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Money & Influence 10.18.2020

HuffPost: How Trump Got Played By The Military-Industrial Complex

Watchdog groups argue Trump’s handling of the hiring process is more evidence that lawmakers and future presidents must institute rules to limit the reach of military contractors and other special interests. “Given the hundreds of conflicts of interest flouting the rule of law in the Trump administration, certainly these issues have gotten that much more attention and are that much more salient now than they were four years ago,” said Aaron Scherb, the director of legislative affairs at Common Cause, a nonpartisan good-government group.

Money & Influence 10.16.2020

Boston Globe: Joe Kennedy III campaign says it improperly spent $1.5 million in Senate primary

The Globe asked a top campaign finance expert to weigh in on the Kennedy campaign's disclosure. "The rule is clear: You cannot spend general election funds prior to the primary," said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, a campaign watchdog group. "Our contribution limits are intended to safeguard against corruption or even the appearance of corruption. They're intended to prevent wealthy individuals from having undue influence over candidates and officeholders," said Ryan. Ryan said in the 20 years he's spent watching money in politics, he can't recall an instance of a high-profile candidate such as Kennedy committing this sort of campaign finance violation. And he said improperly spending $1.5 million is "significant" considering it accounts for close to 10 percent of the $15.6 million the Kennedy campaign spent through September, according to the latest federal filings.

Money & Influence 10.13.2020

New York Times: Trump Campaign Suggests Omarosa Manigault Newman Pay for $1 Million in Ad Spending

Having her pay for an ad campaign “in my opinion would be an illegally large in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign,” said Paul S. Ryan, the vice president for policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause. Even if she were just to appear in an ad, without funding it, there would be a value to Ms. Manigault Newman’s time that would almost certainly exceed the $2,800 federal contribution limit, Mr. Ryan said.

Newsweek: Mitch McConnell's 'Legislative Graveyard' Helping Current Congress to Be the Least Productive in History, Report Says

"The House of Representatives passed nearly 10 democracy reform bills, often with bipartisan support, this session, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked debate and markups on all of these bills and refused to allow a vote," Common Cause's director of legislative affairs, Aaron Scherb, said. The 2020 Democracy Scorecard, one of the group's initiatives, provides data on every current member of the House of Representatives and Senate, including their votes and co-sponsorships of democracy reform bills. Scherb told Newsweek that McConnell has been instrumental in blocking the current Congress from enacting laws. "There have been hundreds that have been passed by the House at this point. There have only been 158 enacted laws by this 116th Congress to this point. Yet there are hundreds of bills that have passed the House but continue to sit in Senate Majority Leader McConnell's desk, or his 'legislative graveyard' as it's been called," he said.

Money & Influence 09.10.2020

Washington Post (EDITORIAL): Authorities must get to the bottom of Postmaster DeJoy’s alleged manipulation of campaign donations

If the allegations are true, Mr. DeJoy would be in violation of federal election laws that prohibit so-called straw donations because they are a way of evading transparency requirements and contribution limits that are so crucial to the conduct of fair elections. Other possible violations include prohibited use of corporate money and coercion of employees. There is a five-year federal statute of limitations, but there is no time limit in North Carolina for the prosecution of felonies, including campaign violations. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said an investigation is warranted and Common Cause North Carolina on Wednesday filed a complaint. Even Mr. Trump, with his high tolerance of wrongdoing by his allies, acknowledged the need for investigation. We urge Congress and North Carolina authorities to act expeditiously in getting to the bottom of this troubling matter.

Money & Influence 09.9.2020

Associated Press: Postal Service changes delay prescription drugs

Common Cause North Carolina filed a formal complaint with the state Board of Elections Wednesday and asked North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein to investigate the allegations. House Democrats are investigating. “This troubling fundraising scheme allegedly perpetrated by Louis DeJoy has the appearance of bypassing North Carolina’s campaign finance limits in order to illicitly buy political access and curry favor with elected officials,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. “These allegations should be thoroughly investigated and, if true, Mr. DeJoy must be held accountable.”

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