Daily Media Links 8/31: Addicted to Making Campaign Contributions?, The Clinton scandals: No, everyone does not do it, and more…

Campaign Donors

The Atlantic: Addicted to Making Campaign Contributions?

Russell Berman

And if the Sanders campaign and its predecessors resembled a casino trying to turn its first-time customers into regulars, then supporters like Bryant and Grace are its slot-machine donors. They responded to the campaign’s pleas nearly every time. And like more than 1,500 other Sanders contributors, they gave not only generously but excessively; their total donations blew past the $2,700 federal limit for a primary campaign. I reported on this phenomenon back in May, pointing out that while most successful campaigns have donors that give too much, the overeager contingent of Sanders supporters appears to be unprecedented in size.

The excessive donations clearly highlight just how devoted some of Sanders’ fans were to his presidential bid. But they also point to flaws in how the Sanders campaign managed and communicated with his most passionate supporters. Many of his donors were simply unaware of the federal limits, or if they were aware, they assumed the Sanders campaign would prevent them from contributing too much. It didn’t. The Sanders website made it incredibly easy to send money online with just a few clicks, but it made little effort to track how much its supporters were giving or inform them of the cap.

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Independent Groups

USA Today: Rich Democrats surge past GOP in political giving

Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars

Wealthy Democrats and liberal organizations have plowed $134 million into super PACs since early April as Clinton pulled away from rival Bernie Sanders and Trump won a string of primaries on his way to effectively clinching the GOP nomination in early May. By comparison, the Republican Party’s biggest donors contributed $51 million to super PACs during the same period.

The three largest beneficiaries of the Democratic money surge: a pro-Clinton super PAC, a group funded and run by California environmentalist Tom Steyer and a Senate-focused group that just posted its best fundraising haul of the election.

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CBS News: “Dinner with Trump” super PAC gets cease-and-desist letter from Trump campaign

Rebecca Shabad

“You are knowingly defrauding every person who gives you his or her email address or who makes a donation through your unauthorized website,” a letter from Trump’s campaign attorney, Donald McGahn, said to the super PAC, Politico reports.

“Your organization is using these materials in service of a promise you fully know is false — that visitors who submit their names or make donations thereby earn the chance ‘to have dinner with Donald Trump,’” the letter added. “You cannot possibly provide the prize that your website purports to offer.”

Politico says the group’s actual contest offers two tickets to “a Sponsor-selected fundraising evening event held with Donald Trump and other attendees.”

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Lobbying

McClatchy DC: How soon is too soon for ex-lawmakers to turn into lobbyists?

Anna Douglas

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Deborah Ross of Raleigh, North Carolina, wants to hobble the hinges on the “revolving door” from Congress to lobbying by barring former politicians from taking lobbyist jobs until they’ve been out of office for 10 years.

Ross’ support for making former federal lawmakers wait 10 years to lobby – instead of the two-year ban under current law – is part of an ethics plan her campaign unveiled Monday…

Ross says her plan to “clean up politics” includes…

New federal laws to effectively undo the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which allows companies and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising to support or oppose candidates.

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Event

Election Law Blog: APSA Panels on Money in Politics

Campaign Finance Institute

If you are going to the American Political Science Association convention in Philadelphia September 1-4, we’d like you to know about a panel being sponsored by the Campaign Finance Research Group as well as two related panels…

A group of academics are working together to identify what we do and don’t know about campaign finance in American federal elections. The U.S. system of campaign finance is undergoing a major transformation. The group’s efforts are being funded by the Hewlett Foundation, and we were convened by Nate Persily of Stanford University. The group is comprised of Steven Ansolabehere, Robert Boatright, Adam Bonica, Bruce Cain, Diana Dwyre, Erika Franklin Fowler, Kenneth Goldstein, Rich Hall, Keith Hamm, Eitan Hersh, Robin Kolodny, Ray LaRaja, David Magleby, Kenneth Mayer, Nolan McCarty, Jeffrey D. Milyo, David Primo, John Sides, James Snyder, Charles Stewart, Lynn Vavreck, and Abby Wood.

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IRS

Forbes: More Than 100 Law Professors To Congress: Impeaching The IRS Commissioner Is A Bad Idea

Kelly Phillips Erb

Impeachment or censure will harm the country by weakening our revenue system. Impeachment or censure would disrupt the functioning of the IRS—which has had four Commissioners in as many years—leading to increased tax evasion, reduced revenue collection, and a higher national debt. Impeachment or censure would also set a dangerous precedent and deter talented people from working to improve the country’s struggling revenue system.

We also fear that targeting Commissioner Koskinen will distract the Congress from the vital work of enacting meaningful tax reform. Academics, practitioners, and businesses agree that we must revise our revenue system to rationalize and simplify the rules, and to minimize the collateral costs of raising the necessary revenue..

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Effects of Campaign Spending

Politico: Wasserman Schultz survives spirited primary

Elena Schneider

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz won her Democratic primary Tuesday in South Florida, outlasting a challenger who raised more than $3.3 million, much of it from Bernie Sanders supporters seeking to defeat the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman.

Wasserman Schultz, a six-term congresswoman, took 57 percent of the vote to law professor Tim Canova’s 43 percent — an unusually low margin for a member of Congress, but one that came after a bitter and extraordinary national fight between Wasserman Schultz and supporters of Sanders’ insurgent progressive presidential bid.

