By Jonathan OostingLANSING, MI — Anonymous contributions are playing a growing role in U.S. politics, but private donations are not always a bad thing, according to Bradley A. Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.“People have a lot of reasons to want to be private,” said Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a professor at Capital University Law School. “There are fears of harassment, both government harassment and unofficial harassment from private individuals.”Smith, who acknowledges that supporting more privacy in political giving is not an immediately popular position, is set to debate Michigan Campaign Finance Network executive director Rich Robinson on Tuesday at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.“It’s interesting. When you ask people if they think their own political actions should be disclosed, the polls switch dramatically,” Smith said, suggesting that requiring donors to list their address or job can discourage political participation.
The Weekly Standard: So, What About Money in Politics?
By Jay CostSecond, Citizens United is court-made law and thus lacks democratic legitimacy. The people’s representatives never debated or endorsed it. This makes it an easy target for Democrats looking to preen about good government while lining their pockets. Under our system, of course, the Supreme Court has the authority to rule on the meaning of the Constitution. But politically speaking, it is problematic. Congress and the courts have been warring over campaign finance for nearly 50 years, and the result is a hodge-podge of regulations that lacks any sense or broad popular support. So Democrats demagogue.Third, you can’t beat something with nothing. Where is the anti-corruption agenda of the right? Where are the counterparts to the good-government organizations spearheaded by Ralph Nader? Other than the Center for Competitive Politics, helmed by former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith, and Take Back Our Republic, a new organization founded by those who helped Dave Brat take down Eric Cantor last year, one is hardpressed to think of conservative entities promoting a vision of good government. Conservatives have spent enormous intellectual capital on issues like education, health care, and taxes—but what about corruption? When Democratic pols rail against Citizens United, what reforms can Republicans counter with?
By Theodore SchleiferThis latest strand of optimism, though, is just a false hope in professional reformers’ “endless fantasy,” said Bradley Smith, a former chair of the Federal Elections Commission who supports relaxing campaign finance regulations.“It’s like watching Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football,” Smith said, recalling the energy that fizzled when “Granny D” trotted across the country. “I’ve seen this before.”
MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Well, we have new information tonight on a series of terrifying raids that were reportedly part of a political retribution deal against supporters of Governor Scott Walker. The raids just coming to light after a couple of folks came forward and spoke to National Review writer David French, including this woman, Cindy Archer.Archer says she was asleep in her home one night when she was jolted awake when more than a dozen police officers with a battering ram were yelling and pounding on the door. She says she was trying desperately to calm down her dogs, begging the police not to shoot them. She was afraid, given how angry they appeared.She says police would not say why they were there, but they ransacked her home, grabbed computers and phones and told Ms. Archer she could not tell anyone. And there was much more to this story.
By Steve ChapmanBecause a campaign finance amendment is not going to happen, Clinton can safely appease those Democrats who favor it without fear of incurring responsibility for its consequences.But they and others should take this as additional proof that when a conflict arises between the power of government and the liberties of individuals, the former will always take priority with Clinton. The amendment sponsored by Senate Democrats would give public officials broad latitude to police what is said and written about candidates and their policies.It stipulates that the federal government and the states “may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” As legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams testified, the amendment “deals with nothing but political campaign speech. It does not deal with money that is spent for any purpose other than persuading the public who to vote for or against and why.”
By Michael Barbaro and Maggie HabermanMIAMI BEACH — Jeb Bush told donors here that he believed his political action committee had raised more money in 100 days than any other modern Republican political operation, according to those who heard him.The remark suggests that the so-called shock and awe financial effort underway by his team is meeting or exceeding its internal goals and will represent a formidable threat to his Republican rivals in the 2016 presidential contest. He offered no specific figure.While Mr. Bush’s aides have done their utmost to tamp down expectations, the figure is expected to be in the high tens of millions of dollars. The figure does not comprise “hard dollars” – the type of capped donations he’ll raise in maximum $2700 chunks once he declares in the next two months – but his team has privately signaled plans to use the super PAC differently than it has typically been used
By Rebecca BallhausCampaign-finance watchdogs on Friday called for the Clinton Foundation to change its policies in the wake of new revelations about donations to the Clinton Foundation around the time that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.Common Cause, a group that advocates for accountability in politics, called for an independent audit of large donations to the Clinton Foundation. “Voluntary disclosure is not enough,” said Miles Rapoport, the group’s president, in a statement. Citing reports, including one in the New York TimesNYT +0.08%, that the foundation had failed to report all its donors, as it had pledged to do, he said: “The foundation’s omissions create significant gaps in the information that voters need to make informed decisions at the polls.”
By John DickersonThis campaign finance pillar of the Clinton campaign appears to be weakened already, but some campaign finance advocates were skeptical that Clinton was ever going to have a big fight over campaign finance reform as she pledged, seeing the policy gambit as a way to inoculate herself from the questions raised by donations to her family foundation. We’ll see in the coming months if she takes on this cause. She’s got to get off defense first.
By Annie Karni and Kenneth P. VogelThe debt avoidance strategy is already reflected in the early roll-out, where campaign manager Robby Mook is intent on creating a new culture around money, spending and flashy displays by staffers.There are no business cards — a move that’s emblematic of Mook’s frugal and Quaker-like philosophy. In his view, working on a high-profile race isn’t supposed to be a star-making vehicle for staffers (at least not until after they win).There are also no telephones at Clinton HQ in Brooklyn. Instead, Mook has instructed the staff to use a free voice-over Internet service, with headsets plugged into laptops. For their personal cell phones, they receive a modest reimbursement every month that many say doesn’t actually cover the phone bill.
By Michael Barbaro and Nicholas ConfessoreMIAMI BEACH — Jeb Bush said he thought it was unnecessary to spend $1 billion on a presidential campaign, a figure reached by both Mitt Romney and President Obama in 2012, saying a smart team could run a leaner operation.It was an implicit critique of the emerging campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose supporters estimate she will raise and spend that amount in her bid for the White House.“I don’t think you need to spend a billion dollars to be elected president of the United States in 2016,” Mr. Bush said in a brief question-and-answer session here.
By Lee DrutmanSarcastic observers often complain that we have the best Congress money can buy. Actually, it’s the opposite. We’ve been doing Congress on the cheap for decades. Thanks to stagnating budgets and a few bouts of budget slashing, it has about a third fewer committee staff members than it had in 1980, which means it has less and less experience and expertise to deal with our most pressing problems — and, instead, effectively outsources more and more of its work to lobbyists.Because congressional pay is considerably less than that of comparable private sector jobs, staff members usually stay just long enough to get experience and build connections, and then leave — often to become lobbyists.“It’s tough to live off the government paycheck,” one lobbyist told me. “One of the big things that’s wrong with the system is that somebody finally learns their job and then they have to move on, so you have a bunch of young folks who turn to lobbyists to figure out their jobs.”
By Alanna DurkinRepublican Sen. Eric Brakey, who introduced the measure, said if Maine voters are going to be asked if they want to expand the law, they should also have the option to repeal it.He says he doesn’t believe taxpayer dollars should be spent on things like political yard signs and mailers while the state has failed for years to pay 55 percent of costs of K-12 education, as mandated by law.“I think the education of our kids is more important than campaign yard signs,” he said.