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The News for June 14, 2018 – Self-financing billionaire bribes Party

June 14, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

An interview with the Miami Herald by Democratic candidate for governor of Florida Jeff Green highlights how our big-money political system gives wealthy individuals an advantage. Greene said IF he wins the Democratic nomination, he’ll play king-maker for the Party: “When I win the nomination I’ll be getting involved in other races. I hope the Republicans read this and understand the days of easy rides to controlling the House and Senate are over for good…I’ll be doing whatever it takes to go toe to toe dollar-wise to get the message out in the general election.”

Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News explains why a self-financing billionaire offering his Party a bribe is so ‘repugnant‘: “There has to be a better way to find good leaders for Florida than riding the checkbook of another self-financing, mouthy millionaire or — in Jeff Greene’s case — billionaire…I find this man’s gaudy show of wealthy advantage so repugnant… I truly believe after this election ends, both parties desperately need to revisit campaign finance reform.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

The Hour: GOP attorney general candidate ends public campaign financing thanks to deep-pocketed donors
This is exactly why public financing of elections exists in Connecticut: to allow candidates to spend their time campaigning with regular constituents instead of schmoozing deep-pocketed donors. Attorney general candidate John Shaban dropped out of the state’s Clean Elections Program: “The move was prompted by the new support of some new deep-pocketed donors, Shaban said.” LOL: “Hours after withdrawing from the program, Shaban schmoozed with Greenwich Republican Town Committee members over steaks and cocktails in a private dining room at Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse. “

Associated Press: Judge Throws Out Colorado Campaign Finance Complaint Process
“A federal judge has thrown out Colorado’s voter-approved system for enforcing campaign finance violations. The Denver Post reports U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Moore this week ruled the system is unconstitutional. Anyone in Colorado can file a complaint, and it’s forwarded to an administrative law judge regardless of merit.”

Cleveland.com: Ohio dark-money group broke campaign-finance rules, group claims
“A political watchdog organization is accusing a Dayton-based dark-money group of violating federal tax and campaign-finance law by undercounting the amount it spent on anti-Democrat attack ads. Freedom Vote Inc., led by former Republican National Committee political director James Nathanson, failed to report more than $1.1 million worth of spending on ads opposing 2016 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Ted Strickland, according to complaints filed Tuesday by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the IRS and Federal Election Commission.”

MapLight: MapLight Suing New Jersey, Chris Christie for Release of Jared Kushner Correspondence
Daniel Newman, president and co-founder of MapLight: “Transparency is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. State records should be open to the public — not left in the hands of a private lawyer. By releasing the requested public records immediately, public officials in New Jersey can end the secrecy that fuels suspicion and begin to restore trust. Gov. Murphy should take a stand for transparency, not secrecy, by requiring that all records become part of the state archives, instead of hiding behind personal attorneys.”

Watchdog.org: Scott launches Senate campaign blitz to set agenda before finance issues become the issue
Rick Scott, Florida governor and multi-millionaire, launched his campaign in April for Senate and is trying to get his message out ahead of a lawsuit accusing him of violating financial-disclosure requirements: “The U.S. Senate race between three-term incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott, Florida’s two-term governor, will exceed an estimated $200 million in campaign spending, which would make it the most expensive Senate contest in history. But it will be Scott’s finances – both personal and campaign-related – that Democrats will make into an issue, as they did when he was first elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.”

Congress/Administration

Newsweek: Did Cohen, Broidy Cover up Trump Affair with Another ‘Playboy’ Model? Watchdog Wants to Know
“The Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission were asked Wednesday to investigate whether a $1.6 million payment made by a top fundraiser for Donald Trump to a former Playboy playmate was intended to help the president’s 2020 campaign and thus potentially violated federal campaign finance laws. The complaint over the payment, which was arranged by the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, was filed Wednesday by non-profit watchdog group Free Speech for People.”

Wall Street Journal: And this doesn’t look good for Cohen, Trump’s Lawyer, Are Quitting His Case
And this doesn’t look good for: “The attorneys for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, are expected to stop representing him in the criminal investigation into his business dealings, according to a person familiar with the matter.” Also the Washington Post has an explanation of “Why Michael Cohen is possibly the biggest threat to Trump”. Will Cohen flip?

New York Times: Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend
A great read about the influence of billionaire Trump-supporter Tom Barrack: “During the Trump campaign, Mr. Barrack was a top fund-raiser and trusted gatekeeper who opened communications with the Emiratis and Saudis, recommended that the candidate bring on Paul Manafort as campaign manager — and then tried to arrange a secret meeting between Mr. Manafort and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Barrack was later named chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee. But Mr. Manafort has since been indicted by the special prosecutor investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. The same inquiry is examining whether the Emiratis and Saudis helped sway the election in Mr. Trump’s favor “

Wall Street Journal: White House Seeks to Block Senate Bid to Kill ZTE Deal
Trump has a half-billion dollar loan from a Chinese bank and Ivanka is benefiting from Trademark deals in the country. Could that be why Trump is trying to please the leader of China? “The White House moved to protect its deal with Beijing to rescue ZTE Corp, taking steps to head off a bipartisan effort to use a must-pass defense bill to reinstate a ban on sales of U.S. components to the Chinese telecommunication company.

