Every Voice


Failed promises to drain the swamp, only the ultra-rich can afford to run, and more news for 10/19/17

October 19, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Surprise, surprise. President Trump is falling short on his promises to ‘drain the swamp’, according to Politico: “Shortly before Election Day last year, Donald Trump rolled out a package of ethics reforms that he promised to implement as president, using for the first time a now-famous phrase: ‘drain the swamp.’ A year later and nearly nine months into his presidency, Trump has failed to deliver on most of those reforms. Of a five-point list of proposals he unveiled to tighten the rules for Washington lobbying, only one has been fully implemented.” And let’s not forget, those promises he made were pretty thin to begin with and wouldn’t accomplish a lot.

In a week full of campaign finance filing news, here’s a reminder that it’s becoming increasingly hard to run for office if you don’t have access to wealth. But Seattle shows we can change that.

The Illinois governor’s race is projected to shatter campaign finance records which has one expert contemplating how money preventing “average Joes” from running for office. John Jackson, professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, told WSIL: “You’ve got to be a billionaire or a mega millionaire or at least have a lot of friends who are,” and “Normal people who don’t have access to tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars can’t play in this game”

Just look at these US Senate hopefuls in Montanta who are loaning large amounts of their own money to jump-start their campaigns.

Meanwhile in Seattle, where candidates are running for office this year the first time with the support of democracy vouchers and small donor instead of big money, City Council candidate Teresa Mosqueda says democracy vouchers have given people who aren’t ultra-rich an opportunity to run for office: “I’m still paying rent, I still pay student loans,” Mosqueda said. “I think the intent was to try to get more folks who aren’t independently wealthy who have a job like I do to be able to see themselves running for office.”

If only our campaign finance laws were structured with that aim everywhere.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Associated Press: Ethics amendment campaign submits signatures for 2018 ballot
In South Dakota, signatures were submitted for a ballot measure to strenthen ethics and campaign finance rules: “Supporters of a proposed government ethics constitutional amendment have turned in more than 50,000 signatures to put the measure on the 2018 ballot, the initiative campaign said Wednesday.”

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: A bad Supreme Court decision on political corruption casts a long shadow
The Supreme Court’s narrow view of corruption is letting a lot of politicians off: “This week Sen. Bob Menendez hoped to become the latest beneficiary of the McDonnell decision. The New Jersey Democrat’s lawyers cited the ruling in asking a federal judge to dismiss charges that Menendez did favors for Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye surgeon, in exchange for campaign contributions and gifts including plane rides, a stay in a five-star Paris hotel and visits to a resort in the Dominican Republic.”

Vox: 20 of America’s top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They’re scared.
“And nearly everyone agreed: American democracy is eroding on multiple fronts — socially, culturally, and economically.”


Wall Street Journal: Judge Pushes Back Against Trump Administration’s View of Emoluments Clause
Is President Trump violating the Constitution by profitting from the business foreign and state governments and federal agencies provide Trump properties? The question goes to court: “A federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday pushed back against the U.S. government’s attempts to narrowly define the Constitution’s built-in anticorruption provisions, during a hearing in a closely watched lawsuit targeting President Donald Trump’s business ties.”

Speaking of Trump profiting off his political life, Anna Massoglia of Bloomberg points out that $20,000+ campaign payments benefitting Trump, his family, and his businesses weren’t disclosed.

Wall Street Journal: McCain Backs Measure to Tighten Disclosure of Online Political Ads
Sen. McCain the reformer hasn’t been proposed much-needed fixes since Citizens United, but now he’s signing onto an idea: “Sen. John McCain (R, Ariz.), a longtime proponent of stricter political advertising disclosure rules and spending restrictions, has signed onto a bill being written by two Senate Democrats that was prompted by concerns about Russian activity on social media during the 2016 election”

International Business Times: The Koch Brothers Want A Tax Cut. Pence Is Ready To Help
“In New York City last week, Vice President Mike Pence asked billionaire David Koch and around 100 other wealthy, conservative political donors for help in supporting a Republican tax plan. Since the plan would overwhelmingly benefit the richest Americans — like those he was addressing — Pence probably didn’t need to do much persuading.”

Vanity Fair: Does Steve Bannon Actually Want to Drain The Swamp?
“Bannon’s strategy isn’t just inconsistent. It also seems to be alarming the true believers in the populist-nationalist camp: on Tuesday night, Dustin Stockton and Jen Lawrence, two “America First” activists who had been staffers on Kelli Ward’s Arizona Senate campaign, announced that they had left their positions and condemned Ward for hypocrisy.”

E&E News: EPA Controversial chemicals nominee already at agency
He worked for the chemical industry and now he’s advising how to regulate that same industry, without Senate approval: “Michael Dourson, President Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, is already working at the agency”

Bloomberg: Democrats Plan to Name Lobbyists, Operatives as Superdelegates
“The Democratic Party this week plans to name 75 people including lobbyists and political operatives to leadership posts that come with superdelegate votes at its next presidential convention, potentially aggravating old intraparty tensions as it struggles to confront President Donald Trump.”

Roll Call: Meet the Challengers Who Outraised House Incumbents
“Nearly one year out from the 2018 midterms, challengers outraised nearly 30 percent of the incumbents in competitive races during the third quarter.”

Reuters: Instead of U.S. Midterms, Sanders Focuses on Smaller Races
“U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders will focus on getting liberal candidates elected to state and local offices ahead of next year’s midterm elections rather than on higher-profile U.S. congressional races, to help build a national progressive movement from the ground up.”


Post and Courier: Criminal conspiracy charges lodged against Richard Quinn, 4 others in S.C. Statehouse corruption case
“Indictments handed down Wednesday struck at the heart of one of South Carolina’s most powerful and enduring political machines, ensnaring a longtime kingmaker and a cadre of lawmakers accused of helping him advance a corrupt agenda in the Statehouse.”

Record: N.J. elections: Political fundraising laws must be updated, watchdog commission says
The state Election Law Enforcement Commission is calling for increased disclosure of PAC spending donors sidestep New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws by donating to PACs instead of directly to pary committees.

Spokesman-Review: Lawmakers reject idea of eliminating limits on campaign contributions in Idaho
“After much discussion, the Idaho Legislature’s campaign finance and ethics reform work group has agreed by unanimous consent not to change the state’s current campaign contribution limits.”

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.