Daily Media Links 4/16: Md. lawmakers take on political spending spree, Newt Gingrich rents donor list to raise cash, and more…

In the News

USA Today: Corporations under pressure on political spending
by Fredreka Schouten and Martha T. Moore
“If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce runs an ad, we know what the chamber is up to,” says Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. “We don’t need to exactly who funds them.” 
“We need to stop the perpetual outrage,” he said. “It’s not a world I want to live in — that whenever someone states a political view you don’t like — you try to harm them economically.” 

TNR: A Surprisingly Effective New Path to Neutralizing the Political Influence of Big Business 
by Mark Schmitt
Conservatives have responded with harrumphing about “the liberal boycott machine.” Brad Smith, a former member of the Federal Election Commission and opponent of nearly all regulation of campaign money, wrote on the blog of the libertarian Center for Competitive Politics that calls to boycott ALEC supporters constituted “intimidation” to suppress political speech and were a good reason to oppose even campaign contribution disclosure requirements, because they would enable “harassing, bullying and boycotting” of companies. “Society is going to have to ask itself whether it wants the meanness of its current trajectory,” Smith wrote, in an unsually civic-minded tone.  But what’s actually been remarkable about the corporate reaction is how little meanness and acrimony there has been. And therein lies an important lesson about corporate money in politics.   

iWatch: ‘Occupy Obamacare’ PAC attacks health care plan in bizarre videos  
by Michael Beckel
“I don’t know how far he’ll be able to get,” said David Keating, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for First Amendment political rights. “But it’s good that he’s able to try.”   

Wall Street Journal, LTE: Rating the States on Their Susceptibility to Corruption 
Bill Buzenberg
Messrs. Sherman and Primo argue that some of our state scores don’t appear in sync with other assessments of “governance” in the 50 states. That is apples and oranges. Nowhere do we claim that better anticorruption mechanisms lead directly to improved policy-making or economic growth.  

Independent groups

MSNBC: What do Super PACs do with the leftover cash?  
Super PAC’s have spent over $88 million on the presidential race this year. But many of the candidates have dropped out, – So what happens to the cash? Richard Lui breaks it down and Robert Traynham and Jen Psaki discuss. 

Politico: Big Labor fundraising lags 
by Robin Bravender
Big labor is off to a slow start stockpiling cash.   

Washington Post: Five myths about super PACs 
by Trevor Potter
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United allowed them. Political candidates rely on them. And Stephen Colbert parodies them. But as a former chair of the Federal Election Commission and the lawyer behind Colbert’s super PAC — Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow — I find that most people don’t understand the role that these largely unaccountable organizations play in American politics. As the GOP primary race draws to a close, let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about groups powerful enough to evade traditional limits with a single bound.  

Washington Post: Mystery donor gives $10 million to Crossroads GPS group to run anti-Obama ads 
by T.W. Farnam
An anonymous donor gave $10 million late last year to run ads attacking President Obama and Democratic policies, escalating the money race that is defining the 2012 presidential campaign. And in the new, free-wheeling environment of independent political giving, the identity of this donor, like many others, is likely to remain a permanent mystery.  

Candidates and parties

Washington Post: Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently. They think differently. 
by Chris Mooney
“Follow the money.” As a young journalist on the political left, I often heeded this well-worn advice. If conservatives were denying the science of global warming, I figured, big fossil-fuel companies must be behind it. After all, that was the story with the tobacco industry and the dangers of smoking. Why not here?  

The Hill: Lawmakers: Cantor’s $25k controversial donation may come up this week
by Molly K. Hooper
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) this week may face tough questions from disgruntled rank-and-file GOP lawmakers upset with his $25,000 donation to a group dedicated to ousting incumbents in Congress.  

Politico: Newt Gingrich rents donor list to raise cash 
by Kenneth P. Vogel and Ginger Gibson
Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, the former House speaker has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000-a-pop.   

Lobbying and ethics

NY Times: White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In
by Mike McIntire and Michael Luo
Last May,  as a battle was heating up between Internet companies and Hollywood over how to stop online piracy,  a top entertainment industry lobbyist landed a meeting at the White House with one of President Obama’s technology advisers.


Colorado –– Colorado Statesman: Groups sue Gessler over campaign finance rules 
by Ernest Luning 
A pair of liberal watchdog groups sued Secretary of State Scott Gessler last week claiming that an extensive overhaul of state campaign finance rules wasn’t authorized by statute or the Colorado constitution. 

Maryland –– Baltimore Sun: Md. lawmakers take on political spending spree 
by John Fritze
Three Maryland lawmakers are leading vastly different approaches in Congress to address the growing influence of so-called super PACs and other political nonprofits that have poured money into campaigns, raising concerns about the outsized influence of special interests.  

New York –– NY Daily News: Albany badly needs campaign finance reform, and will fight it tooth and nail   
No state capital cries out for a campaign finance crackdown more desperately than New York’s.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.