Schultz question: Will money still buy voter love?
There looks to be a new twist in the decades of voter ambivalence toward those rich enough to finance their own campaigns: For former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, being a billionaire seems to be more of a hindrance than a help as he ponders seeking the presidency as an independent.
In the cases of both Mitt Romney (who spent $45 million of his own fortune as the GOP nominee in 2012) and Donald Trump (whose $66 million investment was just one-fifth of what his campaign spent in 2016), "there were only muted complaints about the unfair advantages of being a candidate who could hold a fund-raiser staring at the mirror in the morning," veteran political analyst Walter Shapiro writes for the Brennan Center for Justice. "That's why the widespread scorn for Schultz's initial foray into the 2020 race marks an unexpected change in public attitudes towards self-funders."
Running on a deep-pocket, I-can't-be-bought platform has its limits, however, he notes with this important nugget of campaign finance analysis from the 2018 midterms: 19 congressional candidates who spent more than $1 million of their own did not get past the primaries. "The anti-Schultz onslaught may have a far larger meaning than the fate of his individual candidacy. Because of Buckley v. Valeo, social disapproval is the only weapon available to deter billionaires from dominating politics."
An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.
That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.
Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.
A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.
But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.
The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."
The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.