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The News for August 1, 2018 – #FixDemocracyNow week continues, Manafort on trial

August 1, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

On Day 2 of the Fix Democracy Now campaign, candidates and elected leaders continued to seize on the opportunity to show that making democracy work for everyone is a priority. Following yesterday’s success, dozens more joined in with videos, tweets, and press conferences to call for reducing the influence of money in politics, expanding voting rights, and ending gerrymandering. Some highlights:

Stay tuned all of this week for updates on how candidates and elected leaders are prioritizing fixing democracy now!

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Detroit News: Mich. Supreme Court: Redistricting plan goes on Nov. ballot
A proposal to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan heads to the ballot: “A proposal to create an independent redistricting commission will appear on the November ballot, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday in a closely watched case.”

NPR: Campaign Finance Laws And Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh
“Compared with the issue of abortion, campaign finance law has gotten relatively little attention in the run-up to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. But as NPR’s Peter Overby reports, this is something that’s pretty relevant to Kavanaugh’s nomination. In fact, the current campaign finance laws are something Kavanaugh helped to build.”

USA Today: Kavanaugh would cement Supreme Court support for an oppressed minority — corporations
lol Steven Strauss hits the nail on the head with this satire: “I believe that Judge Brett Kavanaugh (President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court) is a conservative who, if confirmed, will continue the important work of expanding the rights of America’s corporations. Further, Kavanaugh’s life story provides additional assurance he won’t be prejudiced by sympathy for ordinary Americans: His father made millions per year serving corporate interests.”

Congress/Administration

Washington Post: Prosecutors say Manafort’s wealth was fueled by lies to IRS and banks
“President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort went on trial Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., where prosecutors charged that his personal fortune was propped up by years of lies to tax authorities and banks.” And don’t forget: “Manafort faces a second trial in September in federal court in the District on related charges that include failing to register as a foreign lobbyist.”

Roll Call: Foreign Lobbying Overhauls Stall as Manafort Goes to Trial
“This Congress has a crush on the idea of overhauling the nation’s foreign lobbying regulations, but lawmakers apparently can’t seem to find the one bill they want to commit to.”

New York Times: Mueller Passes 3 Cases Focused on Illicit Foreign Lobbying to Prosecutors in New York
“Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has referred three investigations into possible illicit foreign lobbying by Washington insiders to federal prosecutors in New York who are already handling the case against President Trump’s former lawyer, according to multiple people familiar with the cases.”

New York Times: Facebook Identifies an Active Political Influence Campaign Using Fake Accounts
An influence campaign with suspected links to Russia uncovered: “Facebook said on Tuesday that it had identified a political influence campaign that was potentially built to disrupt the midterm elections, with the company detecting and removing 32 pages and fake accounts that had engaged in activity around divisive social issues.”

New York Times: Judge Blocks Attempt to Post Blueprints for 3-D Guns
Is the Trump administration’s decisions on this important issue driven by special interests? Trump’s Twitter feed would suggest yes: “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

Washington Post: Top Senate Democratic super PAC investing $17 million in August TV ads
“The top Senate Democratic super PAC is spending $17 million to reserve airtime for television commercials in six battleground states in August, toward a goal of winning the majority in the November midterm elections.?”

CNN: Hillary Clinton steps up her involvement in the midterms
“Clinton, through her political organization Onward Together, donated the maximum of $5,000 to 19 Democratic House candidates and four secretary of state candidates in June”

Letter to the editor in Ohio points out that a Columbus Dispatch article about Pence’s trip to the state focuses heavily on money and political financing: “If money draws that much space away from the issues, it’s more obvious than ever that it’s way past time for campaign finance reform.”

States/Other

Vox: Progressives want Abdul El-Sayed’s campaign for Michigan governor to be their next big victory
Abdul El-Sayed could be the first Muslim governor in America and he’s running on a pledge to get big money out of politics, although his primary challenger is illustrating the problem he wishes to solve: “it’s illustrated the continuing influence of money in politics, with a wild-card self-funded millionaire running as a third candidate.”

Crain’s Detroit Business: Untraceable cash spills into governor’s race
“Three of the leading candidates to be Michigan’s next chief executive have benefited from large sums of cash that can’t be easily followed to their original sources”

Sludge: Breakaway N.Y. Dems Rake in Big Corporate Donations as Challengers Log Many Small Contributions
“Just 2.1 percent of the campaign cash received by members of the recently shuttered Independent Democratic Conference, which caucused with Republicans, came in the form of donations of $200 or less.”

Daily Press: Virginia requires campaign finance reform
Editorial board: “In politics, cash is king. The modicum of reporting required of candidates in Virginia concerning campaign donations needs to be strengthened. We urge you, our readers, to call your General Assembly representatives — as well as the governor’s office — to make your feelings known about the existing state of campaign finance laws. Your vote is not up for sale. Your elected officials should be able to say the same thing.”

Arizona Capitol Times: Explanation of Clean Elections measure misleads ‘by omission,’ judge says
“A judge on Monday ordered lawmakers to provide voters with a bit more information on the changes they want voters to make in the operation of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury said the Republican-dominated Legislative Council left voters in the dark by failing to adequately explain how if the measure is approved in November it would strip away some of the existing authority of the commission to craft its own rules.”

Courthouse News: Vermont Campaign-Finance Limits Survive Appeal
“Vermont does not trample the First Amendment by hinging public financing of political candidates on their adherence to certain rules, the Second Circuit ruled Tuesday.The 52-page opinion upholds the dismissal of a lawsuit by a candidate for Vermont lieutenant governor who argued that his receipt of public financing should not force him to curtail expenditures and contributions from private parties.”

ABC: Minnesota Political Donors Benefiting From State Campaign Refund Program
Minnesotans can get reimbursed this election cycle for small political donations up to $50 for an individual and $100 for a couple. George Beck, former Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Chair: “There’s a lot of cynicism right now that the people with the big money are buying what they want, and average folks don’t have much of a say. This is the type of program that can get more folks involved.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director