Daily Media Links 5/6: Roskam, Dold hit for ‘opening door’ to foreign dark money, Paul Ryan Won’t Back Donald Trump, Signaling a Republican Party in Crisis, and more…

May 6, 2016   •  By Brian Walsh   •  
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Donor Privacy

Crain’s Chicago Business: Roskam, Dold hit for ‘opening door’ to foreign dark money

Greg Hinz

Organizations such as Common Cause, the Sunlight Foundation and Public Citizen say the requirement, already included in federal law, is one of the only ways available to monitor whether “dark money” 501(c) tax exempts are being used by foreign agents to secretly pour money into U.S. political campaigns.

But the congressmen involved, DuPage County Republican Peter Roskam and north suburban colleague Bob Dold, said such data almost never is released by the Internal Revenue Service and that, in any event, the IRS plays no formal role in enforcing campaign finance laws…

Roskam, through a spokesman, said the IRS “cannot tell us why” it needs the information and that the agency, in fact, “has a miserable record when it comes to safeguarding sensitive data and a history of targeting non-profits that disagree with the Obama administration’s policies.”

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Political Parties

Fortune: Paul Ryan Won’t Back Donald Trump, Signaling a Republican Party in Crisis

Tory Newmyer

House Speaker Paul Ryan dropped a bombshell Thursday afternoon by announcing he is not yet willing to support Trump. “I am not there right now,” Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper, adding that the presumptive nominee still needs to prove his conservative bona fides and work to bring the party’s disparate wings aboard. “Conservatives want to know, does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution? There are lots of questions that conservatives, I think, are going to want answers to, myself included.”

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U.S. News and World Report: Donald Trump to Strike Campaign Finance Deal With RNC

Gabrielle Levy

The brash billionaire, who frequently touted his wealth as proof he couldn’t be bought, said he would sign a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee on Thursday…

Through such a joint fundraising agreement, the RNC can transfer individual donations up to $2,700 directly to Trump’s campaign, according to campaign finance laws. It can accept checks up to $334,000 that benefit the party – and by extension, Trump – although just $33,400 can be used for “candidate advocacy” and the balance must be for broader use by the party for the conventions, cost of elections and other maintenance.

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Independent Groups

Fortune: Trump Decides He’s Not Rich Enough to Self-Fund His Campaign

Ian Mount

But the big money will come from bigger donors and outside PACs. And in the world of Super PACs, one is already mobilizing to help elect Trump.

According to the Journal, in a Wednesday conference call with donors, Republican campaign advisor Ed Rollins said that the Super PAC where he was recently hired as co-chairman, Great America PAC, was going to be a major part of the campaign. “Usually a super PAC is frosting on a cake,” he said. “We’re going to be part of the cake.”

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USA Today: Often-secret donors spend big to push elected officials’ pet projects

Fredreka Schouten and Mary Troyan

In Los Angeles, Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti helped establish a nonprofit, Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, to raise funds for his initiatives, ranging from a public campaign to encourage city residents to reduce their water usage to a program that keeps parks and recreation centers open after dark during the summer months. It raised $14.6 million in its first full fiscal year, drawing support from philanthropic groups such as the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, to companies such as Goldman Sachs and Paramount Pictures, according to its website.

Garcetti has said he has no control over the fund, which he describes on the website as a public-private partnership that “enables the nimbleness of private enterprise to meet the scale of city government.”

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Mediaite: New PAC Formed to Pressure White Males Not to Run For Office

Alex Griswold

In Los Angeles, Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti helped establish a nonprofit, Mayor’s “Can You Not PAC is a political action project that aims to dis/empower and dis/incline people in positions of privilege, specifically straight white men, from ambitions of running for office in progressive urban districts,” its website reads. “We challenge brogressives and others to reject any notion that they are uniquely qualified or positioned to seek political office in districts that don’t need them.”

In an interview with MSNBC, the two white millennials behind the PAC say it initially began as a joke. But they became deadly serious after raising $2,000 in the first 24 hours.

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Washington Post: The U.S. political system is flawed but not corrupt

Stephen K. Medvic

Though our political system is flawed and perhaps even “rigged” in certain important ways, there is very little political corruption in the United States. This claim is typically met with disbelief. How can anyone argue that our political process is not corrupted by the vast amounts of money spent on campaigns and the countless hours elected officials and their challengers spend raising that money?

One’s answer to that question depends, of course, on one’s definition of “corruption.” The standard definition is that corruption is the use of public position for private gain. From this perspective, the archetypal corrupt act is a bribe. So if we are judging U.S. politics by the number of bribes being taken, we can reach no other conclusion than that there is little political corruption in the United States.

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Washington Post: How the Supreme Court gets corruption totally wrong

Zephyr Teachout

While quid pro quo is, in fact, a Latin phrase, that’s the extent of the rightness of his argument. The phrase comes from contract law, and traditionally was used to describe a relatively equal exchange between parties to a contract. It is not historically a phrase from corruption law. “Quid pro quo” appeared less than 100 times in all state and federal bribery and extortion cases before 1976. That year, Buckley v. Valeo struck down limits on campaign spending while upholding limits on campaign contributions. There, the Court used the phrase quid pro quo in passing. But the Roberts Court has clung to it, using it to narrow the definition of corruption and thus broaden the limits of what our representatives can do. This new standard is inappropriately limited and reveals an unrealistic view of the corruption in our politics.

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BuzzFeed: Liberal Group Launches Targeted Campaign Against Google’s RNC Partnership

Tarini Parti

The video, which will be promoted by Facebook ads, will target about 10,000 Google employees in D.C. and at its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Activists are also be making phone calls to Google staffers in D.C., urging them to change their mind about sponsoring the event.

