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Tag Archive: Campaign Finance

PAC appeal

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George F. Will's interesting column, on the race to fill the open seat in Colorado's seventh district, brought to mind a piece of paper that crossed my desk a few weeks back. It's a fax, much like the dozens of others that are sent each week to the offices of Washington's lobbying firms and Political Action Committee directors, asking the insiders in the corridors of power to pony up money. First the Will column: If I can give a Cliff notes version of it, it goes something like, "A true Reaganite conservative is facing a Republican base demoralized by Congress' big spending, President Bush's big spending and missteps (i.e., Harriet Miers abortive Supreme Court nomination), but still might win because the bitter primary fight between the two Democratic hopefuls, Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm, are wearing each other out in the run up to the August 8th primary.

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House Republicans Target ‘527’s:

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Lobbying and ethics reform may be causing fissures in the Republican caucus, but they are coming together around a campaign finance reform that targets independent ‘527’ organizations. The Washington Post reports, “As part of the House GOP proposals, ‘527’ organizations that operate independently of the political parties would no longer be allowed to collect unlimited sums from individuals. … Instead, the groups would be governed by federal campaign finance laws that would restrict such giving to a total of $30,000 from individuals per year.” ‘527’ groups, named after the section of the tax code that governs them, “heavily aided Democrats in the 2004 elections” with such groups as MoveOn and others accepting millions of dollars in donations from small numbers of donors. While Democrats tend to use ‘527’s more than Republicans the group Progress for America, which is closely tied to the White House, helped push the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito and waged a campaign against Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan.

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High Spending Mine Owner Leads to Calls for Reform:

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The high spending political action of West Virginia’s Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Co., is leading to calls for campaign finance reform, according to the Wall Street Journal. Blankenship has spent $6 million over the past two years on “political advertising campaigns, battling Democratic judges and fighting high taxes.” He has helped unseat a State Supreme Court Justice and lower the state’s food tax. Public officials have attacked Blankenship for not spending enough money on worker safety protections at his mines – recently, “four workers have died at Massey-owned mines in West Virginia, two of them in a fire on Jan. 21.”

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Indian Gaming Money Comes Under Scrutiny:

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In the post-Abramoff era politicians are taking a second look at Indian sovereignty rules. The Christian Science Monitor explains that two things are under scrutiny: “the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which is meant to control Indian casinos, and tribes' unique position regarding campaign contributions.” Tribes do not face the same restrictions as corporations or unions and can make unlimited political contributions. In 2004 Indian tribes contributed $8 million to political candidates. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) are noted as being in favor of oversight and regulation of Indian gaming money. The Indian Affairs Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the issue.

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California Assembly Sends Public Financing of Elections to State Senate:

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The California Assembly sent AB 583, a bill providing for the public financing of elections, to the State Senate with a stipulation that the final details of the bill will be hashed out in a conference committee.  Each of the last three elections - Gray Davis’ 2002 victory, his 2003 recall, and Schwarzenegger’s 2003 victory - broke the record as the costliest races in state history.  Critics claim that the bill stymies free speech and would cost the taxpayers more money.  If the State Senate passes the bill and Governor Schwarzenegger signs it then the citizens will vote for its passage in 2008.

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