By Julie BykowiczRebecca Burkett’s ties to Newt Gingrich paid off handsomely this year. The Atlanta-area fundraiser created Winning Our Future, a super PAC, to back the former House Speaker’s presidential bid, pulling in $23.9 million before Gingrich dropped out in May. More than six months later, Burkett was still drawing a check. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, she collected almost half her $500,211 compensation as the super PAC’s executive director after Gingrich quit. “We continued to take calls from lots of people who were upset that he got out; we continued to monitor the presidential race,” says Burkett, who ran the group until November. “There was lots to do.”
By Steven D. SchwinnComing off the most expensive election in history — costing a staggering $6 billion, with nearly one dollar in six coming from outside and “independent” groups — you might think the time is (once again) right for campaign finance reform. That may be so. However, in recent terms, the US Supreme Court has substantially limited the options for meaningful reform. In particular, in the areas of independent expenditures and publicly financed matching grants, the Court shot down efforts to rein in money’s corrosive effects on politics — all in the name of free speech. Still, despite these rulings, the First Amendment continues to leave room for some regulation. If the political stars align in Congress or the states, we could — and should — see meaningful reform coming out of this election.
Candidates, Politicians and Parties
By John BresnahanHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked President Barack Obama to help pay off the $14 million-plus debt owed by House Democrats from this past election, according to Democratic sources.
By Stuart RothenbergMy last column included awards for a number of 2012 campaign and candidate categories, including the luckiest candidate and the biggest upset. But those only scratched the surface in an election year during which candidate quality mattered a great deal. Part II of my guide of the best and worst of the 2012 election cycle features some usual and a few more unusual categories.
Lobbying and Ethics
By Amanda BeckerThe news conference that 11 government watchdog groups held Wednesday on Capitol Hill to discuss agencies that police congressional ethics and campaign finance was an apt metaphor for the popularity, or lack thereof, of the two topics among lawmakers.“They found the smallest room on Capitol Hill to have your press conference?” one attendee asked after checking out the digs on the sixth floor of the Longworth House Office Building.
By Tim CarneyBecause I follow corporate welfare, regulatory robbery, lobbying, and subsidies, folks often joke that I should start a hedge fund that invests in whoever is about to benefit from government action.
By Luke BroadwaterThe panel called on the administration to develop a list of “legitimate city purposes” for which the tickets could be used. Rawlings-Blake’s office says it has developed new guidelines that would meet that requirement while continuing to allow friends and family to attend events free of charge.
By Cyndy BrucatoOn Wednesday, the board meets to consider a request to increase its annual budget from $689,000 to $1 million. The increase would be funded by a direct legislative appropriation or by an increase in fees paid by lobbyists, political parties and independent expenditure groups.