Daily Media Links 11/26: How not to “clean up Albany”, New! Stark threatens SuperPAC against Swalwell, How liberal mega-donor Peter Lewis left his mark on politics, and more…


Media Watch: How not to “clean up Albany”

By Luke Wachob

On Friday, the New York Times editorial board resumed its delusional calls for a statewide taxpayer-financed campaign program, using long-discredited arguments to urge the Governor Cuomo-appointed Moreland Commission to make tax-financing its “No. 1 proposal” in a report on corruption in the state’s campaign and election systems, expected December 1.

The editorial board writes “most deep-pocketed donors cost the taxpayer dearly. They do so by demanding special treatment — enacting this law, undoing that one — in ways that benefit them, not all of us.” The Times does not support this claim with any research or reference to existing taxpayer-financing programs, and it’s easy to see why. The experience of actual tax-financing programs refutes its naïve argument.

Academic research has long acknowledged that campaign contributions do not buy floor votes, making the Times’ depiction of legislators acting at the behest of wealthy donors and “enacting this law, undoing that one” over-simplistic to the point of absurdity. Additionally, CCP’s own research into existing tax-financing programs in Arizona and Maine has consistently found that these programs do not save taxpayer dollars or reduce the growth of government spending, and do not reduce the number of lobbyists in a state. While the Times implies that tax-financing would free legislators from the influence of donors, a study of Connecticut’s taxpayer-funded program found that legislators were equally likely to vote with organized interests before and after tax-financing was implemented, and a Goldwater Institute study of Arizona’s program found no difference in voting behavior between candidates who used the tax-financing program and those who did not.

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Independent Groups

San Francisco Chronicle: New! Stark threatens SuperPAC against Swalwell

By Carla Marinucci

Former East Bay Rep. Pete Stark, ousted from office last year after 40 years in the House, said Thursday he may organize a SuperPAC — and go back to campaigning in his former district — to make good on his vow to to do “everything I can” to defeat the fellow Democrat who beat him.  

The 82-year-old Stark, the former dean of the California delegation, made the comments in a phone interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday.  

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Washington Post: How liberal mega-donor Peter Lewis left his mark on politics

By Sean Sullivan

Peter Lewis, the longtime head of Progressive Corp., died Saturday at age 80.  

In the business world, Lewis will be remembered for growing a modest automobile insurance company into one of the nation’s biggest operations. In the political realm, he’ll be remembered for being one of the biggest liberal mega-donors in history.  

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Post: Prescriptions for comity in government 

By Tom Daschle and Trent Lott

A core challenge for every member of Congress is knowing when to stand one’s ground and when to find common ground. Politicians generally get elected because of their ideological beliefs and the effectiveness with which they articulate positions. Understandably, legislators want to defend their positions during debates. In recent years, however, many lawmakers have taken that tendency to new heights, even pledging that they will never compromise.  

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State and Local

Arizona –– Arizona Daily Star: Erasing campaign contribution limits now would create problems, Bennett tells court

By Howard Fischer

PHOENIX — Reversing his earlier stance, Secretary of State Ken Bennett now wants to keep caps in place for how much money candidates can take from individuals and special interests, at least for the time being.  

In legal papers filed with the Arizona Supreme Court, Bennett acknowledged he initially supported the bid by Republican legislative leaders to allow much higher limits — and, in some cases, no limits at all — on what donors can give and candidates can accept. In fact, his attorney argued to the state Court of Appeals, the Republican-controlled Legislature was legally entitled to make the changes.  

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New York –– NY Daily News: EXCLUSIVE: Bill de Blasio pays $300,000 fine with belated 2009 campaign contributions   

By Greg B. Smith

In the waning days of the New York mayoral race, Bill de Blasio took advantage of his sudden popularity and a loophole in campaign finance laws to pay off a six-figure fine he had owed the city since 2011. 

In addition to raising millions of campaign dollars for his New York mayoral run, de Blasio has received a wave of separate donations since July to pay off the $300,000 fine — incurred when his 2009 public advocate campaign was cited for plastering the city with illegal posters.

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New York –– NY Times: In Campaign, Cash Flowed Circuitously


David Koch retreated in November to his Park Avenue co-op after spending a relative pittance. But New York City saw a spasm of unregulated campaign money, most of it unleashed by wealthy Democrats and unions. And no one channeled those rivulets of cash more aggressively than Scott Levenson and the Advance Group, the strategic consulting firm he heads.  

The United Federation of Teachers dropped millions of dollars and Mr. Levenson took at least a $370,000 cut. A group putatively devoted to carriage horses but focused intently on defeating the speaker of the City Council, Christine C. Quinn, spent a golden lode, and again Mr. Levenson took a cut.  

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Texas –– Houston ChronicleStockman’s filings don’t explain his income 

By Lise Olsen and Will Tucker

Both as a candidate and as a congressman, Rep. Steve Stockman of Clear Lake has failed to make federally required disclosures about business affiliations that stretch from Texas to the British Virgin Islands, and has provided no details about the business he claims as his sole source of income.  

Stockman returned to office in 2013 after 16 years away from Congress – crediting a low-budget, come-from-behind campaign to which he claimed to have lent more than $100,000 of his own money.  

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Utah –– KSL: Public universities get leg up on lobbying 

By Richard Piatt and Dennis Romboy

 PROVO — A report released Friday says ex-attorney general John Swallow violated Utah election law on at least five different occasions. The report are the findings of a special counsel in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which was hired to investigate Swallow’s campaign disclosure forms.  

The report shows Swallow failed to report about $58,000 of income and didn’t disclose leadership roles in companies who donated to his campaign. It also suggests Swallow tried to hide those facts and didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation.

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