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Money & Influence 09.14.2023

Daily Beast: House Dems Aim to Make ‘Overdue’ Reforms to the FEC

Stephen Spaulding, vice president of policy at watchdog Common Cause, sharply objected to those new policies. “To require line attorneys to seek four votes from commissioners for developments in their investigations, such as wanting to speak to a new witness—the commission already has a central role in providing supervisory guidance, they don’t need to micromanage, stepping into this role is unnecessary and would further create gridlock,” Spaulding told The Daily Beast. “Committee Republicans have had a lot of show hearings, which have not been particularly substantive in many cases, but they’ve been using them to build a record to further dismantle campaign finance laws,” Spaulding told The Daily Beast, referring to the Republican-backed ACE Act. That bill, he said, would “add protections for more dark money in our elections and permit secret contributions to outside groups that are spending money in campaigns.” He added that House Republicans appear “all too happy to see the FEC fail” at its enforcement mission. “Some parts of the FEC are functioning really well. The resources and training they offer for candidates, and the administrative fine division, which has led to a dramatic reduction in late filings,” he said. “Unfortunately there are some major issues in the enforcement process that have broken down. That’s still concerning, but I’m hoping the oversight hearing will allow congress and the public to hear from the commissioners and get some reforms going.”

Money & Influence 09.13.2023

Associated Press: Santos misses extended deadline to file financial disclosure, blames fear of a ‘rushed job’

Stephen Spaulding, the vice president of policy at Common Cause, a watchdog group, described Santos’ reasoning as “nonsensical,” noting there was no reason that his federal tax obligations should prevent him from filing the necessary disclosure. “He is thumbing his nose at transparency requirements, his constituents and the public,” Spaulding said. “All the more reason to strengthen these penalties.” While it is not uncommon for representatives to file their disclosures late, few of them blow past the extended deadlines, according to Spaulding. “Everyone else seems to know how to comply with this,” he said. “It’s not onerous.”

Los Alamos Daily Post: Officials And Organizations Express Condolences On Passing Of Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson

Common Cause New Mexico State Director Heather Ferguson: “He was one of the strongest Governors New Mexico ever had. While he might be remembered more for his diplomacy and the economic advances he brought to New Mexico (the film industry, the Spaceport, the Rail Runner to name a few) we remember him for his 2007 Ethics Reform Task Force. It spurred so much legislation over the subsequent decades—a Gift Ban, Public Financing of the PRC and state judicial races, limits on campaign contributions and an ethics commission. He was a champion you wanted to have in your corner—with courage, deft negation skills and a fighting spirit. We will miss him.” Former Executive Director Viki Harrison of the New Mexico Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty & Founding Advisory Committee Members of Death Penalty Action: “Governor Richardson changed the course of history in New Mexico when he signed the bill to abolish the death penalty in March 2009. He became a champion of abolition and helped in many other places over the last decade. I lost a mentor and a friend and am devasted by this news – just messaged with him a couple of months ago. Sending much love to Barbara and the rest of the family.”

Washington Post: Justice Thomas details jet travel, property deal with billionaire

He described Crow as a “personal friend,” according to the disclosure form, one of several from the 1990s that is no longer publicly available but was provided to The Washington Post by watchdog organizations Common Cause and Documented.

Media & Democracy 08.28.2023

New Report on 2022 Election Disinformation Looks Ahead to 2024

As social media platforms drastically scale back efforts to control the expanding threat of election disinformation, a new report from Common Cause takes a look at efforts to combat the rampant problem in 2022 and previews what to expect in 2024. “Under the Microscope: Election Disinformation in 2022 And What We Learned for 2024” examines the preparations and what we saw during the midterms and looks at how to apply lessons to the already unfolding race for the White House. And finally the reports points to existing and proposed legislation to help combat the growing threat to our democracy posed by election disinformation.

Money & Influence 08.23.2023

Boston Globe: What is ‘red-boxing’ and why is it an issue in R.I.’s congressional race?

John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center have been urging the state Board of Elections for at least four years to adopt regulations that would clarify that types of coordination — including red-boxing — violate state campaign finance law. It hasn’t happened. Marion said the current form of red-boxing has emerged since Rhode Island last made major changes in this area of campaign finance law in 2012. “It was hard to imagine then that super PACs and candidates campaigns would be so sophisticated as to have hidden websites and cryptic tweets,” he said. “Sign stealing is maybe as old as baseball, but the sophistication of it has increased over time. Even our Red Sox got caught using an Apple Watch.” Marion said, “The independent spending in elections which was unleashed by the US Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision is supposed to be completely separate from a candidate’s campaign, and when it is coordinated it eviscerates our limits on money in politics.”

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