Daily Media Link 8/28: We ‘the Sheeple’, Has Lessig Lost It? The Marriage of Larry and the Donald, and more…

Wisconsin ‘John Doe’

Wall Street Journal: We ‘the Sheeple’

Editorial Board

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court shut down the John Doe investigation of conservative groups in July, but it turns out the probe was even worse than the judges knew. Documents filed at the state Supreme Court opposing Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz’s motion to reconsider show that partisan motives ran through those who conducted their operations in secret while using gag orders to silence targets…

In an email to Mr. Schmitz on Nov. 27, 2013, GAB staff counsel Shane Falk encouraged the special prosecutor to keep up the good work and “stay strong” in his pursuit of conservative nonprofit groups and allies of Mr. Walker. “Remember, in brief, this was a bastardization of politics and our state is being run by corporations and billionaires,” Mr. Falk wrote. “That isn’t democracy to say the least, but due to how they do this dark money, the populace never gets to know.”

“The cynic in me says the sheeple would still follow the propaganda even if they knew,” Mr. Falk continued, “but at least it would all be out there so that the influences on our politicians is clearly known.” By “the sheeple” Mr. Falk means Wisconsin voters.

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Wisconsin Watchdog: Explosive email exposes GAB attorney’s partisan motives in John Doe probe

M.D. Kittle

“You just lied to the press,” Falk scolded Schmitz in the email, obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog. “See attached ‘target’ sheets from our search warrant and subpoena meeting. I see ‘SW’ right up near the top on page 1. Is there someone else that has those initials? Page 3 even has all the stuff we wanted from SW.’

The “nonpartisan” GAB’s legal counsel seemed more interested in protecting Mary Burke, Walker’s Democrat challenger in last year’s gubernatorial election.

“If you didn’t want this to have an effect on the election, better check Burke’s new ad. Now you will be calling her a liar,” Falk wrote. “This is a no win. I encourage you to roll with it, or tone down the press release a bit more to focus on how many times you said ‘alleged’ or say that people are drawing conclusions that have not yet been proven in a court of law or something.”

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Independent Groups

Bloomberg: Fiorina Super-PAC Takes Out Full-Page New York Times Ad Defending Business Record

Ben Brody

CARLY for America, a super-PAC supporting the former Hewlett-Packard CEO in her run for the Republican nomination for president, paid for a full-page ad in Thursday’s New York Times that defended her tenure. The ad was designed to rebut a Times story casting Fiorinia’s stewardship of HP as unsuccessful.

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CNN: Donald Trump allies quietly seek money from rich, anonymous patrons

Sara Murray and Shimon Prokupecz

Trump attended a fundraising event Sunday at the home of real estate developer Charles Kushner and his wife, Seryl — Ivanka Trump’s in-laws — on the Jersey Shore. Some attendees were asked to pony up $10,000 for a group called Make America Great Again. According to an invitation, organizers have set up a super PAC as well as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. While a super PAC is required to disclose its donors, the nonprofit is not…

Trump “attended as a guest and did not solicit donations from any of the attendees,” said campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks. “He is self-funding the campaign.”

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Lawrence Lessig

Institute of Governmental Studies: Election 2016: Dumbing Down American Politics: Lawrence Lessig and the Presidency

Thomas E. Mann

The hubris of the Harvard Professor is breathtaking. In virtually every respect, his strategy is absurd. Lessig’s political reform agenda is stymied by Republicans, not Democrats. Why not direct his energies where the opposition resides? All of the current Democratic presidential candidates support the thrust of these reforms. But saying that this is their highest priority is likely to harm, not boost, their candidacies. Why would even the most ardent supporter of the three pillars of Lessig’s reform agenda cast a ballot solely on this basis? Big and important issues divide the two parties today and the stakes of public action or inaction are huge. We don’t have the luxury of using the election to try to build a mandate for a set of political reforms that would have no chance of passing in the face of GOP opposition and would be of only incremental utility if they did.