“Our main goal is to put corporations on notice that if they support the RNC, they’re buying Trump’s whole platform,” said Heidi Hess, senior campaign manager for CREDO Action.

The efforts haven’t changed the company’s decision yet. Google is moving forward with its plans for the convention and views its sponsorship as nonpartisan, and its role at the RNC as more of a media partner.

Since Trump’s announcement last year, companies have been wary of associating their brand with the billionaire, creating a problem for party committees who have to raise millions for the conventions. Many companies don’t want to come off as partisan and give equally to both parties for their conventions. If they cut back on giving to Republicans, they will likely also have to reduce their giving to the DNC.

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Citizens United

More Soft Money Hard Law: Michael Kinsley’s Defense of Citizens United

Bob Bauer

A majority of the Court concluded that some conception of its duty in the matter – – some view of its role as exclusive shepherd of First Amendment values – – required that it cut short the debate and limit what ordinary political processes could contribute to a resolution.  A case about nonprofit ideological corporations became a case about all corporations, and a claim to engage in targeted speech, reading only those who wanted to hear it, was transformed into a constitutional basis for corporate-financed electioneering directed toward the widest possible audience.

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Wall Street Journal: Former Ron Paul Consultants Found Guilty of Campaign Finance Violations

Byron Tau

A federal jury in Des Moines on Thursday found Jesse Benton, John Tate and Dimitri Kesari guilty on several counts related to the payoff to a prominent Iowa politician during the 2012 presidential campaign…

Prosecutors charged the trio covered up payments of more than $70,000 to then-Republican Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson to secure an endorsement for Mr. Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. The payments were intended to induce Mr. Sorenson to shift his support from presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to Mr. Paul, prosecutors alleged.

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Supreme Court

New York Times: No Trump Effect, Yet, on Supreme Court Stalemate

Carl Hulse

Those pushing the stalled nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court had hoped that Donald J. Trump’s triumph in the Republican presidential primary would lead to a breakthrough with Senate Republicans who might suddenly see Judge Garland as an acceptable choice, rather than wait for Mr. Trump to lose and allow either Hillary Clinton or Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to make the pick.

Some conservatives, including the editors of the website RedState, agreed, urging Senate Republicans to act “before it was too late” and not allow President Obama to withdraw Judge Garland’s nomination.

But it was not to be — at least not yet.

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Washington Post: ‘Cagney and Lacey’ actresses reunite for Hillary Clinton fundraiser

Emily Heil

Now the actresses who played the New York cops — Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, respectively — are teaming up for another mission: raising money for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Along with “Cagney and Lacey” exec producer Barney Rosenzweig, they’re hosting a fundraiser on Wednesday night at the New York home of theater producer Paul Boskind.

And another celeb is pitching for the former SecState that same night: actress/activist Eva Longoria will be in Washington for a fundraiser, hosted along with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.

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Washington Free Beacon: Hillary Supporter Lady Gaga Paid $21,000 By Clinton Campaign

Joe Schoffstall

Two months after the event, on Aug. 25, 2015, Hillary for American made a $21,088 payment to Mermaid Touring Inc. for “event production” in Los Angeles, California. The company is registered in the state of New York and lists Stefani Germanotta, the birth name of Lady Gaga, as its chief executive officer.

Gaga urged her New York-based fans on Twitter to get out and vote for Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Hillary for America’s New York primary day blog highlighted the tweet on its website.

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Candidates and Campaigns

CPI: Donald Trump’s New Finance Guru: Once A Clinton Donor, Soros Employee

Carrie Levine, Michael Beckel, Dave Levinthal, and Cady Zuvich

Private investor Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s new campaign fundraising guru, has contributed more than $120,000 to a mix of Democrats, Republicans and bipartisan political groups since 1995, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission and Center for Responsive Politics data indicates.

Over the years, more than half of Mnuchin’s federal-level political contributions have benefited Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Clinton, Trump’s all-but-certain general election rival.

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New York Times: Bernie Sanders’s Legacy? The Left May No Longer Need the Rich

Nate Cohn

Mr. Sanders’s weakness among affluent Democrats and his strength among working-class Democrats might seem unsurprising, given his class-focused message. Mr. Sanders himself anticipated it in an interview with The Upshot in July.

But in broader historical terms, it might be something of a turning point in Democratic politics: the moment when the party’s left no longer needs an alliance with wealthy liberals to compete in national elections.

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Huffington Post: Jeb Bush’s Campaign Shows Just How Insufferable Big Money Donors Can Be

Sam Stein

Not surprisingly, people who have been highly successful in the world of finance feel that their acumen translates well to the world of politics. And on certain occasions the insights can be valuable. But what stood out to Miller was the type of issues that the Bush donors obsessed over.

They worried about his clothes.

“It was honestly sartorial,” Miller recalled. “Donors had a lot of thoughts about his cable TV look. Donors are obsessed with cable TV. The most feedback we got was with regards to cable TV: Why aren’t you on enough? When you are on? Why is he not wearing a suit coat rather than a sweater? Can he get a new suit coat jacket?’”

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The States

Texas Tribune: Nifty or Shifty: A Campaign Finance Quiz

Lauren Flannery

Politicians like to think of the money in their campaign accounts as their own. It’s not, but sometimes it seems that way.

Below are five cases where the Texas Ethics Commission has rendered its official position. Take the test: Given these situations, what do you think they can get away with?

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Brian Walsh

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