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The News for July 3, 2018 – Trump embraces big-money donors, voters want SOTUS to limit corporate money in politcs

July 3, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

Donald Trump has fully embraced the big-money donors he publicly shunned on the campaign trail with his pledge to “drain the swamp.” The Washington Post reports on Trump’s fundraising for the dark-money super PAC America First that has raised $46.1 million so far with the president’s help: “Even as Trump holds court in large arenas filled with thousands of cheering supporters, he also has been giving rich financiers and business executives up-close access, helping cultivate the kind of big-money outfit he once derided.”

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly denounced big donors saying that candidates inevitably become beholden to them. In 2016 on CNN, he said, “Somebody gives them money — not anything wrong — just psychologically when they go to that person, they’re going to do it. They owe them.”

By the president’s logic, he sure has a lot of wealthy donors he is ‘psychologically’ beholden to: “There was the exclusive dinner at the Georgetown home of a tobacco heir and the soiree at the McLean residence of the developer of the Watergate complex. More recently, men in suits and women in cocktail dresses sipped drinks in the luxurious ballroom of Washington’s Trump International Hotel. At each gathering, the guest of honor was President Trump. And the people there to celebrate him were some of his wealthiest supporters, who in the case of the hotel fete wrote six-figure checks to hear him crack jokes and discuss his agenda in a rarefied setting.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Washington Post: Facebook’s disclosures under scrutiny as federal agencies join probe of tech giant’s role in sharing data with Cambridge Analytica
“A federal investigation into Facebook’s sharing of data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica has broadened to focus on the actions and statements of the tech giant and now involves multiple agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the official inquiries.”

Congress/Administration

Daily Beast: Poll: Voters Want Trump’s Supreme Court Pick to Limit Corporate Money in Politics, Not Abortion
“The future of abortion rights in America does not appear to be the most galvanizing issue for voters when it comes to who President Donald Trump will select as his next Supreme Court nominee. That honor, according to a new Daily Beast/Ipsos poll, goes to the immense concerns many voters have about the role money plays in U.S. politics.”

CNBC: A pro-Trump super PAC is working on a strategy to encourage Democratic senators to back the president’s Supreme Court pick
Here’s where the donors backing America First call in their favors with Trump by influencing the selection of the next Supreme Court nominee.

New York Times: In Gorsuch, Conservative Activist Sees Test Case for Reshaping the Judiciary
If Neil Gorsuch’s nomination serves as a guide, then we know donors and their well-connected friends will play a huge role in selecting our next Supreme Court nominee: ‘Deep into the Senate’s 68-page questionnaire of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, the Supreme Court nominee was asked to describe how he had come to President Trump’s attention. The first thing he wrote was, ‘I was contacted by Leonard Leo.’ As executive vice president of the Federalist Society, Leo “sits at the nexus of an immensely influential but largely unseen network of conservative organizations, donors and lawyers”

Trump interviewed Supreme Court candidates yesterday including Judge Amul Thapar. Two dozen groups, including Every Voice, opposed Thapar’s confirmation last year to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit “due to his troubling record on the issue of money in politics.”

Slate: How Justice Kennedy’s Successor Will Wreak Havoc on Voting Rights and American Democracy
Richard Hasen: “I fully expect issues from voting rights to campaign finance to get far worse when President Trump appoints Kennedy’s successor in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia.”

Politico: Anthony Kennedy Was No Moderate
Rahm Emanuel’s take on Anthony Kennedy: “This is the ‘moderate’ who wrote for the majority in Citizens United v. FEC. He conflated money with speech and corporations with people. Wrong on both counts.”

Center for Public Integrity: The financial disclosures for possible Supreme Court nominees
A good resource to have on hand: “The Center for Public Integrity has been busy as well, aggressively working to obtain the financial disclosure forms of the mostly state and federal judges who are rumored to be in the running.”

