AP Campaign Finance Roundup: July 20, 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.
Another week, another set of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class. I know it gets frustrating writing these, as important as it is to shine a spotlight on what’s happening, and I hope that they get you fired up too. But, starting this week, I’m also going to be offering solutions on what you can do to channel that righteous anger into something that will help solve these problems.
Yup, you read that right. Democratic spending groups have spent over $44 million on ads to boost far-right candidates in Republican primaries across five states. Why should Democrats have a voice in Republican primaries? Because they have the money to spend, that’s why.
It’s not as though Democrats have ever fallen victim to their own hubris before. The article notes a particularly high-profile case of Democratic meddling in Republican primaries, where Hillary Clinton intentionally elevated Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 primaries. That worked out great for her.
The 2022 elections are old news, now. The 2024 election has already begun. At least, the part of the election that actually matters: courting donors. Democratic presidential hopefuls have begun making efforts to connect with their real constituents, the wealthy donors who may make or break their campaigns. They’re piling into fundraising events in California and New York, hoping to start the primary with a big pile of cash if President Biden chooses not to run for re-election.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans Utah fundraiser with GOP megadonors, signaling possible presidential run
Not to be outdone, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is likely to run for president in 2024, has also begun courting his party’s donor class. DeSantis is headed to Utah to, supposedly, raise funds for his 2022 gubernatorial race. Astute observers will note that Utah is more than 2,000 miles away from his home state of Florida. The DeSantis campaign said that they do not comment on fundraising events to the press, further reinforcing the line between voters and the wealthy donor class that actually wields influence over our elections.
From The Associated Press:
Here’s a bit of positive news, as a palate-cleanser. A federal judge decided not to block campaign finance disclosure rules imposed by a 2020 ballot measure in Alaska. Opponents of the measure are suing on behalf of donors and independent expenditure groups, who are apparently upset that they have to disclose who’s funding their ads and giving them money. They claim that they’re attempting to protect First Amendment rights, because nothing says “free speech” like “unaccountable spending and election influence.” Fortunately, the judge decided not to block the disclosure rules while the suit was ongoing, as Alaska has a primary election in August.
From The Associated Press:
A Republican candidate for Governor of Wisconsin, Tim Michels, has spent more than $7.9 million of his own money on his campaign. The prevalence of wealthy, self-funded candidates this cycle (most notably in the PA Republican Senate primary), has shown just how much money is required for candidates to even consider running. If you want to run for office, you either have to be a multi-millionaire or billionaire, or have access to a massive donor network that can deploy millions of dollars on your behalf.
Joe Manchin raises over $1 million from donors including Patriots owner, Wall Street execs, energy giants
Here’s a set of funny coincidences. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), received a lot of money for his campaign over the past couple months. His donors included wealthy Wall Street millionaires, business owners, and energy companies. Now, as his party is negotiating taxes on the wealthy and climate change legislation, he’s announced that he opposes both of those, effectively scuttling Democrats’ plans. How funny, that he would receive hundreds of thousands of dollars and then turn around and block legislation that would financially impact his donors.
From the New York Times:
When he took office a little over 6 months ago, New York Mayor Eric Adams was presented with a number of major challenges facing his city, and sprung into action. Not to solve any of those problems, of course, but to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from across the country. Adams has raised over $850,000 for an election that’s three and a half years away, and almost half of that has come from outside of New York. It’s only fair, though. How can you expect him to focus on the issues actually affecting New Yorkers if he’s worried about having enough money to show them ads about how good he is? I’m sure he’ll have a week or two between pre-election fundraising and when the campaign actually starts, maybe check back in with him then.
This overview from POLITICO shows the staggering amounts of money being thrown around by major campaign donors. Highlights include megadonor Ken Griffin giving over $6 million to various GOP candidates, and a nonprofit funded by a Swiss billionaire giving $1.55 million to influence municipal races. I also have to note the irony of this newsletter being sponsored by an advertising platform. They know their audience I suppose.
Angry? Here’s what you can do:
Protect Maine Elections:
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, so they can get us back on track. The initiative would block foreign interference in Maine’s ballot elections and call on our federal delegation to pass a Constitutional amendment to get money out of politics.
As a Mainer, seriously, I can’t take another election cycle full of ads from America and Canada.
Secure Candidate Pledges:
It’s easy to get angry at our elected officials for taking money from wealthy donors and ignoring the issues that matter most to us. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time they deserve it. But it’s important to remember that they work for us, and to give them a chance to prove that they’re committed to that ideal. Get your elected officials and candidates to sign the American Promise Candidate Pledge, affirming that they’ll use their office to advance the For Our Freedom Amendment and fight for We the People, not money.
Register for the National Citizen Leadership Conference:
In September, citizens from across America will gather at the National Citizen Leadership Conference, to connect with fellow citizens, hear from inspiring speakers and panelists, learn new organizing strategies, and directly meet with our representatives in Congress. Early bird tickets are available now. If you’re feeling angry and powerless reading the news from home, one of the best things for igniting your drive and passion is actually meeting with other people in person who share your goals and are making real progress on winning them.