Last month, in January, Rootstrikers’ founder Lawrence Lessig led 200 followers from 20 states on a 185-mile march from one end of New Hampshire to the other. The march was the first of others that are planned in the state over the next 2 years by the group New Hampshire Rebellion. The objective of the group is to bring attention to the issue of money in politics and to inspire New Hampshire voters to ask all presidential candidates the question, “How will you end the system of corruption in Washington?”
There are several reasons for Lessig’s decision to target New Hampshire. New Hampshire is one of the first states to hold a primary each presidential cycle. It is important to get all presidential candidates thinking about the issue of money in politics and to get their views on the record early in the election cycle. Also, New Hampshire voters have acquired a reputation for being a well informed electorate that requires candidates to have more exposure with them, with a lot of that exposure coming from one-on-one encounters or in small group settings. Candidates wanting to win in that state have to spend a lot of time meeting with voters and discussing issues important to those voters. Continue reading
Posted in Money in Politics
Tagged Bill Moyers, debit card swipe fees, Government for the People Act, H.R. 20, Lawrence Lessig, money buys access, quid pro quo, Rep. John Sarbanes, Rootstrikers, system of corruption in Washington, the influence of money in our political system, The New Hampshire Rebellion
Over the last several weeks we’ve seen two more state government high ranking officials resign over alleged campaign finance abuse and other ethics violations. Near the end of November, Utah’s then attorney general, John Swallow, announced his resignation from office effective December 3. Mark Darr, Arkansas’s current lieutenant governor, recently announced his resignation effective February 1.
Former Attorney General John Swallow was accused of failing to disclose business conflicts of interest, giving preferential treatment to donors, and violating attorney-client privilege while serving in the attorney general’s office. On January 11, 2013, businessman Jeremy Johnson accused Swallow of being part of a plan to bribe a U.S. senator to derail a Federal Trade Commission probe into an internet marketing company owned by Johnson. Continue reading
Posted in Money in Politics
Tagged Attorney General John Swallow, business conflicts of interest, businessman Jeremy Johnson, businessman Jonnie Williams, campaign finance abuse, ethics violations, Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr, McDonnell Scandal, misuse of government funds, money in politics, quid pro quo, Senator Paul Bookout, State Treasurer Martha Shoffner
Recent movement on campaign finance reform by Republicans began with state legislatures in 2013. Republican state lawmakers from Texas to Oregon have seen a need for change. Although not as much as many would hope, some change is now making its way to the U.S. House of Representatives. There have been 3 bills introduced by Republicans in the House in recent months that would reform campaign finance.
In October, three Republican legislators (Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama) introduced a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from using political contributions received from certain types of PACs (leadership PACs) to pay for personal expenses. Another Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, went even further by introducing another piece of legislation to close the personal use loophole for political contributions from any PAC.
In November, Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisconsin) introduced the Citizens Involvement in Campaigns (CIVIC) Act. Continue reading
Posted in campaign finance reform
Tagged Campaign Finance Institute, Citizens Involvement in Campaigns Act, CIVIC Act, Lawrence Lessig, leadership PACs, personal use loophole for political contributions, Rep. Andy Harris, Rep. Mark Amodei, Rep. Mo Brooks, Rep. Thomas Petri, Rep. Walter Jones, Richard Painter, Rootstrikers
On October 16, 2013 a federal appeals court refused to allow Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to shield e-mails from a grand jury subpoena. This decision was just one more step in the scandal which broke earlier this year.
Money in politics can take two forms: campaign funds and bribes after election. In many cases both occur — the McDonnell scandal is a good example. Governor McDonnell has always portrayed himself with a squeaky clean image, so it came as quite a surprise when allegations of corruption were reported.
In addition to the federal investigation, the state of Virginia launched its own investigation of Governor McDonnell. Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli asked Attorney Michael Herring of the Richmond Commonwealth to investigate the McDonnells’ relationship with the nutrition company Star Scientific and its chief executive, Jonnie Williams (Cuccinelli did not investigate the case himself, because he had also accepted money from Williams, although he was cleared of wrongdoing). Allegedly, McDonnell and other members of his family had accepted gifts from Williams in exchange for favorable consideration from state programs. Continue reading
Posted in Money in Politics
Tagged "in-kind" donations, allegations of corruption, Anatabloc, Attorney Michael Herring, Governor Bob McDonnell, investigations of alleged bribery, Jonnie Williams, Ken Cuccinelli, McDonnell Scandal, Opportunity Virginia PAC, quid pro quo, Star Scientific
In case you didn’t know, there have been 5 states in 2013 that have passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision. These 5 states are Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, and West Virginia. This makes a total of 16 states that have passed resolutions so far. That is close to one-third of all 50 states.
Prior to 2013, the state resolution effort was supported primarily by Democratic legislators. That is beginning to change. In the 5 states passing resolutions this year, there was significant Republican support. For example, the majority of Oregon’s Republican House members voted for the resolution.
The support garnered from Republican state lawmakers on this issue is reflective of the support two ballot initiatives received from Republican voters on Election Day 2012. Continue reading
Posted in Citizens United
Tagged "stand by your ad", 501c4 groups, amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, dark money, disclosure of contributions, disclosure rules for outside spending, election money laundering, Follow the Money Act, Governor Rick Perry, political money launderers, Republican support grows against Citizens United, SB 346, Senator Kel Seliger