January 20, 2017
And So It Begins …
Donald Trump: “Every day you turn on the nightly news, you hear about how some self-interested banker or some Washington insider says they oppose the Trump campaign. That’s because I don’t need them. I don’t want them.”
The president-elect made his promise to “drain the DC swamp” the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
“I’m going to do what’s good for you… I don’t want the lobbyists. I’ve had plenty of lobbyists. They do a good job. They give you whatever you want. I wear their opposition as a badge of honor.”
‘No More Corruption’, Promises the New President
- Campaign finance laws and future of day-to-day money-in-politics…
- the matter of current lobbyists applying for administration positions…
- the matter of the president-elect’s business interests which are global and politically interrelated
The Trump Organization
Donald Trump Elected
Now comes governing as the president-elect begins the selection of his personal executive team, Cabinet and some 4000 executive appointments.
It’s reality check for a candidate whose campaign was led by promises not to be a tool of politics-as-usual or Washington DC business-as-usual.
The president-elect now has to navigate the realities of being not just a businessman in an office at the top of Trump Tower, but the top decision-making politician acting as representative of the U.S. government and a global superpower.
We’ll be watching to see if the so-called ‘draining of the swamp’ in DC is much more or less than a campaign promise that resonated with the American public that pushed Donald Trump into the role of president, top executive and commander-in-chief.
One of the President’s first acts as commander-in-chief?
Appointment of an Inside Trader
A Presidential appointment of Myron Edell, who is with one of the most powerful outside influence groups, the American Enterprise Institute.
Game plan? Attack Environmental Regulations and EPA. End US cooperation in Climate Change actions. Quit the international climate response agreement signed by nearly 200 nations and enacted into law. Abandon US leadership in environmental security and energy technology.
Who is Myron, ostensibly the leader of this big oil/gas plan?
Here’s NYT environmental reporter Andrew Rivkin’s archive on Ebell and AEI.
Quick Switch, New Administration, New Lobbyists
A move to Myron is a move to insider trading out-of-the-gate.
A move to abandon energy independence via a transition to renewable energy is a move backward.
A move to return to an old era of fossil fuel energy and oil-driven economic and security policy is now being determined — from war spending, borrowing and debt, to deferred domestic, infrastructure investments, lost opportunities and little sign of public confidence in government.
The DC power game is in the lobby, waiting its turn, deja vu, the old days and old ways are returning to power.
Six years after a Supreme Court decision opened vast new channels for money to flow into national elections, Democrats have built the largest, best-coordinated apparatus of outside groups operating in the 2016 presidential campaign, defying expectations that conservative and corporate wealth would dominate the race
Former President says the U.S. is an “Oligarchy with Unlimited Political Bribery”
Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now “just an oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors”
Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”
HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?
CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.
Speaking of Money-in-Politics / Full Disclosure:
Your PoliticoPay editor was an advisor to former candidate for president Jerry Brown who made money-in-politics a centerpiece in his 1992 “Take Back America/We the People” campaign. Governor Brown finished second to the soon-to-be-elected Bill Clinton (who prevailed with 43% of the vote in the general election due to the 19% of the vote taken by the Ross Perot “Take Your Country Back” campaign). The money-in-politics theme again featured in the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders who drew from Brown campaign positions and finished second to Hillary Clinton Democratic Party supported campaign. It can be additionally noted that the surprising primary victory of Donald Trump, according to many accounts, was driven by his early pledge to “self finance” his campaign and not rely on or be ‘beholden’ to politics-as-usual with its undue influence of money-in-politics and pay-to-play lobbying interests.
California Out in Front on Public Financing of Campaigns
— Via the Los Angeles Times
- California Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation to allow localities around the state to create their own small-donor public financing systems
Californians can send a strong message against big money in politics
- Proposition 59 lets Californians tell their member of Congress to overturn the Citizens United ruling and take steps to reduce the role of big money in politics. The fact that political pundits have grown accustomed to legislators ignoring public opinion is precisely why we need to vote “yes” on Proposition 59 – and then stay vigilant afterward to make sure politicians follow through.
