Daily Media Links 12/8: Negotiations over year-end spending bill hit a tax snag, AP-NORC Poll: Americans Not Fans of Public Financing, and more…

December 8, 2015   •  By Brian Walsh   •  
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Political Parties

Washington Post: Negotiations over year-end spending bill hit a tax snag

Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian

Democratic votes will likely be needed to pass the omnibus appropriations bill in the House because a group of conservatives is likely to oppose the legislation over spending levels and because it will provide money for some programs they oppose.

Democrats are using this leverage to push Republicans to get rid of some of the riders that were included in the initial offer, which they say remain an issue in the negotiations…

Campaign finance could be another area of compromise. Conservatives worry that the proposed changes would give greater electoral control to mainstream party leaders. Aides said the campaign finance rule could possibly be adapted to ease those concerns by including language that would allow the rule to apply to potential third party committees that might be created in the future.

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Tax-Financed Campaigns

New York Times: AP-NORC Poll: Americans Not Fans of Public Financing

Associated Press

Most Americans aren’t fans of public financing. The new poll finds that they prefer presidential campaigns to be funded by donations over any form of government financing.

Fifty-six percent say they think presidential campaigns should get their money from donations, while just 26 percent prefer that the federal government provide a set amount of money to each campaign.

An additional 17 percent prefer a matching system, in which campaigns are funded primarily using donations, but the federal government matches smaller donations to increase their impact…

Americans just don’t think federal financing is very effective at reducing the impact of money in politics. Only 25 percent think government financing of campaigns is very or extremely effective, while 34 percent consider it somewhat effective. Even fewer say that of matching funds for small donations.

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Independent Groups

Wall Street Journal: Anti-Trump Effort Launches Super PAC

Beth Reinhard

A Republican operative who is organizing an effort to torpedo Donald Trump’s presidential campaign says she is starting a super PAC that could collect unlimited funds from individual donors.

Liz Mair, former online communications director for the Republican National Committee, created a limited liability company in October called Trump Card LLC.

More In Donald Trump

The anti-Trump effort is focusing on the two states hosting the earliest nominating contests, Iowa and New Hampshire. In an e-mail to supporters, Ms. Mair said the group has reached out to 150 churches in Iowa, 50 community leaders in New Hampshire and media outlets in both states. She said the group is circulating opposition research about his business record, support for socialized medicine and position on abortion

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Lexology: Possible end to required disclosure of contributors

Jillian P. Diamant and Tomer J. Inbar

The IRS is considering eliminating Schedule B of the Form 990, which asks for the names and addresses of an exempt organization’s contributors and for certain information about contributions received.  Tax Analysts reported that, at a program sponsored by the Urban Institute, Tammy Ripperda (Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS) questioned whether the IRS should ask for the names and addresses of contributors, given that this information is not made public, and whether there is a need for the information from a federal tax law enforcement standpoint… Schedule B has been the subject of periodic controversy and litigation, largely due to inadvertent disclosure by the IRS and state regulators.  Ripperda noted that the IRS is discussing the idea with state charity regulators, given their interest in the information on Schedule B.

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Washington Examiner: First Drudge, now FEC boss targets local elections for federal regs

Paul Bedard

The Democratic chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission is pushing to federalize state and local elections with new rules that would impose Washington fundraising restrictions on ballot initiatives where money comes from other states or countries…

Ravel, concerned about foreign money being used in a California ballot initiative, recently tried to rewrite FEC rules to give the agency an expanded role. She would have redefined the word “elections” to include ballot initiatives, not just candidate contests.

In a September memo, she wrote, “I have become increasingly concerned that there are not sufficient protections against foreign national involvement in American elections. This is particularly evident in state and local ballot measures.”

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Shareholder Activism

The Hill: Company directors should police corporate spending

Constance E. Bagley and Bruce F. Freed

Just as outsourcing a firm’s supply chain without adequate monitoring can expose a company and its directors and shareholders to unwanted attention (think Apple Inc. and Foxconn), outsourcing political spending to intermediaries that use “dark money” to fund causes that may be at odds with a company’s strategy and values puts a firm’s brand and its relationship with its employees, customers, and shareholders at risk.

