Monthly Archives: September 2014

“From shaming to semi-stalking, Democrats flood inboxes for last-minute campaign cash”


“Absolute meltdown.”

“Kiss any hope goodbye.

“We’re done. Go home. Give up.”

The lyrics to a moody ballad? A depressing Facebook page? No, these are subject lines from a series of frantic e-mail messages sent to Democratic donors in recent days.

To be blunt about it — as some of these fundraising pitches­ might say — the number of e-mails sent in recent days is SCARY.

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“What’s the Irreparable Injury to Wisconsin?”

Interesting Will Baude post on today’s opinions from the en banc 7th Circuit in the voter id case:

Hasen has many criticisms of the per curiam opinion — including its assessment of the evidence challenging the law, and its reading of a Supreme Court case called Purcell v. Gonzales. It isn’t self-evident to me who is right about those things. (You can read his post to decide for yourself.)

But there is something else that troubles me about the per curiam opinion. The Supreme Court has said that the two “most critical” factors in deciding whether to grant a stay are the likelihood of success on the merits and whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay. The per curiam opinion discusses the state’s likelihood of success on the merits. It doesn’t discuss irreparable injury. So far as I can tell neither word (“irreparable” or “injury”) appears in the opinion at all.

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“Are Liberals Fundraising Hypoctrites?”

Tom Edsall on the Kochs and the Democracy Alliance:

In the long run, the relatively modest (but growing) dependence of Democrats on dark money, mega-dollar contributors to “super PACs” and other funding mechanisms is corrupting, even as it comes alongside the party’s parallel success in building a powerful small donor base. On issues of taxes, regulation, spending and campaign finance, the Republican Party has established itself as the advocate of the wealthiest Americans. Insofar as the Democratic Party moves in the same direction, it will be unable to act as a counterbalance to the right.

While neither the left nor the right has clean hands, liberals have far more to lose, and much less to gain, from continued hypocrisy.

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Breaking: 7th Circuit Issues Opinions in Earlier 5-5 Split on WI Voter ID Law: Next Stop #SCOTUS?

You can read the opinions at this link. Here are my thoughts:

1. The majority opinion, authored by the three judges on the original panel which lifted the stay, strikes me as disingenuous. The biggest flaw is the idea that voters had years to get their id’s, so it is no fault now of the state if they don’t have them. To begin with, the law had been put on hold, and a federal judge had determined the law was likely unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Why should individuals who lacked the right narrow kind of ID necessary for the law have gone out to get it when there was a good chance (as predicted by a federal judge) that the law would never be implemented? Further, until nearly the time the 7th Circuit considered the case, the procedures put in place by the state of Wisconsin to get the id’s were found by the state supreme Court to be unconstitutional. The WI Supreme Court, by judicial fiat, changed the rules just a few weeks before the 7th Circuit order. And then the state changed them again. So there could not have been years to get the IDs.

2.The opinion is also disingenuous in saying the law is just like the Indiana law upheld by the Supreme Court in the 2008 Crawford case. Put aside the fact that Crawford did not involve a Voting Rights Act challenge, which imposes a different standard. Wisconsin’s law is also stricter (as the dissenters today point out, Indiana’s law allowed for an indigent voter to file an affidavit of indigency to get around the law and WI voters cannot). Further, the record in the Indiana case showed no evidence of actual voters disenfranchised, but the record here did show actual disenfranchised voters who would have a hard time getting the IDs under state law.

3. The opinion is also disingenuous in faulting the law’s challengers for not presenting evidence to the 7th Circuit of the number of people disenfranchised by the law. How could that be? The trial court found that up to 300,000 registered voters don’t have the right id yet. That finding, unless clearly erroneous, should be binding on the appellate court. Indeed, the dissenters point out that the state of WI conceded that 10% of the voters lacked the right ID:

[The state of WI] brazenly responds that the district court found that “more than 90% of Wisconsin’s registered voters already have a qualifying ID” and can vote and that “the voter ID law will have little impact on the vast majority of voters.” But the right to vote is not the province of just the majority. It is not just held by those who have cars and so already have driver’s licenses and by those who travel and so already have passports. The right to vote is also held, and held equally, by all citizens of voting age. It simply cannot be the answer to say that 90% of registered voters can still vote. To say that is to accept the disenfranchisement of 10% of a state’s registered voters; for the state to take this position is shocking.

4. Aside from what the 7th Circuit (or Supreme Court) will ultimately do on the merits of the constitutional and Voting Rights Act claims in the case (and I’m skeptical of ultimate success), the voter id law should not be implemented in such a haphazard way risking the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters. This is the Purcell principle which the Supreme Court has recognized, and which today’s 7th Circuit dissenters rely upon. The dissenters make a compelling case for the Supreme Court to get involved. But, as I said this morning,  the longer the delay, the less compelling the Purcell changing the rules argument in midstream becomes. I’ve explained why I think a stay request has (would have had?) a decent chance here and my Slate piece from yesterday puts Wisconsin into broader perspective in the heat up of the voting wars.

[This post has been updated.]


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Undisclosed Contributions Funding Lots of 2014 Ads

Wesleyan Media Project:

A Wesleyan Media Project analysis, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, reveals that an estimated $233 million has been spent by outside groups in House, Senate and gubernatorial races this election cycle, starting January 1, 2013; $90 million of that is in the form of dark money—money whose sponsors do not have to be disclosed by law (Table 10).  Just in the past two weeks, groups have spent an estimated $33 million, with $10 million in dark money spending.

Table 10: Estimated Spending by Disclosure Type
Last Two Weeks
2013-14 Cycle
Dark Money 10.07 M 90.56 M
Partial Disclosure 2.46 M 5.93 M
Full Disclosure 20.52 M 136.51 M
Total 33.04 M 233.01 M
Figures in the second column are from September 12, 2014, to September 25, 2014, while figures in the third column are from January 1, 2013, to September 25, 2014.  Numbers include broadcast television.  Dollar amounts reflect estimated cost of airtime.
CITE SOURCE OF DATA AS: Kantar Media/CMAG with analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project. Disclosure information from the Center for Responsive Politics.


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“Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Clearer Political Activity Rules for Nonprofits”

Press release: “Voters overwhelmingly believe that clear rules defining political activity for nonprofits is important, according to a bipartisan poll released today. The poll was commissioned by Public Citizen, which released it in conjunction with the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy & Civic Renewal as part of its mission to be a forum for conversations on important issues in the nonprofit sector.”

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