Letter to the editor in Oregon: “The Republican-controlled U.S. Supreme Court has stepped up on the billionaires’ behalf. The Citizens United decision cleared the way for unlimited spending on campaigns. The recent Ohio decision and other voter-suppression tactics in Republican-controlled states has limited the franchise of the poor and minorities. Now, the Janus vs. AFSCME decision gives billionaires a trifecta by allowing represented workers to freeload on much-reduced union income. Welcome to one nation under the rich, by the rich, for the rich.”

In response to public anger about money in politics, candidates continue to make it a key campaign issue. In a new ad, congressional candidate Lisa Brown says,“It’s exactly what’s wrong with Congress and why I don’t take corporate PAC money.”

Washington Post: Pruitt aides reveal new details of his spending and management at EPA
“The Trump administration appointees described an administrator who sought a salary that topped $200,000 for his wife and accepted help from a subordinate in the job search, requested aid from senior EPA officials in a dispute with a Washington landlord and disregarded concerns about his first-class travel.”

CNN: Whistleblower: EPA’s Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings
An EPA whistleblower says Scott Pruitt and his staff kept a ‘secret’ calendar to hide controversial meetings including with industry special interests: “For example, Pruitt’s public EPA schedule shows that his final meeting for the day of April 26, 2017, was with Australia’s environmental minister, but an internal calendar shows that later the same day he attended a dinner at the BLT Prime restaurant inside Trump International Hotel hosted by coal producer Alliance Resource Partners and its CEO, Joseph Craft. Craft, who donated $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and has given millions more to mostly Republican candidates and committees, has advocated for the rollback of former President Barack Obama’s coal-industry regulations.”

Now watch this video of a mom holding her toddler confront Pruitt at Teasim, a DC lunch spot: “This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water. Meanwhile, you’re slashing strong fuel standards for cars and trucks, for the benefit of big corporations.”

Wall Street Journal: Top GOP Fundraiser to Stop Hush Payments Over Affair
“A top Republican fundraiser will stop making payments to a former mistress who signed a hush-money agreement that was negotiated last year by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer. Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles venture capitalist and former Republican National Committee official, agreed to pay former Playboy centerfold Shera Bechard $1.6 million—in eight installments, beginning late last year—to keep quiet about her affair with the married donor”

ABC: Michael Cohen hints at possible cooperation with investigators
Facing campaign-finance violation accusations and other charges, Cohen is changing his tune about cooperating with investigators saying he puts his “family and country” ahead of Trump.

States/Other

Miami New Times: Florida Democrats Ban Private-Prison Donations, but Emails Show Internal Pushback
The push to ban money from unsavory industries continues to gain steam: “At a gala fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party in Hollywood on Sunday, party leaders including Chair Terrie Rizzo stood onstage and repeatedly condemned the Trump Administration for imprisoning immigrant children at detention facilities across the country. But when a group of activists proposed a ban on all political donations from the private-prison companies who profit off Trump’s policies, a small but influential minority of old-guard party officials (and at least one former Clinton White House employee) fought back and nearly succeeded in killing the measure. In the end, though, the resolution did pass by a large majority, ushering in a new era of anti-mass-incarceration activism at the party level in Florida.”

Martinsville Bulletin: It’s time for some common sense reform
Editorial: “Do what we say….or else. That was the message handed down by one of Virginia’s biggest law firms last week, as Hunton Andrews Kurth told members of the General Assembly to either accept money from Appalachian Power or be prepared not to get a dime from them during campaign season. Maybe it’s time to just say ‘no thanks’ to campaign donations from companies in general.”

WGN9: Super PAC tied to Trump’s Illinois Campaign Finance Chair Jumps into Race for Governor
“Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign for re-election is expected to get a boost this week from a Super PAC formerly headed by wealthy Chicago businessman and Illinois campaign finance chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential run, Ron Gidwitz.”

Ridgefield Press: Berger-Girvalo qualifies for Citizens’ Election Program
In Connecticut, candidates are taking advantage of the opportunity to run free of big money. A campaign representative explains her candidate’s decision to run using the Citizens’ Election Program, saying, “Because she will not be reliant on special interest money, she will be able to campaign honestly and effectively.”

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.