The News for June 27, 2018 – Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset, top donors pour millions into general election
In a stunning upset yesterday, Rep. Joe Crowley lost his primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district to 28-year-old, first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who ran on a message of making government work for all of us, not just the wealthy. In her victory speech, Ocasio-Cortez said, “The message that we sent the world tonight is that it’s not ok to put donors before your community.”
While Rep. Crowley took millions from PACs and lobbyists, Ocasio-Cortez rejected corporate PAC money and raised nearly 70 percent of her money from small donors of $200 or less. (Rep. Crowley raised less than 1 percent of his campaign cash from small donors.) A volunteer told the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein that that was the most persuasive message to voters: “Everything about Ocasio Cortez, they could get from that fact about her.”
In her race to unseat a potential future speaker of the House, Ocasio-Cortez consistently ran on money in politics message including in her popular campaign video, where she states, “‘This race is about people versus money. They’ve got money, we’ve got people.” And her website declares, “Campaign finance reform can’t happen soon enough… Sweeping legislation that moves us toward the public funding of elections is the ultimate goal.” She was endorsed by Moveon.org, Our Revolution, Democracy for America, Black Lives Caucus, and many more progressive organizations.
Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only candidate to break through yesterday with a message of making our elections work for everyone, not just big donors. Just a couple examples:
- Former NAACP president Ben Jealous won the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nomination running on a platform echoing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ positions to make government work for everyone, not just the wealthy.
- Jason Crow, won his primary race for Colorado’s 6th congressional district, said in his first TV ad, “When you see injustice, you have to lead by example, so I’ve taken a pledge that I’m not going to take a dime of corporate PAC money.” He also released a “Washington Reform Agenda” which opposes dark money spending, rejects corporate PAC money, and pledges to support the DISCLOSE Act, a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a ban on foreign-influence corporate spending, and transparency for digital ads.
Also, Liuba Grechen Shirley, the woman who won approval from the Federal Election Commission to use campaign funds to cover the cost of child care while she ran for office, won her primary race in for New York’s 2nd congressional district.
Sludge: The Senate Did Something Good for Campaign Finance Transparency
About time: “The U.S. Senate might be about to leap forward into the computer era. After more than a decade of debate and delay, the Senate passed the Senate Campaign Disclosure Act, a bill requiring Senate candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically. If the bill becomes law, the public will have more timely access to information about who is funding their politicians.” This is a no-brainer. As Issue One points out, electronic filing of campaign finance reports “would save taxpayers roughly $900,000 a year while increasing political transparency and accountability”
More good news: Yesterday, the D.C. City Council passed a budget bill that fully funds DC Fair Elections to reduce the influence of big money in local politics and give everyday people a bigger voice through small-donor public financing.
Pensions & Investment: Corporate political disclosure moves firmly into mainstream
Good: “Shareholders — including institutional investors — are succeeding this year in pushing to get more information from companies on their political contributions and lobbying costs. As of mid-June, 85 shareholder proposals were filed seeking disclosure on political or lobbying spending”
CNBC: As candidates get past primaries, top donors are now pouring millions into general election campaigns
Get ready: “With primaries wrapped up in roughly 70 percent of congressional districts this week, campaign donors are beginning to turn to placing their bets on the general election. Much of that money is coming from just a handful of the nation’s richest donors, according to the latest campaign finance data…As of the latest monthly fillings, the 100 top individual donors to the upcoming House and Senate elections have contributed a combined $237 million”
ProPublica: We’ve Found $16.1 Million in Political and Taxpayer Spending at Trump Properties
A staggering level of self-dealing: “Since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president in late 2015, at least $16.1 million has poured into Trump Organization-managed and branded hotels, golf courses and restaurants from his campaign, Republican organizations, and government agencies. Because Trump’s business empire is overseen by a trust of which he is the sole beneficiary, he profits from these hotel stays, banquet hall rentals and meals.”
MapLight: Tobacco Money Fuels Controversial Pro-Trump Policy Group
Three Fortune 500 companies have already stopped giving money to America First Polities after MapLight exposed their donations. Will there be more? “The country’s second-biggest tobacco company has been a top funder of the controversial ‘dark money’ organization created to promote President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, according to a MapLight review. Reynolds American Inc., which manufactures Newport and Camel cigarettes, disclosed last week that it donated $1.5 million to America First Policies in 2017. Created by former Trump campaign officials, the nonprofit has faced criticism for the racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic views expressed by its staff.”
Center for Responsive Politics: Here’s what you need to know about shell companies and foreign election spending
As FEC Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub says, there’s reason to be concerned about foreign money influencing our elections: “We are receiving information from a variety of public and private sources that indicate that we should be seriously concerned about (foreign) people trying to influence the elections in 2018, and spending serious money to do it”
Washington Post: Virginia judge rules against Paul Manafort, will let fraud case continue
“A federal judge in Virginia concluded Tuesday that special counsels are given too much latitude and that the current one is prosecuting Paul Manafort only so he will offer evidence against President Trump. But those thoughts do little for the ex-lobbyist, because U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III ultimately ruled that Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution of Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges can go forward.”
Senate Majority PAC took aim at Republican Josh Hawley, who’s running for Senate, with this ad accusing him of corruption for failing to investigate a donor as Missouri Attorney General who backed him with $3 million.
Politically Georgia: Gun control group’s spending prompts debate over dark money in politics
“The two Democrats vying to take on Congresswoman Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are tussling over the biggest outside spender in their primary battle, a tiff that reflects their party’s shift to the left and uneasy embrace of the current campaign finance system.”
Institute for Public Accuracy: Recent Pentagon Increases Exceed Russia’s Entire Military Budget
William Hartung of the Arms and Security Project at Center for International Policy: “It’s good news for Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other weapons contractors, but bad news for the rest of us.”
The Enquirer: Mike DeWine, Richard Cordray donors got big contracts from Ohio Attorney General’s Office
“An Eye On Ohio review of public records for the past 10 years, however, found a strong correlation between the amount of campaign contributions and the revenue received by law firms doing collection work for the attorney general’s office.”
Maine Public Radio: Fight Over Clean Elections Act Won’t Be Over Anytime Soon And May Have Consequences In November
A drafting error continues to needlessly threaten Maine’s Clean Elections Act “Political charges and counter-charges are flying around efforts to preserve the state program that provides public funding for state candidates. The fight over the Maine Clean Elections Act is unlikely to be over anytime soon.”
WTNH: Obsitnik says state needs a builder not billionaires
In Connecticut, public financing allows candidates other than billionaires to get the funding they need to win: “In the five-way Republican Primary race for Governor, two wealthy petitioning candidates are spending a ton of their own cash on the campaign while two others have received large public financing grants, and that leaves one candidate still waiting for public money.”
MinnPost: Meet the donors who give to both DFL and GOP candidates in Minnesota
If you have money, why put all your eggs in one basket? This is how wealthy interests get the ear of politicians regardless of who’s elected: “It isn’t common — but it does happen. According to the most current campaign finance reports by four leading candidates for governor — DFLers Erin Murphy and Tim Walz and Republicans Jeff Johnson and Tim Pawlenty — five lobbying firms and/or their registered lobbyists show up on the donor lists of at least one DFL candidate and one Republican candidate.”