Campaign Finance
Drew Angere/Getty Images News

Paul Manafort

Manafort campaign finance allegations scuttled by FEC deadlock

Allegations that Paul Manafort orchestrated a scheme to funnel money to several Republican members of Congress from Ukrainians aligned with Russia have been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission.

It was the first FEC foreign money inquiry originating from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, and it was an outgrowth of last year's conviction of Manafort in a case that centered on his illegal lobbying enterprises before he was Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager.

The two Republican commissioners voted to follow a staff recommendation to drop the case, Bloomberg Government reported. The two commissioners in seats reserved for Democrats voted to proceed.

Keep reading... Show less
Big Picture
True
Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Rep. John Lewis and his fellow Democrats unveiled HR 1 on Jan. 4, 2019. It has since been passed by the House on the party-line vote but isn't going anywhere in the Senate.

With the For the People Act, organizing is paying off

Weissman is president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

One good thing came from the Supreme Court's horrendous Citizens United decision a decade ago: an ever-expanding grassroots movement to rescue our democracy from the iron grip of Big Money.

The organizing is paying off.

In 2014, it led to a Senate vote for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It almost certainly would have led to that horrid decision being overturned by the Supreme Court – if Merrick Garland had been confirmed as a justice.

Now, thanks to that movement, the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives made the For the People Act – the top priority legislation considered by the House – a sweeping pro-democracy and anti-corruption package. The House passed the bill, known as HR 1, in March by a vote of 234-193. It is the most consequential pro-democracy legislation of the past 50 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Sara Swann / The Fulcrum

Whitehouse with Tiffany Muller of End Citizens United, left, and Tiernan Sittenfeld of the League of Conservation Voters at the National Press Club Wednesday.

Democrats emphasizing dark money's effects on climate change

A main marketing line for democracy reform advocates is that fixing the political system is a predicate to tackling all the other pressing problems of the day. And in Congress, a prominent acolyte of this idea is Sheldon Whitehouse, the Senate's most persistent advocate for combating climate change, who has long argued his cause will never gain traction while unlimited "dark money" permeates the campaign finance system.

The Rhode Island Democrat was making his case again this week, putting together a meeting of advocates for reducing money's role in politics and advocates of reducing carbon's role in the economy.

Wednesday's gathering in downtown Washington, with members of End Citizens United and the League of Conservation Voters, came as a growing number of Democratic presidential candidates are highlighting a link between their climate change proposals and their proposals for regulating campaign finance and lobbying.

The collective argument is that so long as the oil, gas and coal industries remain such mainstays of the unregulated and secretive campaign money universe that legislation to slow global warming doesn't stand a chance.

Keep reading... Show less