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The News for July 26, 2018 – Lawmakers reject corporate PAC money, midterm money sprint begins

July 26, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

In response to voter concern about the influence of money in politics, candidates continue to reject corporate PAC money. Yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. David Cicilline joined over a dozen sitting federal lawmakers who have rejected corporate money, according to End Citizens United. The Providence Journal reports, “Half of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation has promised to stop taking money from corporations as part of a broader effort among Democrats to reduce the influence of big-money donors in politics.”

Rep. Cicilline announced the decision saying,  “Corporate spending has rigged our political system against working people. Today, I’m pledging that I will no longer accept corporate PAC money for my campaign.”

And here’s a great quote from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another lawmaker who has pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. Via the New York Times: “Today, Ms. Gillibrand, who has long called for publicly financed campaigns, says that her decade-plus in Washington has taught her that ‘every ill in Congress, no matter what it is, it will stem from the fact that money corrupts politicians and politics.'”

Meanwhile, potential incoming legislators are also highlighting their choice to reject corporate PAC money. Here’s congressional candidate Kaniela Ing of Hawaii in a newly released campaign video talking about the issues he cares about: “The majority of people in Hawaii and across the nation support these ideas, but big donors don’t. I’m the only candidate in this race who isn’t taking corporate money.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Reuters: Trump says ‘too bad’ after Cohen audio recording released
Michael Cohen’s tapes back up Common Cause’s complaint and the DOJ investigation into Trump campaign finance violations, no matter what Trump says. Common Causes’ Karen Hobert Flynn: “Denials and tweets in all caps do not make campaign finance violations go away”

MSNBC: Goldman: President is now ‘implicated in a potential conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud’
Former Assistant U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Daniel Goldman discussed the legal implications of Cohen’s tapes on MSNBC saying he is now “implicated in a potential conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud”

Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Former Lawyer Michael Cohen Formed Delaware Company to Purchase Ex-Playboy Model’s Story
More details on just how far Cohen went to break campaign finance laws: “President Donald Trump’s former attorney planned to use a Delaware shell company he created in September 2016 to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of having an affair with Mr. Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. Michael Cohen, then a top attorney at the Trump Organization, created Resolution Consultants LLC on Sept. 30, 2016, to purchase the rights to Karen McDougal’s story, which had been bought by the publisher of the National Enquirer a month earlier, this person said.”

Bloomberg: Pro-Trump Super-PAC Got Illegal Contributions, Complaint Alleges
“Global Energy Producers LLC didn’t exist until April. A month later, before it had a working website, it was flush with enough cash to make one of the biggest donations of the year to America First Action Inc., a super-political action committee backing President Donald Trump’s agenda. On Wednesday, the Washington-based nonprofit Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the company and two businessmen with connections to Ukraine of violating campaign finance laws.”

Congress/Administration

Politico: House leaders gear up for midterm money sprint
“With control of the House up for grabs this fall — and their own political futures on the line — GOP and Democratic leaders will be frantically crisscrossing the country in August to raise money and rally the faithful. Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who have already raised tens of millions of dollars for their candidates and incumbents, have scheduled dozens of events during the five-week House recess, according to their offices.”

Rolling Stone: Betsy DeVos’ New Proposal Aligns Her With For-Profit Colleges Over Debt-Saddled Students
“The Department of Education, led by Republican über-donor and grizzly-bear alarmist Betsy DeVos, has unveiled a new proposal that would make it dramatically harder for tens of thousands of students who attended scammy for-profit colleges to receive debt relief.

Congressional candidate Jason Crow in Colorado attacked opponent Mike Coffman’s refusal to schedule town halls saying he “makes himself available to special interest donors like the DeVos family and the NRA when he accepts the cash that fuels his campaign.”

Roll Call: The 5 M’s for Describing Why Congress Is Broken
David Hawkings: “Thirty years covering Congress leave me totally convinced the institution is more badly broken today than at any other point in my career, which means getting asked time and again to enumerate the causes for the deepening dysfunction… they can be readily remembered, using this alliterative mnemonic:  Money, maps, media, mingling and masochism.”

Sludge: Cuomo Campaign Bolstered by Puerto Rico Bondholders Causing Austerity in the Territory
“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Puerto Rico this week to help rebuilding efforts. But his reelection campaign has accepted five-figure donations from top financial executives whose firms’ demands have led to austerity measures there.” Also: Sen. Gillibrand joined colleagues in sponsoring a bill to cancel Puerto Rico’s debt while having received big donations from hedge funds profiting off the debt.

Center for Responsive Politics: A week in the political life of the NRA
“In the past week, the National Rifle Association has punctured the political airwaves again and again for their connection to one scandal after the next… We delve into each one of these NRA controversies for their connection to money in politics and transparency.”

Real Vail: Florida governor exemplifies need for End Citizens United anti-political-money goal
End Citizens United: “For too long, money-grubbing politicians like Florida’s Rick Scott have been getting away with the buying and selling of high political office — but he’s going to be hard to beat. Consider that Scott contributed $86 million from his personal fortune to his own gubernatorial races in 2010 and 2014. He’s basically a multi-millionaire backed by influence-seeking multi-billionaires.”

Philly News: Meet the Texas billionaire who backed Philly soda tax – and now is funding attack ads in N.J. Senate race
“A Texas billionaire who has poured millions of dollars into education issues across the Philadelphia region and helped fund the defense of the city’s controversial soda tax is now bankrolling another cause: helping New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez keep his U.S. Senate seat.”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Dad’s super PAC injects $400,000 into new ads for son’s 2nd District congressional campaign
“The political action committee operated by the father of Topeka congressional candidate Steve Watkins moved to alter the complexion of the crowded Republican primary contest with a new $400,000 advertising barrage on behalf of his son, federal reports said Wednesday.”

Utah Policy: Romney has a massive campaign cash advantage over Wilson
“Republican Mitt Romney raised 17-times as much campaign cash as Democrat Jenny Wilson during the last three months according to the latest financial disclosure forms.”

States/Other

Press Herald: State ethics commission defers to court on withheld campaign funding
As legislative candidates feel the effects of a standoff that’s denying them Clean Election funds, still no resolution to uphold the voter-approved law: “The state ethics commission opted Wednesday to take no action on millions of dollars in withheld state Clean Elections funding in the hope that a judicial ruling will soon resolve the dispute, but the panel did not rule out calling a special meeting should the money continue to be held back.”

West Fargo Pioneer: Anti-corruption measure headed for North Dakota ballot
“North Dakota voters will decide whether to add anti-corruption language to the state’s constitution this fall, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Monday, July 23… The measure would prevent lobbyists from giving gifts to public officials and would establish an ethics commission that could investigate public officials, candidates and lobbyists.”

Associated Press: Rauner: Will no longer contribute to candidate’s foundation
“Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will no longer give money to the charitable foundation of a Chicago mayoral candidate…Wilson and the governor have been criticized since Wilson on Sunday doled more than $200,000 to people at a Chicago church to help them with their property tax bills. Rauner was present at the time.”

Arizona Republic: Councilman says campaign donations make Mesa ‘more corrupt’ than D.C.
Money is a problem at every level of government: “A Mesa City councilman is accusing two fellow council members up for re-election of corruption for taking campaign donations from developers.”

Daily Freeman: Ulster County officials discuss campaign finance law aimed at getting ‘big money’ out of elections
In New York: “Ulster County taxpayers could help to fund the elections of county officials under a proposed campaign finance law that would also limit the dollar amounts a candidate for public office can receive from a single donor and significantly restrict the amount an appointed county employee could contribute to the campaign of his or her boss.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director