Daily Media Links 2/5: Clinton: Sanders should end ‘artful smear’, The political wars damage public perception of Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts says, and more…

February 5, 2016   •  By Brian Walsh   •  
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In the News

American Prospect: Does Big Money Still Matter? You Bet It Does

Eliza Newlin Carney

Good-government advocates are “oblivious to the failure of ‘big money’ to dictate the race,” wrote Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, in a Wall Street Journal commentary headlined “That’s Odd, ‘Big Money’ Isn’t Buying This Election.” One of the contest’s “unexpected surprises,” wrote New America senior fellow Lee Drutman, is how well Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have done with such little backing from wealthy donors.

It’s easy to see why billionaire donors don’t look so influential anymore. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his super PAC spent $14.9 million on the Iowa caucuses, but won just 5,238 voters (a mere 2.8 percent of the total GOP vote) and a single delegate. That added up to $2,845 per vote—a dismal showing that U.S. News & World Report dubbed “by far the worst bang-for-the-buck performance” of any GOP candidate.

But the failure of Bush or any other big spender to win an election says little about the actual role that money plays in politics and—perhaps more important—in policy-making.

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Democratic Debate

The Hill: Clinton: Sanders should end ‘artful smear’

Cate Martel

The gloves have come off between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

“I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks, and let’s talk about the issues that divide us,” Clinton said during a heated exchange about campaign finance in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

The crowd booed during the exchange as the two shouted over each other about wanting to discuss their differences in campaign finance reform.

“I worked hard for McCain-Feingold,” Clinton said, denying that her ties to Wall Street mean she has been “bought.”

“I want to reverse Citizens United. I don’t think these attacks of insinuation are worthy of you and enough is enough.”

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Supreme Court

Washington Post: The political wars damage public perception of Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts says

Robert Barnes

Criticism of the court “doesn’t bother me at all,” Roberts said, as long as it is not based on a misunderstanding of how the court differs from the political branches.

“It’s usually discussed as, ‘Oh, you’re in favor of this or you’re in favor of that,’ ” Roberts said in response to questions from the law school’s dean, John F. O’Brien.

“In fact, our ruling is that whoever does get to decide this or that is allowed to do it, and that it’s not unconstitutional, that it’s consistent with the law,” Roberts said. “But we often have no policy views on the matter at all, and that’s an important distinction.”

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Independent Groups

Center for Public Integrity: Bush super PAC the biggest loser in ad wars

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

For the past six months, political TV ads have extolled the virtues of presidential hopefuls, tore down opponents and in one instance, set pastoral scenes to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel.

So, which strategy worked? One things for sure: Iowans prefer nice over nasty.


Politico: George W. Bush cuts television ad backing his brother

Alex Isenstadt

Former President George W. Bush has cut a TV ad for the super PAC supporting his brother, marking the former president’s most public political activity in the campaign to date.

“The first job of the president is to protect America. The next president must be prepared to lead. I know Jeb. I know his good heart and his strong backbone,” Bush says in the 30-second Right to Rise spot, which spotlights the former president speaking directly to the camera.

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Washington Post: The Rubio campaign tweets – and the super PAC airs an ad

Matea Gold

A super PAC ad hitting Sen. Ted Cruz last month for supporting a “Canadian” style value-added tax plan piled on the insults, saying Ronald Reagan “hated” the idea and noting that the Wall Street Journal warned it could lead to higher taxes.

The spot by Conservative Solutions PAC, a super PAC allied with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, was posted online about a week after Rubio campaign staffers tweeted a link to a rapid-response site that made the exact same points.

The close correlation of messages shows how easy it is for well-funded independent groups to decipher the needs of the candidates they are supporting. While campaigns are prohibited under federal law from coordinating their advertising strategy with super PACs and other outside groups, the narrowly written rules leave ample room for them to share information online.

