Daily Media Links 4/19: Vulnerable Senate Democrats see fundraising surge ahead of tough midterms, Trump Raised $107 Million for Inauguration, Doubling Record, and more…

In the News                                           

Philanthropy Magazine: President’s Note

By Adam Meyerson

If you are involved with a foundation, donor-advised fund, or other form of charitable giving, our mission at the Roundtable and our legislative arm the Alliance for Charitable Reform is to protect your freedom…

The Philanthropy Roundtable is also committed to protecting your right as an individual to give anonymously, a right Americans have enjoyed throughout our history. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1958 in NAACP v. Alabama that the right to give anonymously is fundamental to the freedom of association protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. As Karl Zinsmeister and Sean Parnell show in this issue of Philanthropy, this historic right is under attack now, including from the attorneys general of California and New York as well as state legislators of both parties across the nation. The Roundtable has filed amicus briefs in three important cases designed to confirm and build on the NAACP decision. We are working closely with organizations such as State Policy Network, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Center for Competitive Politics. And we hope that our friends in the progressive and social justice communities will join us in building a broad coalition to protect this fundamental freedom.

Political Parties                                          

More Soft Money Hard Law: CFI On the State of the Political Parties: Is It Working Out After All?

By Bob Bauer

Having assembled data to show that Super PACs aligned with party interests spent large sums of money in 2016, the CFI declares that there is no cause to “bemoan” the weakness of parties. Parties have “rebounded”: they “have found a way to fight back” after the reforms and Citizens United.

And how did this happen? On this point, CFI words its position delicately. The parties’ recovery can be attributed in part to the “law’s permeability.” The unrestricted funding and spending of Super PACs “looks much like the soft-money the formal parties accepted before the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).”   There are advantages and disadvantages to this development. On the plus side, the “shadow party” PACs don’t have to pretend to be “issue advertising” and can spend on direct advocacy of their candidates. But, more negatively, they have to set up as “independent” of candidates or the institutional parties and cannot coordinate their spending with them.

In this way, the argument over the state of parties takes a curious turn. The Super PACs are regularly criticized for undercutting the basic purposes of the reform law. Now the same legal evasions are touted as the source of strong parties. Is this a defense of McCain-Feingold or an answer to Citizens United?

Huffington Post: Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Turns Over Email List To DNC

By Sam Levine and Sam Stein

The list, provided as an in-kind contribution from the Hillary for America campaign organization, includes more than 10 million new names that the DNC did not have on its voter files, according to both Clinton and DNC aides. The contribution was valued as $3.5 million, according to data from the Federal Election Commission…

Obama’s win in 2008 had bolstered the party’s elected ranks. But his own outside group, Organizing for Action, attempted to play much of the traditional role of the DNC, fostering frustration within party ranks. National and state party officials worried that local races were neglected in favor of Obama-specific ones. And they chaffed that they were not given complete access to the OFA email list until 2015.

Clinton’s email list will allow the party and its state affiliates to more effectively target voters in the lead-up to the 2018 midterms. But the party still does not have the crown jewel of email lists: that collected by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, which has the names of millions of individuals who do not associate with the Democratic Party and were brought into the political process largely because of their affinity for the independent Vermont senator.

Candidates and Campaigns

Bloomberg: The Trump Effect Propels House Campaigns to Record Fundraising

By Bill Allison and John McCormick

Political polarization in Washington produced a fundraising record as donors to both parties flooded U.S. House campaigns with $96.1 million in the first quarter of 2017, according to an analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission.

That’s a 45 percent increase over the $66.2 million raised during the same period two years ago, the previous record. The maximum contribution amount to campaigns was the same during both periods. Republican incumbents and challengers raised $49.8 million, while Democrats pulled in $46.3 million.

Republican Donald Trump’s early actions as president have sparked a series of demonstrations and a surge of fundraising by groups on the left, but conservatives have also boosted their giving in the first months of the new administration.

“Heightened partisanship is good for fundraising,” said Michael Beckel, manager of research, investigations and policy at Issue One, a group that advocates limiting the role of money in politics. “Republicans and Democrats are trying to keep their donor bases active at the dawn of the Trump presidency.” 

USA Today: Vulnerable Senate Democrats see fundraising surge ahead of tough midterms

By Fredreka Schouten

Many vulnerable Senate Democrats saw their campaign donations soar during the first three months of the year, as they raced to demonstrate early financial strength ahead of the 2018 battle for the Senate.

The 10 Democratic incumbents up for re-election in states carried by President Trump collectively raised nearly $19 million between Jan. 1 and March 31, more than twice what they collected during the comparable period of their last Senate campaigns, a USA TODAY tally of newly released figures shows.

There will be no shortage of money on the Republican side, either.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $7 million in March alone, its highest monthly haul in a non-election year, party officials said. And new Federal Election Commission filings show that several House Republicans considering bids against vulnerable Senate Democrats have assembled massive war chests in the first three months of the year.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia’s 6th District race heads to runoff following drama-filled night

By Tamar Hallerman, Greg Bluestein, and Jim Galloway

Outside groups poured millions into the nationally-watched contest, which was widely viewed as an early indicator of Trump’s popularity as he closed out his first 100 days in office…

Earlier Tuesday evening, Handel mentioned that Ossoff’s lead is “what happens when you have $9 million, most of it from out of Georgia.”

