Daily Media Links 2/29: Jeb Bush’s ambitions paid dividends for GOP admaker over the years, To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses, and more…

In the News

Daily Caller: Clinton’s Swiss Ally Gave Big Bucks To U.S. Campaigns

Richard Pollock

Hansjorg Wyss, a billionaire Swiss citizen and multi-million dollar Clinton Foundation donor, gave 30 contributions to American political campaigns over a nine-year period, according to an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation…

Former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith told TheDCNF that if Wyss gave the donations knowingly and willingly, “the FEC is pretty aggressive in referring this kind of violation to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.”

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Independent Groups

Washington Post: Jeb Bush’s ambitions paid dividends for GOP admaker over the years

Matea Gold

Murphy’s work for Bush over the years underscores how a long-term relationship with a politician can pay dividends for a political consultant, even in defeat. That’s particularly true in the current era of independent super PACs, which can scoop up unlimited donations from individuals and corporations without having to answer to a candidate about how they use the funds.

Right to Rise’s approach will be studied as a test of the kind of fiscal accountability that donors demanded after the 2012 election, when Republican super PACs and other groups unsuccessfully plowed hundreds of millions into costly television campaigns seeking to prevent President Obama’s reelection.

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More Soft Money Hard Law: More Complaints about Super PACs

Bob Bauer

David Frum’s thoughts about Super PACs are a useful reminder that not all the objections to these PACs are the same, not all fall within the usual range of complaints about bought-and-sold government or deepening political inequality.  Frum suggests that PACs may be victimizing donors and suffering abuse at the hands of their consultants, and that candidates, behind claims of independence, can and do disclaim all responsibility for these organizations’ behavior.  This is a set of concerns a few steps removed from the once dominant worry that these PACs would swing elections.

This perspective opens up a discussion of whether Super PACs can be brought within reasonable regulation, to deal with specific problems, without limiting the goal to the difficult and contested one of limiting independent spending.

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Bloomberg: Can Ted Cruz’s Super-PAC Alliance Save Him on Super Tuesday?

Steven Yaccino

While it remains unknown whether their ultimate response will find traction with voters Tuesday, Keep the Promise offers a potential model for like-minded donors willing to share not just a name, but also data, strategy and resources without losing control. It is a response to donors feeling they have little to show for giving to outside groups such as  Karl Rove’s American Crossroads in 2012 or Right to Rise, the now defunct SuperPAC that supported Jeb Bush’s candidacy this year.

“You’ve got many of these operations that have come out of how blistered, burnt and betrayed donors felt after the 2012 cycle, where many felt lied to and deceived,” said Conway.

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Politico: Trump faces wave of big-money attacks

Kenneth P. Vogel

It’s a campaign that operatives and Republican Party leaders had been encouraging for weeks, and they’ve expressed frustration that none of the deep-pocketed groups on the right had been stepping up to wage it…

There was also quite a bit of wariness from major donors to fund attacks on Trump, which they feared could backfire. Not only has Trump demonstrated a willingness to call out his rivals’ major donors by name, but he’s also based his largely self-funded campaign on assertions that ― unlike his rivals ― he’s independent from deep-pocketed donors and interest groups that he argues have hijacked the system.

It’s unclear whether the wave of ads launched Friday ― combined with Rubio’s sudden aggressiveness towards Trump ― will be too little, too late.

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American Prospect: When Super PACs Go Dark: LLCs Fuel Secret Spending

Eliza Newlin Carney

But in this election, super PACs and their backers are proving increasingly adept at skirting the federal disclosure rules, particularly through the use of limited liability companies, or LLCs—a type of business entity that leaves no paper trail and gives political players cover to hide their identities…

The second complaint involves $500,000 donated by another mysterious corporation, the obscurely-named IGX LLC, to a pro-Rubio super PAC known as Conservative Solutions. An AP investigation identified the company’s owner as Brooklyn investor Andrew Duncan, who told the wire service that he “had used IGX to mask the donation because he was worried about reprisals.” As Ryan notes: “That seems to be an admission of a violation of federal law.”

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Dangers of Disclosure

New York Times: To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses

Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman

With his enormous online platform, Mr. Trump has badgered and humiliated those who have dared to cross him during the presidential race. He has latched onto their vulnerabilities, mocking their physical characteristics, personality quirks and, sometimes, their professional setbacks. He has made statements, like his claims about Ms. Jacobus, that have later been exposed as false or deceptive — only after they have ricocheted across the Internet.