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Political Parties

Chicago Tribune: Clinton rakes in millions through state channels

William Allison

Clinton’s move last year to lock in fundraising alliances with 33 state Democratic parties has already added $26.9 million to the mountain of hard money she has raised so far, a Bloomberg analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her competitor for the nomination, has inked one such deal, netting a total of $1,000…

Under the agreements, the first $2,700 of a contribution goes straight to Clinton’s campaign, the next $33,400 to the Democratic National Committee, and the remainder is split evenly across the 33 often cash-strapped state committees. Unlike super-PAC donations, the money can be spent to directly support her campaign on anything from get-out-the-vote efforts to TV ads.

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Politico: Sheldon Adelson tightens grip on Review-Journal

Ken Doctor

After a brief spell of normalcy seemed to return to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, all bets are now off.

A new publisher has appeared overnight at the paper, a new editor will be installed as soon as Friday, and, sources tell me, stories involving new owner Sheldon Adelson are being reviewed, changed or killed almost daily.

Further, the newsroom is abuzz with word of a list of a half a dozen or so journalists whose work has rubbed Adelson the wrong way over the years, and who may soon be targeted for departure in what one insider describes as a “house-cleaning.”

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National Journal: Frank Luntz Plays Favorites With Marco Rubio

S.V. Date

What they probably don’t know about is Luntz’s close relationship with Rubio over the years, and how Rubio paid Luntz’s firm a third of a million dollars to produce and promote a book that Ru­bio used to improve his statewide name recognition in Florida a decade ago.

It’s not clear whether Fox News was aware of that history when it broadcast Luntz quizzing focus-group members following the debate, eliciting responses such as “confident,” “eloquent,” electable,” and “presidential.” (But not following up with one dissident who called Rubio an “attractive opportunist.”)

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Iowa Caucus

The Hill: Iowa governor pans Cruz for ‘unethical’ actions in caucus

Ben Kamisar

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad chastised Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign for “unethical and unfair” practices on its way to winning Monday’s caucuses.

The Texas senator has received significant criticism from rivals Donald Trump and Ben Carson after his campaign passed along reports Monday night that Carson was on the verge of dropping out. That, critics claim, could have dissuaded voters from voting for Carson at a pivotal time.

“We have a strong sense of fairness in Iowa,” Branstad told Radio Iowa on Thursday. “Distributing information that was not true about a candidate right at the time people are voting in the caucuses is an inappropriate thing.”

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Des Moines Register: Something smells in the Democratic Party

Editorial Board

Once again the world is laughing at Iowa. Late-night comedians and social media mavens are having a field day with jokes about missing caucusgoers and coin flips.

That’s fine. We can take ribbing over our quirky process. But what we can’t stomach is even the whiff of impropriety or error.

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Politico: Rubio rides cash infusion into New Hampshire

Anna Palmer

After outperforming expectations in Iowa, Marco Rubio’s operation has pulled in more than $2 million in online contributions, according to multiple sources familiar with his finance operation. The contributions were largely from small donors, but also included some larger contributions.

“There has been an enormous uptick in online fundraising,” said one Rubio insider. “Peer-to-peer solicitation is also experiencing dramatic growth.”

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The States

KSTP Minneapolis: House DFL Proposes Crackdown on “Dark Money”

Tom Hauser

Even though the Minnesota DFL party has greatly outspent their Republican counterparts in recent elections, legislative Democrats want to crack down on special interest money.  The House DFL caucus proposed the “Minnesota Disclose Act,” which would force issue-oriented interest group spending to be subject to great public disclosure requirements.

It would be put to Minnesota voters as a constitutional ballot question. “The amendment will allow voters to determine whether or not they think they should have a right to know who is spending money to influence their vote and how much is being spent,” DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said at a news conference…

“This is the most extreme attempt to limit free speech that we’ve seen come from Minnesota Democrats,” said John Rouleau of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition…”This is nothing more than a stunt,” Rouleau said. “The DFL has talked about this issue and failed to do anything when they had one-party control of the entire state government.”

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Brian Walsh

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