Let’s take a quick look at that money, courtesy of the nonprofit Issue One, which advocates for campaign finance reform:

Ossoff indeed reported fundraising a staggering $8.3 million earlier this month, as we previously reported. Issue One estimates that nearly two-thirds of the money raised across all 18 candidates in the 6th District race went to Ossoff, and two-thirds of that dough was from small donors.

Separately, outside groups have poured just shy of $8 million into the race, roughly 60 percent of which from conservative groups attacking Ossoff, Issue One says. A third of all outside money spent in the race came from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a D.C. super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The Hill: Ossoff to GOP ahead of likely Ga. runoff: ‘Bring it on’

By Ben Kasimar

As he addressed his supporters just before midnight on Tuesday, Ossoff celebrated his performance as “a victory for the ages.”

“We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations. We are changing the world and your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country,” he said.

“There is no amount of dark money, super-PAC, negative advertising that can overcome real grassroots energy like this. So bring it on because we are courageous, we are humble and we know how to fight.”…

Democrats coalesced around Ossoff in the hopes that a victory in the red district would send a message to President Trump and House Republicans about the cost of supporting the president, whose approval rating has hit historic lows while in office. But with Democrats unified around one candidate, that allowed Republicans to hammer Ossoff with millions of dollars in attack ads.

Washington Post: Perriello’s Va. governor bid boosted by several big donors, including George Soros

By Fenit Nirappil and Gregory S. Schneider

Perriello’s haul was buoyed by several massive campaign contributions, with half of his money coming from four donors, while Northam was barred from fundraising during the 46-day General Assembly session that ended in late February…

Republican groups on Tuesday criticized Perriello for accepting the large donations, citing the candidate’s frequent bashing of Virginia’s system of unlimited campaign giving. A spokesman for Perriello said the largest donations come from people familiar with the candidate’s advocacy for progressive causes, not corporations or individuals with business before the state…

After the filing period, Perriello was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the Our Revolution political group that grew out of Sanders’s failed presidential bid, providing access to a national donor network of progressive activists.

Overall, 57 percent of Perriello’s money came from outside Virginia, compared with 11 percent out-of-state donations for Northam, according to VPAP. Perriello reported about 5,200 total donors, compared with about 11,000 total donors for Northam in the latest period, according to VPAP’s analysis of the numbers. 

Trump Administration

New York Times: Trump Raised $107 Million for Inauguration, Doubling Record

By Nicholas Fandos

President Trump raised twice as much money for his inauguration festivities as any previous president-elect in history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors and large corporations eager to woo the nation’s new chief executive in the days after his unexpected victory.

Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday showed the contributions from corporate executives, lobbyists and businesses, as well as small donors, totaled $107 million. The previous record was held by President Barack Obama, who raised $53 million for his 2009 inauguration…

Inaugural committees face few of the regulations that limit campaigns in what they can raise and how they can go about raising it. In practice, that has left it up to each administration to determine its own restrictions…

Mr. Trump appears to have set comparatively few limits for his inauguration. His team said it would not accept donations from registered federal lobbyists nor would it solicit corporate gifts over $1 million. But it did not put a cap on what it would take from individuals.

The States

Denver Post: Black hole in campaign finance sucking all the light out of politics 

By Megan Schrader

Colorado’s media try to fact-check political statements, especially those from candidates. But operating in the darkness are third-party shadow groups engaged in the “fake news” of fliers, advertisements and online videos, ads and posts. There’s little accountability for these groups now, but there’s hope.

Colorado House Bill 1262 is an opportunity for lawmakers here to plug (at least partially) the black hole…

Colorado law currently requires entities, even if they aren’t required to register as political committees, to almost immediately disclose spending on electioneering communication, any kind of communique (broadcast, print, mailed, etc.) that refers to a candidate within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election.

House Majority Leader KC Becker points out that leaves a small gap – between June 29 and Sept. 8 – when campaigns are still in full force but disclosures aren’t required…

Republicans voted against Becker’s bill in the House when it passed last week, and Republicans in the Senate have yet to assign it to a committee for a hearing, which bodes poorly for the bill’s chances.

Ravallie Republic: Montana House rejects bill to raise campaign contributions 

By Associated Press

A bill to raise campaign contribution limits for state candidates and allow decisions on campaign finance violations to go to mediation has failed on a tie vote in the Montana House.

The House rejected the bill on a 50-50 vote on Tuesday.

The bill by Republican Sen. Tom Richmond would have increased how much money candidates can receive from political parties, committees and individuals.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl has previously said the bill also would have diminished his office’s independent authority to oversee campaign finance and reporting laws.

Besides adding an outside mediator to the campaign violation proceedings, the bill would have eliminated the commissioner’s ability to initiate criminal cases against candidates. Motl says it also would have added duties to the commissioner’s staff that would reduce the office’s ability to investigate cases.

KMBZ Kansas City: Little attention paid to Missouri campaign finance bill 

By Bill Grady

A state senator from Kansas City says he is worried more dark money could make its way into Missouri politics.

The issue of questionable campaign cash raised its head recently when Gov. Eric Greitens accepted millions in PAC money. 

A senate bill has been filed to require financial disclosure from non-profits that support political candidates. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.

The problem of dark money could grow, said Ryan Silvey, a Republican.

“If we don’t have any movement to change this, now that the governor has made it so profile, probably what you’re going to see is a proliferation of them, even more than there are today,” Silvey said.

The financial disclosure bill is sponsored by another Republican, Rob Schaaf of St Joseph. 

Greitens essentially ran on a “clean up the system” theme, and some critics, even in his own party, say he is not “walking the walk.”

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