Daily Media Links 3/28: RNLA: Campaign Legal Center’s Sordid History of “Encouraging” the IRS, CPI: Ready for Hillary Courts Super PAC Skeptics, WSJ: Rate That Oligarch, and more…

IRS

RNLA: Campaign Legal Center’s Sordid History of “Encouraging” the IRS

By Paul Jossey

While CLC would initially claim it was “breathtaking” that the IRS would be “harassing mom-and-pop tea party organizations,” it knew exactly what was going on and had publicly encouraged the IRS.

A March 9, 2012 CLC letter to the IRS quoted a New York Times article: “In recent weeks, the IRS has sent dozens of detailed questionnaires to Tea Party organizations applying for nonprofit tax status, demanding to know their political leanings and activities.”

The letter goes on to quote an attorney in the article calling IRS methods, “McCarthyism tactics” and “a coordinated effort by the IRS to stifle free speech.”

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Independent Groups

CPI: Ready for Hillary Courts Super PAC Skeptics

By Michael Beckel

Like other super PACs, Ready for Hillary can trace its origins to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010, which helped paved the way for political action committees to raise unlimited sums of money to call for the election or defeat of candidates.

President Barack Obama, under whom Clinton served as secretary of state, said in 2010 that he couldn’t “think of anything more devastating to the public interest” thanCitizens United.

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Disclosure

WSJ: Rate That Oligarch

Editorial

You may have noticed that our friends on the left have begun to refer to the Koch brothers and other rich conservatives as “oligarchs.” Like calling evangelicals “jihadists” and the tea party “racist,” this comparison to the billionaires in Vladimir Putin’s circle is meant to stigmatize and marginalize these men politically and socially.

This latest Saul Alinsky tactic got us thinking about who really qualifies as an American oligarch. If the definition is someone who becomes rich by association with government power and policies, and then assists those in power, the Kochs would barely make the list. Their companies are usually harassed by government.

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CPI: Inside the Koch brothers’ campus crusade

By Dave Levinthal

Billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch may rank among the nation’s biggest bankrollers of conservative causes and Republican campaign vehicles. But Koch proselytizing of government deregulation and pro-business civics is increasingly targeted not just at creatures of Capitol Hill, or couch sitters in swing states, but at the hearts and minds of American college students, as well.

In all, two of the six private charitable foundations the Koch brothers control and personally fund combined in 2012 to infuse colleges and universities with more than $12.7 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internal Revenue Service tax filings.

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Lobbying

More Soft Money Hard Law: Fiascos and Matters of Degree

By Bob Bauer

The most recent issue of Election Law Journal offers interesting writing on lobbying. One of the articles, Money, Priorities and Stalemate: How Lobbying Affects Public Policy, is a study by Professor Frank R. Baumgartner and several colleagues who show that there is an unimpressive relationship between the resources devoted to lobbying and particular outcomes that the lobbyists had hoped to bring about. The authors do not suggest that the money put behind lobbying has no effect, only that we should understand better the nature of the effect and its limits. A number of factors, they argue, are relevant to the measurement of lobbying success, including the capacity of lobbyists to hold the attention of lawmakers who must choose among a broad range of issues in allocating their time. The co-authors of this study also stress that many of the advantages possessed by well-established interests are already “baked in” to public policy, and therein lies a major advantage: that it is much harder to change a policy than to establish one. 

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Ethics

NY Times: U.S. Investigates Brothers From Ecuador With Ties to Campaigns

By FRANCES ROBLES

Two years ago in Ecuador, the brothers, Roberto and William Isaias, were sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for embezzling millions from a bank they owned there. In South Florida, where they now live, many see them as respected businessmen, and their family members have donated more than $300,000 to the political campaigns of Democrats and Republicans, including $90,000 to President Obama’s re-election effort in 2012.  

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State and Local

New York –– Newsday: Advocates bash idea of constitutional amendment on campaign-finance

By Yancey Roy

Good-government groups, pressing lawmakers to back publicly financed political campaigns, issued a report Tuesday saying Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was the biggest beneficiary of the state’s weak campaign-contribution regulations. 

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North Carolina –– Fox: Mayor of Charlotte resigns after public corruption, bribe charges

The 47-year-old Cannon is accused of accepting more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen who wanted to do work with Charlotte.

A criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney says the Democrat, who has been mayor for six months, accepted cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment as bribes and solicited more than $1 million more.

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