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Binge Read: Failures in Campaign Finance Analysis

Editor’s Note: At the end of each week, The Stacks rounds up the most important takeaways from campaign finance reporting around the country.

The theme for the first couple links? [INSERT POLITICIAN’S NAME HERE] belongs in jail.

The Failures of the Mueller Report’s Campaign Finance Analysis [Just Security]

The release of the redacted Mueller report on April 16 consumed the news cycle—and for good reason, the biggest being the surprising reveal of a non-verdict. That said, there was a lot in it that showcased a deliberate, exhaustive process. However, former White House Counsel to President Obama Bob Bauer argues that “it is also a surprise that this approach—a careful assessment of the legal case—is not one Mueller also follows in addressing the campaign finance issues raised by Donald Trump and his campaign’s solicitation and acceptance of assistance from the Russian government. The Report treats the campaign finance issues almost cursorily—one could say, superficially—even to the point of failing to identify and address all the applicable law. The results are an unconvincing decision to decline any prosecutions, and a major question about the enforcement of this law in 2020 and beyond.”

Never Mind the White House: Mayor Quid Pro Quo Is Lucky He’s Not in Jail [Daily Beast]

Special correspondent Michael Daly writes a scathing report on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, pointing at de Blasio’s alleged pay-to-play operation, claiming that if he “joins the gaggle of Democrats running for president, he will stand out as the only one who flouted federal law so often and so flagrantly that prosecutors felt compelled to publicly explain why they had not gone ahead and locked him up.”

A lag in fundraising casts doubts on DNC’s 2020 influence [Center for Responsive Politics]

While the Democratic presidential campaigns are off to the races—with the crowd 20-plus field jockeying for position on the debate stage—the DNC finds itself sputtering through 2019, having raised a mere $8.1 million in March, half of what they raised in 2015…and this year’s haul includes a $1 million loan. In comparison, the RNC raised $15.5 million in the same month, and has $33.1 million cash-on-hand, triple of what the DNC has.

This coincides with a time that Democratic “dark money” groups are gaining prominence, as both these groups and party-connected super PACs accept unlimited donations.

How Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes could use his fortune to help break up big tech [Yahoo Finance]

A so-called “strategic mouthpiece for the 21st-century trust-busting movement,” Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is seen as instrumental in downsizing the company he helped build.

On Sunday, Hughes choreographed his intention to serve as such an instrument when he wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times:

“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.”

Hughes is already a major player in the 2020 presidential race, giving the maximum allowable donation of $2,800 to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in February, as well as $10,400 to her joint fundraising committee a few months before. He’s also given the maximum allowable donation of $2,800 to: Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, and Cory Booker. He additionally gave $2,700 to Pete Buttigieg and $250 to Andrew Yang.

Biden’s Presidential Campaign Pledged Not to Take Special Interest Money—but Not His PAC [MapLight]

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President, he pledged to reject contributions from lobbyists and corporate PACs. But according to MapLight, “he has quietly taken in more than $30,000 in donations from corporate interests through a political action committee that he created in 2017.”

The report claims that Biden’s PAC, American Possibilities, has accepted $29,000 in donations from federal lobbyists (as well as $5,000 from a PAC affiliated with Masimo, a medical device company) shining a light on his historical reliance on lobbyists to support his campaigns.

Warren to donate campaign money she previously took from from opioid titan [Politico]

Following her entry into the policy debate with last week’s announcement of her “Democracy Dollars” program, on Wednesday, Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren rolled out “rolled out a new version of her aggressive plan to combat the opioid crisis, hoping the crackdown will appeal to 2020 voters in states hit hard by the epidemic.”

It was quickly pointed out that Warren’s campaign in 2018 had accepted money from a member of the Sackler family, the billionaire founders and owners of the pharmaceutical company best known as the creators of OxyContin. In response, an aide said that Warren would be donating that money—a $2,500 donation from Beverly Sackler—to charity, though they did not specify which charity.

The Sackler family has made many political contributions to date, donations that have come under scrutiny as of late following several high profile lawsuits being filed across the country. Learn more in our post identifying which politicians and organizations have benefited from the Sackler’s OxyContin fortune.


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