“The 1980s changed America. These were the years when corporations and wealthy individuals organized to fight back against the liberal forces that had dominated the ’60s and ’70s. Moneyed interests organized new groups, especially political action committees that were prepared to spend large sums to achieve their political objectives. This began the three-decade process that has made money the most important element of our public life, a form of pollution way beyond the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.”— Former Washington Post reporter Robert Kaiser in an oped this weekend: “How Republicans lost their minds, Democrats lost their souls and Washington lost its appeal.
“If regular people knew how much time members of Congress spent fundraising and where they were raising money, they would be shocked. They elect these people because they expect their lawmakers to do their job, and when they get here, they’re having fancy dinners and flying off to resort towns with people who are definitely not their constituents.”— Public Campaign’s Adam Smith on the fancy restaurants and resorts where members of Congress raise money. (AlJazeera America)
“I don’t think the court understood when they made the rulings they have about almost unlimited expenditures by wealthy people or corporations or labor unions … they basically have unleashed Frankenstein in American politics.”— Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. (Nuvo)
“Top Republicans tell us that a huge part of the anger about the plan’s release is that some of the industries that may be hit – financial services, real estate, oil and gas, include big donors who could curb their support for the party in midterms.”
This doesn’t really seem like the best way to decide public policy.
"In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own."
A group of major GOP donors, led by New York billionaire Paul Singer, is quietly expanding its political footprint ahead of the midterm elections in an increasingly assertive effort to shape the direction of the Republican Party.
As the Obama administration pushes to do more business over the Internet, finally seeking to close the technology gap with the private sector, the digital makeover is running into a dogged opponent called Consumers for Paper Options.
The group is working the halls of Congress in closed-door meetings, underwriting research favorable to its position and mounting a news media campaign in an effort to preserve Washington as the capital of paper — and slow the move away from printed checks, forms and other paper communication.
“You may want to just wear logos if you’re running for president: ‘sponsored by so-and-so.’ I mean it’s going to get to be like NASCAR where everybody should put logos on your suit.”— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), on possible 2016 presidential candidates on the hunt for a “sugar daddy” to help fund their super PAC. (National Journal)
Via this New York Times story on establishment Republicans fighting back against insurgents, we’re going to take a wild guess and assume it’s Sen. Mitch McConnell who’s threatening donors:
“I’ve been told by a number of donors to our ‘super PAC’ that they’ve received calls from senior Republican senators,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, which is supporting challengers to Republican incumbents across the country. The message from these donors was blunt: “I can’t give to you because I’ve been told I won’t have access to Republican leadership,” Mr. Kibbe said. “So they’re playing hardball.”
Our broken campaign finance system isn’t just about donors getting influence. It’s a cycle of dependency—members of Congress who rely on big donors and the big donors who rely on access to politicians. It’s a no-win situation for everyone else.
"The United States is the only industrialized country to award diplomatic posts as political spoils, often to wealthy campaign contributors in an outmoded system that rivals the patronage practices of banana republics, dictatorships and two-bit monarchies."
“Anyone that’s been through a lot of campaigns says that too much time is being spent with our elected representatives raising money. I’d rather have them tending to the people’s business. And you know what — I don’t think politicians like calling to ask for money any more than I like receiving their phone”—Major political donor Alan Patricof on why he supports reform efforts like the newly introduced Government By the People Act to limit the influence of big donors and empower ordinary Americans. (Politico).
"In all, groups pressing for the bill spent $150 million on lobbying in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending. At least 350 companies and organizations, including Monsanto (MON), PepsiCo (PEP), and Dean Foods (DF), hired lobbyists in 2013 to work on the Senate’s farm bill. Only debates over the federal budget, immigration, and defense spending attracted more lobbying muscle, according to the center.”
“The most important systemic change we need is [campaign] funding. When I first ran for the state Assembly, I think we spent $50,000…. Now, if someone’s thinking about running for office, they’re not asked what their views are or what they’d like to accomplish; they’re asked how much money they have.”—Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in an interview about his decision to retire from Congress at the end of his term. (Los Angeles Times)
WASHINGTON — More political donors are getting Ready for Hillary. The super PAC formed to promote a potential 2016 Democratic presidential bid by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised $2.7 million in the second half of 2013, more than twice the amount it raised in the first half of the year.
PODESTA REPUBLICANS FUNDRAISING FOR MCCONNELL: Podesta Group Republicans are hosting a breakfast fundraising for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday. A senior Podesta Group Republican principal sends the invite along and says the event will kick off a robust year of political support from Podesta GOP principals, focused on in-cycle GOP senators and up-and-comers in the House. The fundraiser will be at Podesta Group’s D.C. offices. The suggested cost to attend is $2,500 for PACs and a $1,000 suggested individual contribution. The invite is here: http://bit.ly/M4XHIU
ALSO: On the same day, McConnell will host a have a dinner fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Cost to attend: $7,500 to co-host, $2,500 for PACs and $1,000 as an individual. Danielle Burr of Navigators, Missy Edwards of Missy Edwards Strategies, Rob Hobart of McBee Strategic, Lanier Swann Hodgson of Purple Strategies, and Brandi White of the Nickles Group are listed as hosts.
“I feel extorted. Every time I wrote a check I felt that it was a form of extortion, the price of entry, because of the reception that you got when you contributed versus the reception when you did not contribute.”— Former Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister on getting asked to make campaign contributions (CNN)
To Pelosi, this isn’t a question of ability; women are quite capable of raising the money they need to run for office, she said. This is a cultural question: Expensive campaigns create a political environment that alienates women with families or other job prospects.
Today’s must-read. Is it any surprise Congressional approval ratings are in the toilet?
"This is the world of destination fund-raisers, where business interests blend with pleasure in exclusive vacation venues. Lobbyists go to build relationships with lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, seeking action — and often inaction — in Washington for their clients and companies, with millions of dollars at stake. While approval ratings are at historic lows for members of Congress, their allure to those seeking influence in the nation’s capital is as strong as ever."
The legal staff of the Federal Election Commission concluded in a just-released document that Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit organization backing conservative causes, probably violated campaign finance rules with its political spending in the 2010 midterm elections.
The recommendation, released quietly by the FEC on Friday afternoon, will have no effect on the organization because the FEC did not act on it. The commission deadlocked 3 to 3 when considering the proposal in December.
“More recently, rising inequality has had much impact on the political process. Greater income and wealth in the hands of top earners gives them greater access to legislators. And it confers more ability to influence public opinion through contributions to research organizations and political action committees. The results have included long-term reductions in income and estate taxes, as well as relaxed business regulation. Those changes, in turn, have caused further concentrations of income and wealth at the top, creating even more political influence.”— Professor Robert H Frank, Cornell University (New York Times)
“With 12,000 lobbyists in Washington, there’s fundraising morning, noon and night. Senators have breaks each month to fundraise.”— Former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) on the state of Washington. (Post and Courier)
“You don’t feel dirty when you’re soliciting money for a university and you do when you’re soliciting money for a political campaign.”— Former US Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who previously served as president of The New School in New York, in this Politico story on some politicians choosing academia after their time in Congress is over.