AP Campaign Finance Roundup: July 6, 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.
Giuliani’s former Ukraine fixer gets 20 months in prison
From The Associated Press:
In another public example of how foreign money manages to worm its way into our elections, Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for a number of crimes, including facilitating illegal campaign donations. Parnas helped funnel money from a wealthy Russian to several American politicians, violating campaign finance laws.
I’m glad to see someone actually get caught and convicted for this sort of crime, but with how easy it is to set up shell companies and hide the sources of campaign money I’m honestly astonished he managed to get caught.
Super PAC attacking Rep. Liz Cheney boosted by alleged “straw donor” scheme
Speaking of shell companies. A complaint from the Campaign Legal Center alleges that a donor used Snow Goose LLC to funnel $50,000 to Wyoming Values, a Super PAC opposed to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney. The complaint claims that Snow Goose is in violation of a campaign regulation that prohibits making donations in the name of another, thereby concealing the actual source of the funds. CLC claims that Snow Goose has “no known business operations, investments, assets, or commercial ventures from which it might generate income of its own to make political contributions.”
So either Snow Goose is getting its money from someone else and funneling it to the PAC, or a big pile of money fell out of the sky and they decided to give it to a Wyoming Super PAC. It’s probably about 50-50 either way.
Danforth Super PAC to spend up to $20M to lift independent John Wood in Senate race
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Independent (adjective): not influenced or controlled in any way by other people, events, or things.
John Wood: Independent candidate running for Missouri Senate. Independent, minus the $20 million in support he’ll be receiving from former U.S. Sen. John Danforth’s Super PAC. Missouri Stands United PAC has already spent $3 million on all forms of advertising just to get signatures to get Wood on the ballot, let alone actually win the election.
I know that “independent” in this case just means he’s not running on either party’s ticket. But it feels like a bit of a misnomer when a former senator is spending millions to influence your race on your behalf.
Companies that claim to back the LGBTQ community send political contributions to state lawmakers who advanced anti-transgender bills
Analysis by OpenSecrets has found that several companies who signed a Human Rights Campaign petition calling on state lawmakers to oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation were giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state lawmakers promoting those same anti-LGBTQ bills. Whoopsies!
33 companies who signed the petition, chief among them being AT&T, Comcast, CVS, and Amazon, gave nearly $885,000 to lawmakers who promoted anti-LGBTQ legislation since 2020. Now, some might call publicly saying one thing, and pretending to care about human rights, while simultaneously backing the people who are attacking those rights, “disgusting hypocrisy,” or “bald-faced lying.”
I would also call it that, since that’s what it is.
Hochul Has Raised $34 Million So Far. Her Goal May Be Double That
From the New York Times
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who ascended to the office after Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign, is fundraising at breakneck pace for her campaign for a full term this year. She’s already raised $34 million, which you’d think would be more than enough for pretty much anything, but she’s still shooting for more. Her target is $50 to $70 million, and to hit it her campaign is fundraising from all sectors, including donors with business currently before the state. The article cites her fundraising from the gambling industry, which is awaiting three new casino permits from the state. Real estate developers who maxed out to her campaign are giving to her running mate, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado. But when has gambling and real estate tycoons throwing around millions of dollars ever led to corruption?
Gorbea defends fundraiser hosted by oil lobbyist who’s given to other RI Dems
From The Providence Journal:
“Can a politician combat climate change while taking money from an oil lobbyist?”
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “no.” But most of Rhode Island’s Democratic candidates for governor think otherwise. Candidate Nellie Gorbea went to a fundraiser in June hosted by Tonio Burgos, a lobbyist for one of the world’s largest oil refiners. A spokeswoman for Gorbea pointed out that Burgos is a “prominent Democratic donor,” to which I would respond “yeah, that’s the whole problem.” When a politician claims to be able to regulate an industry they benefit significantly from, either their donors are stupid for supporting them, or they’re not being entirely honest with themselves or us.
MAGA Voters Send a $50 Million G.O.P. Plan Off the Rails in Illinois
From the New York Times
The Illinois governor’s race is on track to become the most expensive non-presidential race in American history, despite only one party having a competitive primary that hasn’t even finished yet. On one side, Kenneth Griffin, the Chicago billionaire hedge fund founder, has spent $50 million to back a moderate Republican in the primary. On the other, the Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker have spent $35 million backing a far-right Republican, in the hopes that he’ll be easier to beat in the general election. It’s the most any candidate has ever spent to “meddle” in another party’s primary.
Apparently primary elections aren’t about which candidate a party’s voters think is the best choice for their state or the nation. It’s about who the other party thinks is the worst choice. Forget elections being about “the lesser of two evils.” Now candidates want to be the greater evil so they get millions of dollars from the other party.
Pa. Senate race between Fetterman and Oz may break advertising spending records
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The U.S. Senate race between Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania is expected to be the most expensive in the state’s history, and anyone who turns on a screen in PA is gonna feel it. The two parties have already booked $67 million worth of ads, with millions more on the way. Analysts expect that the race could well exceed the $164 million record set by the 2016 election for the same seat. Naturally, these ads are focused on tearing down and smearing the opposing candidate, drowning out any sort of constructive dialogue on the issues actually facing Pennsylvanians. Both major party PACs are getting involved, with the Democratic Senate Majority PAC reserving $26 million in fall ads and the Republican Senate Leadership Fund reserving $24.6 million. For more analysis of these groups, and the spending so far in Pennsylvania, check out American Promise’s “UnCommon Wealth: Outside Spending and Influence in the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate Election.”