In the News
The Hill: Members of Congress propose politicization of government contracts
During the New Deal era, agents of the Democratic administration coerced federal contractors benefiting from the government spending splurge to “purchase” political books at wildly inflated prices as a condition for continuing to receive lucrative government contracts. In response to this blatant shakedown, Congress amended the Hatch Act ethics law in 1940 to prohibit political contributions from contractors.
Earlier this week, 130 members of the House and Senate lobbied the White House to revive its previously abandoned attempt to undermine this important ethics reform. Specifically, the members wrote to President Obama urging him to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to make it publicly known whether they side with certain politicians and political causes, thereby currying favor or ill will from government officials who may influence the contracting process. How quickly we forget history’s lessons.
Wall Street Journal: Former IRS Official’s Email Lost When Backup Tapes Routinely Erased
John D. McKinnon
“There was a [document] preservation order in place” that the IRS “never complied with,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, at a hearing on Thursday morning. “They destroyed evidence. That’s what they did.”
The tapes could contain as many as 24,000 additional emails, Mr. George said in prepared testimony for the hearing.
Mr. George’s probe also showed that the IRS didn’t search for several potential sources of emails, including the backup tapes, after the hard-drive crash became known. Even some Democrats said they were troubled.
National Review: House Republicans Considering Impeachment of IRS Head over Stonewalling in Lois Lerner Investigation
Lawmakers have been privately mulling the unconventional tactic for months, in part due to frustration that cutting the agency’s budget and holding Lerner in contempt of Congress failed to speed up the glacial pace at which the agency has produced documents requested by the committee. The ultimate decision depends on their ability to demonstrate that the IRS has obstructed the investigation — a public case that might begin Thursday, when the Treasury Department’s inspector general announces that IRS officials destroyed the files “most likely to have contained Lerner’s emails” after telling Congress they could not be found, according to a transcript of the IG’s forthcoming testimony to the Oversight Committee obtained by NR.
Daily Caller: Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive Was SHREDDED
“We determined by obtaining the certificate of destruction dated April 16, 2012, interviews with the facility manager, and a search of the facility, that this shipment of hard drives was destroyed using an AMERI-SHRED AMS-750HD shredder,” according to the inspector general’s testimony. “TIGTA agents observed the shredder in operation and noted that the shredder cut the inserted hard drives into quarter-sized pieces, and according to the facility manager, those pieces are then sold for scrap.”
Meanwhile, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division reported that it could have retrieved the data from Lerner’s hard drive, but IRS management told investigators that such an effort “was not worth the expense.”
Wall Street Journal: The Long and Short of the Health Law Ruling
The brevity and clarity of Thursday’s ruling is notable. In an era of longer — and apparently grumpier – judicial writing, Chief Justice Robert’s ruling barely exceeded the median word count, which has climbed from about 2,500 words in the 1960s to more than 4,500 words in more recent years, according research by political scientists James F. Spriggs II of Washington University and Ryan C. Black of Michigan State…
The longest majority opinion, including footnotes, was the 1976 decision in American campaign-finance case Buckley v. Valeo, a paunchy 65,398 words, according to Messrs. Spriggs and Black. The next wordiest was 2003′s McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, another campaign-finance case, with 43,445.
National Journal: Jeb Bush’s Super PAC is Blurring ‘Jeb!’ Signs in Its Own Ad. Here’s Why.
The relevant section of the federal code says that “the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials prepared by the candidate” constitutes a contribution to the candidate.
The idea behind the rule, Ryan explained, is to prevent an outside group from simply taking a candidate’s yard signs and reproducing them, or recording a candidate’s TV ad and re-airing it.
National Journal: New Rick Perry Super PAC Ad May Amount to an Illegally Large Campaign Donation
The ad features footage from Perry’s announcement speech, including a podium decorated with an official Perry campaign logo, a plane emblazoned with the campaign’s insignia, and images of the crowd waving official Perry presidential signs.
