Conflicted Interests: State lawmakers often blur the line between the public’s business and their own
Props to the Center for Public Integrity and Associated Press for doing the legwork to uncover lawmakers nationwide who are using their positions to win handouts for themselves and the people around them: “State lawmakers around the country have introduced and supported policies that directly and indirectly help their own businesses, their employers and sometimes their personal finances, according to an analysis of disclosure forms and legislative votes by the Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press.”

Congress/Administration

USA Today: Democratic PAC End Citizens United names ‘Big Money 20′ targets for 2018
End Citizens United launched a campaign to raise and spend $35 million to defeat “the worst of the worst” in Congress: “End Citizens United calls them the ‘Big Money 20,’ a group of Republicans who the PAC says have favored special interests over their own constituents, whether through accepting big donations, backing legislation that benefitted their big donors or opposing campaign finance reform.”

International Business Times: Tax Bill Provision From Texas Senator Would Enrich Pipeline Giants
A prime example of the kinds of special-interest handouts that get included under the radar when you rush a major piece of legislation: “The controversial Keystone XL pipeline spilled more than 200,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota last month, prompting new pressure to slow pipeline development in the United States. Only weeks later, Republican lawmakers slipped a provision into a massive tax bill that could instead give the pipeline operator, TransCanada, a huge new tax cut.”

Quartz: The three ultra-rich families battling for control of the Republican party
“Citizens are frantically organizing to try to shut down the only major legislative success of a president who ran on a platform of populism, and Democrats are growing optimistic about flipping one or both houses of Congress. How did the country get here just a year after Donald Trump’s historic win? To understand that, you need to look back to the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision in 2010, which opened the floodgates for wealthy donors in political races.”

Letters to the editor continue to pour in nationwide calling out the tax plan as a handout to big donors.

CNN: McConnell-aligned super PAC still staying away from Moore
“The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has no plans to back Alabama Republican Roy Moore after President Donald Trump endorsed him and the Republican National Committee decided to jump back into the race.”

USA Today: Republican Jeff Flake donates to Democrat in Alabama Senate race
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake touted a $100 donation to Roy Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones.

International Business Times: Koch-Funded Academics Bring Free-Market Ideology To The Trump Administration
“A new report from the progressive consumer advocate Public Citizen identifies 44 Trump administration officials who have close ties to the Koch brothers and their network of political groups. Many come from Koch Industries, Koch-funded political organizations and independent think tanks financed by the Kochs like the Cato Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Still others, including additional officials identified by International Business Times, are academics who have either taught or studied at heavily Koch-backed programs at the public George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia.”

Trentonian: Democrat says he might challenge Sen. Bob Menendez next year
A potential challenger to Sen. Menendez “said Menendez’s trial led him to consider a primary challenge and the state deserves someone who hasn’t been “tainted by the culture of corruption.”

States/Other

Play Pennsylvania: Sands Suing for Right to Make Unlimited Political Contribution
A shareholder in one of the largest Pennsylvania casinos is unhappy the business can’t use profits to push it’s weight around in state politics:”Big business and billions in taxes normally equals big influence over state government. However, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to Pennsylvania casino industry. Because the one thing the local gambling industry can’t do is contribute to the political campaigns of elected officials.”

Cadillac News: ‘It Is The Way It Is': Some fear state campaign finance law will bring ‘dark money’ into local races
In many ways, the campaign finance law in Michigan is worse than the federal laws: “For one, the contribution limitations for candidates soliciting on behalf of super PACs that are supposed to be independent are non-existent. Secondly, the lines between a candidate and super PAC are blurred by allowing them to both use the same attorneys and consultants. Finally, money from a super PAC being spent on a campaign or issue is very hard to track.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director