Given that, (a)a million dollars goes a long way in South Dakota and (b)that both Laurence Lessig’s super PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have already dropped a mil-each into the state, is it safe to say that South Dakota is now on the political radar screens?
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is in the process of reserving $1 million in South Dakota television time, Politico reports.
“The independent expenditure matches a million-dollar effort announced by its Democratic counterpart earlier in the week to put the state back on the map.”(Political Wire)
…and the campaign field grows ever wider…
…oh, this is nice…now the parties have a new means of being corrupted by the powers-that-be:
WASHINGTON — Watchdog groups Thursday lambasted the nation’s election regulators for opening up another spigot of campaign money for national political parties.
By a 4-2 vote, the Federal Election Commission allowed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) to raise money to help fund their 2016 political conventions.
This year, Congress voted to cut off the millions that taxpayers normally provide to help underwrite the political extravaganzas where each party formally nominates its White House contender. Organizers were entitled to receive $18.2 million in federal funds for each of the 2012 conventions. Congress has opted to direct the money to pediatric medical research instead.
The political parties, scrambling for ways to make up the lost convention cash, won permission Thursday to set up new fundraising arms that will allow an individual to contribute up to $32,400 a year for the convention on top of the contributor’s other donations to the party.
That paves the way for wealthy individuals to contribute more than $250,000 to either the DNC or RNC during a four-year presidential election cycle, according to officials with the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group.
“This is a disgraceful and activist decision that ignores the laws passed by Congress to combat corruption,” the center’s Larry Noble said in a statement.(USA Today)
Elections have consequences…so do judicial decisions as well and thanks to both Citizens United & McCutcheon, the spigots are even more wide open for corruption to flow through.
In what many observers consider a top-tier Senate race for 2014, both of the state’s presumptive Senate candidates – Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis – raised over $4 million in as detailed in fundraising reports for the first quarter of 2014…
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan raised $2.8 million in the first quarter — an impressive sum for the top target of outside spending in the 2014 midterms.
The first-term Democrat ended March with $8.3 million in cash on hand, according to the Hagan campaign. That’s far more than any of her potential Republican opponents are likely to report, though she’s already the target of millions of dollars worth of ads from Americans for Prosperity.
“Kay’s strong fundraising total for the first quarter shows the excitement and momentum behind her campaign,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said. “These funds will ensure the campaign can reach voters in every corner of the state to talk about Kay’s record of putting North Carolina first.”
North Carolina state Speaker Thom Tillis raised $1.3 million in the first quarter and ended March with $1.3 million in the bank, according to a campaign spokesman. Tillis is backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but he’s facing a competitive May 6 primary and is likely headed to a July 15 runoff.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Tillis’ first-quarter fundraising total; the race is rated Tilts Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.(Roll Call)
Given that, (a)Republicans have targeted this race as one they need to win in the hope of gaining a Senate majority for 2015-2016 and (b)that North Carolina has five major media markets(from West-to-East: Asheville/Western N.C., Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the Piedmont Triad Region, Raleigh/Durham and Eastern N.C.), this could be one expensive race…but one that could also determine whether Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell get to call the shots next year.
Somewhere the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other high-spending campaign donors are smiling…
The Supreme Court pressed ahead on Wednesday with the majority’s constitutional view that more money flowing into politics is a good thing — even if much of it comes from rich donors. By a five-to-four vote, the Court struck down the two-year ceilings that Congress has imposed on donations by individuals to presidential and congressional candidates, parties and some — but not all — political action groups.
The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be. Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.(ScotusBlog)
This has problems written all-over-it when it comes to campaign finance laws, especially in regards to campaign limits in an election cycle; one of the very reasons for those campaign limits was to lessen the very corrupting nature of campaign spending. It’s a basic rule: he who spends the money makes the rules and this decision gives the Kochs’ of the world carte blanche to spend gazillions in campaign from top to bottom.