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TC Palm: Name recognition won the day for Port St. Lucie City Council candidates

Nicole Rodriguez

Never underestimate the power of name recognition.

District 1, 2 and 4 City Council candidates spent big bucks for voters to see their names and slogans plastered on signs, embroidered on T-shirts, stuck to vehicle bumpers and even on emery boards — and it paid off for Tuesday’s winners.

District 4 victor Jolien Caraballo, who will be sworn in Nov. 21, unseated incumbent Ron Bowen after spending more than $4,600 on newspaper ads, T-shirts, a website, signs and business cards, according to campaign finance reports. Money aside, Caraballo made a name for herself when she replaced Bowen briefly two years ago after Bowen was suspended by Gov. Rick Scott for violating the Sunshine Law.

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Influence

AEI: The Clinton scandals: No, everyone does not do it

Marc A. Thiessen

First, while everyone in Washington may give special access to big donors, not everyone has taken tens of millions of dollars from foreign donors.

It is against the law for foreigners to contribute to US political campaigns precisely because Congress wanted to prevent foreign interests from buying access to public officials…

But the Clinton Foundation was not bound by these restrictions. It was able to accept unlimited contributions from foreign persons and interests -– who were then given access to the Clintons – in a way they could not with other public officials or candidates, because doing so would have been against the law.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Bloomberg: Trump’s Top Fundraiser Eyes the Deal of a Lifetime

Max Abelson and Zachary Mider

One theory bouncing between Manhattan and Beverly Hills holds that an investor with so much Wall Street blood in his veins spotted the trade of a lifetime. In exchange for a few months of unpaid work, Mnuchin gets a shot at joining President Trump’s cabinet. Goldman partners have wealth, and movie producers befriend stars, but the secretary of the Treasury gets his signature stamped on cash.

Trump, who declined to be interviewed, has told donors Mnuchin would be good at the job of stewarding the world’s biggest economy. Mnuchin himself is circumspect, and if you ask him about his motivations—getting him on the phone between $50,000-a-plate dinners, or in his Manhattan office—he sounds less like a political obsessive than an investor closing a deal he can’t quite discuss. “This was a unique moment in time where there’s a unique role for me,” he says. “It’s a unique moment in time,” he says again. “A unique opportunity to help.”

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Washington Post: Bernie Sanders fundraises for Senate candidates, plans campaign stops

David Weigel

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is returning to the campaign trail next week, and he’s teeing off by asking his supporters to start putting their money into four Senate campaigns. In an email sent yesterday, Sanders encouraged donations to help Pennsylvania’s Katie McGinty, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, Ohio’s Ted Strickland and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto.

“I want to be clear: It is very important that our movement holds public officials accountable,” Sanders wrote in a message to his Friends of Bernie email list…

Now, Sanders’s ramp-up is centered on his email list — one of the largest in politics — and his new project, Our Revolution.

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The States

Los Angeles Times: Hahn may have run afoul of campaign finance rules in L.A. County supervisor race

Abby Sewell

In the Aug. 10 letter, County Registrar Dean Logan wrote that Hahn had exceeded the county’s cap on the total amount a campaign committee may accept from political action committees, which is $150,000 per election. From Jan. 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, Hahn’s campaign received $439,619 from political action committees, the registrar said…

Hahn’s campaign said it had been told that campaign finance limits were lifted because Napolitano had elected to largely self-fund his own campaign.

While the county normally sets a limit of $1,500 per contributor, in some circumstances, that limit can be increased or lifted.

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Argus Leader: Sioux Falls Chamber joins fight against IM 22

Dana Ferguson

The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce has joined a coalition opposing a proposed campaign finance overhaul on the November general election ballot.

The group announced Tuesday that it would back efforts to defeat Initiated Measure 22. It joins the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the South Dakota Retailers Association, and David and Charles Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity…

Mark Lee, spokesman for the chamber, said the group can’t stand behind publicly-funded elections and thinks the measure includes too many unnecessary changes.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Complaints against Greitens dismissed

Kurt Erickson

A Tuesday ruling by the Missouri Ethics Commission came after June reports alleged LG PAC and Greitens had coordinated a nearly $1 million ad buy targeted at businessman John Brunner, one of Greitens’ rivals in the four-way Republican primary….

The complaint about the “Seals for Truth” contribution was filed by former Missouri state Rep. Carl Bearden of St. Charles, who said the largest political contribution in Missouri history was made in violation of multiple provisions of Missouri law.

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Huffington Post: Miami-Dade Elected Leaders Will Be Tested This November. But Will They Listen to the Wishes of Voters?

Thomas Kennedy

A few months ago a coalition of progressive organizations in South Florida organized a titanic grassroots effort to dismantle this quid pro quo system of politics that has become the norm in Miami-Dade. Community members and activists collected more than 127,000 petitions, more than half required to put a question on the November ballot, to reform campaign financing in Dade County.

Unfortunately, the County Commission has set every bureaucratic roadblock possible in what seems to be an effort to derail this initiative calling for greater transparency and accountability in Dade County…

Most of the Miami Dade County Commissioners are painfully out of touch with working class folks. I suspect many have expressed their opposition with the initiative because they don’t want to lose the campaign contributions from their donors who in turn don’t want to lose the influence that comes from those contributions.

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