CNN: Sean Spicer joins Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action
How independent can you be when hiring former White House officials: “Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has joined the Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action.” And of course this “independent” group is holding an event at the Trump Hotel in DC that will personally benefit the president: “[Spicer] will make his debut with the group on Monday night at the group’s gathering at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Syracuse: VP Mike Pence to raise money for John Katko, Claudia Tenney at Trump hotel
Another event at Trump Hotel, and more money in Trump’s pocket: “Vice President Mike Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will host a $30,000 per ticket dinner tonight to benefit the election campaigns of Reps. John Katko, Claudia Tenney and 20 other vulnerable House Republicans.”

Washington Post: In latest show of independence, Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity to sit out Virginia Senate race
“Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the influential Koch network, said it will not endorse either party’s candidate or put any money into the U.S. Senate race in Virginia after immigration hard-liner Corey A. Stewart’s victory in the Republican primary Tuesday.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst joins those calling for an investigation into Scott Pruitt: RT @SenJoniErnst “I support Sen. @JimInhofe’s call for a hearing on EPA Administrator Pruitt’s scandals; and I continue to urge the President to take a hard look at Mr. Pruitt’s actions – as I do not feel that Mr. Pruitt is serving @RealDonaldTrump’s best interests.”

San Diego Union-Tribune: $100 per vote. The cost to campaign for Rep.Darrell Issa’s open seat was one of the highest in the country.
“Candidates and political committees spent nearly $16 million while running for California’s 49th District, a whopping price tag driven by the costs of campaigning for a seat that straddles two of the country’s most expensive media markets.”

Center for Responsive Politics: Groups pour more than $100,000 in dark money into South Carolina House race
“Two nonprofit groups with reported links to the energy industry funneled thousands of dollars of dark money into South Carolina’s 4th District House race in an apparent effort to boost GOP candidates ahead of Tuesday’s crowded primary. Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) and the Conservative Leadership Alliance (CLA), two 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations, combined spent more than $100,000 in the race. As nonprofits, neither group is required to disclose who is funding that spending.”

Hill: GOP super PAC targets Pelosi in new 6-figure ad
“The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a top GOP super PAC allied with House leadership, is out with a new digital ad that doubles down on its strategy of tarring House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as ‘Negative Nancy.'”

Detroit News: Conservative group attacks Whitmer in new $1.7M ad campaign
“Americans for Prosperity on Wednesday launched a $1.7 million television ad campaign attacking Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer by linking her to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The conservative group funded by the powerful Koch brothers announced the three-week spending plan one day after Whitmer allies launched their own five-week, $1.8 million ad campaign to help promote her.”

States/Other

Gotham Gazette: Campaign Finance Board to Propose Reforms at Charter Commission Hearing
“New York City’s modern campaign finance system is undoubtedly a model program — it’s being emulated in other municipalities — that has diversified and democratized the city’s quadrennial local elections since it was created 30 years ago. Among its strengths is that the public-matching program is consistently tweaked and updated with the times, and the Campaign Finance Board is taking the opportunity afforded by a mayoral charter revision commission to propose further reforms to the system.”

Washington Post: As Md. gubernatorial race tightens, Jealous getting $1 million boost from outside groups
“Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is getting a large infusion of cash from outside groups just as early voting begins in the June 26 Democratic primary, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors connected to a social advocacy group that helped Stacey Abrams win the Democratic nomination in Georgia.”

Arizona Daily Sun: We can’t get rid of dirty money unless it makes the ballot
“We are in the crucial final days of an effort to give voters the opportunity to clean house when it comes to dirty political spending. The people of Arizona should have the right to know the real source of all money spent to influence our vote. Right now petitions are being circulated to get the “Stop Political Dirty Money Amendment” on the November ballot. If voters approve, the measure would amend the Arizona constitution to require public disclosure of any contributor who spends $2,500 or more to influence an election during a two-year cycle, even if that contribution was passed through a third-party organization.”

Journal: Money matters in the Colorado governor’s race
“In the void of policy differences and clear, consistent polling on gubernatorial primary candidates, money is the next best measure. Spending in the race has soared past $25 million, fueled by two wealthy candidates – Republican Victor Mitchell and Democrat Jared Polis – and a slew of super PACs that have already doled out millions.”

Villages News: Money and politics – can we agree?
“It’s a problem when, regardless of party, money determines how your representative votes on any given issue. It’s a problem when, regardless of party, individual members spend half their time raising money for the next election. It’s a problem when, regardless of party, laws passed by Congress help contributors and big money interests, often to the detriment of their own constituents.”

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.