AP Campaign Finance Roundup: February 16, 2022
Connor Flotten, an American Promise Research Associate, has the roundup you need to stay on top of fast-evolving corruption, election spending, and reform news.
From American Promise on Medium: Analysis by American Promise Senior Legal Counsel Brian Boyle shows how a series of 5-4 Supreme Court decisions have consistently eroded campaign finance limits. Now, Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign is arguing that if candidates finance their campaign with personal loans, the campaign committees should be able to repay all of those loans with post-election contributions. Although allowing donors to give funds that will go straight into the candidate’s pockets, after the election has already been decided, is clearly a recipe for corruption, Justice Amy Coney Barrett has signaled that campaign finance regulators need to show actual evidence for corruption, not just the clear potential for corruption.
From Politico: Little more than a month into 2022, election spending by Senate candidates has already smashed 2018 and 2020 levels. Senate candidates have already spent more than $131 million on TV ads alone, more than double what was spent at this point in 2018 or 2020. With 2020 having seven Senate races that exceeded $200 million in total spending, 2022 is on track to be a staggeringly expensive election year.
From Politico: Billionaire George Soros has given $125 million to Democrat-backing Super PAC Democracy PAC, which is headed by Soros’s son Alexander Soros. George Soros referred to the donation as a “long-term investment,” and the Super PAC has already disbursed millions of dollars to other PACs connected to Democratic congressional leadership, such as the Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC.
Russia pouring millions into foreign influence and lobbying targeting the U.S. amid escalating Ukraine conflict
From Open Secrets: As American Promise President Jeff Clements has previously noted, lax campaign finance regulations allow foreign governments and corporations to pour millions of dollars into influencing our elections. Now, analysis of disclosed foreign lobbying efforts has found that since 2016, Russia has spent over $182 million on lobbying and propaganda efforts. Much of the lobbying effort has focused on the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which the Biden administration has repeatedly refused to sanction. Other Russian institutions, like the Russian bank Sovcombank, have begun to step up lobbying efforts as Congress considers renewed sanctions on Russia over its military buildup near Ukraine.
From the Ellsworth American: In Maine, State Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) has penned an op-ed in support of the bipartisan Protect Maine Elections initiative, which would prevent foreign governments and corporations controlled by those governments from participating in ballot initiative elections and reaffirm Mainers’ support for a constitutional amendment that would give states the power to regulate campaign finance and spending.
From PsychCentral: American Promise President Jeff Clements and Vice President for Outreach Dr. Jessica Hare sat down with Rena Goldman of Psych Central to discuss the issue of losing friends over politics. Although political discussions with friends can be fraught, Hare emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries around difficult topics and being willing to take a break if feelings get too strong. Clements recommended focusing on topics where the vast majority of Americans agree, such as limits on political campaign spending that two-thirds of the public support.
Amend Constitution to stop out-of-state and foreign campaign money from overpowering Pennsylvania voters
From the Tribune-Democrat: American Promise Board Member and former New Hampshire State Senator Jim Rubens wrote an op-ed detailing his experience with outside money flooding into New Hampshire elections and how the influence of outside donors has hurt the independence of state elections. Rubens explains how money is also flooding into Pennsylvania elections and argues that the nationalization of every swing election is interfering with the principles of American federalism.
From the New York Times: Although Democrats have repeatedly voiced opposition to “dark money” — funds given to politically active nonprofits that don’t have to disclose their donors — they benefited significantly from it in the 2020 election. The 15 most politically active, Democrat-aligned nonprofit organizations spent over $1.5 billion in 2020. The massive influence of undisclosed donations eclipses the fundraising power of even presidential campaigns, with President Joe Biden’s campaign “only” raising a record-breaking $1 billion. Many activists and observers worry that the influence of dark money and the accelerating fundraising arms race between the parties threatens to further break down trust and accountability in government.