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Alternet: Has Lessig Lost It? The Marriage of Larry and the Donald

Steven Rosenfeld

Given the arc of Lessig’s activism, it’s not surprising that an individual who is driven to address one of the fundamental flaws in American politics is willing to embrace one of America’s most divisive politicans because he’s saying the right things about his issue. While that may be predictable or inevitable, it also a bit desperate and naïve—which has always been the danger of single-issue politics.

Let’s imagine that Lessig somehow links up with Trump. Are people who want to see a fundamental restructuring of interplay between private money and political candidates suppose to ignore Trump’s racism, sexism, elitism, and war-mongering, just because Trump has been bombastically telling Americans that he’s invested and gotten results from politicians, and “that’s a broken system”?

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Free Speech

Reason: Denver Police Continue Harassing Jury Nullification Activists, One Day After a Federal Judge Told Them to Cut It Out

Jacob Sullum

Yesterday morning, according to a new motion filed by the lawyer representing Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen, the two activists who sought the injunction, “a cadre of Denver police officers” descended upon them and several associates as they were engaged in exactly the sort of pamphleting described in the injunction. The lawyer, David Lane, says the cops seized “all literature regarding jury nullification including about 1,000 pamphlets, a small shade shelter, a table, four chairs, buckets, a cooler, signs and other items.” He adds that the officers even “attempted to take personal property such as purses, computers, backpacks and other items” from the activists, but “the pamphleteers resisted the attempts by the police to steal their personal property.”

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Washington Post: Gyrocopter pilot’s new campaign: Push Congress to sign no-lobbying pledge

Spencer S. Hsu

The man who landed a gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol this spring to protest campaign finance laws said Thursday that an outpouring of public support has helped him raise the necessary $10,000 for his legal defense.

Douglas Hughes, 61, of Ruskin, Fla., also said he is encouraging 100 demonstrations nationwide timed with his trial to ask members of Congress to pledge not to pass through Washington’s revolving door and become lobbyists after they retire.

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“People’s Pledge”

Tampa Bay Times: Alan Grayson floats no Super PAC pledge with Patrick Murphy

Alex Leary

“As much as Rep. Grayson is opposed to unaccountable big money in politics, the reality is that Patrick Murphy will have Super PACs on his side, and we’re not going to unilaterally disarm,” spokesman Kevin Franck told the Tampa Bay Times.

“We are open to discussing a mutual agreement similar to Elizabeth Warren’s People’s Pledge with the Murphy campaign to keep Super PAC’s out of the primary.”

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Candidates and Campaigns

Washington Examiner: Rep. Pingree’s campaign finance reform’s hypocrisy

Erik Telford

After a Watchdog.org investigation in 2010 found that Pingree (D-Maine) had flown on her then-fiancé Donald Sussman’s private jet in violation of federal campaign law, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) finally moved to hold Pingree accountable, fining her $9,750 for two flights and ordering her to repay $13,000…

It would be hard to script her hypocrisy more explicitly. “Most Americans never have and never will fly on a chartered jet, much less a fancy corporate jet complete with wet bar and leather couches,” Pingree said while testifying before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution in 2006, prior to her election to Congress. “So when members of Congress constantly fly around on corporate jets and pay only the cost of a commercial ticket, it contributes to the corrosive public perception that members of Congress are more like the fat cats of Wall Street than they are like the rest of us.”

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Politico: Meet the people donating to Donald Trump’s campaign

Katy O’Donnell

But Trump lovers gave anyway — 63 people contributed $250 or more in the first two weeks after Trump announced. Ten of them have already “maxed out,” meaning they’ve given the legal contribution limit for a federal primary election, $2,700.

They span a wide political spectrum, counting in their ranks a three-time Democratic candidate for governor in Mississippi and a retired New Jersey trader who donated to Pat Buchanan. Trump contributors also span a different sort of spectrum, from a health supplement guru who sells smoothies “designed to sustain life indefinitely” to an undertaker to a sheep farmer to the former head of an industrial waste management company.

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