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Brett Kavanaugh has repeatedly sided with the wealthy and powerful, and more news for 7/10/18

July 10, 2018 | Adam Smith

In Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump has nominated a Supreme Court justice who’ll vote with the Court’s conservatives to further entrench the power of wealthy donors and corporate interests in our political system. Kavanaugh “has regularly sided with wealthy special interests and against basic protections for workers and consumers. Those same special interests have already begun a multi-million dollar campaign to push him through confirmation,” Every Voice’s David Donnelly said in a statement. The Times notes conservatives have “applauded” his decisions on issues like “campaign finance.”

And, “Hundreds of activists gathered on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on Monday night to protest Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.”

Common Cause: “the Senate must focus on core principles of democracy as it decides whether to give its consent to this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.” In Politico, the Brennan Center’s Michael Waldman writes “it’s an alarming day for the law of democracy.”

Campaign Legal Center noted that “Kavanaugh’s skepticism of reasonable limits on money in politics threatens the ability of federal, state and local governments to maintain laws that regulate campaign contributions and spending and require disclosure of where all the money is coming from.” And Demos said, “He joined in the watershed opinion that created Super PACs. And he has written that the president should not be subject to criminal investigations while in office.” Here’s a story on the discriminatory voter ID law he voted to uphold.

American Constitution Society’s Carolina Frederickson and CREW’s Norm Eisen have this op-ed in the Times: “But the Senate must also explore a question central to evaluating the judge’s commitment to the rule of law: Does he have the requisite independence from President Trump to serve as a check on his abuses of power?”

While Roe and healthcare were the top concern for Senators, many echoed that Kavanaugh’s a gift to the wealthy donors funding ad campaigns to confirm him.

  • Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, “This nomination could alter the balance of the court in favor of powerful special interests and against working families for a generation.”
  • Sen. Cory Booker raised the ongoing Mueller investigation as his reason to oppose the nominee: “President Trump is currently a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, and any nomination of a Supreme Court justice while that investigation continues is unacceptable because of the clear conflict of interest inherent in the President installing someone who could be the deciding vote on a number of potential issues from that investigation that could come before the Court.”
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted, “We need a#SCOTUS Justice who respects the rights & freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, not someone who is beholden to special interest groups.”
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “Brett Kavanaugh’s record is replete with decisions favoring the privileged and powerful.”
  • Sen. Tina Smith said, “I had hoped that the President would appoint a consensus Justice, a person ready to protect the rights of all Americans over special interests and groups driven by political ideology. But make no mistake—Judge Kavanaugh will not be that Justice.”
  • Sen. Chris Coons says the “American people to deserve to know if Kavanaugh will “expand the corrosive role of money in politics.”
  • Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement, “I will oppose the nomination the president will make tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far right, big corporations, and Washington special interests.”

To further prove the case, the billionaire Koch brothers announced a seven-figure commitment to help secure his confirmation–they know, like the current conservatives on the Court, he’ll side with them time and time again. And, Politico noted yesterday outside groups “are planning to spend more than they did during last year’s fight over Justice Neil Gorsuch, pointing to the drastically higher stakes this time around.” Also, the White House picked a former lobbyist for the Judicial Crisis Network–a big player in these nominations that keeps its donors secret–to shepherd Kavanaugh through the process. A great story from Sludge on the Facebook ad spending on the fight. Roll Call on the outside battle.

And, a key point from Ezra Klein yesterday: Kavanaugh’s appointment is the latest example of how conservatives have used the courts to rig the rules of our democracy: “But the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc doesn’t just reflect the outcomes of America’s undemocratic electoral rules; it is writing and, in some cases, rewriting them, to favor the Republican Party — making it easier to suppress votes, simpler for corporations and billionaires to buy elections, and legal for incumbents to gerrymander districts to protect and enhance their majorities.” Matt Yglesias: “His positions pose an immediate threat to voting rights and democratic regulation of the economy.”

And finally, a little bit of color in this New York Times story on the process: Trump was quizzing members of his private golf club about their views on the nominee.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore City Council passes public financing charter amendment

As Washington moves to further rig the rules of our democracy, cities and states are leading the way toward a more fair, reflective system. Let’s hope Mayor Pugh allows this to go forward: “Baltimore is one step closer to allowing public financing of local election campaigns. The City Council unanimously passed a charter amendment Monday that supporters say is designed to limit big money’s influence in Baltimore politics by offering candidates a way to leverage the money they raise in smaller amounts from citizens. The bill’s approval means the council has cleared a major hurdle in creating a “Fair Elections Fund” and a commission to control it.”

WGBH: The Push To Set New Limits On Election Spending

“Congressman Jim McGovern says a push to add a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit election spending is making headway.”

