Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Wall Street’s Donor Role Expands as Money Flows Into 2016 Election”

WSJ on the rise of the plutocracy:

Wall Street is emerging as a particularly dominant funding source for Republicans and Democrats in the presidential election, early campaign-finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show. The trend comes even as candidates seek to cast themselves as uniquely able to take on the bankers and investors who contributed to the economy’s collapse almost a decade ago.

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“Trump’s Pitch Highlights that Ballots are Secret”

Political Wire highlights this aspect of a NYT report on tomorrow’s Iowa caucus. There’s no secret ballot on the Democratic side.

Why does this matter that Republican votes are secret? We’ve seen it before: people are sometimes reluctant to admit to pollsters how they plan to vote if they expect the pollsters to disapprove.  With Trump branded a racist and boor by some, this could cause people to lie to pollsters and then pollsters underestimate his support.

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“November’s big ballot probably won’t be downsized by California’s new election law”

John Myers for the LAT:

In a state where direct democracy is considered a birthright, activists have often bypassed legislators and asked voters to write laws at the ballot box.

But one year after the enactment of what was hailed as a major electoral reform to encourage compromise between the two lawmaking processes, there’s still skepticism of working inside the world of Sacramento politics.

Even from some politicians who work there.

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Talk of Clinton Indictment Fueling Legal (But Mostly Political) Questions

Mike Allen’s Playbook leads with Peter Baker’s comments on CNN: re Hillary emails: “Her problem at this point is NOT the Republicans. Her problem is the FBI and the Obama Justice Department. And what Democrats are quietly, absolutely petrified about is that come summer, … you find an indictment of people around her, of her, or a request for a special prosecutor — SOMETHING that just basically turns this into a complete DISASTER for the Democrats in which it’s too late to change horses.”

I’m hearing more talk from Republicans convinced that there will be such an indictment. Seth Barrett Tillman has even blogged on what happens if such an indictment strikes at various points in the election. Tillman’s post got Jack Balkin’s attention, who says that the general issue deserves some academic attention.

Perhaps so. But this seems much more likely to be a political problem for Clinton than a legal one, given indications from the White House that no indictment appears in the cards. The immediate political question will be whether Bernie Sanders comes down heavier on this issue. At first he said no more about the “damn emails,” and now he said that it its a “very serious issue.”  But whatever Sanders throws will be much less than what I expect to see from Republicans after Clinton gets the Democratic nomination.

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“The New Anti-Sanders Super PAC Is Funded By Anti-Clinton Donors”

Some three-dimensional chess from Joe Ricketts:

About a week ago, a super PAC bankrolled by a wealthy conservative donorannounced that it would run an ad attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for being too far along the ideological spectrum.

The group, called ESA Fund, was reportedly backed by $600,000 in spending from TD Ameritrade executive Joe Ricketts. And its ad went after Sanders for supporting things like free college tuition, Medicare for all and tax hikes on the super rich.

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The Real Crime of the Caucus Process is Not Cruz’s Mailer but the Caucus Process Itself

Look at how Ryan Lizza’s piece on the Ted Cruz misleading mailers ends:

Donna Holstein, who was listed on one of them, was upset to learn that she had been given a failing grade and that her neighbors might be told whether she participates in the caucus or not. She told me that she has voted consistently but that she can’t this time because of a disability.

“I’m crippled, so I can’t go to the caucus,” Holstein said. She was not happy about being shamed in front of her neighbors. “That’s what you call a bully,” she said about Cruz’s tactics. “I wish he would quit.”

The caucus system is inherently discriminatory against those who are disabled, or who have to work or travel during caucus time.  See my 2012 Slate piece: Kill the Caucuses!

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“Ted Cruz Defends Mailer Dubbed ‘Misleading’ By Iowa’s Secretary of State”

Pema Levy for Mother Jones:

Ted Cruz on Saturday evening defended a mailer sent out by his campaign that has been criticized by Iowa’s secretary of state as “misleading” and a violation of “the spirit of the Iowa caucuses.”

“I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote,” Cruz said, speaking to reporters before a rally in Sioux City, Iowa.

Earlier Saturday, the Cruz campaign came under fire for sending out a mailer, with the look of an official state document, that warns of a “voting violation.” It informs voters they are receiving the notice “because of low expected voter turnout in your area” and says a “follow-up notice” may arrive after the Iowa caucuses.

I’ve been getting questions about the legality of the Cruz mailer.

There is no federal law barring generally misleading campaign speech.  There are laws against intimidating voters, but I don’t think that’s what it is.

The alternative would be some kind of claim of common law fraud (a tort), but this could well be a stretch.

There are also first amendment issues related to regulating misleading campaign speech.

Unless there’s something specific in Iowa law making this illegal (and unless such a law is constitutional), I think this kind of mailer is allowed.


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“The Koch Network Has Already Spent $400 Million In Run-Up To 2016”

Tarini Parti reports for Buzzfeed from the Koch meeting in CA.

Koch’s comments at a resort in the California desert were part of his opening remarks for the annual winter meeting of the network, which intends to spend $889 million on conservative causes and candidates in line with the brothers’ political philosophy in the two-year 2016 election cycle. The network — called Freedom Partners — already spent just under $400 million in 2015, a top official revealed Saturday.

In his remarks, Koch also laid out four priorities for the network that he believes will change the country.

“The first one is to change, reverse the policies that are moving us toward…a society that is destroying opportunities for the disadvantage and creating welfare for the wealthy,” he said.

“The second one is the irresponsible, destructive spending by both political parties that is making people’s lives worse. And the third one is to get government at all levels — that is local, state and federal — to focus on the government’s primary responsibility to keep America safe instead of being distracted with all sorts of other objectives…And last, but not least — protecting free speech, which is the foundation of a free society.”

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