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The News for July 12, 2018 – Pence’s donor damage control mission

July 12, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

Vice President Mike Pence is launching a Midwest damage control mission to appease a top constituency: big donors. Politico reports, “In the face of a trade war that intensified just four days ago, Pence is quietly setting up one-on-one meetings with major Midwestern donors where he is prepared to blunt concerns over an escalating situation that’s beginning to wreak havoc on markets, farmers and employers across the region.”

Pence is going on a fundraising swing through Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; and Kansas City, Missouri, while Trump plans to fundraise for Josh Hawley in Missouri, Claire McCaskill’s challenger for her Senate seat, after returning from his NATO meeting.

Meanwhile, back on Trump’s diplomatic trip, Trump used his official presidential visit to the United Kingdom as an opportunity to plug his personal business, a golf course in Scotland. And this is something: a petition started circulating yesterday calling for protestors to be allowed to fly this Trump baby balloon over the golf course.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Today, Texans for Public Justice and the Equity Austin will release a new report examining inequities within Austin’s campaign finance system showing the need for a new small-donor public financing system ‘Democracy Dollars’ which local activists are championing. Watch the Facebook Live event today.

Following the Baltimore City Council vote this week in favor of bringing small-donor public financing to the city, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his support: “The fight for our democracy will be won in our cities. Congratulations to @CouncilmanKB and the Baltimore City Council for voting to support public financing and to kick big money out of politics.”

TruthOut: Congress Can Stop Foreign Secret Spending on US Elections Right Now
Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen the easily exploited ban on foreign influence in our elections: “A simple rule requiring the disclosure of major donors quickly would patch this obvious hole, but Republicans in Congress repeatedly have blocked such an easy fix. The DISCLOSE Act, newly reintroduced in the Senate this month, is a chance for them to correct this error, as well as fix the limitations on disclosure rules that have snuck into the appropriations packages over the last few years.

Courthouse News Service: Watchdog Wants FEC to Investigate Trump 2016 Fundraising
Campaign Legal Center filed a new complaint with the FEC yesterday “claiming President Donald Trump, his 2016 presidential campaign and the nonprofit Trump Foundation may have committed numerous campaign finance law violations.”

In Georgia, Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp is hitting another Republican, Casey Cagle, for making decisions based on campaign contributions. In a new ad, Kemp says, “Cagle admitted that he thought a new state law was bad policy for Georgia, but it could mean millions to his campaign, so Cagle passed it anyway. Well, if that’s not criminal, it should be.”

Kansas City Star: Top Pence aide Nick Ayers denies breaking the law while running Greitens campaign
“In a complaint filed Tuesday with the Missouri Ethics Commission against Greitens’ campaign and nonprofit, Ayers is accused of helping both entities commit multiple campaign finance violations — most notably illegally working to conceal the identity of donors.”

Letter to the editor in New Jersey: “The balance of power has been tilted toward a wealthy minority by their money. We the people can only regain the power in our government by using the advantage of our majority in the power of our voices and our votes to eliminate the uncontrolled power of concentrated money that promotes the interests of the wealthy few rather than protects the public interests of we the people.”

This new research paper “Spillovers from regulating corporate campaign contributions” finds that when corporate donors face limits to what they spend supporting political candidates, they make it up by spending more on lobbying: “constraining specific corporate political activities often yields unintended effects”

Congress/Administration

Associated Press: New EPA acting chief defends past coal industry lobbying
Why not just put someone in the job who doesn’t have to make excuses: “The new acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency defended his past lobbying work with the coal industry on Wednesday as he addressed agency employees roiled by months of ethics allegations against former administrator Scott Pruitt.”

Dallas Morning News: Beto O’Rourke’s torrid fundraising leaves Ted Cruz in the dust, with another $10 million in last 3 months
Beto O’Rourke, whose campaign is marked by his rejection of PAC money, raked in a record amount with over 215,000 donation: “Democrat Beto O’Rourke raised an eye-popping $10.4 million in the last three months — catching up to Sen. Ted Cruz’s six-year haul in just over 15 months as he seeks to topple the Republican darling.” O’Rourke made the announcement saying “To do it in this way through small dollar contributions — that’s what democracy looks like”

New York Times: Kushner’s Firm Deepens Ties to Those With Business in Washington

Republican Senator Charles Grassley sent a letter to the President saying, ““Certain EB-5 interest groups are telling investors they have ‘bought off the White House’ and that your administration will never allow the EB-5 regulations to take effect. These comments are very disturbing.”