- California Common Cause’s Kathay Feng: “California’s leaders are hearing from voters who are fed up with playing second fiddle to wealthy special interests. This bill gives Californians new options to amplify the voices of everyday voters in election campaigns.”
Money in Politics and the Supreme Court / SCOTUS Rules on Behalf of More Money in Politics
“Our political system is pervasively corrupt due to our Supreme Court taking away campaign-contribution restrictions on the basis of the First Amendment.” — U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner writing of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision
Read More at SCOTUSblog
A new liberal Justice appointed to the Supreme Court would set the stage for a new campaign finance jurisprudence to replace the ill-conceived and misguided campaign finance decisions of the Roberts Court majority.
A new jurisprudence would restore the Court’s broad definition of “corruption” that existed from 1976 until 2010 for purposes of upholding campaign finance laws. A new jurisprudence also would develop grounds for upholding campaign finance laws that go beyond deterring corruption and that broadly recognize the nation’s constitutional right to protect the integrity of our democracy and representative system of government…
With a fifth vote provided by a new liberal Justice, the broader jurisprudence framed in the McCutcheon dissent can become the basis for upholding campaign finance laws that facilitate political participation and the equal voices and rights of citizens in our electoral process – treating these concepts as furthering, not diminishing, First Amendment values.
Thus, a jurisprudence can be advanced that allows us to addresses the disproportionate and debilitating impact that large aggregations of corporate and individual wealth have on our constitutional system of representative government, our electoral process and the public institutions by which we govern ourselves. The jurisprudence would enable Congress and state legislatures to make our system of representative government more responsive to the interests of citizens and less susceptible to the influence of big money.
Changes in the Supreme Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence, with a new liberal Justice, are more likely to take place on an incremental, step-by-step basis, rather than on a quick “big bang” reversal of Citizens United or even Buckley.
The bottom line: with a new liberal Justice, fundamental changes will occur in the campaign finance jurisprudence that has been established by the Roberts Court majority.
Cable news’ election-year haul could reach $2.5 billion
All-time ratings records for CNN and Fox drive growth
September 27, 2016
The preliminary numbers are in, and they suggest that the first presidential debate of 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the most watched debate going back decades… CNN and Fox News are poised to have the most-watched years in their respective histories.And that means money. According to data from media and communications data firm SNL Kagan, a division of SMP Global Market Intelligence, the three major cable news networks are set to make nearly $2 billion in ad revenues, and the three main business networks are set to add another $458 million in ad revenue from just the 2016 calendar year.
“We’ve been outselling our election packages for a year now,” said Katrina Cukaj, EVP of Portfolio Sales & Client Partnerships for Turner Ad Sales, which includes CNN. “We are close to selling out for the rest of the [election related] days; there is very high demand. Very high.
$45 Million from Sheldon (and What Was that Policy in the Mideast You Wanted to Confirm?)
“Conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have committed roughly $45 million so far to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and downballot Republicans’ attempt to control Congress, according to a person familiar with Adelson’s thinking.”
The spending amounts to a historic investment in the Republican Party ticket’s hopes for November, putting millions of dollars behind Trump’s bid in a groundbreaking donation that could redefine the final two months of the 2016 campaign.
September 2, 2016
Donald Trump met with Sheldon Adelson last week in Las Vegas, the second face-to-face encounter between the Republican nominee and one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors in recent weeks.
After meeting privately in Manhattan with Trump the week before, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, attended a Trump fundraiser in Las Vegas last Friday, and were seated next to Trump at the head of a large u-shaped table.
The meetings come as Trump allies worry whether Adelson will spend anywhere near the roughly $100 million he poured into the 2012 elections in support of the 2016 GOP nominee.
“Sheldon doesn’t go to those things. That’s kind of rare,” said Phil Ruffin, a friend of Trump’s for many years and co-host of the private fundraiser. He was seated on the other side of the Republican nominee.
“They chatted,” Ruffin said of Trump and Adelson. “I don’t know what they said.”
But, he added, “I assume there’s going to be a big check written at some point.”