It could’ve been worse, though…
Although the Roberts opinion spoke only for himself and three other Justices, Justice Clarence Thomas said he agreed with the result, making a majority for eliminating the two-year ceilings. Thomas said he would have gone even further to free up even more donations in federal campaigns. He would have overruled a 1976 decision (Buckley v. Valeo) that gives contributions less constitutional protection than spending during campaigns. He added, though, that the Roberts opinion “continues to chip away” at the 1976 decision’s foundations.(ScotusBlog)
And you wonder why Supreme Court nominations are fought over as much as they are; in Thomas’s bizarro world of campaign spending, one should be able to spend as much as one desires without any appreciable limits. Think about that one the next time you step into the voting booth…
Links of interest…
—McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 12-536
—ScotusBlog Coverage of the McCutcheon case
—New York Times: Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits On Campaign Contributions
—Think Progress: How The Supreme Court Just Legalized Money Laundering By Rich Campaign Donors
H/T to Crooks & Liars
About..damn…time! In response to a barrage of Koch Brothers-inspired attack ads down in Louisiana against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the pro-Democratic super-pac Senate Majority PAC released the first of a series of ads designed to tie GOP challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu’s likely November opponent, to the Koch Brothers, who’ve been bankrolling GOP attacks against Landrieu…quoting the ad:
Out of state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy. Their goal: Another politician bought and paid for. Their agenda: Protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas. Cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. They even tried to kill relief for hurricane victims. Cassidy’s billion dollar backers: They’ve got a plan for him. It’s not good for Louisiana.(Senate Majority PAC)
And it’s not just Louisiana; Koch Bros. ads have run in Alaska and North Carolina as well; both states are set to be part of the 2014 Senate battleground, control of which will have long-term ramifications for not just 2015-2016 but potentially years after.
H/T to Daily Kos
Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Steyer:
Retired billionaire financier Tom Steyer intends to raise up to $100 million this election cycle “to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers,” according to the New York Times. The California Democrat is currently building a liberal political network to rival the conservative groups financed by Charles and David Koch.
According to the Times, Steyer hosted “two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists” at his ranch in Pescadero, Calif., earlier this month. There, he pitched his plan to raise $50 million from donors, a sum he pledged to match. That money would be used in specific midterm elections, such as the Florida gubernatorial race or the Iowa U.S. Senate race.(Real Clear Politics)
This makes sense, on the surface: with the gads of money the Right is pouring into the 2014 midterms, any support that can be used to offset their money, by-and-large, is a good thing. On the other hand, you might be wondering why I opened this blog post with the line about being careful what you wish for….I can think of one example off the top of my head: the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Arkansas.
What happened in that election is pretty much why I opened this post with the line above; going into the election season, it would be very fair to say that incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln was vulnerable; a Blue Dog ConservaDem in an (a)increasingly conservative state and conversely (b)an increasingly progressive Democratic Senate caucus. These two factors led to Lincoln essentially getting turfed out of that seat thanks to former Lt.Gov. Bill Halter, who just about defeated her in the Democratic primary, forcing a runoff election that weakened her even further so that, by the time the general election rolled along, then-Rep. John Boozman pretty much won going away, with a margin of 59-36 over Lincoln.
The lesson here (a lesson I really hope someone tells Mr. Steyer at some point) is that, while its’ a good thing to challenge elected officials at times, sometimes the result isn’t what we want to see….instead of Sen. Lincoln, who might’ve kept that seat in Democratic hands even with the wave election of 2010, the two-round primary campaign agst. her effectively killed any chance the Dems’ had to hold that seat and consequently, given Arkansas’s increasingly conservative tilt, now makes it even harder to make gains and/or hold onto Democratic seats now. Smooth move, progressives…let’s just hope Mr. Steyer’s efforts don’t repeat those results this go-round…
One of the fears following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case was the rise of so-called “dark money” political contributions; the reference is to the fact that, unlike most average political contributions, dark money contributions are very hard to unravel, thus making it an ideal method of campaign spending that can be used to skirt existing campaign finance laws & regulations.
Well, as this National Memo article illustrates, that appears to have been a key factor in the 2012 Montana Senate election, where incumbent Sen. Jon Tester held off a fierce challenge from GOP challenger and former Rep. Denny Rehberg by a narrow margin; part of the reason for Tester’s success was the dark money expenditures by numerous groups aimed at Rehberg which ostensibly, on the surface, were from supporters of Libertarian candidate Dan Cox but were actually aimed at Tester’s GOP opponent. It’s an interesting case study of how the post-Citizens world of campaign finance has upended the old rules of campaign finance and how they will affect future political campaigns.