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The News for August 9, 2018 – Fundraise or ‘look for a job’, cities want to embrace ‘democracy vouchers’

August 9, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

Republicans spent big to win the Ohio special congressional election this week and only narrowly clinched it. Now with worry setting in for the midterms, what is top of mind? Fundraising, of course. Republican strategist Joe Brettell told Reuters that Republicans need to fundraise or ‘look for a job': “After last night’s results, endangered members should be burning up the phone lines to donors – either to build their own fundraising or look for a job. The party won’t be able to save everyone”

Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund: “Any Republican running for Congress getting vastly outraised by an opponent needs to start raising more money.”

Just how much money is there for Republicans to tap? Let’s not forget: “There may still be a well of cash for Republicans thanks to the deep-pocketed donors delighted last year when Republicans passed sweeping tax cuts. ‘There is going to be an awful lot of thank-you checks written for the tax bill,’ Brettell said.”

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates are continuing to push money-in-politics concerns into the midterm conversation. More on that below.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

CityLab: More Cities Want to Embrace ‘Democracy Vouchers’
Following the success of Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program: “The attempts to get ‘democracy vouchers’ on the books in Albuquerque and Austin follow efforts by local governments including those in Maryland, Oregon, and California to tweak campaign finance at the local level. Even Missouri, a state that typically votes conservative, hopped on the bandwagon. In New York, there are calls to use the city’s ongoing charter revision to strengthen public financing mechanisms further. Given that campaign finance laws at the national level are already leaky, and may be further weakened in the future, activists are hopeful that change fans out from the city-level.”

Berkeleyside: Public financing is being used for 1st time in Berkeley election; how’s it going so far?
In 2016, Berkeley voters approved Measure X1 to establish small-donor public financing and 12 out of 15 candidates running for City Council are using the program this year. Love this quote from recent Berkeley graduate and candidate Rigel Robinson who says the system allowed him to “focus on reaching out to voters instead of making everything about how many dollars we can get. It’s a lot easier to convince an undergrad that maybe if they can drop as much money as one burrito to try and get some [student] representation on City Council, they might be willing to do that.”

NPR: On Appeals Court, Kavanaugh Helped To Loosen Political Money Laws
Judge Kavanaugh helped create the campaign finance system that most people dislike: “Kavanaugh has been on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, a frequent destination for cases involving the Federal Election Commission. His decisions have effectively pulled the campaign finance system rightward, letting in more money with less regulation.”

Kansas City Star: Missouri voters give unions a victory by strongly rejecting right-to-work law
Reginald Thomas of the Greater KC Chapter of the AFL-CIO following voter’s rejection of a proposed right-to-work law in Missouri: “Tonight we send a clear message to any politicians, CEO, dark-money donors who want to silence working people”

Congress/Administration

CBS West Michigan (WWMT): Newly elected candidate takes shot at Rep. Fred Upton’s corporate campaign contributions
Recently nominated Democratic congressional candidate Matt Longjohn on his opponent Rep. Fred Upton: “He’s faced difficult votes. He’s faced votes on health care and the tax bill and various things like this. And if you line up his votes and you saw the people protesting on health or protesting on the tax bill, his votes went towards the interest of his corporate donors. I don’t think that that’s something we should worry about as voters, whether our politicians are bought and paid for.”

VPR: US House Candidate Dan Freilich Takes Aim At ‘Corruption’ Of Money In Politics
In Vermont: “Dr. Dan Freilich is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House to be a ‘tireless advocate’ for campaign finance reform. He calls the current election financing system corrupt, with a corrosive impact on almost every important issue facing Congress.”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Democrat Paul Davis responds to attack by U.S. House Republican super PAC
Democratic congressional candidate Paul Davis in response to Congressional Leadership Fund attack ads: “Out-of-state special interests lying about my record is further proof that we need independent leaders willing to take a stand. I won’t stand for it and neither should Kansans”

Center for Responsive Politics: Foreign interests have spent over $530 million influencing US policy, public opinion since 2017
Important new tool from OpenSecrets: “Foreign lobbyists and agents acting on behalf of foreign interests have reported hundreds of millions of dollars in payments since January 2017, an analysis of OpenSecrets’ exclusive new Foreign Lobby Watch data reveals. Today we’re making available, for the first time, a searchable database of foreign interests spending on lobbying and influence in the United States.”

The Week: America for sale
It’s been a banner week so far. Paul Manafort’s trial kicked off, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross who is now profiting off his position was accused of stealing $123 million from his business partners, Mar-a-Lago members are directing the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Rep. Chris Collins was arrested for insider trading: “This is modern American politics, folks: Rotten to its very marrow. Corruption is eating the United States alive. As the Numidian King Jugurtha supposedly said of the Roman Republic: ‘Yonder lies a city put up for sale, and its days are numbered if it finds a buyer.’ Let’s walk through a few of the major sellers.”

WREN: McMurray: Collins Should “Do The Right Thing”
Rep. Chris Collin’s Democratic opponent Nathan McMurray responds to the news that Collins was arrested for insider trading: “McMurray said that Collins was not serving the best interest of his constituents, and was, instead, serving his donors.”

Center for Public Integrity: On Paul Manafort and foreign lobbying: a Q&A with the author of ‘The Torturers’ Lobby’
A 1992 Center for Public Integrity report ‘The Torturers’ Lobby’ is gaining some much-deserved renewed attention as Manafort appears in court: “To help shed light on the significance of that report and the influence of foreign lobbying then and now, we contacted Pamela Brogan, the author of the ‘The Torturers’ Lobby,’ and a former Washington journalist.

NBC: Secret recording shows GOP’s Nunes saying Rosenstein impeachment would delay Supreme Court pick
Recording of a closed-door fundraiser shows Republicans are telling donors one thing and the public another: “Hard-line conservative Republicans in the House recently hit a roadblock in their effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein when Speaker Paul Ryan opposed the move. But one of those conservatives, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., gave a different explanation to donors recently when asked why the impeachment effort had stalled.”

Letter to the editor in Maine: “The vast sums of money currently being contributed to political campaigns are destroying the fundamental democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations, unions, and some nonprofits can spend unlimited amounts of money supporting political campaigns or advertising ‘political opinions.'”

BuzzFeed: Joe Biden Is Scheduled To Headline A Fundraiser For A Group Allied With Jim Clyburn
“Former vice president Joe Biden is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard this month for Protecting Our Vote PAC, an organization close to South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn”

States/Other

Hawaii News Now: Lt. Governor candidates raise concerns about Super PAC spending
A construction union PAC is dropping more than $1 million into TV ads supporting a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii and his primary opponents are raising concerns: “These corporations expect a payout in return for their investment,” said Kim Coco Iwamoto who has rejected support from PACs.

Letter to the editor in Arizona highlights how ALEC gets their way with local legislators over the will of the people: “Our legislators are so busy raising money for the next election cycle that they happily accept the neatly prepackaged work and the check that follows their acceptance of such work. We get legislation that favors ALEC and their members.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director