Today in OpenGov: On the Verge


With elections taking place across the U.S. tomorrow, today's edition will look slightly different that usual with an oversized load of stories at the intersection of OpenGov and elections as campaign season comes to a close. 

We'll be back with your usual roundup of OpenGov news tomorrow. If you haven't voted early or absentee, we hope you're making plans to vote tomorrow.

Midterm madness

Image via Pixabay.
  • At least 44 PACs have formed since October 18th, hiding their spending until well after election day. "As of Thursday night, these three groups are among 44 political action committees that have formed since Oct. 18. These groups must by law disclose their donors. But this election cycle, the final pre-Election Day deadline for PACs and super PACs to reveal their donors came and went on Oct. 25 — a deadline covering financial activity from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17. Any group that formed after Oct. 17 isn’t subject to this deadline and must first report the identities of their contributors, and the amounts they contributed, on Dec. 6, per federal regulations." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Just 56 donors have contributed nearly $500 million to super PACs this election cycle, more than doubling 2014 donations. "Just days before the before the 2018 midterm election, 56 ultra-wealthy individuals have contributed at least $2 million each to Super PACs – political action groups that can take unlimited donations and make unlimited election expenditures, a Public Citizen analysis finds. These contributions add up to nearly $481 million, more than double the level seen in the 2014 midterms., and represent 37 percent of Super PAC contributions this year. Of these contributions, $253 million, or 53 percent, benefits Republicans and $210 million, or 44 percent, benefits Democrats." (Public Citizen)
  • Democrats who swore off corporate PAC cash aren't exactly lacking big money backing. "The 2018 midterms have seen a huge number of Democrats pledge not to take money from corporate PACs. It’s a sign of the times: The Bernie Sanders-style rejection of money in politics is taking root among Democrats in a year when insurgent candidates from all walks of life are running, including a record number of women. But publicly swearing off corporate PAC money is also a bit of a stunt…So it’s worthwhile to ask whether the Democrats who swore off money from corporate PACs are also rejecting the help of super PACs and other outside groups. A Splinter review of campaign finance records shows that’s not the case."  (Splinter)
  • The NRA influence machine is lagging this election year after spending huge sums in 2016.  "The National Rifle Association, facing a cash crunch after pouring money into Donald Trump’s presidential bid, cut spending for the midterm elections that threaten the Republican hold on Congress. After devoting record sums to help elect President Trump in 2016, the powerful lobbying organization had a sharp decline in working capital last year. The NRA borrowed against life insurance policies on top executives and took out a loan from its philanthropic arm…Even after borrowing the money, NRA spending by its lobbying arm in venues like television and radio has plunged this year 86 percent to $1.9 million from the last midterm elections. When this outlay is combined with spending by the NRA’s political action committee, which raises money separately, the $16.4 million total is less than half of what they deployed in 2014." (Bloomberg)
  • For Washington lobbyists volunteering with a favored campaign has a range of benefits. "Members of Congress are getting help before Election Day from a tiny but influential subset of on-the-ground volunteers: Washington lobbyists eager to help their old bosses — and perhaps their own careers. Lobbyists are fanning out across the country this weekend and taking vacation Monday and Tuesday to knock on doors for favored candidates, nearly a dozen of them said in interviews and emails." (POLITICO)
  • These long shot GOP candidates chose Trump properties for their fundraising efforts. "This midterm election has introduced something new in American politics — for the first time, candidates could spend campaign dollars at hotels, clubs and restaurants owned by the president…Among individual GOP campaigns, four of the biggest spenders at Trump properties have been long-shot candidates like Kipnis, records show. Together, they have spent thousands of dollars at Trump-owned venues, renting out ballrooms and paying for pricey food. Their reasoning: long shots need money. And, in 2018, Trump’s clubs are where the money is." (Washington Post)
  • Why is so much out of state money flowing into attorneys general races across the country? "…the state of play in 2018 attorneys general races nationwide: more national money, more competition and more at stake. Attorney general has always been a springboard to higher office — the “AG” of attorney general should stand for “aspiring governor,” to hear some tell it — but since 2014, when a comparable number of states chose their attorneys general, the once-staid campaigns have become growing targets for out-of-state influence." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • These six environmental ballot measures are attracting attention from out of state and industry donors. "Voters in six Western states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Washington — will head to the polls Nov. 6 with the chance to decide on hotly contested, statewide ballot measures that propose sweeping changes to environmental regulations. Standing to lose billions in future profits, oil, gas and mining companies are opening deep pocketbooks to throw their substantial weight against those initiatives that impact topics ranging from renewable energy to hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking.' Supporters of the measures are being badly outspent but are weighing in with millions of dollars, as well." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • A Paul Ryan aligned super PAC is spending big to influence the race to fill his seat. "Paul Ryan’s retirement put Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District up for grabs, but the soon-to-be-former Speaker isn’t standing by passively watching the election to choose his replacement play out.  The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Paul Ryan, which has raised over $143 million from conservative mega-donors this cycle, is spending big to keep the seat in Republican hands—largely, with fear-mongering ads about immigration." (Sludge)


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