Daily Media Links 5/17: Sen. McCain huddles with Democrats on new campaign finance reform proposal, and more…

May 17, 2012   •  By Joe Trotter   •  
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Independent groups

Chicago Tribune: Democratic legislators seek way around super PACs
By Ray Long and Alissa Groeninger
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie,  D-Chicago,  advanced legislation that would remove contribution limits once an outside group spends $100, 000 on behalf of one candidate for the Legislature or local government. Lifting the restrictions would give an opponent a chance to “level the playing field,” she said. The trigger to lift the limits in a campaign for a statewide office would be $250, 000.

The Hill: Obama fundraiser: Embrace of super-PAC was unnecessary 
By Josh Lederman
A major fundraiser for President Obama who sits on his national finance committee said there was no need for Obama’s reelection campaign to embrace the super-PAC supporting him.

Politico: Super PAC ‘Super-O-Rama’ for President Obama 
Strapped for cash and facing a tidal wave of big-money Republican attack ads, Democratic super PACs are putting an unlikely plan in motion: the Super-O-Rama.   

NY Times: Kerry’s 2004 Campaign Manager Joins Obama ‘Super PAC’ 
Mary Beth Cahill, who was the campaign manager for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, is joining the effort to help re-elect President Obama as an adviser to the leading “super PAC” supporting him.  

Associated Press: Obama raises $44 million in April as GOP ‘super’ PAC unleashes new multistate ad campaign
By Jack Gillum 
President Barack Obama raised a combined $43.6 million in April for his campaign and the Democratic Party as he faces a unifying Republican effort around Mitt Romney for the White House.


Slate: Unleash the Hounds
By Richard Hasen
The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin this week revealed  juicy bits from the Supreme Court’s deliberations as it considered Citizens United,  the thunderous case in which the court allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums on candidate elections,  paving the way for big-spending super PACs. Toobin told of a secret draft Citizens United dissent by Justice David Souter that has never been released—a draft that Souter,  who has since retired,  should now make public.

New Yorker: Why John Edwards Matters
By Amy Davidson
In stark, or maybe crude terms, the trial raises questions about campaign finance, the business of image-making, the pivotal role of a single large donor, and how much we really care about a candidate’s character. The legal issues include whether hiding one’s mistress should be considered a campaign expense (the government contends that it should) and whether, even after dropping out of a race, a candidate inhabits a sort of perpetual campaign, in which the money he takes and spends can be subject to finance laws. It is about how money breaches the boundaries of the personal and political, and that is not only an issue for Edwards. It is one of the central problems in politics today.   

Slate: Is Campaign Disclosure Heading Back to the Supreme Court?
By Richard Hasen
The news this week that a federal appeals court has refused to block a lower court ruling requiring the disclosure of more funders of campaign ads has campaign finance reformers tasting their first victory in a long time. “It’s the first major breakthrough in overcoming the massive amounts of secret contributions that are flowing into federal elections,” Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 told the Los Angeles Times. But don’t expect to see Karl Rove’s Rolodex just yet. Crossroads GPS and other groups have found that raising money from donors who don’t want to be disclosed is good for business, and they’ve got a few ways to keep the unlimited money poured into campaigns secret yet. And before you get too excited it’s worth considering that the Supreme Court could well help them keep their secrets in 2012, even though the court has so far been a big supporter of disclosure laws. 

Candidates and parties

Washington Post: Deb Fischer,  and what (political) money can’t buy
By Aaron Blake
Fischer’s win in the primary Tuesday is a testament to the fact that politics is still about campaigns and that money isn’t the be-all,  end-all.

Washington Post: Could campaign finance free for all cost GOP a Senate seat? 
By Jonathan Bernstein 
Until very recently the primary appeared to be a showdown between Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, a seemingly up-and-coming politician who appears to be a very strong general election candidate, and state Treasurer Don Stenberg, who has received support from national conservative groups like the Club for Growth. It’s not unusual for a third candidate to benefit from a vicious negative campaign run by two well-funded frontrunners, but there’s a new element this year: The $200,000 dropped by Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts into the race on behalf of Fischer and against Bruning.  

The Hill: Sen. McCain huddles with Democrats on new campaign finance reform proposal 
By Alexander Bolton
Sen. John McCain is talking with Democrats about a joint effort to require outside groups that have spent millions of dollars on this year’s elections to disclose their donors.

Joe Trotter

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