Daily Media Links 12/20: Another “clean” candidate caught for corruption, McConnell: IRS has ‘done a lot to lose the trust’ of Americans; he’ll oppose IRS nominee, New Mexico GOP wins campaign finance case, and more…


Another “clean” candidate caught for corruption

By Luke Wachob

Interestingly, the tax-financing program most frequently touted as a model for states to adopt is also the one that plagued by the most severe corruption problems: New York City’s. The Brennan Center calls New York City’s program a “success,” the Campaign Finance Institute calls it “a model for the nation and states,” and even the New York Times Editorial Board recently characterized it as a program that “has worked remarkably well” and should guide New York state as it seeks to reform its campaign finance laws. Contrasting from all this praise is our study (linked above, but also here if you missed it) of corruption in New York City’s tax-financing program, which found that between 2001 and 2013 over $19 million in tax dollars was given to City Council candidates who were later investigated (and often convicted) of violating the law.

We can add another name to that list now as New York City has charged $18,000 in penalties to James Wu, a 2009 candidate for New York City Council in the Democratic Primary who flagrantly violated campaign finance laws. Wu was fined for 10 different violations, such as accepting a contribution from a corporation (which is illegal in New York City Council campaigns), accepting three contributions that exceeded the legal limit, and “intentionally furnishing false documentation and information.”

These are not minor errors, mistakes, or the result of confusing regulations. The limit on contribution sizes and the ban on corporate contributions are clear. Wu intentionally violated the law in accepting those contributions, and then also willfully falsified loan records to skirt expenditure limits. Wu’s conduct is clearly illegal, but as our report has documented, it is not unusual in New York City’s public financing program.

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Independent Groups

McClatchey: McConnell: IRS has ‘done a lot to lose the trust’ of Americans; he’ll oppose IRS nominee


“Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service admitted responsibility for an incredible abuse of power,” McConnell, R-Ky., told the Senate. “In the midst of an election season, it targeted and harassed Americans for the supposed crime of thinking differently.

“An agency with access to some of the most personal information of every taxpaying American betrayed their trust. And in doing so, it showed the lengths to which this administration will go to stifle those who dissent from its policies. All of this was, and remains, an outrage.”

He called the IRS’ actions “the kind of thing we might expect from a banana republic or a third-world dictatorship, not the world’s leading democracy. And the worst part is, we still don’t know everything that happened — or if it’s still going on.”

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Conway Daily Sun: N.H. Rebellion following in the footsteps of Granny D

By Daymond Steer

CONWAY – The New Hampshire Rebellion, a 185-mile anti-corruption march, will be passing through the Mount Washington Valley in January. The march is led by a Harvard professor who was inspired by New Hampshire icon and campaign finance reform activist “Granny D.”

The late Monadnock region resident, Doris Haddock, at the age of 89, famously walked across the country in 1999 to call attention to the issue.

Today, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig is carrying on Haddock’s legacy with a march he calls the New Hampshire Rebellion. Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Public Campaign: The 7 Weirdest Fundraisers of 2013

By Kurt Walters

From hilarious to distasteful to some real head scratchers, politicians this year did their best to come up with attention grabbing fundraisers to keep the money rolling in. While Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says members of Congress have to do a “soul crushing” amount of fundraising, these events at least livened up the money chase for those of us watching from the sidelines. Here are a few of the weirdest fundraisers we came across this year.  

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State and Local

Colorado –– Law Week: Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Gessler

The court affirmed a lower court ruling that struck down Gessler’s 2012 rules that reduced or eliminated disclosure requirements for issue committees, political committees and 527 political organizations, and capped penalties for failure to file major contributor reports in the days before an election. 

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Montana –– Missoulian: Campaign finance: Man fined $100 for Missoula school election ‘reward’

By Betsey Cohen

The matter concerns a newspaper advertisement Suprock paid for in March that offered a campaign contribution of up to $10,000, which he called a “reward,” to candidates interested in unseating four MCPS trustees he identified by name and who were up for re-election, including Bixler.

Outraged that someone would try to “buy” the election, Bixler alerted the commissioner’s office.

The commissioner responded by contacting Suprock, who then changed the wording for successive ads that ran during the election.

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Maryland –– Washington Post: Md. elections board: Brown’s running mate can raise money during legislative session

By John Wagner

The Maryland State Board of Elections ruled Thursday that the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony G. Brown can continue raising moneyduring the upcoming legislative session even though Brown is prohibited by law from doing so himself.

The decision was immediately criticized by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, another Democratic candidate for governor, who said he expects a court will decide that the elections board misinterpreted a law that is “crystal clear.”

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New Mexico –– Washington Examiner: New Mexico GOP wins campaign finance case


The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking the state from limiting contributions between political parties and political action committees. The case hinged on whether PACs not formally affiliated with parties could take in unlimited contributions for independent spending.  

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Virginia –– Washington Post: In probe of Va. Gov. McDonnell, prosecutors agreed to delay decision on charges

By Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Sari Horwitz

Federal prosecutors told Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell last week that he and his wife would be charged in connection with a gift

 scandal, but senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision after the McDonnells’ attorneys made a face-to-face appeal in Washington, according to people familiar with the case.

Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told the McDonnells’ legal teams that he planned to ask a grand

 jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday, people familiar with the conversations said.

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