Daily Media Links 10/29: Rubio casts mainstream media as super PAC for Clinton, Democrats, F.E.C. Lawyers Say Common Tactics by ‘Super PACs’ Should Not Be Allowed, and more…

Independent Groups

Washington Times: Rubio casts mainstream media as super PAC for Clinton, Democrats

Seth McLaughlin

The rise of super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money on behalf of a presidential candidate but cannot coordinate with their campaigns, have come under fire from members of both parties — including Donald J. Trump, who described them in the debate as a “disaster” and a “scam.”

 “The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC, it is called the mainstream media,” Mr. Rubio said, before panning the way the mainstream media has handled Mrs. Clinton.

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NPR: 10 Best Moments From Speaker John Boehner’s Exit Interview

Susan Davis

  1. On the 2016 race

Boehner, however, said he plans to stay out of the 2016 presidential race. He will not endorse a candidate, and he declined to weigh in his party’s field of candidates.

He blamed the coarsening of U.S. politics on the rapid expansion and access to media in the internet age, and to campaign finance laws that have changed the way campaigns are run. If he could change on thing, he said, it would be to allow limitless campaign donations, but require disclosure for every dollar spent.

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USA Today:  Former lawmakers join campaign-finance fight

Fredreka Schouten

The ReFormers Caucus, as the group of more than 100 former officeholders is known, plans to kick off its effort Nov. 5 with an event on Capitol Hill. It’s all part of a push by a group called Issue One to put the spotlight on overhauling the system.

Goals include boosting small donations to campaigns, finding ways to restrict political contributions from lobbyists and unmasking secret contributions made to tax-exempt groups that are active in politics.

The boldfaced political names in the group range from former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman to Leon Panetta, a former California congressman who also ran the CIA and the Defense Department. Some, such as Daschle, have ties to the lobbying business themselves.

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New York Times: F.E.C. Lawyers Say Common Tactics by ‘Super PACs’ Should Not Be Allowed

Eric Lichtblau

In the draft of a legal opinion made public on Wednesday, the F.E.C. lawyers concluded that politicians can be bound by fund-raising restrictions even if they insist they have not decided whether to run and were simply “testing the waters” for a possible campaign. A politician cannot get around those restrictions simply by using a super PAC or another organization as a proxy to raise money, the lawyers concluded.

The draft opinion did not examine the activities of any particular candidate. But the issue of politicians’ aggressively “testing the waters” without declaring their candidacies became a contentious one earlier this year; campaign watchdog groups charged that a number of politicians — including the Republicans Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker and a Democrat, Martin O’Malley — had abused the law, raising many millions of dollars through outside groups before they declared themselves candidates.

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More Soft Money Hard Law: Independent Expenditure Reporting, Made Simple

Bob Bauer

Now the FEC is being asked to consider changing course, and to have the national expenditure reported as what it is – – a national expenditure.

This seems straightforward enough. It also makes for more accurate disclosure.  Only by stretching the point can a committee’s independent national cable buy this year be considered for reporting purposes to influence the California primary next year.  It requires the committee to report that it is active in primaries in which it has no interest or in which the candidate it supports or opposes has no prospects of winning or losing.

The Commission seems unsure how to proceed.  No one seems especially taken with the current reporting rule.  Some Commissioners apparently believe that a rulemaking, never an expeditious exercise, is required to address the proposed change.  There is always the possibility that the Commission could make the change on an interim basis while the full rulemaking is pending, but it is not clear that there is agreement on that approach, either.

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Wisconsin ‘John Doe’

Wisconsin Watchdog: Target of political John Doe targets reluctant senators in robocall campaign

M.D. Kittle

Long-time conservative activist Eric O’Keefe, a director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, is featured in the recorded messages.

It is interesting that O’Keefe, so long targeted in the unconstitutional John Doe, is now freely exercising his constitutional rights as a citizen to engage in political speech.

In the recorded message, he notes the GAB operated a “secret, unconstitutional investigation of conservative organizations that spoke out during the Act 10 debates” involving Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms to public employee collective bargaining.

“GAB investigators planned armed raids on people’s homes. In one case, a 16-year-old boy who was home alone was told that he could not even call his parents,” O’Keefe says in the message.

