Daily Media Links 8/26: Three Cheers for Citizens United!, IRS finds yet another Lois Lerner email account, and more…


Media Watch: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn’t understand what ‘anti-democratic’ means

Brian Walsh

To add insult to injury, the Board’s next claim about spending by candidates and Super PACs is a real doozy. The Editorial Board declares that “Presidential candidates collected $400 million in contributions in the first half of this year, most of it from super-political action committees that can raise unlimited sums, according to a New York Times analysis.”

This claim is patently false. Presidential candidates – and congressional candidates, for that matter – are prohibited by law from accepting even a penny from Super PACs. Indeed, Super PACs are able to accept unlimited contributions precisely because that money cannot be donated to candidates.

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Citizens United

Politico: Three Cheers for Citizens United!

Jack Shafer

But these expectations that big money would float the best-financed candidate directly to the White House have yet to materialize this campaign season. The best-financed candidates seem to be enjoying no dramatic advantage over their less-well financed opponents. On the Republican side, Jeb Bush has collected $120 million in donations to lead all Republicans in the money sweepstakes, yet he trails Donald Trump badly in the polls. Trump has raised a mere $1.9 million—and $1.8 million of that is a Trump loan! Ben Carson is beating both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in the polls despite raising a fourth of their loot.

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Washington Times: IRS finds yet another Lois Lerner email account

Stephen Dinan

“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.

It is unclear who Toby Miles is, but Mr. Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.”

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said it was stunning the agency was just now admitting the existence of the address.

“It is simply astonishing that years after this scandal erupted we are learning about an account Lois Lerner used that evidently hadn’t been searched,” he said, accusing the IRS of hiding Lerner-related information throughout — including the existence of the backup tapes of her official email account, which the agency’s inspector general easily found once it went looking for them.

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Forbes: IRS Reveals Lois Lerner’s Secret Email Account Named For Her Dog

Robert W. Wood

It puts the IRS in another awkward spot. Why wasn’t this revealed by the IRS sooner, you might ask?

Good question. Since there have been multiple probes for several years now, one might assume that American taxpayers would know about this by now. IRS documents previously revealed a Lois Lerner email that warned IRS staffers about revealing too much information to Congress. Forget email, Ms. Lerner had warned. Instead, use instant messaging that automatically deletes office communications. House Oversight Committee documentation suggested that this ruse was used deliberately by IRS officials to evade public scrutiny.

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New York Post: The IRS scandal goes to the dogs

Editorial Board

Mind you, it’s been two-plus years since the scandal broke, yet the agency that promised to clean up its act is only now revealing this fresh evidence.

No doubt the IRS will take months to fork over any of “Toby’s” e-mails. As Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says, “This is the latest in a parade of obstruction from the IRS and the Department of Justice on these issues.”

There was the hard drive the IRS said had been destroyed — but months later turned out to not be destroyed. And the backup tapes the IRS said were gone — until an inspector general found them as soon as he finally looked.

And now word of a whole new secret account used for government business. The capper: One Lerner acquaintance says “Toby Miles” is the name of Lerner’s dog. Nothing quite says truth and transparency like doing Uncle Sam’s work under your dog’s name.

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The Hill: Federal court upholds SEC pay-to-play rule

Lydia Wheeler

The New York Republican State Committee and the Tennessee Republican Party argued that the so-called pay-to-play rule exceeds the commission’s statutory authority and violates the Administrative Procedure Act as well as the First Amendment.

A lower court previously said it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, leading the plaintiffs to appeal.

In the appeals court decision Tuesday, Judge Cornelia “Nina” Pillard said the two state Republican parties who sued the SEC missed their window for challenging the agency rule.