Boston.com: Here are the 3 ballot questions Massachusetts will vote on this November

And speaking of Massachusetts and Citizens United, voters in the state will have the opportunity this fall to show their opposition to the decision: “Question 2 would create a citizen commission to push a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision on campaign finance.”

Congress/Administration

Texas Tribune: MJ Hegar raised $750,000 off her viral ad, one of a few Texas Democrats boasting big numbers

Wow. Four House Democratic challengers in Texas have announced seven-figure fundraising hauls for the second quarter. Daily Kos has a good roundup this morning of second-quarter numbers.

Washington Post: In Wisconsin, a Democratic star finds himself in a primary brawl

In yet another primary campaign, the issue of where candidates get their money became a point of contention in debate–this time in the Democratic primary to replace Paul Ryan: “After both candidates denounced ‘corporate’ PAC money, Myers said that Bryce was misleading people.”

James Thompson, a Democratic House challenger in Kansas says of his candidacy, “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have forgotten who they represent. They are more concerned with their corporate PAC and Wall Street donors. I grew up in poverty and was homeless at one point. I understand what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. I don’t take corporate PAC money.”

Salon: Meet Max Rose: New York’s other Democratic rebel tries to turn a red district blue

Salon talks with Max Rose, running for Congress against Rep. Donovan, who has also rejected corporate PAC money.

Politico: Big banks, feeling unloved in Trump’s Washington, shake up lobbying

Now they’re just being greedy: “The nation’s biggest banks, struggling to win over policymakers even in the business-friendly Trump era, are poised for a major makeover of their Washington lobbying efforts.”

Corporate Crime Reporter: Pence PAC Sends $5,000 Check to the Wrong Carol Miller

This is funny: “Carol Miller, the New Mexico-based public health and peace activist, got a surprise in her mailbox last week. It was an envelope from Vice President Mike Pence’s political action committee – the Great America Committee. … Turns out that the check was intended for Carol Miller of West Virginia, the country club Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates who is currently running for Congress in the Third Congressional District of West Virginia.”

Washington Post: Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney

This entire administration is a walking conflict of interest: “Rudolph W. Giuliani continues to work on behalf of foreign clients both personally and through his namesake security firm while serving as President Trump’s personal attorney — an arrangement experts say raises conflict of interest concerns and could run afoul of federal ethics laws.” Also, his defense that he’s not taking payment from Trump while profiting from foreign governments does…not say what he thinks it says. And why was Rudy at the Kavanaugh ceremony last night??

Washington Post: Wilbur Ross admits to another tardy stock sale

Wilbur Ross’s excuse for yet another late stock sale is incredible: “But the shares were under the name Wilbur L. Ross, whereas the others were listed without his middle initial, Ross said. As a result, he said he had overlooked them until he received a check for less than $200 in dividend payments that had gone unclaimed.”

NBC News: RNC fights blue wave by already contacting 20 million voters

With that kind of cash, you think they could finally return the money from accused-sexual predator Steve Wynn: “But the RNC has enjoyed a considerable fundraising edge over its Democratic counterpart, entering the summer campaign season with 47.4 million cash on hand — more than five times the $8.7 million that the Democratic National Committee has in the bank.”

New York Times: Government Work Done, Tax Policy Writers Decamp to Lobbying Jobs

I missed this story yesterday and, boy, is it not at all surprising: “Six months after Republicans pushed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through Congress, many of the most influential players who worked behind the scenes on the legislation are no longer on Capitol Hill or in the Trump administration. They are now lobbyists.”

Buzzfeed: Some Members Of Trump’s Exclusive Clubs Appear To Have Been Invited To An Air Force One Tour

This is wild–though predictable–and exactly why the Mar-a-Lago membership list should be public. If Trump is offering government perks to people linking his pockets, shouldn’t we know who they are? “Some members of President Donald Trump’s exclusive Florida clubs appear to have been invited to an Air Force One tour last year, according to an invitation obtained by BuzzFeed News, which was cross-checked with records received through a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Mike Pence is heading to Philadelphia again to raise money.

Roll Call: Atypical Lobbying Shop Targets Lawmakers From Poorest Districts

“An unlikely cast of lobbyists, odd bedfellows even by K Street’s typically bipartisan approach, has spent the past year nurturing a fledgling firm aimed at building coalitions between dyed-in-the-wool conservatives and lefty progressives on Capitol Hill.”

States/Other

A Republican running for the state house in Kansas writes against a Republican incumbent says, “I think moneyed interests in Topeka have too much power and my campaign rejects all corporate, PAC or lobbyists donations.”

AP: Elections body sues lawmakers over ballot measure language

“Arizona’s nonpartisan elections entity is suing a group of lawmakers after raising concerns that they approved misleading language about a ballot measure.”

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.