“For “real pay to play” Randi Weingarten (president of the American Federation of Teachers) said, the press should look no further than Trump – and the Israel issue is a prime example.
“Talk about ‘pay to play.’ “Trump was agnostic and ‘neutral’ on Israel and the Palestinians. The minute that Sheldon Adelson decided to support him, all of a sudden, he’s Mr. Israel. That’s ‘pay to play,” she said.”
Clinton Foundation: Stopping Contributions
Under the headline “The Big Story”, the Associated Press released an investigative report in a presidential campaign news cycle that continues an expanding story of access, money and politics-as-usual …
The decision by the former president and Clinton Foundation last week to stop accepting contributions from foreign sources in effect was a ‘recusal‘ due to wide-spread perception of undue influence. The promise to step-back and no longer be perceived as delivering pay-to-play politics is a step toward addressing the perception problem.
The larger problem remains the overriding problems of money-in-politics and corruption, whether evident in prosecutable quid pro quo or employed via myriad legally condoned techniques used to deliver policies favorable to big givers. The billions raise by the Clinton Foundation are only a tip of the larger ‘big story’ that goes far beyond the good work of the Foundation.
The many benefits of the Foundation’s program should continue even as reforms are put in place at the Foundation and, as the public has increasingly and loudly come to demand, a comprehensive reform agenda put in place in the next presidential administration to push back Big Money and restore democratic decision-making.
The presidential campaign demonstrates this is one of the public’s priorities and can be seen in Donald Trump’s surprising success with promises of ‘self-funding’ independent of big givers (like he was previously), across to the Clinton campaign attempting to find its footing after years of being arguably the best ‘in the business of politics’.
Politics-as-usual is changing and those who are seen as too caught up in ‘the money game’ are at risk. Recusing oneself, as Bill Clinton just did, is a step toward being free of the strings.
WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – August 23, 2016 — More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
Washington, D.C. — National campaign finance watchdog Every Voice released the following statement on new revelations this week about the access Clinton Foundation donors sought from Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State.
Statement from David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice:
“Whether it’s a Secretary of State granting meetings to her family foundation’s donors, or a member of Congress allowing a Wall Street lobbyist to write provisions of a banking bill, the pitfalls of our broken influence-peddling system are everywhere. There’s no question that the Clinton Foundation’s work has saved lives and helped countless people around the globe, but to many, even though these acts aren’t necessarily illegal, they look like politics as usual in an election cycle when Americans are tired of politics as usual.
“The Clinton Foundation’s proposal to forgo corporate and foreign contributions if she’s elected is important, but the problem is larger than Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. We need to overhaul our political system so that everyday people—not big donors—are at the center. Clinton has introduced a comprehensive plan to reduce the power of big money in politics and raise the voices of everyday people, and now more than ever, she must campaign on it and convince voters she will prioritize its implementation if elected.”
Last year, Clinton released a comprehensive money-in-politics reform plan modeled after the “Fight Big Money Agenda” developed by a dozen reform organizations last summer. While Donald Trump has spoken a lot about money in politics, he has yet to offer any policy solutions to address the system he criticizes.
How Money Shapes America’s Elections
Why professors/academic institutions don’t see ‘the way it is’
Via the Institute for New Economic Thinking
August 8, 2016
Outrage over how big money influences American politics has been boiling over this political season, energizing the campaigns of GOP nominee Donald Trump and former Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders alike. Citizens have long suspected that “We the People” increasingly means “We the Rich” at election time.
Yet surprisingly, two generations of social scientists have insisted that wallets don’t matter that much in American politics. Elections are really about giving the people what they want. Money, they claim, has negligible impact on elections.
That was a good line for Cold War propaganda, and good for tenure, too …
Political scientist Thomas Ferguson, director of research at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), has spent a career setting the record straight with clear empirical evidence in a field where such research has been shockingly rare. Ever since his 1995 book Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition blasted through received academic wisdom by showing how wealthy individuals and businesses strategically invest in political parties for the biggest payoff, Ferguson has been the man to seek when you really wanted to know how elections work and who controls them.
