Daily Media Links 12/9: Trump won with half as much money as Clinton raised, Meet the Democrats’ proto-Trumps, and more…

December 9, 2016   •  By Alex Baiocco   •  
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In the News

CRP: Could campaign finance overhaul help solve congressional gridlock? 

By Ashley Balcerzak

Should we restrict political contributions? How have weakened political parties impacted this election? Can public financing work? President-elect Donald Trump pledged to “drain the swamp,” yet has not proposed changes to the campaign finance system. So experts in the field with various viewpoints ran through scenarios at a forum organized by New York University and law firm Sidley Austin on Thursday.

Vice President Joe Biden headlined the event, breezing by the subject except to call “the role of big money” in our system “corrupting,” and saying, “If you want to change overnight the way of the electoral process in America, have public financing.”

Experts argued about what form that corruption – if it exists – takes, with some disputing Biden’s suggested cure. David Keating, president of the conservative Center for Competitive Politics, maintained there is no evidence stricter contribution limits affect the amount of corruption in politics.

Urban Family Talk: Zac Morgan of CCP, On SOTR

CCP Staff Attorney Zac Morgan discusses campaign finance and lobbying regulations on Stacy on the Right (beginning at 19:20).

Free Speech

Fortune: Why Trump’s Attack on a Union Rep Has People Worried About Free Speech

By Jeremy Quittner

After a union leader representing laborers at the Carrier plant in Indiana told the Washington Postthat Donald Trump had “lied his ass off” about the deal to save worker jobs, the President-elect took to Twitter to savage him, saying he’s done a “terrible job representing workers.”

Jones is now getting personal threats from Trump supporters…

Conservatives and liberals alike are united in expressing shock and dismay about Trump’s ad hominem attack and what it means for free speech.

Trump’s tweets are a dangerous display of immaturity and narcissism, says Stan Veuger, resident scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “Trump knows, or should know by now, that attacks like this by him inevitably lead to death threats and have a dangerous stifling effect on speech critical of the president,” Veuger says. 

The Media 

Morning Consult: Poll: Majority Find Major Media Outlets Credible

By Laura Nichols

Despite the proliferation of coverage of fake news and historically low opinion of the media, a majority of adults think most cable news networks and major newspapers are credible, according to a Morning Consult poll…

Television news gets the highest number of people saying they are credible, with major newspapers such as The New York Times not trailing far behind. ABC led all outlets with 67 percent of people saying it is credible, and CNN was top among cable news networks with 60 percent. Sixty-five percent said both CBS and NBC are credible and 55 percent said the same about the more partisan MSNBC and Fox News channels.

Fifty-one percent of people said they consider National Public Radio to be credible, but the outlet might be affected by a lack of awareness. Seventeen percent of people said they had never heard of NPR, compared to two and four percent of people who could say the same about The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, respectively. The Huffington Post had similar numbers, with 10 percent of people saying they never heard of the site and 46 percent of people saying they consider it credible.    

Political Parties

Observer: DNC Must Re-enact Ban That Was Removed to Enable Hillary Victory Fund

By Michael Sainato

After winning the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008, Barack Obama enacted a ban on lobbyists and PAC donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). “We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. We’re going to change how Washington works. They will not fund my party. They will not run our White House. And they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I’m president of the United States of America,” Obama told a crowd in Bristol, Virginia, while campaigning in June 2008.

But in 2015, then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, without any protest from the Obama Administration, rescinded that ban. At the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders was emerging as a surprising viable challenger to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy…

Though Sanders and Clinton supporters are currently battling to prop up their preferred candidates for a new DNC chair, to be voted on in February, the ban initially enacted by Obama has not been re-instituted. Doing so would be an easy, first step toward reforming the Democratic Party.   

Independent Groups

Time: Why Jill Stein’s Recount Push is Bad News for Democrats

By Alex Altman

Stein may be draining grassroots resources, but she has so far spent the money the way she promised. The real danger for Democrats is that her doomed project is a sign of a problem that has longed plagued Republicans…

The Democratic base is furious about the results of the election, rippling with anger toward Trump and facing a leadership vacuum. Some nefarious entrepreneurs will try to wring profit from this sense of powerlessness…

Paul Jossey, a Virginia campaign-finance lawyer, has an idea about how they’ll do it. “If I wanted to make a million dollars tomorrow,” he says, “all I’d have to do is start a PAC, name it something like the ‘PAC Against Citizens United,’ buy some email lists, and in a month I’d have a million dollars or maybe more.”… 

But Democrats haven’t been entirely immune to the phenomenon. One political fundraiser who created a host of pro-Bernie Sanders websites was later charged with fraud. Jossey singles out another group called Progressives United PAC, founded by former Wisconsin Senator candidate Russ Feingold-the longtime campaign-finance reform advocate-as an example of a PAC that raised millions, spent little of it on the party’s political candidates, and funneled most of it toward staff salaries and more fundraising appeals.    

Candidates and Campaigns

Politico: Trump won with half as much money as Clinton raised

By Isaac Arnsdorf

Hillary Clinton outraised Donald Trump two-to-one. It didn’t matter.

So ends the most lopsided contest in modern campaign finance. And yet the deficit proved just one of the many odds Trump beat, another political convention he busted.

Clinton and her allies, including her joint committees with the Democratic Party and the super PACs supporting her, raised more than $1.2 billion for the full cycle, according to the last reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. Trump and his allies collected about $600 million.

Clinton could not be said to have left anything on the table: her campaign committee blew through $131.8 million in the final stretch of the campaign and finished with just under $839,000 in the bank as of Nov. 28.

