Clips Round-up for 10/29/12
Stat of the day from Paul Blumenthal at HuffPo: "Sixty-seven percent of all super PAC donations have come from just 209 donors, or groups of related donors, giving $500,000 or more."
Stat #2 of the day from USA Today: "Five individuals and couples have contributed more than $10 million each to super PACs," accounting for 20% of super PAC donations.
Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly was on Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday talking money in politics. My favorite line: "Just as important as getting the money out of politics, we need to think about policies that bring people back in. That we can't simply think about the problem as one that reduces money in politics. We need to incentivize more participation so through small donor matching fund programs like there is in New York City and like there is in a variety of states around the country."
ProPublica's Kim Barker is really killing it on the American Tradition Partnership, the group in Montana battling contribution limits: "Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana."
Finally, the funny pages are no longer safe from campaign finance. Check out this weekend's Pearls Before Swine comic. And speaking of pop culture, I'd check out last week's 30 Rock. Alec Baldwin's character starts a super PAC, Americans for an American America.
Campaign Finance/Fair Elections
Brennan Center: Voting law changes: election update
"The dramatic national effort to restrict Americans’ voting rights was met this year with an equally dramatic pushback by courts, citizens, the Department of Justice, and farsighted public officials."
PCAF: How candidates should answer questions about money in politics
At a recent debate, Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY) and Sean Maloney were asked about campaign finance. Sean Maloney nails it. He's a great example of how politicians should talk about the issue.
NYT: Dark money in Montana
Editorial: "The Citizens United opinion suggested that disclosure of political contributions prevented corruption. But American Tradition Partnership is suing to strike down Montana’s disclosure law. Without overturning the disclosure requirement, the group’s secret spending shows how easy it is to hide donors and corrupt the political process."
NYT: Here's a memo from the boss: vote this way
And some of them are pretty intimidating: "But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall."
Politico: Liberal mega-donors embrace super PACs
"They might not be the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, but wealthy donors on the left are finally answering the call in force and giving big bucks to Democratic groups such as Priorities USA Action and House Majority PAC."
NYT: Obama is even in TV ad race despite PACs
"Over the last month, the pro-Obama forces have run more ads and, more critically, have reached audiences in roughly the same numbers as Mitt Romney and the group of well-financed conservative super PACs working to elect him."
LAT: Romney spends big on firms tied to aides
Romney consultants are making bank: "Mitt Romney's campaign has directed $134.2 million to political firms with business ties to his senior staff, spotlighting the tightknit nature of his second presidential bid and the staggering sums being spent in this election."
The Hill: Chevron gives $2.5M to super PAC backing House Republicans
Follow up to PCAF's reporting on the Chevron donation. Comment from Chevron (emphasis added): "We support political initiatives and candidates committed to strengthening U.S. businesses, producing affordable energy and delivering good government." The DCCC fundraised off it, saying it was the "biggest payoff" in history. HuffPost, WaPo, Grist.
AP: Mystery firm formed days before $5M gift
This FreedomWorks donation doesn't look shady at all! "A shadowy Tennessee company donated more than $5 million to a prominent conservative super political action committee days after establishing itself. So who's behind one of the largest batches of election contributions this year? There's a questionable trail." Sunlight Foundation on FreedomWorks efforts to help Joe Walsh.
CPI/CRP: Secret money thrives in presidential, high-profile Congressional races
"Outside spending so far this election cycle, by super PACs and other groups, has eclipsed that in all previous cycles combined at this point, going back to 1990. And in that universe, money spent by groups that don't disclose their donors is playing a far bigger role than it ever has."
Mother Jones: Romney to business crowd: Obama sees you as an "evil"
David Corn has another recording of a Romney fundraiser.
NYT: Billionaires going rogue
Tom Edsall looks at the how wealthy donors like Adelson influencing the prez primary hurt parties, "For all their flaws, strong political parties are important to a healthy political system. The displacement of the parties by super rich men determined to flex their financial muscles is another giant step away from democracy."
