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.
From The New York Times:
Getting money out of politics is something everybody can agree on. The New York Times tagged along to American Promise’s National Citizen Leadership Conference in September (sounds like a great event run by great people, whoever they are), has found that support for getting money out of politics is rising among Republicans, particularly as Democrats begin to out-raise and out-spend the GOP. The fact that money in politics is only growing is not great news, but the rest of the article is encouraging.
From Maine Public Radio:
Protect Maine Elections submitted more than 80,000 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State to get their initiative on the ballot next year, which would ban spending by foreign governments in Maine ballot referendum campaigns and reaffirm the state’s call for an anti-corruption amendment to the US Constitution. The campaign was joined by State Senators Rick Bennett and Nicole Grohoski, American Promise President Jeff Clements, and Congressman Jared Golden, (and yours truly!) at the Maine State House to submit the signatures.
Congressman Golden said it best, asking the crowd “Does anyone want foreign money to influence American elections?” and receiving a resounding “No!”
From Philadelphia Magazine:
17 whole people in Philadelphia donated to Mehmet Oz’s Senate campaign. They must be talking about a different Philadelphia, though, probably a small village or something that borrowed the name. No way would a Senate candidate be able to run without the support of many of their potential constituents! They’re who the candidate is supposed to represent, and if he doesn’t need their support to win an election, why would he bother advocating for them in the Senate?
Arabella Advisors: Firm overlooking most powerful left-wing dark money network in America expands operations
From Fox News:
I don’t know about you, but Arebella Advisors, the firm that oversees four of the biggest Democratic dark-money groups, is having a fantastic year! The four groups collected over $1.6 billion in 2020, including funds from donors like George Soros and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss. In order to properly manage all that money, Arabella Advisors has acquired New York-based accounting and consulting firm Kiwi Partners. In 2020, Arabella received over $45 million from the funds for their services. So great to see small businesses succeeding!
Super PAC supporting congressional candidate Erik Aadland faces questions about a potential illegal donation as well as spending that ‘doesn’t add up’
From Colorado Public Radio:
Whoopsies! Erik Aadland’s campaign for Colorado’s 7th congressional district may have received a donation from a company that does business with the federal government. In theory, that would be illegal, since he would be voting on business that could directly impact the company. In practice, it’s unclear if the FEC has even noticed or cared. Despite potentially taking illegal donations, the campaign is still under-reporting its total funds, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it reports having. Where did the money come from? Don’t worry about it, it’s probably fine and definitely isn’t corrupt.
From The Seattle Times:
Washington state requires companies like Facebook (sorry, not calling them “Meta”) to publicly disclose who buys ads, where they target them, and who views them, on their platform. Facebook decided that people didn’t deserve that information, and after being fined for violating the law in 2018 declared they would stop selling ads in WA. Except they just… didn’t stop. Now a Judge has found that Facebook violated the law when they didn’t disclose the required information. To be fair, if they got away with it the first 821 times, can you really blame them for going for number 822?
Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin has officially reached more than $100 million in total donations to Republican candidates since April 2021. Not to be outdone, NY billionaire George Soros has hit $128 billion given to Democratic candidates. At this point, these numbers are just staggering, and it’s hard to wrap your head around how just a couple people can be allowed to exercise so much influence. Who knows what deals they’re making and what they’re securing in exchange for their contributions? Oh, apparently Griffin has said he’s open to becoming Treasury secretary. There you go, I guess.
Even candidates are getting sick of some PACs that purport to be on their side. John Fetterman’s campaign for PA Senate has put out a statement condemning the Democratic Coalition, a progressive Super PAC that they claim is tricking people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. The PAC has spent more than half their expenses this cycle on paying their employees, particularly high-level employees and their firms, supposedly paying them to post on social media all day rather than paying for ad buys. Granted, the main complaint from the campaign seems to be that the PAC is sucking up donor money that they want for themselves, but I can get behind the sentiment of telling a PAC to “go f*ck themselves.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent over $25 million dollars in 2021 alone on lobbying and influence campaigns (also known as “propaganda”) in the US. This comes as part of the Kingdom’s more than $142 million in spending since 2016, which peaked in 2018 after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey.
Can’t imagine why they’d want to boost their “influence campaigns” after that.
Their efforts seem to have paid off, however. Although Biden referred to the Kingdom as a “pariah” following Khashoggi’s murder, and said he would punish Saudi leaders, he visited the country as President ealier this year and fist-bumped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Angry? Here’s what you can do:
Protect Maine Elections:
If you’re sick of the 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.
Catch up on the National Citizen Leadership Conference:
NCLC may be over, but the work continues! If you missed the conference, we’re sorry you couldn’t make it, but the whole program is still available to view on our YouTube! Check it out, and let us know what you think!