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Tax bill reveal, how to regulate online political ads, and more news for 11/2/17

November 2, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

As Republicans prepare to release their tax plan today, the public is still waiting to learn the details. Yet, one thing is very likely: Wealthy donors will get a substantial payout. This letter to the editor writer in Minnesota gets it: “Sounds like a give away to the wealthiest Americans.  What else would you expect when the Supreme Court decision called “Citizens United”… allows the large corporations and the billionaires to spend unlimited amounts of money buying our political system.”

Trump wants to call the tax bill the “Cut Cut Cut Act” although a more apt name would be the “Special Interest Giveaway Act”: RT @JohnJHarwood: GOP tax specialist on problems w/final details: “business overplayed its hand. asking too much, making math incredibly difficult on writers”

In addition to including tax cuts that will largely benefit the wealthy, including big donors, the bill is expected to repeal the Johnson Amendment which would open the door for religious groups to become vehicles for secret big money spending in our elections. Public Citizens explains.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Editorial: Moneyed interests find a way to thwart voters’ will on donation limits
Big money interests are finding ways to circumvent new limits in Missouri by moving money through PACs: “Missourians last November overwhelmingly voted to get big money out of state elections. Not quite a year later, politicians and special interests have responded: Too bad. We like things the way they are.”

Poughkeepsie Journal: Obscene amounts of money taint our elections
“we have reached a point where a few people with lots of money – the Koch Brothers, George Soros, Sheldon Adelson, Tom Steyer– can wield the most influence, destroying the myth that democracy belongs to the people and making it easy to conclude that we are more than ever a plutocracy, a society ruled by the rich.”

Reuters: Women vomit, march, then vie for office in record numbers under Trump
A record 20,000 women contacted Emily’s list about running for office since the 2016 election–compared to the previous record of 920 women over the entire 2 year period before the election. It’s fantastic that unprecedented numbers of women are interested in running for office–although raising the money to win is still a barrier for many women without wealthy connections face.

Congress/Administration

Politico: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC
Donna Brazile is causing buzz with this piece revealing the “shocking truth” about how the Clinton campaign took over the DNC. Worth paying attention to how both the RNC and the DNC used joint fundraising committees to rake in cash last cycle to shift more money back to support the top of the ticket.

Morning Consult: FEC Commissioner Says Agency Limited in Ability to Regulate Online Political Ads
“As executives from Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. face congressional committees this week over concerns that Russian agents used their platforms in order to influence the 2016 election, a Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission says the regulatory agency has limited power to increase the transparency of online political advertisements compared to Congress.”

The Hill: A new way to safeguard America against threats to our elections
Trevor Potter of the Campaign Legal Center: “The Honest Ads Act would shine light on precisely the kinds of ads Russia used in the last couple years, informing the public about their sources and content.”

Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee released social media ads pushed by Russian groups to influence the 2016 election–and we learned that Michael Flynn followed five of these Russian troll accounts.

HuffPost: Twitter Ignored This Russia-Controlled Account During The Election. Team Trump Did Not.
“@TEN_GOP also actively promoted the Trump presidential campaign and was retweeted several times by figures such as Donald Trump Jr. and Sebastian Gorka ― the first evidence that Trump campaign staffers, wittingly or not, assisted Russia’s online active measures.”

The Week: What Trump is really afraid that Mueller will find
Paul Waldman has this answer: “The real threat Mueller poses, the thing that’s probably keeping Trump up at night, is what he might find out about the president’s finances. If Mueller follows the money — and he certainly will — it could lead to all sorts of interesting places.”

The leader of a pro-Trump super PAC is getting caught up in the Manafort indictment: “Tom Barrack, a close friend of Donald Trump’s who leads the Rebuilding America Now Super Pac, made a secured loan tied to Manafort’s house in the Hamptons in July 2004.” Federal prosecutors are now trying to seize the property.

HuffPost: EPA Replaced Its Top Science Advisers Without Telling Them
“On Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a new rule barring scientists who receive EPA research funding from serving on the agency’s three main advisory panels: the Science Advisory Board, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the Board of Scientific Counselors. The move cleared the way for Pruitt to name industry-backed researchers to take control of the boards, which are meant to serve as a check on policies at the agency. ”

CNN: Top Trump environmental pick said goal of UN ‘climate crusade’ is ‘all-powerful’ government
Meanwhile… “President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the White House senior adviser for environmental policy has said publicly in the past that the goal of the United Nations and climate change activists is “all-powerful government” that would effectively end democracy.”

Washington Post: Democratic PAC Priorities USA budgeting $50 million for digital ads in 2018
“A Democratic super PAC is planning to spend at least $50 million over the next year on digital advertising to elect Democrats across the country in what is believed to be the largest sum ever set aside for such outreach on the political left.”

States/Other

Reuters: UK investigates Brexit campaign funding amid speculation of Russian meddling
An investigation across the pond is looking into a guy was spotted with Trump and Nigel Farage shortly after Trump’s election: “Britain’s Electoral Commission is investigating whether a leading anti-EU campaigner breached referendum finance rules, after speculation mounted that Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote.”

Boston.com: The co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s is giving out free ice cream Friday in Boston. Here’s why (and where).
“The Ben & Jerry’s co-founder and longtime campaign finance reform advocate is touring Boston on Friday to dish out free scoops and collect signatures for a recently certified 2018 ballot initiative in Massachusetts in support of a 28th amendment to the Constitution.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director