Federal election law states that broadcasting materials produced by a campaign amounts to a campaign contribution. If the ad, which is airing as part of a $145,350 buy that the super PAC recently reported, is ruled to be such a contribution by election authorities, then it would be above the legal limits of what Perry can receive.
Candidates and Campaigns
NPR: This Quirky New Hampshire Law Might Keep Bernie Sanders Off The Ballot
It’s one of those blanks that is problematic — asking candidates to say “that I am a registered member of the _____ party.” Sanders is not a registered member of the Democratic Party, having been elected every time as an independent. Early in his career, he made failed runs as part of the Liberty Union Party.
He did appear on the Democratic primary ballot in Vermont for the Senate in both 2006 and 2012, winning their primary, but he declined the nomination both times so he could run as an independent. Still, the avowed socialist has always caucused with Democrats and is even ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Former Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., says that isn’t enough evidence for the Vermont senator to make the cut, especially with his explicit rejection of the Democratic nomination in his state twice.
Bloomberg: Jeb Bush and His Favorite Strategist Try to Win Without Speaking
Michael C. Bender
Murphy is in charge of Right to Rise, a super PAC created to get Bush elected. Because of regulations requiring a separation between candidates and super PACs, they can’t formally coordinate their efforts between now and the election. All the major candidates in the 2016 race will have super PACs working on their behalf, but Bush and Murphy are trying something unprecedented in U.S. presidential elections: building a separate, and better-funded, organization that will in some ways eclipse the official campaign as a vehicle for promoting the candidate. Murphy’s Los Angeles-based team will produce digital marketing, television ads, and opposition research on behalf of Bush, whose campaign headquarters are across the country in Miami. “He’s a good friend, and I’m going to miss him,” Bush says. “I hope to see him on election night and give him an embrace. But from here on out, I won’t be talking to him…”
Bush says his campaign and Right to Rise are on parallel tracks. “I don’t think we’re exporting any responsibilities,” he says. The campaign already has staff on the ground in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Right to Rise staffers have been trailing Bush and his events for months, stockpiling footage for ads. “The super PAC? We’ll see what they do,” Bush says. “I hope it enhances the message that I hope to bring.”
Washington Post: The 8 presidential candidates whose 404 error pages go above and beyond, ranked
It’s clear the Internet is changing the face of presidential elections; there are Snapchat interviews, battles for Web domains and countless other attempts to show those #Millennials just how much candidates get the Internet.
With every presidential announcement comes a new or refreshed campaign Web site (making for a lot of said Web sites this time around). Some folks might say there are too many cooks, but it can actually make for some great slices of Internet — specifically, the dreaded 404 (file/page not found) errors, which many candidates have tried to make fun of.
These campaign easter eggs can be lighthearted or they may go straight for the jugular.
Associated Press: Montana Moves to Reveal Corporate Campaign Spending
Allison Noon and Matt Volz
Proposed rules released Wednesday to guide the state’s expansive election law approved earlier this year would increase disclosure requirements for corporations and committees granted free-speech rights by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2010 Citizens United ruling.
“This is an embracing of Citizens United,” Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said Thursday about the new law. “They can speak, they can spend their money. They simply have to tell Montanans how much they’re spending, who they spent it against or for, when they spent it and where they got that money from.”
Montana is among the first states to require the level of disclosure, and other states are watching to see what effect it will have, Motl said.
Boston Globe: In N.H., a tricky landscape for campaign finance
The state attorney general must make frequent administrative rulings about what campaigns can and cannot do. New Hampshire’s outsized role in national politics has attracted a growing number of outside groups injecting cash into local races. And last summer, the Legislature enacted a law that attempts to rein in that so-called dark money — contributions to political organizations that need not disclose their donors — by requiring such groups to register with the state and report some of their financial activities.
All of this has made politicking in the Granite State more confusing. Surdukowski, now a partner at the Sulloway & Hollis law firm, recently wrote an article for the University of New Hampshire Law Review describing the state’s election landscape as “some of the most complicated and sporadically-enforced campaign finance laws in any jurisdiction” and exploring changes he says “are likely to demarcate battle lines in New Hampshire elections for years to come.”