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March 22, 2024

Campaign Finance Roundup

Campaign Finance Roundup: March 22, 2024

March 22, 2024
Published By American Promise
Another installment in our series of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class.

Key Pennsylvania House committee passes HR317 in support of For Our Freedom Amendment

From American Promise:
The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee recently passed HR 317, a resolution calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would provide states with authority to regulate campaign financing. If it passes in the full House and Senate, that would make PA the 23rd state to pass a resolution calling for the amendment (if your state hasn’t done so yet, you’ve gotta get on the board before your neighbors!). The bipartisan vote is an important step in reclaiming self-government from elite wealthy interests. If only there was some sort of direct example of why an amendment is necessary, right in Pennsylvania…

Pa. House committee advances campaign finance reform legislation

From the Pennsylvania Capital-Star:
Two bits of good news this week? Am I dreaming? Both out of Pennsylvania, too. Go Keystone State! The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee advanced two bills that would expand reporting requirements for campaign spending by candidates and independent groups. One bill would require civic leagues and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations to file campaign finance reports if they advocate for or against candidates. Under current laws, those organizations are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections without having to disclose where their money is coming or going, which is why they are often referred to as “dark money” groups. Opponents of the bill claim that it is unconstitutional under current Supreme Court doctrine, and that a constitutional amendment would be necessary to make the law valid. Good thing that same committee just passed a resolution calling for such an amendment! The pieces are coming together. 

Democrats Are Meddling in Republican Primaries

From The New York Times:
Democrats, apparently unsatisfied with spending millions of dollars on their own primaries, are spending millions of dollars more to mess with Republican primaries. Most recently, a Democratic group spent $2.7 million on ads promoting a conservative Senate candidate in Ohio. This is not a new strategy for Democrats, who often spend to boost conservative candidates they believe will be easier to defeat in the general election. It comes off as just a little hypocritical, though, when they turn around and base their messaging off of how these conservative candidates are a “threat to democracy.” If I thought someone was a “threat to democracy,” I probably wouldn’t gift them millions of dollars in advertising, but maybe that’s just me. 

Chinese billionaire pleads guilty to straw donor scheme in New York and Rhode Island

From the Associated Press:
Speaking of (actual) threats to democracy: A Chinese billionaire recently pled guilty to illegally funneling money to a New York City official, a member of the U.S. House, and a congressional candidate using straw donors. The billionaire, Hui Qin, admitted to recruiting people to make campaign donations, for which he paid them back, in an attempt to circumvent laws that prohibit foreign nationals from giving to candidates in US elections. It’s like a campaign finance system that allows massive sums of money to flow between donors and candidates opens the door for all sorts of illegal donations to slip in. 

While Oregon lawmakers debated campaign finance limits, Phil Knight gave $2 million to Republican PAC

From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike and the richest man in Oregon, gave $2 million to the Bring Balance to Salem PAC, which tries to get Republicans elected in the state. This brings Knight’s total donations to the PAC to $7 million since 2021. This donation comes while the Oregon Legislature has passed a bill that would impose caps on donations to campaigns and committees like Bring Balance to Salem. Luckily for Phil, the bill won’t go into effect until 2027 if passed, meaning he’ll have plenty of time to buy candidates who can try to reverse it. 

Unprecedented surge in ‘dark money’ floods 2024 elections

From OpenSecrets: 
Is it just me, or do we see news about “unprecedented surges” or “record-breaking spending” every couple months? It feels like the only thing that would actually be “unprecedented” would be for campaign spending to somehow go down

Regardless, this one is actually pretty bad. Analysis by OpenSecrets has found that just in 2023, dark money groups and shell companies poured more than $162 million into groups like Super PACs. So far, Democrats have been the largest beneficiaries of this dark money, putting 2024 on pace to be the 4th federal election cycle in a row where they benefit more from dark money over Republicans. Majority Forward, a group closely tied to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, spent over $18.7 million last year. 

Statement by American Promise CEO Jeff Clements On Dark Money Race In The 2024 Election

From American Promise:
This strong statement from Jeff Clements, CEO of American Promise, perfectly encapsulates what I think a lot of us are feeling after reading that last article. It’s absurd for politicians to claim they care about average Americans, especially Democrats who rail against dark money while benefiting from it the most, only to turn around and raise millions from their megadonors. 

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Another installment in our series of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class.
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