Daily Media Links 10/16: Campaign 2016’s Unlikely Tycoons: Small Donors Fuel Insurgents, FBI raid adds new layer to Paul family scandal, and more…

October 16, 2015   •  By Brian Walsh   •  
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In the News

NBC News: Small-Dollar Donors Power Insurgent Candidates From Both Parties

Michael Beckel and Carrie Levine

David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit that advocates for fewer campaign finance regulations, noted that small-dollar donors can add up to “serious money” over the course of a campaign.

“Dollar for dollar, small-dollar donors are worth more than big-dollar donors,” Keating said. “Those are the donors that can keep giving over and over.”

Keating added that such donors are also likely to turn out to vote for a candidate, and possibly volunteer as well.

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Daily Caller: Government Shouldn’t Have The Power To Ban Books – Or Movies, For That Matter

Luke Wachob

The exchange continued as Alito pressed the government to answer whether a 500-page book with just one line urging people to vote for a candidate could be banned. The government argued that if it was published with corporate funds, then yes, it could be banned near an election.

Suddenly, the stakes of the case rose sky-high. Barnes & Noble is a corporation. Simon & Schuster is a corporation. The New York Times is a corporation. Could they all be prevented from publishing or distributing content about political candidates?

Recognizing the danger of such broad government power, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United. Now, media corporations and wealthy individuals no longer hold a monopoly on funding political films, advertising, and other modes of communication. Thanks to Citizens United and subsequent rulings by lower courts, anyone can easily form a group that accepts contributions from like-minded people to make their political voice heard.

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Bloomberg: Campaign 2016’s Unlikely Tycoons: Small Donors Fuel Insurgents

Zachary Mider

“There are just more small donors in the action, because they think this time they’re in control,” said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster in New York who runs a super-PAC supporting Cruz. “It’s a contest between electability and electricity, and electricity is winning.”

Technology is transforming the election, allowing candidates to turn an attention-grabbing debate performance or a viral sound-bite into millions of dollars in a matter of hours with the help of social media and smartphones. Carson said he raised $1 million within 24 hours of his appearance at a Republican debate in September, and that donations poured in at a similar rate later in the month when he declared that a Muslim shouldn’t be president. Sanders’s campaign said he raised $1.3 million in four hours after his first debate appearance.

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Campaign Finance Enforcement

MSNBC: FBI raid adds new layer to Paul family scandal

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow reports on an FBI raid on a house in Virginia in connection with a peculiar burglary, and the fascinating story connecting the raid to federal indictments of members of the political operation Rand Paul inherited from his father’s campaign.


Independent Groups

ThinkProgress: How The Black Lives Matter PAC Differs From The Movement It’s Named After

Josh Israel

The PAC’s aims are ambitious. “We want to spent money on education materials, candidate-based materials,” Murdock explained. “A lot of voters go into the voting booth, care nothing about those judges…the systems of justice that oppress them, that produce tickets whenever they walk,” he said, referring to the notoriously predatory ticketing practices that have disproportionately impacted people of color in numerous St. Louis county municipalities. According to Murdock, the group plans to start in Missouri and neighboring Illinois, and then build a national network from there.

And unlike the BLM network, Murdock expects the Black Lives Matter PAC will endorse political candidates at the local and federal level.

How will it raise the money needed to build a national organization? Murdock said he plans to ask professional athletes. “It’s good, since they have capital,” he explained, adding that “money is starting to come in” already. The group has not yet been required to file any campaign finance disclosure reports.

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Dangers of Disclosure

Motherboard: GamerGaters Are Targeting People Who Were Victims of the Patreon Hack

Kari Paul

Crowdfunding site Patreon was hacked early this month, exposing users’ names, emails, and addresses. Now, one woman with a campaign on the site says GamerGate trolls have doxxed her Patreon backers, republishing their leaked personal information and targeting them online.

Developer Randi Harper founded the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to creating open source anti-harassment tools, and has been funding it on Patreon. She said donators to her campaign, one of the more popular on the site, had their information singled out and posted to pastebin, a site used to store plain text, after the hack.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Wall Street Journal: Presidential Candidates Burn Through Cash Quickly, FEC Filings Show

Rebecca Ballhaus

The 2016 presidential candidates in both parties are burning through their cash about 25% faster than in prior elections, despite the expanded role of super PACs that have collectively raised hundreds of millions of dollars to back their campaigns, new disclosures show.