Chicago Tribune: Hollywood votes with its wallet
"With all indications that the presidential election on Nov. 6 will be extremely close, one factor in the race clearly isn't: the money Hollywood is giving to the two presidential candidates."
WSJ: Las Vegas Sands discusses possible settlement with DOJ
Shel Adelson's company: "Federal prosecutors and casino company Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS -0.61% have discussed settling a U.S. Justice Department probe into whether Sands violated money-laundering laws regarding a pair of high-rolling gamblers who were later charged with crimes, people familiar with the case said."
Roll Call: Barack Obama continues to win with text message donors
"President Barack Obama appears to have raised upward of $1 million from text message donations this cycle. Financial reports for the first 17 days of October show that his campaign paid $39,514 in fees to m-Qube Group’s payvia mobile payment service, which manages text-to-donate programs for both presidential campaigns. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid the firm nothing in the same time frame."
NYT: California redistricting fuels competitive races that lure outside funds
"As nonpartisan redistricting has made many of California’s House races competitive for the first time in a generation, tens of millions of dollars of outside money, including money from 'super PACs,' has poured into the state’s tightest races — and more is expected in the campaign’s final days."
Buzzfeed: Pro-gay Republican gets a $250,000 ad buy and Democratic support
Alternative headline: "Wall Street super PAC backing Nan Hayworth"
AJC: Special interest groups contribute heavily to GA politicians
"Georgia’s congressmen have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions this election cycle, even though most face either longshot challengers at the ballot box this November or no opponent at all. "
AP: PAC founder has ties to Brown
"Operators of an Ohio Super PAC behind more than $300,000 in independent advertising against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel have ties to Mandel’s opponent, an Associated Press review has found."
LAT: Berman-Sherman race passes $13M in spending mark
"The fierce battle between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman for a San Fernando Valley congressional seat has surpassed the $13-million mark for spending, making it among the costliest House races in the country, according to new campaign finance reports."
TNR: Stuart Stevens' shady past clients revealed
TNR looks at the former foreign clients of top Romney adviser Stu Stevens, "authoritarian figures who have alarmed human rights groups and, at times, the U.S. State Department."
NYT: In tight Nevada race, ethics cloud looms large
"With Ms. Berkley, a Democrat, locked in a very tight race for one of the most fiercely fought Senate races in the country, her Republican opponent, Senator Dean Heller, was calculating that he could scrape his way to re-election with an unrelenting focus on the ethics cloud surrounding her, analysts said."
Denver Post: Democratic activist Tim Gill heavily funded federal super PAC
"Software entrepreneur and Democratic activist Tim Gill has heavily funded a federal super PAC responsible for turning out Colorado voters who support President Barack Obama, according to federal election records."
Courant: Romney's Connecticut money funding battleground states
"Tiny Connecticut is not a big factor in the Electoral College, but the state has become a national player for Republican Mitt Romney as he collects money to fuel his campaign in the battleground states."
The Hill: Local TV stations in swing states cash in on deluge of political ads
"Swing state residents may be growing weary of the barrage of political ads, but this election season has been a boon to local TV stations."
MassLive: Power players: Massachusetts business leaders donate millions to campaigns and Super PACs for 2012 elections
"Unleashed by a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, top corporate power players in Massachusetts are pumping millions into an array of campaign coffers and freewheeling political committees as control of the White House and a coveted Bay State Senate seat hang in the balance, a review of contribution records by the New England Center for Investigative Journalism shows."
MBPN: Report: Court ruling frays Maine's pioneering Clean Elections law
New report from Maine Citizens for Clean Elections on what the McCommish decision is doing to the state's public financing program.
Times Union: Reform state's campaign finance
Demos' Miles Rapoport letter in NY: "New Yorkers want this change and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed support for campaign finance reform. There's no reason to limit the Empire State's potential to be a national leader." And one from Citizens Union.