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News of the Day for 2/6/18 – Republicans outspending Dems to retain House seat

February 7, 2018 | Adam Smith

Republican groups are spending millions to protect a House seat in a district that Trump carried by 19 points: “Republican-allied groups have dramatically outspent their Democratic rivals 17-to-1 in the first congressional race of 2018, a special election in Pennsylvania that both parties cast as a potential bellwether for the November midterms.”

Politico reports that, “Nearly every corner of the GOP is involved. The White House is working closely with Saccone and dispatching President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to the suburban Pittsburgh district on his behalf. The House Republican campaign arm has begun a $2 million TV offensive and is aggressively pressing party lawmakers to help fund the candidate. Bliss’ group, Congressional Leadership Fund, is deploying dozens of field staffers, who braved frigid winds last weekend as they canvassed for votes.”

The DC Council is scheduled to vote a final time this morning to pass the DC Fair Elections Act to reduce the power of big money and give everyday people a bigger voice in politics.

The Council agreed to the legislation, which would create a voluntary matching fund program for city elections, unanimously in a preliminary vote in January and there’s no reason for that to change today or for any amendments to be added. As the Washington Post editorialized in December, such a program “results in more people engaged in the political process” and “widens the pool of people able to run for office by freeing candidates from having to rely on big-money donors.”

If the bill becomes law, DC will join a growing number of localities that have taken action in recent years to fight back against the big money takeover of our elections–from Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers program to matching programs in Montgomery County, Md., Howard County, Md., Portland, Ore., and Berkeley, Calif.

As Mayor Bowser faces yet another question about ethics this morning. let’s hope she’ll join the council in supporting the bill.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Office of Government Ethics’ Acting Director David Apol has this blog post: “”The good news is that most of you are carrying out the people’s business with honor and integrity.  You’re keeping your oath. Thank you. Remember what is at stake and take pride in your service. On the other hand, those who are doing things that undermine the public’s trust, even if they don’t violate a rule, need to stop. Nothing you could gain economically or politically could possibly justify putting our democracy at risk. These are perilous times.”

News Tribune: Seattle says Facebook is violating law about election ads
Interesting: “Facebook is violating a Seattle law that requires the company to reveal who pays for political advertising on its influential social media platform, the city’s elections watchdog said Monday.”

New York Times: Justices Won’t Block Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Decision
“The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop Pennsylvania’s highest court from requiring lawmakers there to redraw the state’s congressional map, which the state court had found to be marred by partisan gerrymandering.”
Related: an undisclosed donation to a Supreme Court judge from one of the Republicans fighting this.

Rolling Stone: Jennifer Lawrence Calls for Bipartisanship and ‘Unrigging the System Together’
Report from the Unrig summit: “Jennifer Lawrence spoke during an inaugural summit at Tulane University in New Orleans over the weekend, calling out politicians for their corruption and championing bipartisanship as a way for the American people to move forward.”

Congress/Administration

CNN: Joe Manchin wants senators to sign a pledge: Don’t campaign against each other
Sen. Joe Manchin will speak on the Senate floor today asking his colleagues to join him in pledging to not campaign against each other, a pledge that includes an agreement “not to directly fundraise against them.”

LA Times: California Democrats have raised nearly two times as much money as the Republicans they are trying to oust
Interesting stat from California: “The number of Democratic challengers who raised more than $500,000 by the end of 2017,” which is “a staggering number of candidates compared with previous years. Just four challengers in the 10 GOP-held seats we’re currently watching raised that much in the entire 2016 election cycle. None of them had raised $500,000 by the end of the first year.”

AP: GOP’s Downing outspends Senate foes by contributing own cash
“A Montana businessman whose U.S. Senate campaign is chaired by the wife of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has outraised and outspent his Republican opponents — but only by pumping $650,000 of his own money into the race, according to new campaign filings.”

Politico: Menendez set to reclaim post on foreign relations panel
“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is expected to reclaim his post as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just days after the Justice Department dropped corruption charges against him, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday.”

The Washington Post has a new Q&A on Trump’s conflicts, and gets Trump Org’s ethics advisor to explain what the criteria for signing off on new deals is.

Center for Public Integrity: Did Donald Trump profit from his own presidential transition?
Some good sleuthing here on whether public funds were used to pay Trump Tower rent during the transition.

Politico: NRCC offers donors chance for all-inclusive Trump Winery trip
The NRCC is joining the NRSC, the RNC, and the president’s PAC in helping Trump profit off the presidency in 2018: “The National Republican Congressional Committee is offering donors the chance for an ‘all expenses paid trip’ over Mother’s Day weekend to a Virginia winery owned by President Donald Trump’s business.” The Chamber of Commerce will join its fellow Republican party committees in March–it’s holding an event at Trump Doral (you might miss it at first–the page says “The National Doral”).

Washington Examiner: Mike Pence prioritizes Trump loyalists, swing districts in 2018 fundraising
“Vice President Mike Pence will prioritize raising money for vulnerable Republicans in the months ahead after his political action committee raised eyebrows by directing most of its 2017 contributions to safe incumbents running for re-election in friendly districts.”

News Herald: Democrat running for Dave Joyce’s seat says she won’t take corporate PAC money
“A Democratic candidate challenging for the Ohio’s 14th District U.S. Congressional seat has announced she will not take money from corporate political action committees. Betsy Rader, a civil rights attorney from Russell Township, is running for the seat currently held by Republican Dave Joyce.” She’s not the first candidate this cycle to make that choice.

Trump’s latest controversial nominee, Leandro Rizzuto Jr as Ambassador to Barbados and other Caribbean countries, appears to have gone through only one kind of vetting–he gave $449,000 to Trump’s election in 2016.

I was wondering how Rep. John Delaney was funding these ads and his latest FEC report shows that while he is raising some money, in the last three months of the year he gave or in-kinded his campaign $580,000.

Huffington Post: Media-Basher David Clarke Joining Reporter-Puncher Greg Gianforte At GOP Fundraiser
“Former Wisconsin sheriff David Clarke — who was temporarily bounced off Twitter last month after he threatened to “punch the media in the nose” and “make them taste their own blood” — will appear at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner for the Yellowstone County Republicans in Billings in March with Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).”

A letter to the editor in the Albert Lea Tribune in southern Minnesota: “Republicans were actually honest enough to admit that if they didn’tpass massive tax cuts for their obscenely rich and corporate donors, those donor’s checkbooks would be closed for future campaign contributions.”

States/Other

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Small donors can propel political victory, James says
Nice review of NYC Public Advocate Tish James’ remarks at the Unrig summit: “James told the audience at Tulane University that while big money donors can often swing elections to the heavily donated candidate, there are times when small money donors win the day. But it helps to have a public financing system in place, she said. And James used her career as an example.”

Anchorage Daily News: Cash for super PAC backing Dunleavy for Alaska governor comes mostly from his brother in Texas
A super PAC created to help a candidate for governor in Alaska is funded almost entirely by that candidate’s brother in Texas. Jeremy–if you’re reading this–if you ever have an extra $100,000
to give me, do not give it to a super PAC.

Arizona Capital Times: Arizona utility helps fund Ducey re-election campaign
Hmm: “The state’s largest electric utility and its top executives are funneling money into campaigns to ensure that Doug Ducey remains governor for another four years.”

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.