Daily Media Links 1/27: Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections, K Street’s Glorious Restoration, and more…

 
Independent Groups
 
Washington Post: Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections  
By Matea Gold
The new $889 million goal reflects the anticipated budgets of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new data-driven technology and policy work, among other projects, along with likely media campaigns aimed at shaping the congressional and White House elections.
The group — which is supported by hundreds of wealthy donors on the right, along with the Kochs — is still debating whether it will spend some of that money in the GOP primaries. Such a move could have a major impact in winnowing the field of contenders, but could also undercut the network’s standing if it engaged in intraparty politics and was not successful.
 
McKenna Long: Rules Changes for 501(c)(4) Organizations Regarding State-Level Donor Disclosure Standards and Fundraising Registration 
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations have become an increasingly prominent – and targeted – part of the political engagement landscape. The ability of social welfare entities to engage in various forms of political activity while protecting the identity of their donors has made them both an invaluable tool and a target of regulatory bodies and politicians seeking to shed light on the influence of “dark money” in politics. This influence has been most frequently responded to with increased registration and donor disclosure mandates. Unsurprisingly, aggressive regulatory states like California and New York were among the first jurisdictions to set their sights on exposing the funders of 501(c)(4) political activity. They have been joined, however, by a collection of other states – including Idaho, Montana, Maine, Utah, and (most recently) Maryland – that have made nonprofit donor and expenditure transparency a priority.  
 
Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

AP: GOP donors appear in no hurry to commit to 2016 candidate 
By Jill Colvin And Philip Elliott
But for all the flurry of activity in the GOP race, set off last month by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and amplified by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, some of the party’s most sought-after donors appear content to let things shake out a bit before making a commitment to any one candidate.
For many of the party’s biggest fundraisers, signing on with a contender is a two-year commitment that usually includes asking friends, family and colleagues for donations they can bundle into stacks of checks. It’s not a decision taken lightly, especially with a field so large and in a campaign where total spending is sure to be measured in the billions.
“I don’t think there’s this rush that everybody’s trying to create here,” said Fred Malek, a longtime GOP donor and finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
 
Lobbying and Ethics

National Journal: K Street’s Glorious Restoration
By James Oliphant
But then came 2010. When the GOP seized the House, it ushered in four years of soul-sapping gridlock that essentially ground Congress to a halt—and left Washington lobbyists nearly as disgruntled as the general public. Sure, there were Obama administration regulations and executive orders to poke, prod, and counter. But the stasis on Capitol Hill was lousy for business. 
Which is why, for Washington’s influence industry, the new Republican-led Congress feels like a glorious restoration after years of being edged toward the margins. With Mitch McConnell taking command of the Senate to work alongside John Boehner in the House, there’s a sense that even if action on issues such as tax reform, education, trade, cybersecurity, and health care isn’t necessarily probable, it is at least possible. And that’s tonic for K Street.
Now there’s lobbying action to be found in both the executive and legislative branches, says Ivan Adler, a government-relations recruiter in Washington. The combination of an activist Democratic executive and a Republican Congress “is the best of all possible worlds,” he says. The administration has signaled that it will continue to be aggressive in regulating business, while the GOP, eager to show results, will be pushing an agenda that attempts to roll back those regulations but also advances affirmative business-friendly legislation. (A good early example was the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which provides a federal backstop for private industry in case of attack.)  
 
State and Local

Montana –– AP: Montana lawmaker settles in campaign finance case      
By Lisa Baumann
In court documents, Motl said Miller’s reporting, disclosure and source of fundsused to pay for campaign letters did not meet the requirements of Montana’s campaign practice laws. Motl asserts Miller did not pay full price for sending out campaign mailers and that the unpaid services provided by Direct Mail and Western Traditional Partnership together “became an unlawful corporate contribution” to Miller’s primary election campaign.
Motl declined to comment on Miller’s case on Monday, saying he didn’t think it appropriate while the Legislature is in session.
Miller said he completely disagrees with Motl’s accusations, but he settled because he didn’t want to continue to rack up attorney’s fees. “While I am confident I would be found innocent at trial, there comes a time when one must face the reality of the unlimited financial power of the state when it prosecutes one of its citizens,” he said in the statement.
 
New Mexico –– Albuquerque Journal: Lawmakers again consider post-Citizens United bill  
By Thomas J. Cole
Wirth this week plans to introduce legislation to define prohibited candidate coordination by super PACs. It will be his fifth attempt at passage of such a law since 2011.
His bill also would force donor disclosure by dark money groups and others that purchase certain political advertising but aren’t now required to report their contributors to the state.
“Citizens United turned our (campaign) finance laws on their head,” Wirth says. “We have to do the one thing the court said we could: require disclosure.”

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