Many recipients of Mr. Trump’s hectoring are fellow politicians, with paid staff members to help them defend themselves. But for others, the experience of being targeted by Mr. Trump is nightmarish and a form of public degradation that they believe is intended to scare off adversaries by making an example of them…

“I’ve never encountered an American politician at this level that people are literally afraid of — donors are afraid of him,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, a magazine that has criticized Mr. Trump. He added, “If it was Hillary Clinton that was doing it, the entire right-wing world would erupt in outrage, understandably and correctly.”

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Campaign Spending Effectiveness

Standard Speaker: Jeb Bush’s failure shows money can’t buy an election

L.A. Tarone

 “It is true that winning candidates typically spend more on their campaigns than do their opponents, but it is also true that successful candidates possess attributes that are useful for both raising money and winning votes (e.g., charisma, popular policy positions, etc.),” he continued. “This ‘reverse casualty’ means that campaign spending is potentially as much a symptom of electoral success as its cause.”

Milyo concludes, “People just aren’t that malleable; and for that reason, campaign spending is far less important in determining election outcomes than many people believe (or fear).”

So, what does all that say about the plethora of campaign laws enacted since Watergate? Not much. That’s because there’s nothing good to say about them. They’ve been useless exercises which have produced nothing of value whatsoever and chipped away at the First Amendment in the process.

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MyNewsLA: Oscar winner Adam McKay calls for campaign finance reform

Hoa Quach

The director of “The Big Short” took the opportunity Sunday night after scoring an Academy Award win for best adapted screenplay to make a plea for campaign finance reform.

“We’ve got to stop the money,” said first-time Oscar nominee Adam McKay, who shared the screenwriting honor with co-writer Charles Randolph. “When you elect people who get money from big oil and banks, that’s who you’re voting for.”…

The writer-director, until recently better known for teaming with Will Ferrell on comedies like “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” also gave host Chris Rock a thumbs-up.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Dallas Morning News: By taking on the GOP establishment, Cruz loses out on its money

Tom Benning

The presidential candidate — who’s burnished an anti-establishment appeal — has made only middling progress in winning over that slice of wealthy home-state givers. That trend — which could soften Cruz’s punch in Texas — is evident in an analysis of campaign finance data by The Dallas Morning News.

Of the nearly 700 top home-state donors to David Dewhurst, Cruz’s establishment-backed foe in his 2012 Senate race, Cruz’s White House bid has won over just 8 percent of that mainstream crowd — which includes affluent Texans such as Dallas’ Harlan Crow and Ray Hunt, who have not donated to Texas’ junior senator.

The overall impact of that trend remains to be seen, given that Cruz has developed his own powerful Texas donor network to fill up his war chest many times over. Plus, donor strength is hardly a reliable indicator of success at the polls — a reality that has played out big-time this year.

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Washington Free Beacon: Feds Flag Thousands of Illegal Bernie Sanders Contributions

Lachlan Markay

The FEC sent a letter to the Sanders campaign earlier this month flagging an additional 1,316 “excessive, prohibited, and impermissible contributions” in the fourth quarter of 2015…

Some of the campaign’s legal problems stem from enthusiasm for Sanders’ candidacy from foreign nationals, many of whom have publicly revealed donations to the campaign in violation of U.S. election laws.

“I am German, live in Germany and just donated to Bernie Sanders’ campaign on www.BernieSanders.com simply using my credit card—Is this illegal in any way?” asked a user on the website Quora.

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The States

New York Times: G.O.P. and Democrats at Odds Over Dismissal of Perry Indictment in Texas

Manny Fernandez

Mr. Perry’s lawyers, the special prosecutor and legal experts were as divided in their views of the court’s decision as the court itself, whose eight judges involved in the case issued one majority ruling, two concurring opinions and two strongly worded dissents. The ruling was 6 to 2, with six Republicans deciding for Mr. Perry, and one Republican and one Democrat dissenting. Some saw political motivations in the dismissal while others did not.

“Everything about this case is unusual,” said Shannon Edmonds, a former prosecutor who is the director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, which represents thousands of local prosecutors. “It’s a once-in-a-century type of case.”

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Northwest Indiana Times: House rejects call to restore campaign finance limits

Dan Carden

The Republican-controlled chamber voted 62-31 Thursday to reject the addition of a fourth topic to Senate Joint Resolution 14, which requests Congress call a state-led convention for proposing constitutional amendments restricting federal spending, federal power generally and imposing congressional term limits.

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