Daily Media Links 7/27: Money, influence are here to stay: Opposing view, Report: FEC Leaders, managers share blame for horrid morale, and more…

In the News

 USA Today: Money, influence are here to stay: Opposing view

David Keating

Money and influence are never going to disappear from campaigns, and shouldn’t. Even if people couldn’t give to campaigns, big employers, big labor, celebrities and big media would all gain influence. Those with money would just find another way to influence government. They might instead look to buy media outlets, which are exempt from all campaign speech laws. Indeed, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos already bought The Washington Post.

As Churchill was trying to tell us, the alternatives are often worse. For example, some have expressed valid concerns about foreigners influencing our campaigns. There are indications the DNC emails may have been stolen by Russians. The Russians may well want to use them to influence the presidential race. But would that justify a ban on news coverage of emails hacked by other nations? Of course not.

Likewise, many of the cures touted for money in politics would restrict campaign speech by citizens. Yet none of the emails currently causing controversy implicates independent campaign speech.

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CCP

Amicus Brief: Wolfson v. Concannon

Courts have thus embraced the aspect of the Williams-Yulee reasoning that upheld a speech restriction, while ignoring the language that this Court deliberately used to cabin the scope of the Williams-Yulee doctrine.

Political speech—including political speech in judicial elections—is at the heart of the First Amendment’s protections. This Court should safeguard that speech by reaffirming the narrowness of the Williams-Yulee decision.

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DNC Emails

Politico: DNC sought to hide details of Clinton funding deal

Kenneth P. Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf

The emails show the officials agreeing to withhold information from reporters about the Hillary Victory Fund’s allocation formula, working to align their stories about when — or if — the DNC had begun funding coordinated campaign committees with the states. They also show one official blaming Sanders for putting the DNC between “a real rock vs hard place” by forcing “a fight in the media with the party bosses over big money fundraising.”

The DNC’s deputy communications director Eric Walker in late April emailed a group of top officials asserting that the party shouldn’t “discuss funding allocations in the press for the RNC to see what we’re doing.” His boss Luis Miranda responded “There’s been no coverage that we’ve found, which is what we wanted.”

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New York Times: In Hacked D.N.C. Emails, a Glimpse of How Big Money Works

Nicholas Confessore and Steve Eder

The emails capture a world where seating charts are arranged with dollar totals in mind, where a White House celebration of gay pride is a thinly disguised occasion for rewarding wealthy donors and where physical proximity to the president is the most precious of currencies.

In a statement, Amy Dacey, the chief executive of the Democratic committee, said the party had “engaged a record number of people in the political process” and “adhered to the highest of standards.”

The emails reflect the struggles of midlevel staff members in a demanding environment, seeking to bring in money at a steady clip while balancing demands from donors and party officials.

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Breitbart: Clinton and DNC at Risk for Campaign Finance Violations

Chriss W. Street

The current federal election campaign laws require strict separation between a political party and a candidate. The party cannot 1) coordinate with candidates and 2) use party soft money funds raised for “party building activities,” such as efforts to “get-out-the-vote” and generic “issue advertising” to promote a particular candidate.

The WikiLeaks disclosures suggest a deep “coordination” between the DNC and the Clinton campaign, but there is no direct evidence in the initial dump of hacked emails that there were any “coordinated expenditures” between the DNC and Clinton. It is possible, however, that the use of DNC staff man-hours and equipment to aid one candidate in the context of a primary election could have violated the soft-money expenditure ban.

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Washington Post: DNC staffers disparaged top party fundraiser and Wasserman Schultz ally

Matea Gold

When the DNC finance team was planning a small high-dollar donor meeting with President Obama in May, they commiserated over having to deal with Bittel and plotted how to keep him away from the president.

 “Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn’t sit next to POTUS!” national finance director Jordan Kaplan wrote to one of his deputies, Alexandra Shapiro.

“Bittel will be sitting in the [expletive] corner I can find,” she responded. The developer ended up five seats over from the president, according to a seating chart provided to the White House before the event.

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Law.com: Perkins Coie’s Myriad Roles Raise DNC Conflict Questions

Susan Beck

A review of DNC emails posted online by WikiLeaks raises questions about whether Perkins Coie lawyers blurred the lines between its clients. Elias, the Clinton campaign’s lead counsel, was included in several email exchanges in which DNC staffers discussed strategy. In one email, Elias urged DNC officials to attack Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for allegedly lying when he accused the DNC of improperly using campaign money in a “Joint Victory Fund” to help Clinton…

Two lawyers who do political work and asked not to be named said Perkins Coie’s near monopoly on federal Democratic politics has drawn criticism before this scandal erupted. One said it wasn’t a good idea for the DNC to be advised by the same firm that’s representing one of the party’s candidates. “You really do have to be careful about appearances as well as actual conflicts,” this person said.

