Daily Media Links 1/22: Fix campaign finance laws with finesse, Alaskans lead effort to make Congress work, and more…

January 22, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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Reflections on Free Speech on the Third Anniversary of Citizens United 
By Sarah Lee
It’s fitting the third anniversary of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission falls on inauguration weekend. The case allowed new ways for citizens to participate in campaigns, a fact publicly derided by progressives and reformers yet privately taken advantage of by the candidates they support, including President Obama. Despite the liberal condemnation of the money Citizens United brought to campaigns, the decision has benefited the American voter.  
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Independent Groups
Huffington Post: Citizens United Third Anniversary Marked By Reformers With Push For Constitutional Amendment 
By Paul Blumenthal
ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Campaign finance reformers are ringing in the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision with dozens of rallies and protests across the country. In Maryland, a group of protesters marked the ruling’s birthday at a rally attended by federal and state lawmakers in front of the Maryland state house in Annapolis.  
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Washington Post: Did tax-exempt groups mislead the IRS on political spending? 
OF ALL THE groups that pumped hidden money into politics in recent years, the most notable and peculiar included those that claim a “social welfare” purpose and have applied to the Internal Revenue Service for designation as nonprofit and tax-exempt. These organizations, known as 501(c)(4) groups for the section of the federal tax code that governs them, must report their donors to the IRS but not to the public. They have become a favorite vehicle through which to channel millions of dollars into campaigns without public disclosure.  
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Columbus Dispatch: Citizens United rally
By Ryan Clark
“If you think about this notion of a ‘catfish relationship’ of an online, supposedly hoax of a person who was relating to another person that didn’t even exist,” said Greg Coleridge, of Move to Amend. “The media has jumped on that, meanwhile the ultimate Moby Dick … of a hoax is that we have defined corporations as persons.”  
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Politico: Barack Obama vs. John Roberts, round 2 
By Josh Gerstein
On Sunday, Roberts read the oath from a piece of paper — and both men seemed relieved when it was over. They exchanged congratulations and thanks, and then Obama turned to his daughter Sasha. “I did it,” he told her. “You didn’t mess up,” she replied.   

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

Roll Call: Inaugural Funds Raise Questions  
By Eliza Newlin Carney
President Barack Obama’s decision to collect unlimited corporate cash for his inauguration, and to disclose less about donors than he did four years ago, has triggered broad speculation about what he really plans to do with the money. 
Politico: Obama adopts secret cash strategy 
By Byron Tau
A Democratic official tells POLITICO the new group, Organizing for Action, plans to voluntarily disclose its donors, stay out of elections and follow all applicable laws governing nonprofits. It may run “issue” oriented television and radio ads and President Barack Obama may personally fundraise on behalf of the group. 
Ironically, under the law, a super PAC would be more transparent. Unlike a super PAC, which has to file regular reports with the Federal Election Commission, the 501(c)4 non-profits don’t have to disclose their donors or amounts, so it’s up to each group to decide what (if anything) it makes public and when (if ever) that happens.   
NY Times: Well-Trod Path: Political Donor to Ambassador 
As Mr. Obama begins his second term in the White House, the donors and bundlers who raised more than a billion dollars to get him there are pressing hard for appointments. The sheer scale of Mr. Obama’s fund-raising machine has led to an especially intense scramble for plum ambassadorships, with as many as 300 people vying for just 30 or so positions, according to several people involved in the process.  
Politico: Obama campaign final fundraising total: $1.1 billion 
By Byron Tau
The Obama campaign released its final fundraising figures in front of an audience of top campaign donors and bundlers Saturday, announcing that the total combined fundraising efforts brought in $1.1 billion during the 2012 cycle.   
NY Times: A Campaign Without End 
IN the last campaign cycle, Barack Obama headlined 220 fund-raisers, unprecedented for a presidential re-election effort, and collected more than $1 billion. So one might think that he should be free to focus exclusively on governing. But that’s not likely.  
State and Local
Alaska –– Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: Alaskans lead effort to make Congress work 
Amid the rancor and divisiveness of these highly partisan times, it is encouraging to see the seeds of common sense and reason taking root in Washington, D.C. As Alaskans, we are doubly encouraged to see our two senators — Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich — stepping up and setting the right tone to help break the gridlock that has gripped our nation’s capital and make government work for all of us. 
Florida –– Tampa Bay Times: Fix campaign finance laws with finesse  
So far, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz are focusing the debate on the right problems, most notably the inability to follow the money in state elections — a shameful reality in a state that boasts about its open-record laws. Weatherford and Gaetz want to dramatically increase openness by requiring candidates, committees and political parties to report all contributions and expenditures within 24 hours. They also would require that expenditure disclosures include details about money spent on advertising, including the subject, its target and where it will be distributed. Restoring openness must be the cornerstone of any reform, but alone it is not enough.  

Joe Trotter


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