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2/22/17 Clips – Heated town halls address constituent concerns

February 22, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

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Members of Congress who are back in their home states for recess are getting an earful from angry constituents–including on money in politics and President Trump’s conflicts of interest.

Rep. Steve Womack, faced with a room full of constituents demanding that he investigate President Trump’s conflicts of interest said, “You guys want to investigate everybody.” The crowd replied with boos and“You guys wasted a lot of money on Benghazi, waste a little on Trump!”

Senator Steve Daines was asked about campaign donations he received from Betsy DeVos and her family while his fellow colleague from Montana Senator Jon Tester was asked about campaign finance reform.

President Trump dismissed the crowds at town halls as “planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” He and members of Congress who have similarly dismissed the protestors are missing the point that these are Americans and their constituents. In Colorado, constituents held up their state IDs in unison to drive the point home. And this protest sign is great.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

CNN: FEC member: I have the right to demand Trump prove voter fraud claims
Correct. And FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who has called on the President to provide proof, says “I will not be silenced.”

The Washington Post has a new motto appearing below their logo, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”

CNN: Schumer: Democratic opposition holding against Gorsuch, Obamacare repeal
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shared his thoughts on ABC’s The View: “Schumer said he had an “eerie feeling” after meeting with Gorsuch because the judge reminded him of Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Schumer said also refused to elaborate on his views about constitutional issues as he was ascending to the high court. Roberts later joined decisions, such as one deciding a major voting rights case and a campaign finance ruling, that Schumer vehemently disagreed with.”

With FEC’s Ann Ravel stepping down, the Campaign Legal Center asks, “Does Trump Intend to Fix the Political System he Called ‘Broken’?” Brendan Fischer: “Put simply, if Trump really wants to “drain the swamp,” appointing FEC Commissioners who will enforce the law is a good way to start. Or, Trump could take steps to expand the influence of wealthy donors over politicians by undermining enforcement at the FEC.”

Ravel talked with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night.

NPR: In ‘Captured,’ Democratic Senator Decries Money’s Role In Politics
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse talked to NPR’s Ari Shapiro about his new book “Captured: The Corporate Infiltration Of American Democracy.”

NPR: Seattle tries voucher system to reform campaign finance
In a city where just around 1 percent of adults contribute to local parties, Seattle’s voter-approved democracy voucher system has the potential to markedly improve participation in our democracy. One Seattle resident Dakota Solberg, who has received his democracy vouchers in the mail, says “It was like getting a little check from your grandma,” and “This feels like just extra money that I can use to start participating more”.

Congress/Administration

New York Post: Melania amends ‘hooker’ suit after it cited potential profits
Yes, well, you don’t want to get caught admitting your goal is to profit off the presidency: “Melania Trump has revised her defamation lawsuit against the Mail Online for claiming she was a hooker — scrubbing claims that the Web site’s article ruined her “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to cash in on the presidency.”

CBS News: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips cost taxpayers about $10M so far
In just one month President Trump’s trips to his “Winter White House” have cost one tenth of President Obama’s entire 8-year travel budget: “During his eight years in office, Mr. Obama racked up about $97 million in travel costs. Mr. Trump is on pace to eclipse that by the end of his first year.”

The Washington Times: Trump smashes Obama’s small-donor fundraising pace, bests Clinton, Sanders combined
This is rich commentary coming from Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity: “It says that he is not beholden to a lot of the traditional lobbyists and corporations that have, in some cases, helped create a two-tier society”. If that’s so, I guess President Trump is filling his government with lobbyists and rich corporate executives just because he wants too?

Daily Beast: Pro-Trump Group is M.I.A.—Just When He Needs It Most
What ever happened to “America First Policies” group aimed at forwarding Trump’s agenda?

The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell-linked group One Nation is spending on ads and polling to push the “repeal and replace” strategy.

Daily Beast: Why Is Facebook Helping Fund CPAC?
huh? “A pillar of famously liberal Silicon Valley is underwriting Washington’s biggest gathering of conservatives. Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell The Daily Beast that Facebook made a six-figure contribution to CPAC, the yearly conference for conservative activists which will feature President Donald Trump, White House advisor Steve Bannon, NRA president Wayne LaPierre, and other right-wing favorites.”

Center for Responsive Politics: Trump brings Dubke in from the dark
The new White House Communications Director Mike Dubke has quite a history on money in politics, as a Koch operative and pioneer in concealing political spending: “Dubke cofounded a politically active nonprofit — aka “dark money” group — years before such organizations became the hot new thing in campaigning, able to spend money to sway elections while providing anonymity to its benefactors.”

Politico Influence captures another example of how Donald Trump’s Washington is anything but a drained swamp: “Ryan Price, who worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign and inauguration, is heading back to his lobbying and public affairs firm, The Trailblazer Group…Price hasn’t been a registered lobbyist before… But he said in an interview that he’s registering for the first time now to take full advantage of his relationships he formed during the campaign.”

States/Other

Portland Press Herald: Republican lawmakers want to remove gubernatorial candidates from Maine’s Clean Elections Act
Republican state lawmakers are trying to chip away at the effectiveness of the voter-approved Clean Elections program. Andrew Bossie of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections: “Where the people have spoken loudly, clearly and repeatedly, we urge you to respect their decision”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas House knocks down bill raising campaign contribution limits
Good: “The House rejected a measure Tuesday raising campaign contribution limits, which supporters had argued would help candidates fight the influence of dark money groups. Lawmakers voted 22-101 against the bill.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director

Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.