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Koch brothers wield influence on White House, and more news for 8/14/17

August 14, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Following the tragic events in Charlottesville this weekend, Every Voice joined the many groups supporting solidarity vigils across the country to make clear that bigotry, racism, and white supremacy will not be tolerated and that we believe in an inclusive democracy that finds strength in diversity.

In money-in-politics news, following the violence in Charlottesville, most politicians avoided fundraising this weekend… with some exceptions. And, President Trump’s reelection campaign saw fit to release an ad attacking his “enemies” for obstructing his agenda.

Welcome to a new week in Washington.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Times Free Press: Wamp: Washington, get your house in order
Former Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), co-chairman of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus, makes the conservative case for ethics reform in Washington: “Politics is by definition a bruising, difficult and sometimes ugly business. But that does not mean it should be dirty, unethical or illegal. Our nation’s traditions of honor and virtue are worth holding high in the 21st century or they may be lost to eternity.”

Letter to the editor in Utah about big money funding universities: “I am disturbed to read that the University of Utah is accepting money from Koch Industries. Let’s get a few facts straight about Charles and David Koch… These brothers pour millions of dollars into think tanks to influence public opinion; and it works.”

Slate: This Lawsuit in Alaska Could Upend the Campaign Finance Landscape
If upheld, this case could provide precedent for upholding other contribution limits nationwide: “A little-known court battle in Alaska could be the next big money-in-politics controversy… One of Alaska’s most contentious provisions caps the amount of money that state-level candidates can receive from out-of-state donors and is now part of a lawsuit that will soon go before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court upheld the restrictions.”

Congress/Administration

Los Angeles Times: No early fans of Trump, the powerful Koch network still wields influence on White House policy
The Kochs didn’t directly support Trump, but they’re still seeing the benefits: “in recent months, Koch’s sprawling network of conservative advocacy groups has exerted surprising influence in the Trump administration, scoring some early accomplishments and pushing its priorities to the top of the White House agenda.”

Los Angeles Times: Trump’s D.C. hotel turns an unexpected profit. Gee, how did that happen?
“It’s hard to imagine the Trumps would be profiting from the hotel already had Trump not moved into the White House seven months ago.”

Doonesbury has a new comic on the problem with Trump’s hotel profits: He leaves himself vulnerable to bribes, including from foreign governments.

Mic: How much do private prisons stand to gain from Trump’s immigration enforcement policies?
“The Trump administration has already cemented its relationship with the GEO Group — which donated $100,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC during the 2016 election — via a $110 million contract, money that will go toward the construction of a 1,000-person immigration detention center.”

Politico: Kid Rock gains GOP backing for U.S. Senate run
Here we go: “Kid Rock is gaining some establishment GOP support for a Senate run. Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC formed during the 2016 election that has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s backing, expressed support Friday for Kid Rock taking on Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) in 2018.”

Washington Examiner: Pro-Trump super PAC plans last-minute offensive for Luther Strange in Alabama
“A pro-Trump super PAC plans to initiate a digital advertising campaign in support of GOP Sen. Luther Strange for next week’s Alabama Senate special election primary. America First Action announced Friday it will spend between $150,000 and $200,000 to help Strange”

Politico: Missouri Rising launches super PAC to back Hawley against McCaskill
“Missouri Rising, the state-based spinoff of the Republican opposition research outfit America Rising, is launching a super PAC encouraging Attorney General Josh Hawley to run for Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. The super PAC, dubbed Missouri Rising Action, will back Hawley with television, digital and radio ads against McCaskill, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country.”

Politico: Megadonor Steyer vows to only back candidates that support abortion rights
“Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer said on Saturday that he and his NextGen America group do not intend to work on behalf of anti-abortion politicians, jumping into the Democratic Party’s ongoing debate on the topic.”

States/Other

Keene Sentinel: Spirit of Granny D lives on as activists march for campaign finance reform
Every Voice Center’s Nick Nyhart was proud to be the lead speaker and participate in the march to continue Granny D’s legacy: “hers was a life not soon forgotten, driven by an issue — big money in elections — that has hardly receded from American politics. On Saturday, a group of several dozen activists became the latest to take up that political torch, marching from Haddock’s house in Dublin to downtown Peterborough in protest of what they say is the corrupting influence of corporate money in political campaigns. nhpr.

Washington Post: Recent history shows D.C. needs campaign finance reform
DC may be on the verge of passing major money-in-politics reform: “The council recently held public hearings on bills intended to clean up the campaign finance system in the District. These bills are important if we want a clean and fair election next fall. When the council returns from its summer recess, it should give serious consideration to these bills.”

Texas Monitor: Special session winds to close, so do chances at ethics reform
Proposed reforms in Texas would slow the lobbyist revolving door and prevent the governor’s office from rewarding big donors with government appointments.

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.