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USA Today: Money in politics

Editorial Board

Perhaps sometime in a faraway world, the blessed day will arrive when Citizens United is reversed. For the time being, however, there’s a big difference between what the Democrats are saying and what they are doing. The leaked Democratic National Committee emails, in addition to showing DNC favoritism toward Hillary Clinton in her race against Sanders, provide an unseemly inside look at the care and feeding of major donors.

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Dangers of Disclosure

Ottawa Citizen: DNC hack shows the end of privacy in politics

Madeline Ashby

But this leak, and others, speaks to a larger trend regarding the end of privacy, especially in regards to politics. And it’s this trend which is more troubling than any one leak, or the content of any particular email. Ultimately, breaches and leaks like this could have a chilling effect on the very nature of democracy. Imagine all your emails to your member of Parliament or all your donations – to a political party, a non-profit or even your local queer-friendly sexual health clinic – suddenly made public, where your in-laws and exes and potential business partners could read them.

There is nothing wrong with donating to causes you support, or communicating with your representatives. But what if you knew that all of those gestures would later be used in some internecine political chess game? Would it change how you behaved? This is the loss of privacy and the advancement of surveillance culture at work.

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Activism

CNN: Inside the ‘Democracy Spring’ protests at the DNC

Gregory Krieg

Democracy Spring took the unique step of gathering protesters at a church a block north of Philadelphia’s city hall for what amounted to a seminar in nonviolent civil disobedience.

More than 100 activists sat in the pews of the Arch Street United Methodist Church for training that included mock arrests and de-escalation role-playing. Lead trainer Kim Huynh asked her pupils to pull each other aside and discuss why they had come here and what they hoped to accomplish.

Their plans included ending closed primaries, banning nuclear weapons, getting big money out of politics — and seeing Rosario Dawson. (She has protested with the group before, but was not involved on Monday.)

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FEC

Center for Public Integrity: Report: FEC Leaders, managers share blame for horrid morale

Dave Levinthal

Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission staff is one of the federal government’s most bedraggled.

That’s the dispiriting — if unsurprising — conclusion of a new report from the FEC’s Office of Inspector General, which for months had conducted employee surveys and interviews in hopes of answering a nagging question: why, specifically, is agency morale so consistently rotten?…

“Tone and attitude perceived as poor,” the report said of the commissioners.

“Too many disparaging public statements … employees feel work not valued,” it continues.

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Lobbying

The Hill: Chamber of Commerce’s top lobbyist retiring

Megan R. Wilson

Bruce Josten, second in command at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be retiring at the end of the year, the powerful business group announced on Monday.

Josten, whose official job title is executive vice president, has led the Chamber’s government affairs and policy divisions for more than two decades. He been with the group for 42 years.

“It’s hard to imagine the Chamber without him,” said CEO Tom Donohue in a statement.

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IRS

National Law Review: IRS Steps into Fray on Political Activities

Susan Leahy and Matthew S. Shapanka

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued two private letter rulings (PLRs) that may be interesting for tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity.

In the first ruling, the IRS held that a company could not deduct payments made to charity under a PAC matching contribution program as an “ordinary and necessary business expense.” While the Internal Revenue Code already prohibits income tax deductions for political contributions, the company requested a PLR holding that the charitable contributions are deductible business expenses.  In rejecting the deduction, the PLR reasoned that “the contributions to [the] PAC and [the company’s] matching contributions are inextricably linked,” because the company would not have donated to the charity but for the employees’ contributions to the PAC.   Plus, the letter held, the matching program is intended to incentivize contributions to the PAC,  thus the charitable contributions are clearly “in connection with a political campaign” and not deductible.

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The States

Daily Caller: ABC Denies Claims They Pressured Reality Star To Drop Out Of Colorado House Race

Katie Jerkovich

“These assertions are categorically and patently untrue,” a Freeform spokesperson said. “Freeform simply shared with Mr. Higgins its concern that broadcasting and promoting a show featuring a campaign for Colorado state office could raise significant compliance issues under Colorado election laws.”

A source told the outlet that the network had been notified of the state’s campaign finance laws and assured that filming Higgins running for the House seat in the upcoming reality show would not be breaking any laws.

On Friday, “The Bachelor” star announced he was withdrawing his run for the House seat in Colorado’s fourth district. On the same day, reports came out that the network was “uncomfortable” with Higgins running as a Republican and had threatened to pull the show.

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