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Tax cuts are a payoff for big donors, money creates power, and more news for 10/27/17

October 27, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Republicans in the House of Representatives advanced a budget measure yesterday that would open the door for passing the tax cuts they desire, which would largely benefit the wealthy including big donors. As Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream said in the Hill, “This is not an anti-tax philosophy, it’s a payoff.”

In their latest episode of “Who Gets The Money?” Funny Or Die captured just how laughable the tax plan is for giving tax breaks to wealthy donors like the Koch brothers, while pretending to be a tax cut for the middle class. Conjure your best game show host voice: “Ok, let’s play the game! Koch brothers, you know the rules because you make the rules.”

The bill also has lobbyists in a frenzy, and lawmakers asking what’s in it, writes Bloomberg.

A new Reflective Democracy Campaign study found that despite the growing diversity of our country, white men still hold most the power. Why? “One of the biggest hurdles, for women and people of color who want to run for office, is money.”

Ninety percent of elected leaders from local to national government are white and most are male, according to the study. “It’s not a talent gap, it’s a financial gap,” explained Quentin James of Collective PAC. “There’s just a ton of systematic problems, with campaign finance, with institutions not recruiting candidates of color that [candidates] have to overcome.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Roll Call: Women — and the Power of the Purse — Will Be Key in 2018
A good sign, but it won’t fix the power divide money creates. There must be a systematic solution: “The number of female donors to federal candidates and committees has skyrocketed by roughly 284 percent so far in the 2017-18 election cycle compared with this time in the 2015-16 cycle, according to research from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.”

New York Times: Will Politics Tarnish the Supreme Court’s Legitimacy?
During the arguments in the gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern that the court may appear political, and it’s no wonder the thought is on his mind following decisions such as Citizens United. Here’s what Paul Smith, representing Wisconsin Democrats before the Court, had to say on the matter: “It may be that you can protect the court from seeming political, but the country is going to lose faith in democracy, big time.”

Politico: Scarinci testimony gets tense at Menendez trial
“Defense attorneys in U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption case called Donald Scarinci, one of the senator’s oldest friends, to the stand in order to distance Menendez from $600,000 his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, gave to help his campaign.”

Congress/Administration

HuffPost: Energy Company Tied To Major Trump Donor Feuds With San Juan Mayor Over Business Deal
“San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the Montana-based energy company tasked with restoring Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid engaged in a heated Twitter feud Wednesday.” FEMA also said it has “significant concerns” about the contract. Two House panels have now opened probes into the power deal.

The Hill: This is the best first step to stop Russian meddling in our politics
Issue One ReFormers Timothy Roemer and Zachary Wamp: “The bottom line is that current law does not in any way protect our election system from this type of foreign intervention, and every free society should have adequate protections in place to maintain open, fair and unfettered elections…The newly introduced Honest Ads Act aims to finally address the deficiencies in political disclosure law that allow foreign actors to attack the United States anonymously. ”

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had a strangely blase response to efforts to stop foreign meddling in our elections saying of Americans, “I don’t think they’d be influenced by ads posted by foreign governments.”

Observer: Private Prison Industry Lobbying, Profits Soar Under Trump Administration
It seems to be working out well for these big donors, just not for the rest of America: “Under the Trump Administration, this industry is thriving off policies perpetuating mass incarceration and deportation.”

CNN: Democrats want ethics probe of Wilbur Ross financial disclosures
“A group of Democrat lawmakers is pressing the government’s chief ethics agency for answers on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s financial disclosures. The request to the Office of Government Ethics was prompted by a story in Forbes last week that raised the possibility that Ross should have disclosed assets worth $2 billion before his confirmation earlier this year.”

States/Other

Virginia Pilot: Companies hedge their bets in governor’s race by donating to two sides
And why would they unless they thought they’d get something out of it? “While many companies donate to the candidate they believe best aligns with their interests, Newport News Shipbuilding’s donations highlight how some are hedging their bets on a tight race by donating to the two leading sides.”

Portland Tribune: Multnomah campaign contributions ruling could come any day
In Oregon: “Advocates for campaign contribution limits are eagerly awaiting a ruling from a Multnomah County judge on a measure that was overwhelmingly approved by local voters.”

New York Post: De Blasio donor admits to raising illegal ‘straw donations’ for mayor’s campaign
“Mayor de Blasio’s disgraced donor pal Jona Rechnitz admitted to raising illegal “straw donations” during the mayor’s 2013 campaign.”

Toledo Blade: Drug industry raises $57 million to defeat ballot issue
“The pharmaceutical industry has raised nearly $57 million so far into its effort to convince Ohio voters to reject a proposed law that would purportedly lock in price discounts on prescription drugs purchased by the state.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director