Daily Media Links 2/5: ACLU Comments on Proposed IRS Rules, Wall Street Journal: Taking the IRS Fifth, Washington Post: With early attacks against Senate Democrats, AFP emerges as GOP’s most powerful ally, and more…

February 5, 2014   •  By Kelsey Drapkin   •  
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ACLU Comments on Proposed IRS Rules 

By Joe Trotter

The American Civil Liberties Union submitted comments to the IRS on the proposed rules for governing 501(c) political activity earlier today (which can be found at this link), expressing concerns with the proposed rule and urging the agency to adopt a bright-line standard for political activity…

…”To put a finer and final point on it, we note that these comments, when posted to the ACLU’s website and otherwise distributed, would likely qualify as CRPA under the proposed rule during the 60/30-day blackout period, including the rolling blackout period before the 2014 election.40 The ACLU would have to either remove this document from its website or otherwise determine a way to account for the expense in creating it as CRPA expenditures.”

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Independent Groups

Wall Street Journal: Taking the IRS Fifth 

Editorial

The President’s clairvoyance is extraordinary, since neither the Justice Department nor Congress has finished investigations. The congressional probes have conducted interviews with dozens of employees from the IRS and Treasury Department and reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. They have already revealed that the tea-party cases, including intrusive questionnaires, were systematically reviewed by lawyers in the IRS Washington office.

But hey, if the President says it’s all kosher and the FBI doesn’t intend to pursue criminal charges in its probe of the selective IRS screening procedures, why should Ms. Lerner take the Fifth? Perhaps we’ll get to hear what Ms. Lerner meant when she wrote in February 2011 emails that the tea party matter was “very dangerous” and that “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

Meantime, the IRS has decided to reinstate bonuses for employees. 

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Washington Post: With early attacks against Senate Democrats, AFP emerges as GOP’s most powerful ally 

By Matea Gold

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has made just one small ad buy, last summer in Louisiana, while Karl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, buffeted by weak fundraising, is participating in only one Florida special election right now.  

As of this week, Americans for Prosperity has spent more than $27 million on ads since August, putting it on pace to far outstrip its overall $38.5 million budget for the 2010 midterms.  

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The Hill: Tea Party Patriots launch new super-PAC 

By Alexandra Jaffe   

Tea Party Patriots, a prominent national group, is launching a super-PAC to engage heavily in Senate races and plans to target at least three Republican incumbents.  

Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s president, highlighted Senate races in South Carolina, where Sen. Lindsey Graham faces four primary challengers; Kentucky, where Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is facing a challenge from businessman Matt Bevin; and Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran is facing a challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, as priorities for the political action committee. 

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The Hill: Fundraising fizzles for many in Tea Party 

By Cameron Joseph and Alexandra Jaffe   

Many Tea Party candidates are fizzling with their fundraising — an early sign they might struggle to upend the entrenched incumbents they’re challenging in this year’s primary elections.

A number of more conservative candidates running against Republican incumbents have failed to impress in their most recent year-end fundraising reports. Meager hauls came from many Tea Party challengers, including Senate candidates in Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota who had been hoping to pull upsets, as well as from congressional candidates challenging Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

 

Mediaite: GOP Group Refunds Contribution After Setting Up Fake Democratic Websites 

By Evan McMurry

The National Republican Congressional Committee returned a campaign donation on Monday after a contributor cried foul over a website pretending to be the that of a Democratic candidate—a possible violation of campaign finance laws.  

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State and Local

New York –– NY Times: Bill Would Put Face on Anonymous Attack Ads 

By KATE TAYLOR

One campaign advertisement mailed to voters’ homes last fall suggested that a candidate for New York City comptroller deserved to be behind bars. Another highlighted accusations of sexual harassment against a City Council candidate. In a Russian-speaking enclave of Brooklyn, a robocall accused a Council hopeful of having once been an agent for the K.G.B.

Rough and tumble campaign tactics are nothing new in New York politics, but those attacks were anonymous — and perfectly legal. While federal candidates are required to disclose their approval of campaign ads, and groups that make independent expenditures in city races must identify themselves, New York City office seekers may trash their opponents freely without ever owning up to it.

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New York –– NY Daily News: Christine Quinn Returns $3.5 Million To Campaign Finance Board 

By ANNIE KARNI

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is the only mayoral candidate in the 2013 election to return public funds to the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Quinn cut a check for $3.5 million on Jan. 23, according to the CFB.

Candidates who join the city’s public matching funds program are required to return leftover funds after the election, up to the amount they received.

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Virginia –– Washington Post: Jonnie R. Williams, key witness against McDonnells, has a complicated past 

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Laura Vozzella

Throughout, he has acquired a reputation as a man who has used his growing wealth and personal appeal to collect powerful friends.

Williams’s history of big and sometimes broken promises is likely to play a central role in the July trial of McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, who were indicted last month and accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for assisting his dietary supplement company.

Williams has told authorities that he showered the first couple with gifts and cash because he believed that it would pay dividends to Star Scientific, the company he led as chief executive until December.

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Virginia –– AP: GOP operative paid $140K for McAuliffe consulting 

By Allen Suderman

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A longtime GOP operative who Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently appointed to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board was paid $140,000 for consulting on McAuliffe’s campaign last year, records show.

Boyd Marcus shocked Virginia’s political class last year by endorsing McAuliffe. The governor’s recent appointment of Marcus to a $130,000-a-year job has angered Republican lawmakers, who view Marcus as a party traitor and have suggested the appointment was a political payoff. The governor has denied those suggestions.

Records filed with the Federal Election Commission in December show Marcus was paid $100,000 for consulting work on the McAuliffe campaign by DGA Action, a federal super PAC associated with the Democratic Governors Association.

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Kelsey Drapkin