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Money & Influence 04.30.2019

Common Cause et al. v. Trump (Trump Tower Meeting Solicitation)

Legal Filings

On July 10, 2017, Common Cause filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Donald Trump Jr., in his role with the Trump campaign, illegally solicited a political contribution from a foreign national—in the form of opposition research information he believed would be damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Trump Jr. admitted to The New York Times that on June 9, 2016, he met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who had promised him “damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” By that time his father had already secured the Republican nomination for President and Trump campaign chairman Paul J. Manfort also attended the meeting at Trump Tower as did Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump Jr. issued the statement to say that he had not in fact obtained the promised information but instead had been misled and lobbied on specific U.S.-Russian foreign policy issues. Nonetheless Trump Jr.’s meeting constitutes an illegal solicitation of a foreign national “contribution” by him and the Trump campaign. Federal campaign finance law defines “contribution” to include anything of value given for the purpose of influencing a federal election. And federal law prohibits any person from soliciting or receiving a contribution from a foreign national. On July 13, 2017, together with the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 amended and expanded its July 10 complaint, adding more facts and alleged violations. On April 30, 2019, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed a supplement to its 2017 complaint with the FEC, to include new facts and legal analysis from Special Counsel Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's report underscores the validity of the allegations made in 2017 by Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21.

The For The People Act In The States

Passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) through the U.S. House of Representatives was a historic victory for the people-led movement to create an American democracy where every voice is heard and every vote is counted. While work continues to move it through the Senate, many of the common-sense policies in the For the People Act are already in place and working in states across the country. This document shows where ten key reforms in the For the People Act have been passed and implemented at the state and local level.

Money & Influence 03.18.2019

Common Cause v. Cindy Yang et al.

Legal Filings

On March 18, 2019, Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging reason to believe that a Florida businesswoman violated campaign finance laws by enlisting and reimbursing “straw donors” tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions related to the reelection efforts of Donald Trump. The New York Times had reported on March 16 that Li Juan “Cindy” Yang appears to have recruited a number of employees and family members in order to meet the $50,000 price tag for a photo with President Trump at a Republican National Committee fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, FL in March 2018. According to the report several of the employees of massage parlors and other businesses associated with Yang who contributed $5,400 appeared to be of modest means – working as receptionists and giving facials – and atypical of contributors giving such large amounts to political campaigns or committees.

Money & Influence 01.10.2019

“Testing the Waters” or Diving Right In?: How Candidates Bend and Break Campaign Finance Laws in Presidential Campaigns

Research and Reports

This report is part of Common Cause’s 2020 Candidate Watch project, through which Common Cause will watchdog compliance with and enforcement of important campaign finance laws in the 2020 presidential election.

Democracy On The Ballot

Research and Reports

The people-led movement to strengthen our democracy continues as voters in 17 states consider over two dozen ballot measures dealing with money in politics, voting rights, redistricting, and ethics in November 2018. Common Cause's "Democracy On The Ballot" gives an overview of these measures, along with Common Cause's endorsement or opposition statement.

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