Daily Media Links 3/26: Daily Caller: That Deceptive Koch Chart…, Wall Street Journal: The Koch Effect?, Roll Call: Democrats’ Anti-Koch Attacks Have a Familiar Ring, and more…

In the News

Daily Caller: Scott Brown is right to avoid the ‘People’s Pledge’ politicians’ pact

By Eric Wang

Some degree of misbranding is ever-present in politics, but never has a label been more universally misused than when something is done in the name of “the people.” One can just look around the world and throughout history at all of the “People’s Republics” to see that the only people who benefited in those regimes were the ruling class. And so it is with the “People’s Pledge,” which was touted with much fanfare during the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race as a means of tamping down campaign spending by “outside” groups.

Scott Brown had barely formed an exploratory committee recently to run for the Senate again – this time in New Hampshire – when his potential opponent, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, started demanding that he sign another pledge similar to the pact he made with now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren in their 2012 race. This time, Brown wisely demurred, and the people of the Granite State will be better off for it.

The “People’s Pledge” is supposed to limit the supposed scourge of third-party political advertising by threatening to punish the candidates when outside groups weigh in. For every dollar that an outside group spends supporting a candidate or attacking her opponent, the candidate who supposedly benefits must disgorge fifty cents of her own campaign funds to a charity. In theory, these punitive effects are supposed to deter groups from attempting to assist either candidate.

Read more…



Daily Caller: That Deceptive Koch Chart …

Also, 2) the $412 million isn’t “spending.” It’s the amount raised by the network of nonprofits — not necessarily the amount spent.

Plus 3)  the $412 million may  overstate the Koch-group backing of these “Koch-backed” groups. The WaPo story (like most Koch stories) ultimately relies on work from the Center for Responsive Politics, which has tried to unravel the Koch network’s complicated, octopus-like structure. Let’s take one of the “politically active non-profit groups,” Americans for Prosperity. It’s clearly affiliated with the Koch network. The Koch’s main non-profit groups gave AFP “more than $44 million” according to Gold.  But, as I understand the Center for Responsive Politics’ methodology, the $412 million figure  includes, not just that $44 million, but all the $140 million raised by AFP, excluding amounts that identifiably came from non-Koch sources — which yields a number higher than $100 million .  How do we know that the all this $100+ million or so — i.e., not just the $44 million — comes from the Koch network? We don’t.  Center for Responsive Politics could only easily trace contributions from non-profits, not from individuals or corporations. The CRP researchers just seem to have adopted a rule of thumb that the residual, untraced money is from either the Kochs or other donors in their network.

Finally, 4) Gold admits that (even if the $400+ million figure is accurate**) the unions  ”matched” the Koch network through their “long-established national coalition …  that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats. ” She reports: “[U]nions plowed roughly $400 million into national, state and local elections in 2012.” … Update: Union spending seems to be much higher if you look at filings with the Department of Labor, which include spending to influence the votes of union members as well as contributions to candidates. According to this Wall Street Journal news (not editorial!) story, a single union — the SEIU — spent about as much in the 2010 cycle ($150 million) as the Republic Report chart claims the top 10 unions spent in the 2012 cycle.  The AFL-CIO unions spent $608 million for the 2010 elections. They undoubtedly spent at least as much for 2012 — even-the-liberal Huffington Post comes up with $1.7 billion in total union 2012 spending, including $600 million in contributions and lobbying (counting state elections).  Beats the Koch conglomeration, and not by a little. [Thanks to alert FB reader J.]

Read more…


Wall Street Journal: The Koch Effect?

By Jason L. Riley

Given all the attention that Charles and David Koch have been receiving of late, it may be a little surprising that more than half of the country still has no idea who they are. According to a new George Washington University poll, 52 percent of likely voters had never heard of the Kochs. The poll also found that more Americans have a negative view of Mr. Reid (35 percent) than of the brothers (25 percent.)

Of course, the point of the attacks is to raise money for Democrats, and on that score there is some evidence that they have been effective. David Weigel of Slate reports that fundraising emails that bash the Kochs can bring in three-times as much money as solicitations that don’t. “The Democratic base, which has been hearing about and fearing the Kochs for nearly four years, responds to this stuff,” writes Mr. Weigel.

Read more…


Roll Call: Democrats’ Anti-Koch Attacks Have a Familiar Ring

By Eliza Newlin Carney

In 2010, then-White House adviser David Axelrod decried the undisclosed, unrestricted money bankrolling outside conservative groups as “a threat to our democracy.” This year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been blasting the Kochs as “un-American” and accusing them of “trying to buy America.”

The comparison bodes poorly for Democrats now dumping millions into their campaign to demonize the Kochs in what appears to be a central piece of their midterm elections strategy. In 2010, unrestricted conservative outside groups funded by industrialists Charles and David Koch helped knock House Democrats out of power in a historic GOP upset. This time around, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity has already spent some $27 million attacking Democrats, focusing squarely on the party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbents.

Read more…




House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: IRS Commissioner to Testify at Oversight Hearing

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, March 26th, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will convene a hearing on the IRS targeting scandal entitled, “Examining the IRS Response to the Targeting Scandal.”

This hearing will address the IRS’s response to the targeting scandal, including its compliance with congressional document requests and subpoenas by the Committee. In the immediate aftermath of the IRS targeting, the President pledged that the Administration would work “hand in hand” with Congress as it performs its oversight role.  Despite the President’s pledge, the IRS has not complied fully with requests and subpoenas by the Committee, including emails from Lois Lerner, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations (EO), the division in which the targeting occurred.

Read more…


NY Times: How the I.R.S. Created a Campaign-Spending Mess


Moreover, the I.R.S. has also violated the statute, which requires (c)(4) organizations to engage exclusively in social-welfare, nonelectoral activities, by inventing a primary purpose test that allows (c)(4) organizations to use up to 49 percent of their funds for nonexempt purposes without threatening their tax exemptions.

The I.R.S.’s current proposal does not remedy the mess it has created. Moreover, its proposal to reinstate, through the tax code, restrictions on nonelectoral public advocacy, both right and left, cannot stand. Such restrictions, which have been repeatedly struck down as violations of the First Amendment, would curtail organizations from taking public positions on such issues as stop-and-frisk practices, gun control and abortion.

Read more…


Independent Groups


Missoulian: Project Vote Smart lays off 6, considers closing

By David Erickson

“We are really cutting it down,” she said. “We are cutting back on horses and we put in a wood boiler to replace the propane. We are economizing where we can. Wherever we are, we will track the public statements, backgrounds and voting records from state representatives to the president of the United States.  

“We need the ability to focus on the research aspect of what we do, which is provide citizens a source of information they can trust. But the expense and distraction of running a motel, a restaurant and dude ranch in order to attract free labor is maybe not the right model anymore in the world.”  

Read more…

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