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Money & Influence 01.28.2020

Washington Post: Trump’s impeachment defense: Who is paying the president’s lawyers?

“It was horrible the way we blew up the limits on donations to national parties because it allows people to buy access and influence,” said Paul S. Ryan, a vice president at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. “Contrary to popular perception, the Democratic Party has long fought to loosen restrictions on money and politics, hand-in-hand with the Republicans. The public doesn’t think that because Democrats on the stump talk about campaign finance reform.”

Vox / Center for Public Integrity: How Republicans made millions on the tax cuts they pushed through Congress

Ironically, it was Congress that passed laws that restrict other federal government officials from owning stocks or assets that would benefit from the officials’ decisions — or require them to recuse themselves from such decisions. Yet Congress has not passed legislation that bans itself from the same practice. “Congress should have the same rules put on them that the executive branch has,” said Rotman of Common Cause. “The executive branch conflict of interest rules are stronger.”

Money & Influence 01.23.2020

Fortune: 5 surprising consequences from a decade of Citizens United

Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that advocates for fairness in U.S. democracy, disagrees. Its vice president, Paul S. Ryan, told Fortune, “It’s entirely true that the wealthy in both parties are using this new system, but who is not benefiting is the everyday American.”Ryan believes that massive campaign expenditures by a handful of wealthy people, which can outstrip the collective donations of thousands of ordinary individuals, diminishes the power of regular voters. And while the Democratic candidates running for President have railed about the corrupting influence of money on politics, they have nonetheless embraced the money spigots available in the post–Citizens United era. Joe Biden, for instance, initially refused to accept super PAC support but quietly changed his position last fall after a soft fundraising quarter.

Money & Influence 01.22.2020

Associated Press: Watchdog files FEC complaint against pro-Sanders group

“Because Sanders set up Our Revolution and they have raised and spent money in candidate elections, Our Revolution is required to comply with contribution limits, register with the FEC and discloses its donors — but it hasn’t,” said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney for Common Cause. “It’s his establishment of the group that triggers these laws. That means a $5,000 limit, full donor disclosure and no contributions from prohibited sources.”

Voting & Elections 01.22.2020

Bustle: How To Take Action Before The 2020 Election

Sylvia Albert, national director of voting and elections at grassroots organization Common Cause, tells Bustle that people who want to get involved in ensuring fair elections can sign up to volunteer with Election Protection, which needs lawyers to answer questions via the nonpartisan voter hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE. If you're not a lawyer, you can still volunteer with Election Protection through its nonpartisan poll monitoring program. "Volunteers commit to taking at least one Election Day shift to stand outside of assigned polling location after receiving training," Election Protection's website states. "You will distribute 'Know Your Rights' cards to voters, answer basic questions from voters at the polls, and help voters resolve any problems that occur, with the help of trained legal professionals."

Newsday/InsideSources.com (Op-Ed): President Trump should testify in his impeachment trial

With Chief Justice John Roberts sworn in and every senator a duly sworn juror now considering the Articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, 45th president of the United States, every American, regardless of political belief, must demand fairness, transparency and facts. The chief justice and the Senate must ensure fairness and provide transparency. Trump and his team must tell us the facts or face perjury charges as well.

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