White-collar criminologist William K. Black and others still recall Ferguson’s famous warning, issued long before the nominating convention in 2008, that the contributions from big finance piling up in Barack Obama’s campaign war chest meant that his promises of sweeping reforms of finance were not to be believed. In 2014, he foresaw the unraveling of America’s two major political parties [when Ferguson] predicted that voters feeling betrayed would increasingly abandon both [Ed: money-in-politics’ influence on the two-party system was confronted long before 2014, e.g. noticeably in the 1992 presidential campaign of Jerry Brown focusing on the “unholy barter” and “corrupting influence” of big money in politics and a 19 % general election vote result in the insurgent Ross Perot campaign] .
“Want a happy ending?” Ferguson quips. “See a Disney movie.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics
Looking at Dark Money at Work: 501(C)4s and More
A complaint alleging campaign finance abuses by 10 organizations has been filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics who have identified what they call “dark money” fronts and are taking the unusual step of filing complaints with the Justice Department, including the FBI, and the IRS.
The groups CREW named are the American Dream Initiative, the Arizona Future Fund, the Jobs and Progress Fund, Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, Ohio’s Mid America Fund, the Rule of Law Project, Ohio’s Freedom Vote and Moving Ohio Forward, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, and the Legacy Foundation Action Fund.
What is “Dark Money”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics explains the ‘Dark Money’ game
Dark Money defined in the PoliticoPay Glossary
Dark Money: The Bookby Jane Mayer, published 2016
Constitutional Amendment Strategy: How Many Years Will That Take (and Does It Have a Chance?)
Under the category of “We Will Believe It When We See It”
(History tells a tale of effective vs. symbolic actions. The strategy/tactic of constitutional amendment must take into account the history of the last attempt at amending the constitution via amendment — the Equal Rights Amendment, introduced in Congress in 1923 and, ultimately, failing in June 1982.)
In Her First 30 Days: Clinton Will Propose an Amendment to Overturn ‘Citizens United’
More than 700 American communities and 17 states have demanded federal action to amend the US Constitution in order to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which knocked down barriers to the buying of elections by multinational corporations. Now Hillary Clinton says that, if she is elected president, she wants to lead the charge (with a constitutional amendment.)
In a taped video prepared for Saturday’s Netroots Nation gathering of progressive activists here, the presumptive Democratic nominee announced that she plans to propose an amendment within the first 30 days of her presidency. Clinton made the announcement as part of a broader statement to activists whom she hailed for helping to “put political and campaign finance reform at the top of the national agenda.”
In addition to her pledge to “propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people, all of us, a chance to reclaim our democracy,” Clinton said that she will “appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy. I will fight for other progressive reforms, including small-dollar matching and disclosure requirements. I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts.”
“Get Unaccountable Money Out of Politics”
“Let’s overturn Citizens United and get unaccountable money out of politics,” Democrat Hillary Clinton told a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, June 27th. “Let’s shut off the revolving door in Washington, and make sure the foxes aren’t guarding the hen house.”
Clinton, former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, has been sharply criticized by her rival Bernie Sanders for accepting big money from Wall Street after leaving her job as Secretary of State — the so-called revolving door.
“Secretary Clinton has given a number of speeches to Wall Street financial institutions for $225,000 a speech. Now, $225,000, that is a lot of money, and I kind of figure that if you give a speech for that kind of money it must be a brilliant, earth-shattering speech,” Sanders said last month on the campaign trail in Kentucky.
“It must be a speech that will solve all of our global problems. It must be a speech that is written in Shakespearean prose, and therefore I think a speech that extraordinary should be shared with all of the people.”
Clinton has refused to release transcripts of the three speeches she delivered at Goldman Sachs for a reported total of $675,000…
Sanders, responding, said he has no speech transcripts to release, because he gave no speeches to Wall Street firms –“not for $225,000, not for $2,000, not for two cents. There were no speeches,” he said in reply to statements from Clinton that she would be willing to release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches “when everybody does it, OK, I will do it.”
