By Micah MorrisonAt her confirmation hearings Wednesday, Loretta Lynch said she’s only “generally aware” of the Justice Department’s investigation of IRS targeting of conservative groups.As a service for our likely new attorney general, here’s a primer on why so many in Congress want a special counsel in the IRS case.Under federal rules, the attorney general appoints a special counsel “when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter . . . would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”In this case, there’s both.
Larry discusses the Koch brothers and the flood of private money in political campaigns with panelists Zephyr Teachout, David Webb, Hari Kondabolu and Ted Alexandro. (21:29)
By Michael BeckelA bipartisan group of lawmakers will soon float a bill requiring U.S. Senate candidates to electronically file campaign finance documents, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.Known as the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, the bill — which the Congressional Budget Office estimates could save taxpayers about $500,000 a year — aims to sync the Senate with what’s currently required for U.S. House candidates, presidential candidates and political action committees.
By Tarini PartiPHILADELPHIA — In the City of Brotherly Love, there was none for the Koch brothers among Democratic lawmakers huddled here for their retreat.Just a few days after the Koch network’s wealthy GOP donors met in the California desert to discuss their plans to spend $889 million over the next two years, Democratic lawmakers received new polling data from White House adviser David Simas in a closed-door meeting Wednesday night that Democrats could use to form a more effective narrative against the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch and other Republican donors. The polling presentations come as Democrats grapple with creating a unified message for 2016 — a major criticism of their disastrous performance in the recent midterms.
By Derek WillisAfter being hit with a television advertisement attacking his position on women’s issues, Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican running for re-election in 2014 to the House of Representatives, did the natural thing: His campaign responded with an ad of its own.But its first response did not appear on TV screens. Instead, the campaign used an online video ad aimed at the likely audience of the original ad from Andrew Romanoff, Mr. Coffman’s Democratic opponent. Choosing digital ads was a way to avoid spending large sums of money on a TV commercial in the expensive Denver media market. It had the added advantage of focusing on the people who might have seen the first ad and spent more time online. But it was also something of a calculated risk in a competitive political environment where organizations talk a lot about digital campaigns but still spend the bulk of their funds on television. (Mr. Coffman ended up winning his race by nine points.)“It changes the way you think about ad strategy,” Tyler Sandberg, Mr. Coffman’s campaign manager, said of the option to use targeted online ads. “You have six different screens that are up in a room sometimes. You need to rethink about where the digital audience is.”
By Amie ParnesHillary Clinton is working to shore up support on the left while not alienating her longtime supporters on Wall Street, as she moves closer to announcing a bid for the White House.It’s a difficult balancing act for Clinton, who has many ties to the financial world from her time as a senator from New York and is expected to rake in significant cash from Wall Street during the campaign.The former secretary of State has signaled in distinct ways that she wants to tie her campaign to calls for tackling income inequality and wage growth championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the left wing of the Democratic Party. But she wants to accomplish this without coming across as a class warrior or enemy to her old friends.
By Dave LevinthalOn the program, Sharpton regularly defends the IRS, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, against conservatives’ criticism that the agency gave special scrutiny to right-leaning nonprofit groups,“There was no conspiracy for the IRS to target conservatives. So why are some Republicans so obsessed about all of them?” Sharpton shouted during a show last February.What Sharpton doesn’t tell viewers is that his 2004 presidential committee owes the U.S. Treasury $19,500 a decade after being caught accepting illegal campaign contributions, according to federal records. It also owes the Federal Election Commission several thousand dollars in unpaid fines, even after paying off a separate $208,000 penalty in 2009 for several campaign violations.Sharpton’s saga, while extreme, is hardly unique.
By Michael GoodwinBack in 2004, when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver blocked passage of the state budget with a series of bizarre objections, a frustrated Gov. George Pataki confronted him: “Who is your client?’’ the governor demanded.The showdown made headlines because of the clear insinuation that Silver, a Democrat, was using his official power to serve a private customer and enrich himself. That it took nearly 11 long years for prosecutors finally to make a case along those very lines reveals both the complexity of Silver’s alleged scams and Albany’s rotten pay-to-play culture.The Empire State’s capital is corrupt to the core, and has been for a very long time. Virtually nothing happens there that isn’t driven by self-dealing. It is a cesspool unworthy of respect or trust and now stands naked in disgrace.
By Jesse McKinley, Thomas Kaplan, Susanne Craig and William K. RashbaumjanLate on Monday afternoon, Mr. Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York Assembly, addressed scores of his Democratic colleagues who had grimly gathered in a corner conference room in the State Capitol. The mood was as serious as the charges he faces: that he exploited his office to obtain millions of dollars in payoffs.Mr. Silver spoke for less than 10 minutes before offering to leave the room, to help facilitate a freer discussion.No one asked him to stay.So it was that Mr. Silver, one of the most powerful men in New York, and suddenly the face of Albany’s continuing corruption crisis, shuffled out.
By Joe TacopinoIn the latest probe of a high-ranking state legislator, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is being investigated by federal authorities over his sources of income, The Post has confirmed.Skelos’ connections to real estate deals were being looked into by US Attorney Preet Bharara, who last week jolted Albany with the arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, WNBC/Channel 4 first reported Thursday.