Daily Media Links 7/1: Changing Lanes: Need for Disclosure Limits, PAC Contributions Nearly Half of 2016 Campaign Money, The FEC has no business judging Fox News’s debate, and more…

Dangers of Disclosure

RealClearPolitics: Changing Lanes: Need for Disclosure Limits

Kimberley Strassel

Kimberley Strassel discusses her book, The Intimidation Game.


Independent Groups

Bloomberg BNA: PAC Contributions Nearly Half of 2016 Campaign Money

Madi Alexander

While the share of total contributions going to PACs has increased sharply in the current cycle, the analysis of FEC figures showed, the shares of total campaign contributions going directly to congressional candidates and political party committees in 2016 reached their lowest levels for this point in a presidential election cycle since 1992. Just 16 percent of total campaign contributions went to party committees and 19 percent went to congressional candidates.

Money given directly to presidential candidates, meanwhile, accounted for 18 percent of total campaign contributions through 15 months of the 2016 cycle.

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CRP: Jeb’s magnificent super PAC: an autopsy

Alec Goodwin

From mid-June 2015, when Bush announced he was running for president, to Feb. 20, when he announced he was quitting the race, Right to Rise spent more on traditional ad buys – TV, radio, and print – than on any other expenditure: $77.3 million, or about 89 percent of Right to Rise’s total independent expenditures as reported to the FEC; most of that went for TV.

Some argued that the ads were of a lower quality than the ads run by the Bush campaign itself. It was certainly true that Right to Rise paid a lot more to run the spots, since campaigns — but not super PACs — must be charged lower rates by TV stations.

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New York Times: Donald Trump Assails U.S. Chamber of Commerce Over Trade

Nick Corasaniti

Mr. Trump first responded to the group on Twitter Wednesday morning, but he escalated the attacks at his rally here, saying the Chamber was “controlled totally by various groups of people that don’t care about you whatsoever.”

A spokeswoman for the Chamber, Blair Latoff Holmes, defended its position on trade.

“The U.S. Chamber represents American businesses of all sizes from across the country, who recognize that free trade agreements, like the T.P.P., are an important way to accelerate economic growth and spur job creation in the U.S.,” she said.

“This is not personal,” Ms. Holmes added. “It’s not election politics. It’s smart policy.”

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Washington Post: The FEC has no business judging Fox News’s debate

Eric Wemple

So just what happened here? Based on Everson’s complaint and the factual record, commissioners considered three separate motions on the Everson-Fox News proceeding. The first motion proposed a finding that Fox News had violated the law — a finding that would have resulted in enforcement actions against the network. That motion failed by a 4-2 margin — with FEC commissioners Ann Ravel (a Democrat) and Steven Walther (an independent who caucuses with the commission’s Democrats) in the Fox-News-screwed-up minority. Next came a motion from Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, which credited Fox News with doing the best it could with an unruly GOP roster. “The field included an unanticipated number of viable candidates with only negligible room to differentiate among reasonable contenders,” argued the motion. “In the face of these difficulties, as Respondent notes, it sought to broaden rather than restrict participation in its debates, an event that was the subject of exceptional public interest. In the proper ordering of its priorities and limited resources, the Commission dismisses this allegation.”

That motion failed by a vote of 5-1.

A third motion followed. This was a broad proposal that would have found no wrongdoing by Fox News as well as affirming that the FEC has no business whatsoever mucking around in debate logistics. It drew a 3-3 stalemate, as Weintraub voted with Ravel and Walther against the three Republicans on the commission. The deadlock means that no action will be taken against Fox News. In a so-called statement of reasons, the three Republican commissioners — Lee Goodman, Matthew Petersen and Caroline Hunter — wrote in part, “This matter raises a broader question: If, as the Federal Communications Commission and a bipartisan majority of the Commission previously concluded, a news organization’s sponsorship of a candidate debate is news coverage, then can the Commission ever lawfully punish a news organization for hosting a candidate debate based only on the Commission’s disagreement with the news organization’s selection of candidates to participate in the debate or the structure of the debate? We think not.”

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Political Parties

American Prospect: Don’t Blame the Voters

Eliza Newlin Carney

As I have argued before, parties already enjoy vastly expanded fundraising powers, thanks in part to a measure dramatically lifting limits for special party accounts that was slipped into an omnibus spending bill in 2014. Under these new rules, an individual may give as much as $1.6 million to a political party in a single election cycle—hardly chump change. Rauch’s argument that political money reforms have weakened parties and “middlemen” might be more convincing if those restrictions had actually been enforced. But near-total paralysis at both the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service has made the campaign-finance system, in practical terms, more deregulated today than at any time since Watergate.

