By David KeatingOf course, President Obama failed to note that Australia’s campaign finance laws make the court’s ruling in Citizens United look timid by comparison. Australia allows unlimited donations to candidates and parties, and donations from corporations or even foreigners are allowed. Here, such donations are banned for federal candidates. Australians can claim a tax deduction of $1,166 for donations to candidates or parties, or over $2,000 total when they give to both, while the IRS allows nothing. Finally, only donations of over $9,640 need be reported to the government and disclosed to the public Down Under, compared with just $200 in the U.S.
By Rebecca BallhausSenate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s retirement at the end of his term, announced Friday, raises a question about a key element of the Nevada senator’s legacy in Washington: What becomes of a Democratic super PAC that spent more than any other PAC in the 2014 election.In 2014, strong fundraising by Senate Majority PAC, run by people close to Mr. Reid, helped the party stay competitive in Senate races where many other factors favored Republican candidates.Senate Majority PAC leaders include Susan McCue, former chief of staff to Mr. Reid, and Rebecca Lambe, a political strategist on Mr. Reid’s 2010 campaign. J.B. Poersch, who worked as executive director of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm for six years and helped install Mr. Reid as majority leader in 2006, serves as a strategist for the super PAC.
By Joseph LawlerGoettler will replace outgoing CEO John Allison, who is retiring after leading the organization for two years. A Cato representative said Allison, who was the chairman and CEO of the bank BB&T before joining Cato, had planned to leave after his second year.“In one policy area after another, Cato’s scholarship has highlighted the ill effects of state intervention on both freedom and economic growth,” Goettler said. “In the process, Cato’s work has helped to limit government and protect our liberty.”Goettler will lead the Cato Institute’s efforts to promote libertarian scholarship and policies. The organization expects $36.3 million in revenue for 2015, it said Monday morning.
By Katie ZezimaCruz also made the allegation Friday in an interview with the New Hampshire Journal, claiming that he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had their money spigot turned off by leadership because blocking access to money is how leadership disciplines members. Cruz did not specify who in the leadership may have cut him off.There has been no love lost between Cruz and Senate leaders, and the allegations come as Cruz is out on the presidential campaign trail touting himself as a Washington outsider who wants to reform the system. Earlier this month in New Hampshire, he said that money should be considered free speech when it comes to campaign contributions. He attended two New York fundraisers after his presidential announcement Monday and has raised more than $2 million.
By Mark Pazniokas
With a signoff from the Senate, the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee voted to revise campaign finance legislation to cap state party expenditures on a legislative race at $250,000.A $250,000 cap is more than 10 ten times the limit proposed Friday in public-hearing testimony by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. Had the $250,000 cap been in place last year, it would have had no impact on any race.“It’s bogus,” said Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, the ranking Senate Republican on the committee. “It’s totally bogus.”
By Jon CassidyTwo state lawmakers trying to make new laws regulating political speech in Texas aren’t all that clear about the laws that already exist.A hearing last week by the House State Affairs Committee on four new bills to regulate political speech confirmed the authors of those bills don’t have a firm grasp of the field they’re attempting to regulate.One exchange in particular Wednesday night proved embarrassing for committee chairman state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, and state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, the lieutenants to Speaker Joe Straus who sponsored three of the four bills under consideration.