AP Campaign Finance Roundup: June 7, 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.
I, for one, am shocked. Apparently, all those cryptocurrency companies and executives who have been pouring millions of dollars into campaign donations and PACs were doing it to exercise political influence, not just out of the goodness of their hearts. Unbelievable! Lawmakers who receive contributions and PAC support from the crypto industry are voicing their support for the industry, and crypto executives got a bipartisan group of senators to try and weaken a provision in the infrastructure bill that placed tax reporting requirements on crypto brokers. The crypto industry has also opposed measures to stop Russians from using cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.
Alabama’s Senate primary this year is the third most expensive Senate election so far. A complicated web of donors, PACs, and dark money groups supported all of the top three candidates in the race, spending millions of dollars to get their preferred candidate the nomination. In this article, OpenSecrets shows how these networks of interconnected PACs and spending groups shuffle money between each other and spend it attacking and supporting various candidates with a set of flowcharts. They’re a mess, but that’s the fault of our campaign finance system, not OpenSecrets.
From the Associated Press:
Republican Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee has signed new campaign finance and ethics bill into law, one that would require additional transparency from dark money groups on when they’re spending money on ads that feature a state candidate. Unsurprisingly, dark money groups were staunchly opposed to the bill, claiming that it would also require them to disclose their donors.
I was extremely excited to hear that they would also have to disclose their donors, but unfortunately, they appear to be making that up. House Speaker Cameron Sexton told The Associated Press that he “can’t figure out why all these groups think that they’d have to disclose donors.” I wonder if the dark money groups realize that such disclosure requirements would probably have made the law even more popular with the rest of us.
‘Guardian angel’ donors have poured more than $284 million into super PACs ahead of the 2022 midterms
When I think of Guardian Angels, I think of a benevolent force protecting and guiding people. Apparently, they’re more of a corrosive force, promoting their opinions and ideologies over everyone else’s and shaping our elections. Democratic mega-donor George Soros alone has poured more than $126 million into his own Democracy PAC II (Democracy PAC II: Corruption Boogaloo! Coming to everywhere they can stick an ad, this fall). That amount represents the vast majority of the $155 million given to Democratic Super PACs, and more than the total $118.8 million given to Republican Super PACs.
From the Bangor Daily News:
One place Soros’s money is going? Maine’s Democratic primary for Cumberland County district attorney. Since 2010, only $464,000 has been spent in total in all of Maine’s DA campaigns. In just the past week, the Soros-backed Maine Justice & Public Safety PAC has spent over $173,000 backing challenger Jackie Sartoris, having received over $300,000 from Soros’s Democracy PAC II. In contrast, Sartoris has raised only $11,000, and incumbent Jonathan Sahrbeck has only raised $4,185. I wonder how well $4,000 worth of ads stack up against $300,000?
Mainers have been dealing with out-of-state (and sometimes out-of-country) money flowing into our state for years now, and we were already bracing for an expensive gubernatorial election this year. If you’re sick of unending political ads and outside interference in our elections, volunteer for the American Promise Protect Maine Elections ballot initiative at protectmaineelections.com, or send them a contribution at protectmaineelections.nationbuilder.com/donate2.
Incorporation records reveal new details about a ‘dark money’ group pouring millions into 2022 midterms
OpenSecrets has investigated a new dark money group that is already working to funnel millions of dollars into our elections. The group, Defending America Together, is incorporated in Delaware, where it is not required to disclose the identities of its board of directors. Legally, the group earns its tax-exempt status by existing for “the promotion of social welfare,” and is not supposed to primarily engage in political activity. So what social welfare activity has this group get up to? Why, nothing, of course. The group “has not publicized any social welfare activities,” but has managed to donate $5 million to PACs operating in the Pennsylvania and Arizona primaries.
The Democratic House Majority PAC is running ads to support conservative Republican Chris Mathys over incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao in a crucial primary in California. Did they forget which party they work for? Nope. House Majority PAC is promoting the more extreme Mathys over Valadao, who is seen as more moderate because they believe that it will be easier for the Democratic candidate to defeat Mathys in November.
Couple of problems with that: promoting a candidate you think is worse and less popular with voters goes against the basic principle of open democracy. The whole point of our system is that the best candidates and ideas rise to the top through open debate and discussion. Instead, tactics like this actively encourage people to move as far to the extremes as possible to pick up support from the other side. And then when happens if the extreme candidate ends up winning in the general election? Seems awfully arrogant to assume one’s party will win every time, just because you don’t like the other candidate.