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Media & Democracy 05.23.2018

The Hollywood Reporter: Sinclair Laying Groundwork For Fox News Competitor

Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who has loudly opposed Sinclair's $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune, says the company is "trying to look as nonthreatening as possible and make this deal look as innocuous as possible." In early May, 21st Century Fox agreed to snap up seven TV stations from Sinclair in a $910 million deal that could help Sinclair get regulatory approval for its Tribune bid. Publicly, Sinclair leadership has denied rumors of a Fox News challenge. But Copps is unmoved: "Watch what they do and not what they say."

Money & Influence 05.22.2018

Bloomberg: Your Questions About Trump Jr.’s Foreign Campaign Meetings, Answered

In March, the advocacy group Common Cause alleged that Cambridge Analytica -- the firm that, through a U.K. affiliate, obtained personal data on up to 87 million Facebook users as part of its work for the Trump campaign -- violated election law by letting foreign nationals participate in the U.S. political decision-making process. Common Cause made its complaint to the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department.

USA Today: Sen. Dean Heller paid son at least $52,500 in campaign cash for social media consulting

“Any payment to a candidate’s family member that seems unusually high is a red flag for me,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation at Common Cause, a liberal-leaning nonprofit watchdog group. “Candidates should exercise an abundance of caution in this area and should be prepared to publicly justify such expenses to the public, the press and, most importantly, to the FEC.”


Ars Tecnica: Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy amidst “siege” of negative attention

Stephen Spaulding, the chief of strategy at advocacy group Common Cause and a former special counsel at the FEC, told Ars that he guessed that listing was because of a pending legal complaint brought to the FEC. "The reason they would be listed in a bankruptcy would be that this pending legal action might leave them exposed legally and maybe that’s why it has to be disclosed," he said. "Why they’re listed as a creditor would be a question for a bankruptcy lawyer."

NBC Op-Ed: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's lobbying just the tip of the iceberg for Washington influence peddlers

Along downtown Washington’s famous K Street — where you can’t travel a block without bumping into a half-dozen lobbyists — some people are struggling to understand why the unfolding saga of President Donald Trump “fixer” (and personal lawyer) Michael Cohen is such a big deal.

Washington Post: In new financial disclosure, Trump reports apparent payment through his personal attorney to adult-film star

Paul Ryan, a vice president at Common Cause, a government watchdog group, said Trump’s disclosure bolsters its Federal Election Commission complaint that the payment should have been reported by the campaign. Whenever Trump learned of the payment to Daniels -- which is still unclear -- he should have directed the campaign to report it, Ryan said. “Donald Trump’s reimbursement of Michael Cohen puts him in the middle of a campaign finance violation that he once denied knowing anything about,” Ryan said. “It’s a criminal violation because his payment amounts to knowledge that Cohen made this payment on his behalf, and campaign finance law violations become criminal violations when they are done knowingly and willingly.”

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