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Money & Influence 05.14.2018

Center for Public Integrity: Politicos beware: Court ruling could prompt more transparent campaign spending

Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, said the decision has bearing on the Trump matter. Common Cause has filed complaints with the DOJ and FEC alleging that “violations by Trump, Cohen … and others of the same statutes violated in the criminal convictions upheld by the Eighth Circuit in this case,” he said in an email. Ryan added: “The Eighth Circuit’s decision makes clear that when you lie to the federal government about election spending, you can be prosecuted and convicted not only for violating campaign finance law reporting requirements, but also multiple other federal criminal statutes that prohibit making false statements and filing false paperwork with the government.”  

Associated Press: Cohen's ties to Trump, corporate clients pose questions

Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause said Cohen had plenty of wiggle room to help his corporate clients, which included AT&T and pharmaceutical giant Novartis, without running afoul of lobbying rules. Those rules, for instance, require that lobbyists register as such only if they've spent at least 20 percent of their time with a client over a three-month period doing lobbying work. "There is a whole lot of influence peddling that Michael Cohen could do without falling into the scope of federal lobby legislation," said Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good government group. He added, though: "It's slimy. It looks like an effort to personally profit from his relationship with the president, and hide it all from the public through a shell company."

Money & Influence 05.10.2018

Dallas Morning News: Payments to Trump attorney Michael Cohen pull back curtain on AT&T's political machine

Yosef Getachew of Common Cause, a Washington-based nonpartisan group that advocates for a more ethical and open government, called AT&T's payments "another example of the power of big money to gain access and influence in all layers of government." "The swamp is only getting swampier," he said, referring to Trump's vows to "drain the swamp" on the campaign trail. Getachew said that AT&T, a company in the highly regulated telecom industry, has many matters that come before government agencies or Congress. For example, the new Trump-appointed leadership of the FCC made the call to roll back net neutrality rules. And the Justice Department made the decision to file an antitrust lawsuit over the still-pending AT&T-Time Warner merger.  "When a company is getting regulated like that, they are looking for every possible angle to influence the process," he said. "They are going to find ways to pay big money to influence those outcomes."

Slate: Is It Normal for the President’s Lawyer to Run a Political Consulting Firm?

“We have an entire industry of individuals with close relationships to government officials that sell and capitalize on that relationship,” says Paul Seamus Ryan, a vice president at Common Cause, a government watchdog. Not normal: the fact that Cohen did not make his activity public by “hanging a shingle” as a lobbyist. “Doing it all in secret, never having done it before, while simultaneously working for a public official, and the public official being the president—these are new glosses on an old profession,” he observed. Not normal: trading off being not just a well-connected person but the sitting president’s lawyer. “Another thing that’s not normal is for a president’s lawyer to set up an LLC and make a hush money payment to a porn star.” Common Cause has filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission arguing that the Stormy Daniels payment, which was made in October 2016 from Cohen’s newly formed Essential Consultants LLC, was a campaign finance violation.

HuffPost: Ohio Voters Pass Gerrymandering Reform Measure

“Ohioans never gave up on the fight to end to the manipulation of congressional districts for political advantage and today our efforts paid off,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, who led the coalition supporting the measure.

USA Today Op-Ed: Why Rudy Giuliani’s comments matter

Campaign finance scandals rarely involve details as tawdry as the Stormy Daniels fiasco and the $130,00 hush-money payment. That shouldn’t distract citizens from doing our part to hold power accountable. As the leader of the nonpartisan watchdog organization that filed the first campaign finance complaints related to President Trump and Daniels, my request is simple: Follow the money and hold any violators — including the president of the United States — accountable to laws that protect the integrity of our democracy.

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