By James TarantoFallon accuses the Times of peddling “innuendo . . . about Hillary Clinton’s role in this matter.” In this context, a synonym for “innuendo” is “appearance of corruption.” As we noted last week, advocates of so-called campaign-finance reform—Mrs. Clinton is one—argue that such appearances are a sufficient evil to justify the curtailment of free speech.So perhaps it should not be all that surprising that the self-styled reformers at Common Cause—described by liberal columnist Eleanor Clift as “the gold standard for good-government groups”—are among the Clinton Foundation’s critics.
By Jonathan S. TobinI know this runs counter to liberal conspiracy theories, but there’s no evidence that major donors have ever been able to buy an election for a candidate who would otherwise not have been taken seriously. The best example of this comes from Adelson who, next to the Kochs, is the conservative liberals love to hate the most. Adelson very much wanted to influence the 2012 Republican race but in Newt Gingrich, he picked a candidate who couldn’t win. Adelson’s donations kept Gingrich in the race perhaps long after he might otherwise have dropped out. But he couldn’t will him to victory. No amount of money could have.
There Are Too Many Big Donors to Allow Any One to Dominate
Another problem for conspiracy theorists is that America is a very wealthy country with a lot of really rich people, including some who are obsessed with politics. For every Adelson backing a Gingrich, there was a Foster Friess bankrolling Rick Santorum. And if Adelson doesn’t wind up embracing Rubio this time, the Florida senator’s longtime wealthy friend Norman Braman will. The Bush dynasty has their backers. Scott Walker’s small-government principles and battles with the unions may bring him the support of the Kochs, but many big donors who are also associated with their group may back Ted Cruz. Were all the Republican major donors to conspire together and back only one, that might make it hard for a challenger to compete. But that would be a description of what’s going on in the Democratic Party now as the Clinton cash machine enforces discipline on the left. Right now, that’s just not possible in a Republican Party whose donors are as diverse as the Democrats inaccurately claim their party to be.
By Matea Gold and Ed O’KeefeThe 2016 Republican presidential contest, designed to be a tidy affair, is instead shaping up to be a chaotic, drawn-out slog, thanks largely to an expanding pool of rich patrons raining money on a broad field of candidates.Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has raised tens of millions of dollars for his allied super PAC, collecting a historic amount, he told donors Sunday night. But that hasn’t been enough to stop his rivals from amassing their own stockpiles. A super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida secured about $20 million in commitments in less than two weeks, according to people familiar with the totals. An independent operation backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas says it pulled in $31 million in a single week. A new super PAC allied with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is close to matching that, fundraisers say.Never have so many candidates entered a White House contest boosted by such huge sums. The financial arms race could fuel a protracted primary season similar to the one in 2012 — exactly what party leaders were hoping to avoid.
By Roger PilonJust when you thought the long-running “John Doe” prosecution/persecutions in Wisconsin couldn’t get any worse—SWAT teams conducting pre-dawn raids on family homes, gag orders on the victims, and the prosecutor’s recusal motion directed against no fewer than four state supreme court justices, all over politically driven campaign finance allegations—Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm suggested over the weekend that Gov. Scott Walker could be criminally charged for lying. Walker’s “crime”? In Iowa on Saturday, he questioned whether the prosecution’s tactics were constitutional.
By Rick EsenbergIn response to Governor Scott Walker’s reference to the John Doe investigation as unconstitutional and a political witch-hunt, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm implied that Walker could be prosecuted for criminal defamation.Here’s the likelihood that could happen. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not in this country.Now, I assume that John Chisholm knows that. I assume that he knows that because any lawyer with even the slightest background in First Amendment law would know it. I assume it because the alternative is a frightening, I would hate to think that a lawyer who has the power to charge people with crimes and presumes to exercise that authority in areas like campaign speech and finance does not know the constitutional obstacles to charging people with a crime for speech.
By Gregory T. Angelo and Craig EngleStanding apart from these impassioned, often gray-area debates exists one straightforward constitutional argument that few consider: State same-sex marriage bans restrict the political contributions of gay couples, violating their First Amendment rights.This uneven application of campaign finance law creates indisputable, mathematic inequality. State marriage bans cut the potential political participation of gay couples in half.Here’s how it works. Under federal law, it’s illegal to make a political contribution in the name of someone else or using someone else’s money. This anti-corruption law is specifically designed to preempt individuals who seek to dishonestly circumvent contribution maximums by making a donation under another name.Married couples are the exception to this rule. Most states — including all four states with marriage bans before the Supreme Court — extend to a husband and wife their own contribution limits, even if only one spouse brings income into the marriage.
