Business of Politics

Ivanka Trump Brand Surges Online

CNBC: “Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway got caught up in an ethics controversy for urging Americans to ‘go buy Ivanka’s stuff’ during an interview on Fox News in early February saying ‘you can find it online.’ It turns out, shoppers did.”

“Sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise dropped 26 percent online in January compared to January 2016, but the trend reversed in February. According to Slice Intelligence, online sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise swelled 207 percent in February from the prior month.”

Democrats Are Desperate for Bernie’ Email List

Mother Jones: “Campaigns and political action committees regularly purchase supporter lists from other organizations, as a shortcut to raise money and recruit volunteers. Large, lucrative lists can become valuable commodities in the campaign marketplace. (President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign rented his list to Organizing for Action for $1.2 million in 2015.) But former Sanders staffers and consultants scoff at the demand for the list. They way they see it, clamoring for access misses the point. The list wasn’t the campaign’s secret weapon; Sanders was.”

Said senior Sanders adviser Becky Bond: “They keep thinking it’s the list. It’s so crazy. It’s like someone who buys a $12,000 bicycle and thinks they can win the Tour de France.”

New Nonprofit Selling Access to Trump

Center for Public Integrity: “A new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering access to the freshly-minted president during inauguration weekend — all in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed ‘conservation’ charities… And the donors’ identities may never be known.”

A brochure shows that prospective million-dollar donors to the “Opening Day 2017” event — slated for Jan. 21, the day after inauguration — receive a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump” and a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team.”

Gingrich Boosts His Speaking Fee

Newt Gingrich’s speaking agency sent out a notice Thursday afternoon informing potential customers that the former House Speaker’s fee would increase due to his “insight into President-elect Trump’s philosophies, principles and objectives,” according to Playbook.

“If you want to book the former House speaker for a D.C. speech, it will now cost you $25,000 plus ground transportation. For speeches east of Chicago, he’s charging $60,000 plus first class travel for two, and for speeches west of Chicago, he’s asking $75,000 plus first class travel for two. It’s an increase of about $15,000, our source tells us. No wonder he wanted to stay out of the administration!”

How Trump Is Making Money Off His Campaign

CBS News: “Donald Trump has contributed more than $52 million to his presidential campaign… But the Republican nominee has offset some of that by pouring $7.2 million dollars — just over eight percent of the money his campaign has spent through July —  into his own businesses.”

“Since Trump moved into the general election phase, that spending has increased. During the first year of his campaign, he spent on average half a million dollars a month at his own companies. But as his campaign ramped up from the end of June through July, he spent $1.2 million at Trump businesses.”

Secret Ledger In Ukraine Shows Cash for Manafort

New York Times: “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012… Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”

“Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.”

Think Tanks Blur Lines Around Corporate Influence

New York Times: “Think tanks, which position themselves as ‘universities without students,’ have power in government policy debates because they are seen as researchers independent of moneyed interests. But in the chase for funds, think tanks are pushing agendas important to corporate donors, at times blurring the line between researchers and lobbyists. And they are doing so while reaping the benefits of their tax-exempt status, sometimes without disclosing their connections to corporate interests.”

“Thousands of pages of internal memos and confidential correspondence between Brookings and other donors — like JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank; K.K.R., the global investment firm; Microsoft, the software giant; and Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate — show that financial support often came with assurances from Brookings that it would provide ‘donation benefits,’ including setting up events featuring corporate executives with government officials.”

How Bill Clinton Changed the Political Speech Industry

Los Angeles Times: “He would push not just corporate hosts but also nonprofits and universities to pay fees well beyond what they were accustomed to. His aides would turn what had been a freewheeling format into tightly scripted events where every question from the audience was screened. He and Hillary Clinton would become so skilled at churning profits out of their lectures that they would net more than $150 million from speaking alone after he left the White House.”

“Contracts and internal emails connected to half a dozen speeches Clinton gave in the Bay Area soon after departing the White House offer a glimpse into the unusual demands and outsize expense reports associated with bringing him to town.”

Trump Makes Money By Running for President

“Business has boomed in Donald Trump’s financial empire during the time he has run for president, according to an analysis of his federal disclosure forms,” the Washington Post reports.

“The documents, including a lengthy filing released Wednesday and one from last July, show that revenue has increased by almost­ $190­­ million, with gains coming from golf courses to branded merchandise to book royalties.”

“The flood of cash highlights one of the most unusual aspects of Trump’s candidacy — the potential that a private businessman can benefit financially from a run for the White House. And it shows how his fortunes have evolved since last year, when his controversial comments about immigration and Muslims threatened to tarnish his business brand even if they boosted his political campaign.”

Koch Brothers Machine Much Bigger Than GOP

“The political machine that Charles Koch launched a dozen years ago in a Chicago hotel conference room with 16 other rich conservatives has exploded in size and influence in the past few elections and now eclipses the official GOP in key areas,” Politico reports.

“Koch and his brother David Koch have quietly assembled, piece by piece, a privatized political and policy advocacy operation like no other in American history that today includes hundreds of donors and employs 1,200 full-time, year-round staffers in 107 offices nationwide. That’s about 3½ times as many employees as the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had on their main payrolls last month.”

Walker Rents Email List to Rivals

“Scott Walker has begun selling access to his email list to pay off his leftover presidential debt… But there’s a catch,” Politico reports.

“While it never says so in the emails from his old foes, or anywhere, the money that donors give isn’t necessarily all going to whichever smiling candidate is pictured on the site and writing the email. That is because Walker’s committee has struck secret deals with at least some of his old competitors to split the proceeds — unbeknownst to those doing the giving.”

Several Have Earned Speaking Fees While Running

Politico: “Presidential candidates typically take a timeout from the paid-speech circuit to avoid potential conflicts of interest and thorny restrictions on mixing campaign and personal business. But that hasn’t stopped Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina or Mike Huckabee, who chose to fulfill commitments to the nonprofits and business groups that signed them up for five-figure fees before they jumped into the race.”

Raising Money to Raise More Money

Los Angeles Times: “Before he entered the race, … Carson signed on to … American Legacy PAC, an organization with ties to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. With Carson as the face of its Save Our Healthcare campaign, American Legacy raised close to $6 million in 2014 – and spent nearly all of it paying the consultants and firms that raised the money. Just 2% was donated to Republican candidates and committees.”