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Money & Influence 10.21.2021

UPI/Medill News Service: California lawmaker accepted donations from oil firm linked to spill in her district

Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel for public policy at the non-partisan government watchdog organization Common Cause, said lawmakers in such competitive districts face heightened scrutiny from party members and donors to hold on to their seat. "When the balance of power hangs on a handful of seats, you will see resources shifted and prioritized for those particular members in swing districts," Spaulding said. "A candidate can face a number of pressures, but ultimately, it is up to the candidate to run the campaign pursuant to their vision and their values."

Voting & Elections 10.20.2021

Newsweek (Op-Ed): It's Time to Fix—Or Nix—The Senate Filibuster

Some of us believe the filibuster should be eliminated; others think reforms like a return to the "talking filibuster" can work, so long as there is a path to up-or-down votes on important legislation. The Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise measure recently introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin, is a fitting vehicle to usher in a new era of transparency and accountability.

Money & Influence 10.13.2021

Daily Beast: Time Is Running Out to Indict Trump for His Sex Hush Money Payment to Stormy Daniels

“It seems that if the Department of Justice were going to charge Trump, it would do so this month before the statute of limitations on the most significant charges related to the illegally large contribution runs,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the government watchdog group Common Cause. Ryan’s signature is on two complaints, one to the Federal Election Commission and another to the DOJ, that tried to hold Trump accountable for the hush money payment.

Money & Influence 10.11.2021

Daily Beast: ‘Scam’ Political Groups Try New Tricks—and Rake In Millions

“For 20 years I’ve been looking at the issue through the other end of the telescope, at ‘dark money’ nonprofits trying to hide that they’re influencing politics,” Paul S. Ryan, general counsel for campaign finance watchdog Common Cause, said. “This is the opposite—these PACs appear to be trying to pass themselves off as nonprofits and trying to hide that by spending on the political end. It raises the same concern, though, because in both cases they mislead the government about the use of contributions. And that’s where these scam PACs may be running afoul of the law.” He pointed out that the sudden change in reporting suggests the groups are either mischaracterizing the nature of their spending now, or had been mischaracterizing it for years previously. “It’s illegal to mislead the government,” he said. “And donors should never be lied to.” Ryan also noted that “it also sounds like we very well could be talking about a federal wire fraud statute violation,” citing the fact that every one of the more than two dozen donors contacted by The Daily Beast over the course of the last year said they had been deceived.

Voting & Elections 10.3.2021

Inside Sources/Tribune News Service (Op-Ed): 2020 Election Audits: Bad for Public Trust, Good for Fundraisers

Those who are manufacturing doubts about our election results have a strong profit motive: they need to keep the doubts alive to keep the dollars flowing.  But the rest of us can stop falling for their scam, and stop subsidizing these unfounded attacks on America’s elections.

Voting & Elections 09.21.2021

New York Times: Progressives Worry Their Priorities Will Be Left Behind, Despite Biden’s Bold Words

Stephen Spaulding, a senior counsel at Common Cause, said that engaged Democratic voters were attuned to the filibuster, the Senate’s signature procedural weapon that requires a 60-vote supermajority to advance most bills. “They will have serious questions if it’s not reformed and there is no action to protect voting rights or reproductive rights, both of which are under attack in states across the country,” he said. “They will ask the question: ‘Why did you care more about a Senate rule than these priorities?’”

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