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Corporate Disclosure

Bloomberg: Oracle Sued by N.Y. Pension Over Political-Giving Disclosure

Freeman Klopott

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, seeking greater disclosure of corporate political donations, sued Oracle Corp., demanding that the world’s largest database maker reveal its political spending records.

DiNapoli, a Democrat backed by labor unions, has been using his position as the sole trustee of New York’s $184.5 billion pension fund to press corporations to make their donations public after the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United allowed companies to make political gifts without limitations.

Much of DiNapoli’s pressure applied through the fund has been in the form of shareholder proposals that have led to changes in companies from U.S. Steel Corp. to Southwest Airlines Co. and Harley-Davidson Inc. In 2013, he settled with Qualcomm Inc. in a suit similar to the one filed against Oracle in Delaware on Tuesday.

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Candidates and Campaigns

CNBC: Campaign spending: Money can’t guarantee polling points

John W. Schoen

Last week’s abrupt cost-cutting by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the clear Republican fundraising front-runner, is the latest sign that money doesn’t necessarily buy support. Commanding only 8 percentage points among registered voters in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, Bush is in fifth place among a crowded GOP field. With nearly $30 million in campaign and outside spending (as of Sept. 30), that works out to paying about $3.5 million per polling point.

Compare that return on campaign spending with Donald Trump, who has reported less than $6 million in spending and drew 25 percent of the response in the NBC/WSJ poll. That works out to about $225,000 per polling point.

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Washington Post: Nine.pre-debate questions with Rand Paul

David Weigel

WP: Why have you struggled to find big dollar donors for a super PAC, though? You’ve spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley; you’ve opened an office there; the donations don’t seem to be coming.

RP: I think we do get support there, particularly among the youth of Silicon Valley, more than the establishment. It sounds like a little bit of an oxymoron to say the establishment in Silicon Valley, but they have been there a while. Look, historically, the money’s been 9-1 Democrat. I think we can break into it more as the nominee. It’s difficult now because most of them are registered Democrats. If you ask if they’re comfortable with regulations, they kind of describe themselves as libertarians.

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Bloomberg: The Sanders Brain Trust’s Plan to Beat Hillary Clinton

John Heilemann

The Sanders brain trust says it plans not to run anything that could be even vaguely construed as a negative ad—and fervently hopes to stick to that plan. But both Devine and Weaver leave open the possibility if the Clinton side provokes them. “We’ll just have to see how the race develops,” Weaver tells me. “If they unleash David Brock again on us, use their super-PAC on a candidate that doesn’t have a super-PAC, we’ll have to figure out what to do.”

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Huffington Post: Let Larry Speak

Michael Golden

Now imagine this: the national political party you’re affiliated with won’t let you speak. Not in the national debates that so many voters focus in on during the presidential primary contest. They won’t give you a lectern, and they won’t even provide you with a rational explanation. Think of all of the work and sacrifice that you and your team and your volunteers have put in – and for what? To get a public slap in the face and a stifling of the expression that you’ve sought to make clear to the broader electorate: that once in the White House, you will begin to drain the swamp of the dirty dollar influence of big money politics. And why is it that you, Larry, are being denied access? Is it because not every American knows your name yet? Is it because you’re considered a “fringe” candidate? By who? And why?

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The States

Madison.com: Senate Republicans take cautious tack on GAB, campaign finance bills

Mark Sommerhauser

The GOP-controlled Assembly voted largely on party lines to pass the bills last week, less than two weeks after they were introduced.

But the Senate, also under Republican control, isn’t rushing to get the bills to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker.

“I don’t think there’s any sense of urgency, at least on my part,” Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said Tuesday. “I’m still studying the options.”

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Independent Journal Review: TX House May Have Taken a Swing at Free Speech, But They Couldn’t Stop the Play Already in Motion

Virginia Kruta

Hidden cameras have caught babysitters and daycare workers abusing children. Dash-cams have caught police officers brutalizing suspects. And regular citizens with cell phones have caught politicians in many a compromising situation.

The Texas legislature recently took steps to thwart the latter. SB 19, the “Ethics Bill,” included an amendment regarding oral communications that would make it illegal to record legislators in the capitol without their knowledge…

While SB 19 initially passed the Senate, several amendments were added before the bill passed the Texas House several months ago. Upon review, the Senate failed to pass the revised bill — and videos are still being released.

One amendment to SB 19 that gained particular opposition would have required legislators to disclose “dark money”

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