Just this month, Capital One Financial Corp. garnered unwanted publicity over its PAC’s donations to a Republican congressman who allegedly made anti-gay statements in a private meeting. While Capital One underscored its commitment to LGBT rights in a letter to a critic, it also insisted its PAC was devoted exclusively to banking industry issues.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Wall Street Journal: Jeb Bush’s Backers to Potential Donors: No Contribution? No Problem.

Rebecca Ballhaus

At a fundraiser on Wednesday hosted by Kenneth Lipper, former deputy mayor of New York and a bundler for Mr. Bush’s campaign, attendees will be encouraged to contribute but are not required to do so, according to a copy of the invitation viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“While we are asking for contributions of $1,000 – $2,700, it is not necessary to make a commitment in order to come,” states the invitation, signed by Russell Reynolds, a Bush bundler and longtime GOP donor. “We would like smart people to meet with Governor Bush and to hear what he has to say, and then make up your own minds. So feel no obligation financially, either now or in the future.”…

Mr. Reynolds said the event will also be attended by some Republicans who remain “on the fence.” “We want those people to have a chance to hear what he has to say,” he said.

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MSNBC: Sanders campaign distances itself from super PAC help

Alex Seitz-Wald

Already, though, he’s faced questions over hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on his behalf by a super PAC affiliated with National Nurses United, a nurses union that has endorsed him. Sanders seemed to make an exception to his no-super PAC rule for them, arguing a group funded by union dues from nurses is not anyone’s idea of big corporate money.

“They are nurses and they are fighting for the health care of their people. They are doing what they think is appropriate. I do not have a super PAC,” he told CNN.

Now, Sanders’ campaign is drawing a harder line with the California-based super PAC Progressive Kick, which endorsed Sanders in April and told the AP this week that it plans to spend money supporting his candidacy, despite the candidate’s opposition to super PACs and his push to get big money out of politics.

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Washington Post: Bernie Sanders’s one-dimensional campaign is hurting him badly

Chris Cillizza

He devoted a grand total of one sentence(!) to the attacks. He then launched into a 123-word riff on the necessity to address climate change, economic inequality and campaign finance reform.

That moment was a glimpse into the serious limitations that Sanders has as a candidate — and why, as the race has turned to issues outside of his wheelhouse, he has struggled.

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The States

Crain’s New York Business: When it comes to New York politics, the real scandal is what’s legal

Jeremy Smerd

A jury last week disagreed, finding Silver guilty of honest-services fraud. But the argument exemplifies what’s wrong with New York’s politics. There are so many ways politicians use the perks of their office to help themselves that doing so is simply accepted practice. Not until U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara started indicting politicians did they begin to question the way they conducted themselves. Here are a smattering of examples that may be legal but seem ethically problematic: the per diem allowances that legislators use to bump their measly pay; the “fact-finding missions” that are really junkets; and the personal expenses they charge to their campaign accounts, which they also use to pay lawyers’ fees when they get into hot water.

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Politico: Cuomo answers Silver verdict with excuses, not action

Bill Hammond

And the relatively small-scale fixes they entail would be a much lighter lift politically than a full-time Legislature or public financing of political campaigns (the other go-to solution of goo-goos). No wholesale restructuring of state government or huge expenditure of tax dollars is required.

For a guide to effective but achievable reform, look no further than the evidence that convinced a jury to convict Silver on all counts, or the case currently being made against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. It’s almost as if U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the chief prosecutor of both men, was handing Albany a to-do list:

*Decentralize power in the Legislature: Silver and Skelos were able to demand tribute from wealthy businesses and lobbyists because they wielded boss-like control over high-stakes legislation, such as tax breaks for developers, and billions in state funding.

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Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Walker says he will sign campaign finance, elections board bills next week

Associated Press

Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign bills that eliminate the state elections board and rewrite campaign finance law next week.

Walker told reporters Monday he has a “bunch of bill signings” planned for next week.

Walker is taking his time on the Republican-backed bills, both of which cleared the Legislature three weeks ago on Nov. 16.

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Brian Walsh

Brian is a Research Fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics.