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Money & Influence 12.1.2023

Houston Chronicle (Op-Ed): How billionaires use dark money to take aim at Texas schools

We are waiting to hear whether Gov. Greg Abbott will announce yet another special session focused on school vouchers. Are school vouchers an urgent priority that necessitates an extra session of the Legislature? Not according to state lawmakers. Just weeks ago, leaders in Austin had the opportunity to pass the governor’s voucher program, and on a bipartisan vote, they declined. If you follow the money, school vouchers are important to the governor’s main benefactors: billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks and a special interest group called “ALEC.” Our new report, “ALEC-tioneering: Unmasking Money in Texas Politics,” sheds light on how big monied special interests have influenced public policy outcomes in our state using an all too predictable rinse-and-repeat formula.

Money & Influence 11.27.2023

Yahoo! News/NorthJersey.com: Dark money disclosures in NJ elections are a 'work in progress.' Will they work?

It's unclear why these groups — the very ones that have come to dominate campaigns in recent years — were exempted from pre-Election Day disclosures. But to some campaign finance watchdogs, like Philip Hensley-Robin, a former analyst for the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the loophole — when coupled with other key shortcomings of the bill — belied its much-ballyhooed “transparency” title. “Overall, I think you could pick out, you know, a clause here or there that was good, but overall, it's a net negative for transparency,” said Hensley-Robin, who is now executive director of Common Cause in Pennsylvania.

Money & Influence 11.17.2023

Delaware News Journal (Editorial): Hall-Long's campaign audit reveals a stark reality: Delaware deserves greater transparency

We join Delaware Common Cause and the Delaware Coalition for Open Government in calling on Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long to release an audit of her campaign finances — even though she is not required to do so by Delaware Law. Claire Snyder-Hall, Common Cause Delaware’s executive Director, joined Flaherty in asking Hall-Long’s campaign to disclose the audit. “The audit confirms the campaign’s claim there is no wrongdoing, so sharing that would go a long way to rebuilding public trust,” Snyder-Hall said. Snyder-Hall also pointed to a need for Delaware to amplify its regulation of campaign finance, calling for harsher penalties and more frequent reporting — priorities we continue to share.

Common Cause/NY Demands Congress Expel George Santos

In response to breaking news that the House Ethics Committee released a 56-page report that concludes Representative George Santos violated federal law, Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY said: “Today’s fact finding bi-partisan report from the House Ethics Committee makes it crystal clear that Mr. Santos is unfit for public office. Recognizing the seriousness of the remedy of expulsion, Common Cause/NY has waited for the process to play out appropriately. Now we and the House of Representatives are left with only one option: Congress must expel Mr. Santos.

The Capital Times: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ugly politics, explained

“The danger (with rhetoric surrounding impeaching Protasiewicz) is that you undermine significant confidence in the court,” said Jay Heck, executive director of the good government group Common Cause Wisconsin. “But one of the problems we have now is that’s not just a function of this past election, that is a function of things that have been occurring going back to 1997. “This is long-term. This is 25 years in the making.”

Ohio Capital Journal: Does Sec. of State LaRose have no Senate campaign HQ, or is it where he’s moving his state office?

“You need space,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Ohio. “You need space to organize simple things like yard signs. A robust campaign actually needs at least one office — often more than one — if you’re going to be successful. Think about the number of media markets you have in Ohio. The secretary of state is running for the U.S. Senate.” “If in fact this has been planned for nearly five years, we should have been in the know for a really long time,” Turcer said. Turcer, of Common Cause, said housing parts of the LaRose campaign in the same building as his official state offices would raise the temptation for any state official to improperly use state space and resources in his or her campaign. In fact, it’s a violation of state law to solicit campaign donations from state office space. Turcer said good appearances are especially important when the elected official is also the state’s top elections officer. “The secretary of state runs Ohio elections and that means voters are scrutinizing him really closely,” she said. “They want to have faith that elections are well run and that’s a commitment that the secretary has made, and it doesn’t make sense to not set himself up for success by separating government work from campaign work.”

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