Roll Call: ‘Big Money’ and the 2016 Elections
By Stuart RothenbergIn fact, what evidence there is in the article that the issue is emerging as politically significant is small and unpersuasive, though that did not stop the writer from citing a handful of people who are upset about the amount of money in politics and want to change the current system.Perhaps the best piece of political analysis in the article came from former Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith, an advocate of deregulation, who said: “There remains a major public disposition to not like money in politics, but a real small group of people for which this is a dominant issue.”Exactly.Republicans ranted about George Soros’ spending during the 2004 cycle, while Democrats tried to make the Koch brothers a decisive issue in 2014. But voters looked past those messages both times, casting their ballots for more traditional reasons.
By Paul BlumenthalAided by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, the three big business groups have sought to undercut activist investors and pro-disclosure groups through public campaigns and private meetings with corporate executives.Chamber President Tom Donohue put their argument succinctly at a December conference. “They say it’s about transparency, that’s a laugh. … The ultimate goal is to ban all corporate political speech and lobbying spending,” he said.The anti-disclosure campaign has particularly targeted the nonprofit Center for Political Accountability. The center publishes the annual CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Accountability and Disclosure, which ranks major corporations on their political spending and disclosure policies. Judging from their efforts to discredit it, the business lobby groups see a major threat in such a public evaluation of their members’ support for transparency.
By Steve BenenDavid Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, told the AP, “Nothing like this has been done before.”And for good reason. In theory, donors have to weigh a variety of considerations before making a contribution: they can donate to a candidate, knowing the money will benefit him or her directly, but there are strict legal caps. They can donate to a party or a party’s campaign committee, but the donor has no way of knowing which candidates in which races will get the help.
By Brian Mahoney and Marianne LeVineThe AFL-CIO’s moratorium on federal PAC contributions is crumbling only a few weeks after it was announced.Some of the labor federation’s most powerful members have defied the freeze, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Association of Machinists and the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Member unions continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign contributions, even as the “fast-track” trade bill the AFL-CIO seeks to halt — fearing it will eliminate union jobs — moves steadily through Congress.AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka imposed the PAC freeze last month “to conserve resources for the historic legislative battle around fast track” — that is, to pressure Democratic candidates for Congress and the presidency into opposing the trade promotion authority bill moving through Congress. TPA is a procedural measure that would speed passage of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
By Fredreka SchoutenWICHITA, Kan. — Charles Koch and his industrial empire are mounting an aggressive new defense of his company and his political advocacy, with the billionaire insisting his work to help elect Republicans is rooted in his decades-long quest to “increase well-being in society.”“We are doing all of this to make more money?” Koch said of charges that his drive to limit government’s power will increase his bottom line. “I mean, that is so ludicrous.”“I don’t know how they can say that with a straight face,” he said. “We oppose as many or more things that would benefit us than would hurt us,” he said, ticking off potential losses at his Minnesota oil refinery if the Keystone XL pipeline he supports is constructed and his opposition to the Export-Import Bank, whose subsidies aiding U.S. companies he has decried as corporate welfare.
By Rosalind S. HeldermanThe Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will amend tax returns filed to the IRS in recent years to reflect that it accepted donations from foreign governments, a foundation official said Thursday.The official said the organization is reviewing its tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 and anticipated refiling the returns after the review is complete. The amendment, which was first reported by Reuters, is necessary because the foundation inaccurately reported to the IRS that it had accepted no government money in those years.In fact, the foundation has acknowledged accepting millions in donations from foreign governments in those years, which overlapped with the time Hillary Rodham Clinton served as secretary of state.
By Eli StokolsThis weekend in Miami Jeb Bush will huddle with a group of his top donors at a brand new “nature-centric,” $700-a-night South Beach hotel, replete with four pools, a Tom Colicchio restaurant and an 11,000-plant “living green wall.”The point, though, isn’t tranquility and relaxation – it’s survival.For a time, it looked like Bush would steamroll the GOP field with a cash-flush juggernaut that might raise as much as $100 million in the first quarter, using a variety of super PACs to push the boundaries of campaign finance laws and dominate the field.
By Karen TumultyThe massive fundraising and wealth-generating operation that Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton have built over the past decade and a half has revived one of the most enduring criticisms of the couple: that they have a blind spot when it comes to setting ethical boundaries with the people who give them money.Two factors could make the current questions even more problematic. First, the Clintons now bring in contributions on a scale that would have been unimaginable during the controversies that beset Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s.Second, many of those who have funded their charity and their campaigns have also had a role in elevating the couple — whom Hillary Clinton once described as “dead broke” when her husband left office — into the ranks of the super-rich.
By Stephen Rex BrownFederal prosecutors brought new charges Thursday against disgraced former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that detailed the lengths the pol allegedly used to yield big returns on his $4 million in corrupt cash.The dirty money Silver earned through his twin kickback schemes was parked in a “private, high-yield” low-risk investment vehicle not available to the general public, the new indictment charged.In return, Silver “took certain official actions as requested by the investor” who was not paid for his services, the indictment charged.
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed four bills aimed at strengthening Rhode Island’s campaign finance reporting laws.
OLYMPIA — A campaign finance reform bill to require more disclosure of political spending appears dead in the Senate weeks after that chamber voted unanimously for a previous version of the measure.Senate Bill 5153, which would require nonprofits that spend more than $25,000 on campaigns to identify their 10 biggest donors of $10,000 or more, failed a Senate floor vote Wednesday when Democrats moved to bring it up for consideration. The bill was written to identify the sources of so-called “dark money,” which has funded liberal and conservative nonprofits’ campaign spending on negative advertisements and other measures.