Trump’s campaign spent $94.5 million in the period and wrapped up with $7.6 million. Under FEC rules, he can’t use that money to repay the loans he made to his campaign during the primary. But he can use it for his reelection campaign or transfer it to other Republicans for the 2018 midterms.   

Reuters: Figures show Trump spent $66 million of his own cash on election campaign

By Ginger Gibson and Grant Smith

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump pumped a total of $66 million of his own money into his campaign – far from the $100 million he frequently boasted he was going to spend, according to campaign finance disclosures filed on Thursday night.

Trump-related business industries – those bearing his own name, including his private jet and the Manhattan building that served as his campaign headquarters – received $11 million in payments from his campaign…

In total, Trump raised $339 million and spent $322 million – a far cry from the $565 million spent by Clinton, according to the latest Federal Election Commission disclosure reports. Trump spent $94 million in the final days of the campaign, compared with the $132 million spent by Clinton. 

Politico: Meet the Democrats’ proto-Trumps

By Gabriel Debenedett

Four weeks out from Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, Democrats may soon be launching a few unorthodox, mega-rich candidates of their own.

In three major states with a governor’s mansion up for grabs in 2018, a big-name, politically active billionaire or multimillionaire is taking steps toward a run – donors looking to take matters into their own hands after 2016’s gutting losses.

In Florida, it’s John Morgan, a wealthy attorney who has long been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest swing-state fundraisers. In Illinois, it’s J.B. Pritzker, the businessman and philanthropist with a history of pumping cash and Chicago political support toward Hillary Clinton. And in California, it’s Tom Steyer, the hedge fund manager-turned climate activist who used the 2014 and 2016 election cycles to become one of the left’s single biggest donors, to the tune of over $140 million. And more may be on the way. 

The States

Pierre Capital Journal: South Dakota judge puts government ethics overhaul on hold

By Associated Press

A South Dakota judge put on hold a voter-approved government ethics overhaul Thursday, handing a victory to foes who have criticized the wide-ranging new law as an unconstitutional, unworkable mess.

Circuit Judge Mark Barnett issued a preliminary injunction at the request of a group of two dozen Republican lawmakers and others who filed a lawsuit against the state challenging it. Barnett’s decision to delay the law’s implementation could be appealed to the state Supreme Court…

Foes of the measure contend that provisions of the law including an ethics commission, public campaign funding and limitations on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers run afoul of the state or federal constitutions – or both. The decision is largely what those who brought the lawsuit expected and reflects “how poorly drafted the measure was,” said GOP Rep. Mark Mickelson, a plaintiff.   

The Oregonian: Portland City Council set to revive publicly funded campaigns — in 2019

By Jessica Floum

Portland’s second try at having taxpayers pay for political campaigns appears to be a go — without voters getting a say first.

The Portland City Council gave its blessing Wednesday to a system that would use public money to match private cash raised by candidates for city office who agree to limit fundraising and spending. In all, the system could cost as much as $2.4 million per election cycle…

A final vote is now expected Dec. 14. The system would be available for candidates in 2019, in time for elections in 2020…
Voters narrowly rejected the city’s last system in 2010, by less than a percentage point, amid concerns about public spending in a recession and a notable case in which one candidate for city council misspent her funding.  

McClatchy DC: Missouri gubernatorial race breaks records for money spent

By Summer Ballentine

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens spent more on his campaign than what’s been spent total on any other gubernatorial race in state history and continued to rake in six-figure checks after his election, campaign finance records released Thursday show.

Greitens spent more than $28.7 million during the record-breaking race, according to the records. Greitens’ Democratic rival, Attorney General Chris Koster, spent roughly $25 million.

Combined with what Greitens’ three Republican opponents spent during the GOP primary, this year’s race for Missouri governor cost nearly $71 million. In the state’s second-priciest race for governor in 2004, three candidates combined spent about $27.6 million…

This could be the last year of such high spending by candidates. Campaign contribution limits kicked in Thursday that cap the amount donors can give directly to state office-seekers at $2,600 per election. The limit is $25,000 for political parties.    

Portland Press Herald: Ethics commission favors shedding light on ‘dark money’ in Maine campaigns

By Kevin Miller

Members of the commission that oversees Maine’s campaign finance laws unanimously endorsed a proposal Thursday that aims to shine light on national political organizations playing a growing role in the state’s elections.

The proposal from the state ethics commission would require any organization that contributes more than $100,000 to a Maine political party, a political action committee or a ballot question committee to identify the organization’s top five donors, among other things. Commission members said while there are no guarantees the proposal will survive the legislative process, it attempts to increase donor transparency following some of the most expensive election cycles in state history.     

Tampa Bay Times: Are Florida’s political parties relevant anymore?

By Adam C. Smith

At their core, state parties are merely vehicles though which contributions are funneled. Thanks to changes in campaign finance laws, many interest groups and politicians can create their own political committees to funnel political money.

“Political parties still matter,” said former Florida GOP Executive Director David Johnson, noting that they still serve as a central point of contact and organizing for the GOP’s grassroots. “But there’s no question their importance has diminished because of campaign finance changes and some of the personalities involved.”…

Given the growth of outside political committees like Scott’s autonomous Let’s Get to Work committee, which until recently had been barred from accepting unlimited donations from corporations or individuals, it’s an open question whether the parties can reassert their influence. 

Alex Baiocco

Alex Baiocco

https://www.ifs.org/author/abaiocco/

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