Daily Media Links 11/21: More Soft Money Hard Law: Minnesota and the Frustrations of Judging “Independence”, Daily Caller: Lawsuit: No basis for anti-Walker ‘John Doe’ probe, CPI: ‘Dark money’ groups give big to similar nonprofits, and more…

November 21, 2013   •  By Matthew McIntyre   •  
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Independent Groups

More Soft Money Hard Law: Minnesota and the Frustrations of Judging “Independence”

By Bob Bauer

The many who shake their heads over the follies of the campaign finance laws are startled that there is any question about the right answer: independence must be just that—absolutely no contact with the candidate. This is, of course, not the meaning that the Supreme Court has conferred on the term “independence.” The committee can keep the necessary distance form the candidate and spend without limit on her behalf by just keeping her out of any role in deciding the type or content of the spending. The well-known theory is that the candidate is at risk if the independent committee goes off in the wrong direction and harms her campaign with an ill-timed or poorly crafted message. This gamble allows the committee to claim that the speech it is paying for is its own, not a joint production with the candidate; the candidate is less likely to feel indebted to a committee whose activities she may not approve of and that may prove injurious to her cause. 

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Daily Caller: Lawsuit: No basis for anti-Walker ‘John Doe’ probe  

By Patrick Howley

Inside sources tell The Daily Caller that the filings claim, among other things, that there is no statutory authority for appointing a special prosecutor under these circumstances, and therefore the entire proceeding should be abated.  

Special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has subpoenaed documents from dozens of conservative groups related to their activities during the 2012 recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose victory was a slap in the face to unions who tried to unseat him for abolishing collective bargaining rights in the state. Walker is up for re-election in 2014.  

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CPI: ‘Dark money’ groups give big to similar nonprofits

By Julie Patel
For tax-exempt nonprofit groups, politics cannot by law serve as their primary mission. Nevertheless, some of these organizations — 501(c)(4) social welfare non-profits and 501(c)(6) trade associations — have played an outsized role in federal elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010 to allow unlimited corporate, union and nonprofit group spending to oppose or support candidates.  

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

NY Times: Reid Preparing to Move for Limits on Filibuster 


Exasperated with the refusal of Senate Republicans to confirm many of President Obama’s nominees, Mr. Reid has been speaking individually with members of his caucus to gauge whether there is enough support to change filibuster rules.  

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Roll Call: Will the GOP’s Business Wing Pony Up?

By Eliza Newlin Carney

For business-minded Republicans fed up with tea-party-led budget standoffs, the past few weeks have offered much to crow about.  

A handful of business-backed challengers have taken on tea party incumbents in the House; the National Republican Senatorial Committee has pledged to fight in primaries and has cut ties with a tea-party-linked consulting firm; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent heavily to help a Main Street Republican beat out his conservative opponent in Alabama’s 1st District GOP runoff.  

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Roll Call: New FEC Guide for Political Party Committees Released

By Kent Cooper

The campaign guide explains, in plain language, the complex regulations governing the financing of campaign for federal office and serves as a compliance manual for national, state and local party committees. Among other things, the Campaign guide shows readers how to fill out FEC reports and illustrates how the law applies to practical situations.

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Forbes: No, You Can’t Donate Bitcoin To Politicians Yet

By Kashmir Hill

Bitcoin goes before the Senate again Tuesday after having been given a tentative thumbs up by government agencies during a Senate Homeland Security hearing on Monday. The Banking Committee hearing Tuesday is a littler dryer — less about drugs and murder for hire for Bitcoin, and more about financial and banking issues around virtual currencies. During his opening remarks, hearing chair Senator Mark Warner said that he’s been “following Bitcoin for months” but is only now “wrapping his head around it.” He then remarked offhandedly that the Federal Election Committee recently approved Bitcoin for political donations. But he’s incorrect.  

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State and Local

Arizona –– The Arizona Republic: McCain sets fundraiser; bid for 6th term looming?

By Dan Nowicki

The suggested donations for the event are: $5,200 per person for hosts; $2,600 per person for co-hosts; and $1,000 per person for tickets.  

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Vermont –– AP: Vt. Fines Planned Parenthood Over Ads

By Dave Gram

Montpelier — An affiliate of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will pay $30,000 to the state of Vermont to settle a claim that it violated the state’s campaign finance laws in 2010.  

Attorney General Bill Sorrell said the group’s Action Fund spent about $119,000 on political advertisements advocating against Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie without filing the required reports at the Secretary of State’s Office.

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Matthew McIntyre


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