By Scott ShackfordTo be clear: There is no evidence that these two men, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, have given any money to Cruz. The reception was not a fundraiser. In fact, Reisner’s donation history shows him giving thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party. He has also given money to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. He also gave money to Republican Rudy Giuliani when he ran for president back in 2008. He’s not entirely a single party donor, but he is definitely focusing on Democrats. Weiderpass has a very similar donation history.But that’s apparently not enough. The two men hosted a meeting with Cruz, as The New York Times reported last week. The purpose of the meeting appeared to be to talk about Israel, but they did push Cruz on his position on gay marriage.Somehow this was a bad and wrong thing to do, according to some in the gay community. The men are, I guess, supposed to boycott Cruz. Since they did not boycott Cruz, there are now calls to boycott them. I took note of this on Friday afternoon, but I didn’t think much would come of it because it seemed just too petty, even in our era of online outrage.
By Steve ChapmanBut there are types of money she is willing to talk about. On a visit to Iowa, she said, “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if it takes a constitutional amendment.”The declaration might help to inoculate her against investigations of how she and Bill set out to do good and ended up doing well. It’s also a gesture of solidarity with the more liberal members of the Democratic Party.As an indication of the policies that might come to pass in a Clinton administration, though, it should not be taken seriously. Almost any time a politician proposes a constitutional amendment, she is telegraphing that nothing will be done about the problem it addresses.
By Shannen W. Coffin And Michael J. EdneyAnything worth investigating here? Not according to the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, President Barack Obama, whose spokesman announced Friday that the allegations were little more than the discredited musings of “a conservative author,” unaccompanied by “any evidence” and apparently unworthy of further discussion.But imagine if similar payments, under similar circumstances, were made by a U.S. company to a charity closely associated with, say, the Nigerian foreign minister. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission would be banging on that firm’s doors, asserting serious violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.That’s the law prohibiting U.S. companies from providing anything of value to a foreign official for the purpose of obtaining a favorable action. It is invoked frequently to scrutinize the overseas operations of American businesses. When federal law-enforcement agents even suspect that it has been violated, these companies are overrun with lawyers investigating every trace of alleged wrongdoing. The investigations often end the careers of the company officials allegedly responsible and culminate in fines and payments totaling many millions. One recent settlement was for $772 million. To avoid that fate, American companies spend huge sums on compliance reviews to prevent even the appearance of impropriety.
By Jonathan AllenPublic records alone reveal a nearly limitless supply of cozy relationships between the Clintons and companies with interests before the government.General Electric, for example, has given between $500,000 and $1 million in cash to the foundation, and it helped underwrite the US pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, a project for which top Clinton family fundraisers were tapped by the State Department to solicit contributions from the private sector.GE lobbied the State Department on a variety of issues when Hillary Clinton was secretary, including trade and energy tax breaks, according to its filings with the federal government.
By Michael VirtanenSen. Daniel Squadron’s bill would treat LLCs like corporations subject to annual political contribution limits, which his bill would lower from $5,000 to $1,000.Currently LLCs are treated like individuals, who can give up to $60,800 to a statewide candidate. Reform advocates, who watched the committee vote, brought 5,000 signatures supporting the change. They said some wealthy individuals and business interests create multiple LLCs whose ownership isn’t disclosed and gave $13 million to New York candidates last year.
By Erin MansfieldA prominent Republican last week accused Sorrell of flouting campaign finance statutes and asked Sorrell to hire an independent counsel to investigate the matter. The attorney general refused and deferred to the 14 state’s attorneys who have the authority to conduct a probe. (None has come forward.) The governor could appoint an independent investigator, but he’s said he’s too busy to do so.In the wake of the allegations against Sorrell, senators are calling for the formation of an independent elections oversight panel. The panel would be responsible for enforcing campaign finance laws. Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, wants the commission to also have the power to investigate ethics violations.The Senate Government Operations Committee will hold a hearing on the commission proposal at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Statehouse. Lawmakers want to discuss the campaign finance enforcement process, not the specific allegations against Sorrell, Benning said.