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Salon: RFK Jr. and the con men candidates: more than a sideshow — they're a real threat to democracy

"We do not have a clear picture of who is pumping significant money into our elections," Stephen Spaulding, the vice president of policy at Common Cause, told Salon. Especially after the disastrous 2013 Supreme Court decision dismantling much campaign finance law, he explained, there's "a universe of money influencing our elections that are coming from somewhere in large amounts, but we don't know where it's coming from." While cautioning there's no legal way to distinguish real candidates from people who are in it for the grift, Spaulding did agree that campaign finance reform could make it less appealing to run for office merely as a brand-building or money-gathering exercise. He highlighted the DISCLOSE Act that Democrats support, but Republicans have filibustered to death in the Senate. The act would make dark money giving much more difficult, making it hard for candidates, both those sincerely running and those with ulterior motives, to enjoy the backing of wealthy interests who don't want their involvement known. He also called for the federal government to take more proactive steps to enforce laws that do exist, so people like Santos can be snagged before they get too far into the process — or even get elected. 

Money & Influence 06.6.2023

The Lever: Ron DeSantis’ Crusade Against Campaign Finance Laws

Taken together, the group’s activities amount to “a complete end-run around our campaign finance rules, which are in place to curb corruption and the appearance of corruption,” said Stephen Spaulding, a vice president at the watchdog group Common Cause.

Money & Influence 05.31.2023

Columbus Dispatch: Secretary of State Frank LaRose uses election integrity group to aid US Senate ambitions

Money & Influence 05.26.2023

The Mercury News: Court upholds California’s anti-pay-to-play law barring votes benefiting campaign contributors

The law was backed by the good governance organization California Common Cause, which described it as “a common sense and long overdue pro-democracy reform” that already exists in other states and in certain California cities. Striking down the law would go against the “will of the people,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause. “This law protects Californians from the pay-to-play corruption and the appearance of corruption that plagues our cities and counties, and helps to restore faith in our leaders and our government,” he said.

Money & Influence 05.15.2023

The Guardian: ‘Impossible to hold him accountable’: DeSantis signs laws to ease 2024 run

“It looks like they’re laying the groundwork to transfer the money to some sort of vehicle that would support his presidential run,” said Stephen Spaulding, a campaign finance expert at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. “What that, again, goes to show is how loose the coordination rules are, how they need to be strengthened, and how existing rules need to be enforced.”

Money & Influence 05.12.2023

Associated Press: Air Force One doubles as a campaign jet for Biden’s reelection run. Who pays what?

When it comes to paying back the government for travel, “it’s always somewhat of an opaque process for how it’s reimbursed,” said Aaron Scherb, senior director of legislative affairs at the watchdog group Common Cause. “It’s a little bit more of an art than a science.”

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