Florida Politics: Vern Buchanan bought yacht after voting for House version of GOP tax bill
Lol just what you’d expect following a vote for a bill pushed for by wealthy donors: “A recently filed financial disclosure shows U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan celebrated passing the House version of the Republican tax bill in quite the lavish way. According to the disclosure, Buchanan spent between $1 million and $5 million purchasing an Ocean Alexander yacht on Nov. 16, 2017, the same day he joined 226 other Republicans and no Democrats in voting for the first draft of the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.'”

PBS NewsHour: Why replacing the ‘swing’ justice ignites warring passions of special interest groups
“the nomination process today has been refined into almost a science. And when a special interest organization, such as the conservative Federalist Society, presents a list of carefully vetted potential nominees to a president who commits to choosing from it — as President Trump did in choosing Justice Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — there may be few surprises.”

NARAL and People’s Defense are organizing a national day of action, “Stand For Justice,” on Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 2018 to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. Every Voice and dozens more groups will be joining.

Mic: Female veterans are raking in major cash for their congressional bids
“As of a few weeks ago, female veterans already began looking like they may be key to Democrats’ chances at winning control of the House in the midterm elections in the fall. Now, numbers are rolling in regarding these female veterans’ fundraising hauls from April to June, and their status as top candidates who could propel Democrats to victory in November is growing even clearer.”

Roll Call: GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
Interesting. Rep. Marsha Blackburn returns donation from PAC that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators. Campaign spokesperson: “Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency”

New York Magazine: Sheldon Adelson Is Fantasizing About Building Casinos in North Korea
omg: “Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a die-hard Trump supporter who pumped tens of millions of dollars into his presidential campaign, wants to put a casino in North Korea, he recently told a crowd in Jerusalem according to Casino News Daily.”

CNN: Tickets for Sean Spicer book launch party going for up to $1,000
Held at the Trump Hotel in DC, of course.

States/Other

Sacramento Bee: More campaign money could flow to California legislative leaders under new bill
“Special interests could put more money directly into the hands of California legislative leaders, giving them greater influence over campaigns, under a bill unveiled last week as lawmakers left Sacramento for summer recess. Legislators also added provisions to the bill to require political parties to file more frequent and timely campaign finance reports with the state. They describe Assembly Bill 84 as a measure that increases transparency.”

The California Democratic Party will no longer accept money from private prison companies. Florida Democrats recently did the same.

Hartford Courant: Campaign Finance Reports Reveal A Battle Of Millionaires In Gubernatorial Race
“If a wealthy, self-funded shoreline businessman does not become Connecticut’s next governor, it won’t be for lack of spending money.” But it may be because they were beat by candidates running under the states public financing program.

Chicago City Wire: Mega-donors still winning under Illinois’ campaign finance restrictions
“A new report by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) suggests that legislation put in place in the wake of the scandal that led to the imprisonment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has fallen short of its goal. Researchers have determined that in the last 90 days alone, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has amassed a political war-chest of at least $5.2 million.”

Tennessean: How Tennessee’s campaign for governor has become the most expensive ever
“A flurry of spending on television ads in recent weeks has helped this year’s gubernatorial campaign become the most expensive race so far in state history. In total, the six top-tier candidates for Tennessee governor have collectively spent roughly $37 million on their campaigns, according to newly released campaign finance disclosures.”

Sunshine State News: D.C.-Based Dark Money Group Spending Big to Topple Buchanan and Mast
“[Floridians for a Fair Shake], a shadowy 501(c)(4) with a local name but a Washington, D.C. address doesn’t have to disclose its donors. So it is lashing out hundreds of thousands of dollars — maybe far more than that since the group’s effort launched in April — to take down a pair of Republican congressmen — Vern Buchanan in CD 16 and Brian Mast in CD 18.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director