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Effects of Campaign Spending

Montana Standard: In politics, deep pockets help but can’t assure victory

Bobby Caina Calvan, Associated Press

While moneyed candidates can dispense with the chore of fundraising by writing themselves checks, self-funded campaigns don’t always translate to victory at the ballot box.

“The candidates who rely very heavily on their own money to fund their campaigns have a tendency to lose a lot more often than those who have to raise money from their constituents,” said Denise Roth Barber, managing director of the Helena-based National Institute on Money in State Politics.

“Even though it’s a lot more work, you’re engaging with the electorate, who in turn is going to be voting for you” she said. “If you don’t have to do that, and all you have to do really is buy a bunch radio ads and TV spots and mailers, you’re engaging less with your electorate.”

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Washington Post: The GOP is not unfairly targeting the IRS (LTE)

Christian Gangitano

The increases in undue regulatory authority, in unbalanced agency scrutiny and in unwarranted investigations into organizations in full compliance with tax law are not advanced by the senator with the interests of American citizens in mind but in the nefarious hope of decreasing the possibility of Republican candidates succeeding in elections through an informed vote from their respective constituents.

The good people of Rhode Island deserve a senator who will selflessly serve on their behalf, not one preoccupied with preserving and promoting his power while attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of other states by further swelling the federal government. It seems that this concept has become lost on Mr. Whitehouse and other New England senators in recent weeks. 

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Mother Jones: Trump Slams DC Lobbyists But Expands Their Influence Within His Campaign

Russ Choma

The growing team of lobbyists working for Trump shows that certain parts of K Street—an important piece of the GOP establishment—are happy to jump on the Trump train. This is no surprise, since helping a GOP nominee is likely good for their business. Yet the message Trump sends by retaining and depending upon these guns for hire is that his outrage against the mercenaries who toil for corporate clients and special interests is highly selective. Trump is quite willing to embrace members of Washington’s money-grubbing, special-interest elite class, as long as they advance one particular interest: him.

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Vox: There are too many lawyers in politics. Here’s what to do about it.

Lee Drutman

Carnes has done considerable research examining the consequences of members’ backgrounds. And it turns out that members’ backgrounds do shape their perspectives. Writes Carnes: “Former businesspeople in government tend to think like businesspeople, former lawyers tend to think like lawyers, and (the few) former blue-collar workers tend to think like blue-collar workers.”

But there are very few blue-collar workers in politics. They don’t run, because, unlike rich people, they can’t raise the money. And they can’t afford to take time off to run, either.

These are not new problems. Carnes sent me the following graph, which shows that workers have always been underrepresented.

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Candidates and Campaigns

NBC News: After Saying He Forgave Loans to Campaign, Trump Won’t Release Proof

Ari Melber and Alexandra Jaffe

In response to NBC News’ reporting, Trump himself insisted Thursday on Twitter that the move was a “done deal.”

“The very dishonest @NBCNews refuses to accept the fact that I have forgiven my $50 million loan to my campaign. Done deal!” he tweeted.

He added in another tweet: “I have self funded my winning primary campaign with an approx. $50 million loan. I have totally terminated the loan!”

But that same day, the campaign again refused to offer evidence of Trump’s claims.

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Bloomberg: Clinton Spending Roughly $500,000 a Day on TV Ads, Trump Zero

John McCormick

The Clinton campaign advertising shows no signs of tapering off. Among some of her bigger advertising reservations set to air during the first two weeks of July are $2.7 million on national cable and satellite television targeting specific markets and states, $1.1 million in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market and $853,000 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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The States

KBZK Bozeman: Montana political parties can spend freely on campaigns – here’s how

Mike Dennison

Montana Republicans have been calling it the “Bullock loophole” – a state rule that allows the state Democratic Party to spend thousands of dollars on staff that work on Gov. Steve Bullock’s re-election campaign.

This year, the Montana Democratic Party has reported spending at least $124,000 on a half-dozen staffers working the Bullock campaign.

But the state’s top campaign cop, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, says it’s not a loophole – and that the practice has been open to any political party in Montana since 2009.

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