Daily Media Links 4/8: Democrats tap Obama donor network for OFA, Senate races, Spending mushrooms in new ‘political ecosystem, and more…

April 8, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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UPDATE: Coordination is Not a Foregone Conclusion 
By Sarah Lee
UPDATE: Public Citizen’s Taylor Lincoln, an author of the report, has provided a response to this post. In keeping with our high regard for free speech, it is presented in its entirety…
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CCP Submits Comments on Montana Bill that would Seriously Burden the Political Speech of Many Organizations 
By Sarah Lee
Center for Competitive Politics’ External Relations Director Matt Nese submitted comments today to the Montana House Judiciary Committee concerning Senate Bill 375, which proposes to overhaul Montana’s campaign finance laws, but, in doing so, generates a variety of serious constitutional issues.
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Independent Groups
Politico: Democrats tap Obama donor network for OFA, Senate races  
By Tarini Parti
Other former Obama campaign and White House veterans are also working for OFA, but group officials — and Obama — have repeatedly said the new group’s mission is clear and distinct from electoral politics because it’s organized around issues.  
“OFA is organized around issues rather than 2014,” Obama told House Republicans at a meeting last month.  
Smoot said she sees no problem with doing both jobs.  
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AP: Spending mushrooms in new ‘political ecosystem’ 
What laws do remain could become even looser as the Supreme Court considers another high-profile decision. 
“The unregulated system that we seem to be headed in will make Watergate look like a bad soap opera,” said Robert Zimmerman, a member of the Democratic National Committee’s national finance team who helped raise as much as $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s re-election effort. 


CPI: IRS ‘outs’ handful of donors to Republican group 
By Paul Abowd
The total donations on the page make up a small percentage of the $5 million the nonprofit took in for calendar 2011, but also provide a rare if limited glimpse at who — or what — funds political nonprofits.  
Philanthropy Daily: Very partial disclosure  
By Scott Walker
Covington admits that many tactics have been tried unsuccessfully to force more disclosure of “political” giving, including the DISCLOSE Act, FEC complaints, etc. But more recently the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), has announced he will “tackle … the use of secret money to fund political campaigns.”  

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

NewsBusters: No Laughing Matter: Colbert’s Boosting Sister’s Campaign Is an In-kind Contribution   
By Jeffrey Meyer
Unlike those purely comedic ventures, however, Colbert has resorted to using cable air time as an in-kind contribution to his sister. His on-air boosterism augments his big-ticket fundraisers to be held in New York and Washington, D.C. 


Roll Call: Rules of the Game: Lame-Duck FEC Invites Scofflaws  
By Eliza Newlin Carney
But the FEC’s growing backlog of work, protracted stalemates and failure to enforce or even explain the rules is taking a toll. At a minimum, political players are increasingly confused about how to reconcile already-complicated election laws with the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling to deregulate political spending. (The FEC has yet to issue regulations interpreting that ruling.) 
At worst, the FEC’s failure to act on even the most blatant violations is sending an “anything goes” signal to political players, who are becoming increasingly brazen about testing what’s allowed. True, most candidates, elected officials and donors simply want to understand the rules and follow them. But a growing number, election lawyers say, see their competitors pushing the envelope and are tempted to follow suit. 
State and Local
Colorado –– Colorado New: Gun lobbyist’s actions eyed in ethics probe
By Vic Vela
“He stared at me briefly and he said: `You just earned yourself another round of mailers against you in your district, for a primary,” Gerou testified. 
Neville admitted saying something to that effect, but he told the committee that his reaction was made out of anger, and that the comment was not meant to influence her votes. 
Article continues: “My job is to stand my ground, too,” Neville said. “I don’t apologize for standing up for the Second Amendment. That’s what I’m paid to do.” 
Minnesota –– Minnesota Post: Minnesota’s campaign-finance system should be more transparent 
By George Beck
Legislation authored in the Minnesota House by Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, and in the Senate by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, will increase the number of individuals and groups required to report and will increase the amount of money regulated and subject to disclosure. The legislation was recommended unanimously by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, the state agency responsible for enforcement of Minnesota’s campaign-finance requirements. The legislation will expand disclosure by individuals or associations that engage in communications such as TV or billboard ads, to influence the election of candidates, but which avoid disclosure by avoiding the use of words of “express advocacy” such as “Vote for Jones.”  

Joe Trotter


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