“It will not be easy for any candidate, especially one who has taken a lot of super PAC money, to disavow super PACs,” Robert Reich tells the Center for Public Integrity. “For Sanders, this issue is one of the central tenets of his campaign, and if he’s elected, he has a mandate to act. She does not.”
Among the more than 20 campaign finance reform group officials the Center for Public Integrity interviewed about Clinton in February and March, many offered some measure of understanding for Clinton’s situation — with several employing the “she can’t unilaterally disarm” talking point the Clinton campaign uses.
After the Citizens United decision, Democrats and liberals had a choice… says David Brock
They could bury their “collective heads in our ideals and principles and cede the new political reality to the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers or play by the rules as they are and play to win,” Brock said. “We made the decision, the correct and only one in our view, to play by the rules as they are and play to win so that progressives can gain enough political power to move America forward in a number of critical areas including campaign finance reform.”
Adds Justin Barasky, a Priorities USA Action spokesman: “To think we’re not going to fight back against those attacks would be political malpractice. We’re not going to allow Republicans to buy an election.”
- A Center for Public Integrity investigation reveals that Clinton’s own election efforts are largely immune from her reformist platform. While Clinton rails against “unaccountable money” that is “corrupting our political system,” corporations, unions and nonprofits bankrolled by unknown donors have already poured millions of dollars into a network of Clinton-boosting political organizations. That’s on top of the tens of millions from an elite club of Democratic megadonors…
Moyers on Money-in-Politics
Reporting on Dollars @Work in Political America
- Joint Fundraising Committees, Pyramids of Money with Mega-Donors on Top
- Multiple Conduits as Political Money ‘Pyramids’ through Campaigns, PACs, Businesses & Non-Profit Organizations
Via Sunlight Foundation / June 1, 2016
As we enter the most expensive presidential election in history, with $1 billion spent already and some estimating the entire election will cost (well over) $5 billion (upwards of $9 billion according to a recent NY Times editorial), these high-dollar donors are vital to the parties. Almost half the money donated this cycle to super PACs as of February came from just 50 families, and in 2014 only 135 people gave more than $500,000 to super PACs. Clearly, the number of people with such huge political spending power who can contribute these vast amounts is limited — and the priorities of the super-rich don’t necessarily reflect the priorities of the public at large.
In the majority opinion in McCutcheon, Justice Samuel Alito dismissed concerns that joint fundraising committees would be used to solicit massive checks for individual candidates as “wild hypotheticals.” Almost exactly half the money given to the Clinton Victory Fund, a similarly structured fundraising vehicle for the Democratic frontrunner, has gone to Clinton — the other half has gone to the Democratic National Committee and state parties.
Thanks to McCutcheon and the end of aggregate contribution limits, deep-pocketed megadonors are more valuable than they’ve ever been.
Trump’s Message on Super PACS Takes General Election Turn
Via CBS News / May 25, 2016
Trump says he’s only fundraising because “RNC really wanted me to”
Trump’s voters repeatedly have cited that as a top reason they back him. It’s not clear how they will react now.
Perhaps to assuage those voter concerns, Trump is trying to promote his fundraising agreement as beneficial to other Republicans, not his own campaign.
The deal itself shows Trump comes first. For every check he solicits – and donors can give almost $450,000 apiece – the first $5,400 goes to Trump’s primary and general election campaign accounts…
Via Washington Post / May 24, 2016
GOP fundraisers once mocked by Trump now rallying to support his bid
Donald Trump spent much of the Republican presidential primary contest inveighing against politicians for leaning on wealthy contributors for support. Now he’s doing the same.
On Tuesday, some of the GOP’s best-connected fundraisers signed on to help raise as much as $1 billion for Trump and the Republican National Committee, part of an effort to rapidly build out a finance operation that the candidate has lacked until now.
NEW YORK — Donald Trump has devoted much of his campaign to railing against a corrupt system where politicians must answer to their donors — and to promising his supporters that he will break that mold.
“We don’t have Super PACs,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told NBC News.
Via Vox: Trump Changes Fundraising Tune
Via The Atlantic: End of Trump’s Promise to ‘Self-Fund’