The News for July 11, 2018 – An age of minority rule, Pence’s top aide target of ethics scandal
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is the latest sign that we are living in an age of minority rule. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman writes that if the Senate confirms Kavanaugh, “That vote will be a vivid reminder that we are living in an age of minority rule. In fact, that is one of the central features of this political era… Why do I say that a vote in Kavanaugh’s favor is an example of minority rule? Because the body that will confirm him is built in its current formation to almost guarantee Republican control, despite the fact that most American voters selected Democrats to represent them there.”
New York Times’ Glenn Thrush tweeted, “It’s THE story of US politics. Republicans focus on opaque process — courts, gerrymandering, rule-making, campaign finance, media ownership regs — to push an agenda that often lacks majority support (corporate rights, limits on reproductive rights and gun laws, etc.)”
Kavanaugh’s out-of-touch views on campaign finance are one of many issues that will likely find renewed attention as people scrutinize his record. Here he is in an interview expressing the unpopular view that money is speech: Interviewer: “Do you agree . . . that money spent during campaigns does represent speech, and therefore deserves First Amendment protection?” Kavanaugh: “Absolutely”
Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler has a great message in this piece “Don’t Despair Over the Supreme Court—Get Mad, Then Even”. He writes, “Trump has hastened democratic backsliding in the U.S., but he is also a symptom of it, as is the Kavanaugh nomination. It is frightening to imagine the consequences of it, and maddening to know Republicans will likely confirm him no matter how hard or cleverly Democrats fight it. But it should also be galvanizing. Today should be a reminder to liberals not that all hope is lost, but that we’re living through a moment where democracy is on the line and we have an opportunity to save it.”
As we face the continued erosion of majority rule, dozens of groups are organizing candlelight vigils to Confront Corruption and Demand Democracy on Wednesday, July 18th. Learn more at ConfrontCorruption.org.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: VP Pence’s top aide, tied to Greitens, targeted in new Missouri ethics complaint
“The chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence discussed soliciting contributions from ‘restricted donors’ while he was advising future Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ 2016 campaign, according to a complaint filed Tuesday with the state’s ethics commission. The complaint also says that Greitens for Missouri, which Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers advised, “funneled” donations through 501(c)(4) nonprofits, which do not have to reveal donor identities.”
Senator Claire McCaskill weighs in: RT @clairecmc This nasty stuff is about a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Guess who has the statutory authority to investigate? Guess who is NOT investigating?
Herald Tribune: Don’t let nonprofits hide political donations
Editorial: “Worse, the use of organizations that are exempt from naming donors has spread not only to federal and state races but to local campaigns as well — further eroding the belief that openness and disclosure are key components of elections in a representative democracy.”
Detroit Metro Times: Gerrymandering foes stage protest as lawsuit advances to Michigan Supreme Court
“The nonprofit, anti-corruption group Represent.Us will today host a rally outside the downtown Detroit office of Michigan Chamber of Commerce chairman Mark Davidoff, who is also Deloitte’s managing partner for Michigan. The chamber is one of the top financial backers of Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, a ballot advocacy group aiming to derail proposal to have an independent body redraw Michigan’s political districts.”
Washington Post: Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney
“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.”
Wall Street Journal: Mike Flynn’s Lawyers Say He Is No Longer Joining Consulting Firm
For a short, tantalizing moment it appeared that Mike Flynn, who plead guilty to breaking lobbying laws, was about to join a lobbying firm with lobbyist Nick Muzin who is currently being sued by Trump’s fundraiser Elliott Broidy for colluding with Muzin’s lobbying client Qatar to hack Broidy’s emails: “Hours after a new lobbying firm aimed at domestic and global clients announced it was partnering with former national security adviser Mike Flynn, attorneys for the embattled Mr. Flynn said the deal was off and the notice had been released as a result of a ‘misunderstanding’ among the participants in Stonington Global LLC.”
New York Times Magazine: Americans Think ‘Corruption’ Is Everywhere. Is That Why We Vote for It?
“An obsession with corruption is an American tradition; it dates back to the founding fathers”, yet if we let an obsession with corruption lead to cynicism that anything can be done about it, we’re in trouble: “Eventually the idea of reforming institutions starts to seem bewilderingly difficult — harder than just tearing them down. This is why anti-corruption crusades are expedient platforms for demagogues and authoritarians who, like Duterte, have no serious interest in corruption”. Sound familiar?
Center for Responsive Politics: Andrew Wheeler’s long history with the Energy sector
“Andrew Wheeler, the new acting administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, is a rank-and-file member of Washington’s revolving door.”
Trump tweeted about meeting with a pharmaceutical executive from Pfizer yesterday. Meanwhile, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers plans to host its membership meeting at the Trump Hotel in DC this October.
Arizona Republic: Koch-connected group out to kill Outlaw Dirty Money and other initiatives
“Well, that didn’t take long. Last week, a bipartisan group filed the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative, hoping to unmask big money donors who run anonymous campaigns to get certain people elected in our state. This week, a group funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch already is hard at work trying to knock the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative off the ballot.”
Tampa Bay Times: Koch-backed super PAC endorses Ron DeSantis for governor
“One of the political operations supported by conservative billionaire Charles Koch endorsed Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, signaling more heavyweight out-of-state support for the Florida Congressman.”
Maine Public: Maine Legislature Goes Into Recess With Issues Still Unresolved
Lawmakers in Maine still refuse to fix a typo that is holding up money candidates to need to run their campaigns free of big-money donors: “The Maine Legislature has gone into recess, leaving such major issues as tax conformity and Clean Election funding unresolved. House Republicans rejected a proposal from Democrats to break the impasse.”
WyoFile: Wyoming’s glaring campaign finance blindspot
“Here’s Wyoming’s loophole: all candidates for state and local office must file a pre-election report that details all campaign contributions above $25. The report covers the period up to 14 days before an election and must be filed by 10 days before election day. That leaves a 4-day window between “closing the books” and the filing deadline, during which donations received will remain effectively invisible until after the election is decided. You’d be amazed at what percentage of donations happen to arrive in that window.”