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Bloomberg: Wall Street State Campaign-Cash Challenge Rejected by Court

Andrew M. Harris and Robert Schmidt

The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed an attempt to overturn the 2010 Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, ruling Tuesday that two state Republican Party committees waited too long to file their lawsuit. The SEC rule effectively bars banks, hedge funds and private equity firms from giving campaign contributions to governors and other state officials…

Known as the pay-to-play rule, the SEC regulation prohibits investment advisers from overseeing state assets for two years after giving more than a nominal contribution to an official who could help the fund manager get hired.

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Independent Groups

Yahoo News: Mega-donors extend ‘shelf life’ of struggling 2016 hopefuls

Michael Mathes

Four years ago it was former House speaker Newt Gingrich and conservative ex-senator Rick Santorum who “kept going beyond what some thought of as their natural campaign lives” thanks to wealthy benefactors, said Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit group that tracks money in politics.

“What’s different this time is that many of these super PACs are undertaking activities previously thought of as campaign activities,” including voter outreach and door-knocking, Novak said.

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CPI: ‘Deez Nuts’ puts Federal Election Commission on bozo patrol

Dave Levinthal

Twenty-one new presidential candidates materialized on Monday alone, including Arizona resident “Cranky Pants” and “Zakk Flash” and his “Anarchist Campaign Committee.”

They’ll compete with a pair of “Deez Nuts” knock-offs — Deez W. Nuts and Bofa Deez Nuts, inspired by the 15-year-old Iowa kid who started this presidential filing fad.

To date, there are technically about 850 registered candidates running for president this election.

That compares to about 200 presidential candidates who had registered at this point during the 2012 election cycle, according to FEC records.

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Washington Examiner: FEC feuds with open government group over cyber weaknesses

Rudy Takala

FEC chairwoman Ann Ravel said on Thursday that the agency would not release the report because of concerns “that it contains information” detailing “potential vulnerabilities.” The agency had previously denied a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Center for Public Integrity, a left-of-center nonprofit that engages in investigative journalism, to make the $199,500 analysis of the FEC’s systems public.

The organization filed a lawsuit against the FEC in July seeking to overturn the agency’s decision.

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Candidate and Campaigns

Huffington Post: Lawrence Lessig: Bernie Sanders Is ‘Running A Campaign To Win, Not To Govern’

Dana Liebelson

“Sanders is great, but he is running a campaign to win, not to govern. Like Obama 8 years ago, he is talking about the problem, but not giving us a plan for how it will be fixed,” Lessig wrote in the Q&A. “First. Because if he doesn’t address it first, then — seriously, this is obvious, right? — none of the things he’s talking about will be possible.”

“So why isn’t he talking about it first?” Lessig added. “Because the consultants are telling him: ‘here’s how you win a campaign.’ They don’t care if winning the campaign that way means you can’t actually govern. I do care about whether we have a government that can govern. I’m offering a plan that might actually get us that.”

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NPR: Donald Trump Changes His Tune And Begins To Court Wealthy Donors

Pete Overby

[Trump] explained the no-strings rule by suggesting that donors are investors, saying, “I actually like the idea of investing in a campaign, but it has to be no strings attached. I don’t want any strings attached.”

Some political veterans say Trump’s evolution isn’t unusual. Tom Reynolds, a Republican strategist and former congressman from New York, said Trump put himself out there as a candidate, then saw he was drawing big crowds and strong poll numbers. Now, Reynolds said, “The next move he’s looking at is, I don’t want to or I can’t fund all this myself. I’m therefore looking to fundraise to help me do that.”

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Washington Post: Donor dilemma: If candidates run low on cash, do they exit?

Jennifer Rubin

With word that former Texas governor Rick Perry is not paying staff and saw his Iowa co-chair resign, we begin to see something few pundits will acknowledge. When the money runs out — as it will if candidates miss the top tier debate and/or their polls drop — some will leave the race, likely before the Iowa caucuses. It is one thing if you are rich or have a well-financed super PAC to run some ads. However, for someone not independently wealthy, eventually you have to decide whether you are going to go into personal debt to run a campaign. Most pols won’t — or their families smartly won’t let them.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.