For current and former candidates who had released fundraising details as of Thursday evening, ahead of a midnight Federal Election Commission deadline, their campaigns had spent an average of 67% of the funds they raised this year through Sept. 30. During the same period in the past two elections, the average burn rate was 54%, according to analysis by research firm Echelon Insights.

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New York Daily News: Jeb Bush brings in $13.4M, a mediocre haul for the one-time GOP front-runner

Cameron Joseph

Jeb Bush brought in $13.4 million in the last three months, a mediocre haul following a rough few months for the one-time GOP front-runner.

Bush’s haul is less than the $20 million Ben Carson’s campaign says he brought in. And while he outpaced the other candidates whose numbers have rolled out ahead of the midnight Thursday deadline to file with the Federal Election Commission, he’s been spending a lot faster and has less cash left in the bank.

Bush has $10.3 million cash on hand, less than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ($13.5 million), Carson ($11.5 million) and Rubio ($11 million).

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Bloomberg: Clinton Campaign Applies 2008 Spending Lessons to Try to Defeat Sanders

Tim Higgins and Jennifer Epstein

On an inflation-adjusted basis, her spending fell almost 1 percent to $26 million in the third quarter compared to the same period eight years ago. Nonetheless, her “burn rate” is higher: During the third quarter of 2007, Clinton spent 81 cents of every dollar she raised. This time around she spent almost 86 cents.

That’s because, for all the cuts Clinton has made on travel, consultants, and events compared to eight years ago, her advertising costs have soared. She spent $3.39 million on media buying, $2.66 million on online advertising, and $2.53 million in direct marketing, according to the campaign finance report she filed Thursday at the Federal Election Commission. While her report doesn’t break out details about her media buys, Kantar Media’s CMAG data estimates that Clinton spent $3.5 million on broadcast TV ads in August and September, which compares to $1.7 million eight years ago.

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National Journal: Carson Rakes in Cash, Spends Big on Mail and Fundraising

S.V. Dáte

Direct mail firms, email marketers, and fundrais­ng consultants for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a big third quarter this year, grossing $11.6 million, according to new Federal Election Commission filings.

Carson’s presidential campaign did well, too, netting $9 million in usable contributions after accounting for those fundraising costs.

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Business Insider: Hats and t-shirts are a top campaign expense for Donald Trump


The Trump campaign shelled out $825,000 on the logo-emblazoned gear that he sells on a website and routinely tosses to supporters at his rock concert-like campaign events.

His next biggest line item was for flights on his personal 757 jet: more than $700,000.

The finance report is just the latest illustration of how, when it comes to the 2016 presidential election, Trump is breaking with tradition.

In typical presidential campaigns, top expenditures are usually payroll, mailings and consultants.

But those items did not feature largely on Trump’s report. The filing, made with the Federal Election Commission, contained no line item for payroll at all.

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The States

Wisconsin Public Radio: Tempers Flare As Lawmakers Take On Campaign Finance Bill

Associated Press

A Wisconsin state Assembly committee has passed a bill doubling campaign donation limits and making clear that candidates can coordinate with issue advocacy groups.

Republicans who control the committee passed the bill Thursday over objections from Democrats, who complained the measure is moving too quickly through the Legislature.

Tempers flared during the meeting, with Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler pounding his desk and yelling about being given a large amendment just minutes before the vote.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Political donors would not have to ID employer, under bill

Patrick Marley

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he wanted to make the change to the state’s disclosure law because the public can get better information by looking at donors’ occupations, rather than their employers. Currently, donors have to list both if they give more than $200.

The change would make it more difficult for the public to track which industries are funneling money into politics. But Vos said he wanted to avoid having businesses targeted for boycotts or harassment if their workers choose to make donations.

The change was one of several Republicans made Thursday to a campaign finance bill they unveiled last week and plan to pass in the Assembly on Wednesday.

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Brian Walsh

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