Daily Media Links 10/29: In a Switch, Green Groups Are Outspending Their Industry Foes–And Winning, Arizona and Its Conflicts Over Public Financing, and more…

Independent Groups

National Journal: In a Switch, Green Groups Are Outspending Their Industry Foes–And Winning

By Coral Davenport
At the beginning of 2013, the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters scanned all elections taking place across the country, and chose three that it believed could have a major impact on global-warming policy. It then teamed up with a relatively new group, NextGen Climate Action, founded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, an Obama donor who has led campaigns to protect his home state’s cap-and-trade law, and to urge the president to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.   

“We identified three places where climate was very clearly on the ballot. We want to show up and we have to play to win,” says Navin Nayak, political director for the League of Conservation Voters. The green groups chose to invest heavily in the Virginia governor’s race, a June special election for Massachusetts senator – and the Whatcom County council race.  

SCOTUS/Judiciary

More Soft Money Hard Law: Arizona and Its Conflicts Over Public Financing

By Bob Bauer

After one unsuccessful engagement with the Supreme Court, the State of Arizona continues to work through the implementation of its public financing laws. The issue remains, as before, how it can structure the law to draw candidates into the systems. One strategy it devised did not suit the Court: the state discovered that it could not provide offsetting public funding to participating candidates who faced well-heeled opponents and free-spending independent expenditure groups. 
Now Arizona is fighting over another mechanism for encouraging participation, or discouraging nonparticipation, in the public funding system. This one involves reducing the contribution limits to make them less appealing to candidates who are considering electing private support through contributions rather than public financing. In 1998, voters approved Proposition 200, known as the Clean Elections Act, which established a public financing system and reduced the contributions limits then specified by law for candidates who did not participate in the public financing system. It imposed for these nonparticipating candidates a 20% reduction in then-existing limits and established aggregate limits on contributions by candidates and political committees. In 2013, the legislature increased the contribution limits available to nonparticipating candidates and eliminated the aggregate limits. 

Disclosure

Mother Jones: Leaked Documents Reveal the Secret Finances of a Pro-Industry Science Group 

By Andy Kroll and Jeremy Schulman
Yet internal financial documents (read them here) provided to Mother Jones show that ACSH depends heavily on funding from corporations that have a financial stake in the scientific debates it aims to shape. The group also directly solicits donations from these industry sources around specific issues. ACSH’s financial links to corporations involved in hot-button health and safety controversies have been highlighted in the past, but these documents offer a more extensive accounting of ACSH’s reliance on industry money—giving a rare window into the operations of a prominent and frequent defender of industry in the science wars.  

Lobbying and Ethics

Washington Post: D.C. law firm Patton Boggs is said to be in merger talks 

By Casey Sullivan
Washington law firm Patton Boggs, well known for its lobbying and public policy work, is in talks to merge with a larger U.S. law firm, according to two former partners and a person with inside knowledge of the deal.  
The news comes on the heels of a report by Reuters on Friday that Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman were in advanced merger talks to create what would be one of the 10 largest law firms in the country.  
 
Politico: Heritage Action for America Reports Only $90,000 for Lobbying 
By Kent Cooper
An extremely active conservative policy advocacy organization fighting Obamacare has reported only $90,000 for lobbying during the third quarter.  
As a 501c4 non-profit organization, Heritage Action for America, provides coordination and communication with “citizens who want to be part of their national dialogue. We speak directly to the American people and help them break through the establishment in Washington.” The organization was started in 2010 because its sister organization, the Heritage Foundation, as a 501c3 organization, could not back specific legislation.  

FEC

Free Beacon: No Evidence Koch Brothers Were Involved in California Campaign Finance Violations 

By Elizabeth Harrington
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC) is attempting to link the Koch brothers to violations of campaign finance disclosure laws without any evidence the Koch’s were involved.  
Ann Ravel, the outgoing chair of the CFPPC, has accused libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch of funneling “dark money” into two ballot initiatives in 2012 despite the fact that the Kochs did not donate directly or indirectly to either measure.  
 
Roll Call: Federal Election Commission Returns to Full Membership 
By Kent Cooper
The Federal Election Commission has returned to a full complement of six members this week after two new commissioners came onboard.  
Ann Ravel, a Democrat, was sworn in on Friday. She had been the chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission since 2011, after appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown. Commissioner Ravel”s term will expire on April 30, 2017.  

State and Local

New York –– NY Times: For de Blasio, a Wider Lead in Finances 
By THOMAS KAPLAN
Bill de Blasio has for weeks held an enormous lead in public opinion polls over his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota. Now he also has a commanding financial advantage.  
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, raised $3.7 million in the first three weeks of this month, according to a filing on Friday with the city’s Campaign Finance Board.  
 
Virginia –– Washington Post: Legal bills grow for taxpayers in McDonnell investigation 
By Rosalind S. Helderman
The list of publicly funded lawyers hired to deal with issues related to federal and state investigations into Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is growing — as is the price tag for Virginia taxpayers.  
According to documents released Friday by the attorney general’s office, a private lawyer charging $250 an hour was hired in August to handle inquiries at Virginia Commonwealth University from federal prosecutors examining McDonnell’s relationship with a wealthy donor.

West Virginia –– WV Gazette: SCOTUS decision could erase some campaign donation limits 
By David Gutman
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four West Virginians who appear to have exceeded overall limits on political donations may not have to worry about those limits the next time around.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case that could invalidate the aggregate limits on contributions to federal candidates.  

 

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