A must-read e-book just out: Lesterland: The Corruption of Congress and How to End It by Lawrence Lessig.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune runs a fascinating profile of Peter Waldron, the man behind a pair of campaign finance inquiries that have given Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) “more bad publicity than anything lobbed her way by the political left.”
“Close Bachmann associates write Waldron off as a loose cannon and disgruntled employee. But for Waldron, a former radio evangelist, his actions are consistent with his decades long mission to spread the word of God and follow his Christian precepts.”
“But there’s an irony alert ahead: the current stated purpose of SarahPAC is to raise money ahead of the 2014 election–most of which will be spent on conservative consultants.”
“Seen through the lens of the invaluable Center for Responsive Politics, Palin’s PAC spent $5.1 million in the last election cycle (more than it raised in that time period, raising some questions about Palin’s claims of fiscal responsibility). But the real news comes when you look at how donors’ money was actually doled out: just $298,500 to candidates. The bulk of the rest of it, more than $4.8 million, went to–you guessed it–consultants.”
The Week: “To become a United States senator, you must be at least 30 years old, have nine or more years of citizenship to your name, and live in the state you wish to represent. You also need, on average, $10.5 million.”
“In general, House races were far cheaper than Senate contests, with
victorious candidates raising an average of about $1.7 million.”
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the largest Republican donor in last year’s presidential campaign, has informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that his company likely violated a federal law against bribing foreign officials, the New York Times reports.
The FBI suggests Justin Lamar Sternad’s (D) campaign finance reports “could have concealed as much as $100,000 in services and mailers, some of which attacked a Democratic rival of Rivera, who is a Republican.”
“Although Rivera is a target of the investigation, his name is nowhere in the indictment of Sternad.”
“The Constitution must be amended. The Dred Scott decision had to be repealed, we have to repeal Citizens United.”
— Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), quoted by BuzzFeed, comparing the decision upholding slavery to the campaign finance ruling.
The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to campaign finance laws limiting how much an individual can give to political campaigns, the Associated Press reports.
The justices agreed to hear an appeal from an Alabama resident and the RNC who are arguing that it’s unconstitutional to stop a donor from giving more than $46,200 to political candidates and $70,800 to political committees and PACs.
Rick Hasen: “A ruling in this case could have important implications not only on the
issue itself, but on the broader question whether the Court will change
the standard for judging the constitutionality of limits on
contributions, an issue the Court expressly declined to address in Citizens United.”
CBS Chicago reports a tentative plea deal for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) “calls for him to plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds and let a federal judge determine whether he serves any time in prison.”
“The former congressman would also agree to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars spent over a four-year-period for things like a $40,000 men’s Rolex watch he bought for himself, as well as clothing, meals and travel expenses.”
NBC Chicago confirms Jackson has signed the deal.
With the announcement that his campaign will relaunch as a nonprofit that will take unlimited corporate donations (possibly behind a veil of secrecy), Justin Elliot finds President Obama has reversed himself on a major money-in-politics issue for the fourth time since 2008.
“Labor unions and Hollywood donors are open to bankrolling Organizing for Action, the outside group that has been formed in support of President Obama’s second-term agenda,” The Hill reports.
“To the dismay of campaign finance reformers, Organizing for Action will operate as a 501(c)(4), a tax-exempt vehicle that was used during the 2012 campaign to evade donor disclosure while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign ads.”
Mother Jones obtained internal documents used at a recent board meeting of Freedom Works that sheds light on how the powerful Tea Party group finances its operations.
Splitsider reports that comedian Stephen Colbert will give the remaining $773,704.83 left over from his campaign super PAC to charities helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.
ProPublica obtained Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS’ confidential 2010 application for tax-exempt stautus and finds that while the group told the IRS it would spend some money to influence elections, it said “any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”
Wonk Wire highlights how money is still ruining elections even if it isn’t necessarily deciding them.
The Economist: “If, as the the saying goes, ‘a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality’, then perhaps an advocate of stricter campaign-finance laws is a newly elected congressman or senator who has weathered months of negative ads funded by third-party groups freed from spending limits or disclosure requirements. That, at least, is the hope of many both inside and outside Congress.”
Politico reports Democrats are planning a permanent network of officially blessed independent groups that leverages liberals’ increasing acceptance and appreciation of outside money to compete with a much-better-funded Republican shadow party.
The New York Times profiles Rex Sinquefield, “who in recent years has emerged as the biggest political donor in Missouri and one of the most prolific anywhere in the country.”
“Since 2008, when Missouri abolished contribution limits, Mr. Sinquefield has donated more than $20 million to local candidates and political action committees, driving the political debate on issues like education, upending the political world here and making him perhaps the most influential private citizen in the state. More than half of that money has gone to advance his signature cause: eliminating state and local income taxes in Missouri, a major source of government revenue, and replacing them with sales taxes.”
☑️ Have you have ever wondered if or how the United States might break up? Now available as an audio book: A More Perfect Union: Reimagining The United States as a European Union-style Federation.