Will Trump Be Charged With Conspiracy to Violate Federal Election Law?

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Marjorie Cohn.

In addition to the case for Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey, evidence is mounting that the president participated in a conspiracy to violate the federal election law. Special Counsel Robert Mueller could either ask a grand jury to indict Trump as a co-conspirator or to name the president as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Federal Election Law

Trump’s August 5 tweet that the purpose of the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian operative Natalia Veselnitskaya “was to get information on an opponent” was tantamount to an admission of a conspiracy to violate federal election law.

Although the president added it was “totally legal and done all the time in politics,” he was mistaken about the “totally legal” part.

The federal election law says it is unlawful for “a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value … in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.” Providing the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton to discredit her in the election constitutes a “thing of value.” It is also illegal for “a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation … from a foreign national.”

Conspiracy Law

Another federal law makes it a crime for two or more persons to conspire to commit an offense or defraud the United States. The defraud clause criminalizes “any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government.”

Trump also tweeted that “it went nowhere.” But there is legal liability for conspiracy even if the purpose of the conspiracy is not accomplished.

A conspiracy is complete upon an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime followed by at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, even if that crime is never committed. The overt act need not be unlawful in itself.

Six days before the Trump Tower meeting, British tabloid reporter Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr. that the Russian government had “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary,” adding, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Seconds later, Trump Jr. replied, “if it’s what you say I love it.”

Conspiracy to Violate the Federal Election Law

Trump Jr. arranged the meeting with the expectation of receiving negative information the Russian government purportedly had about Clinton. That constituted an agreement between Goldstone and Trump Jr. to violate the federal election law.

Arranging the meeting and attending the meeting were both overt acts. Everyone who attended the meeting with knowledge of its purpose and the intent to further that purpose is liable for conspiracy to violate the federal election law.

All co-conspirators are legally responsible for the acts of the other co-conspirators, even if they didn’t directly participate in those acts or are unaware of the details of the conspiracy. Trump need not have attended the June 9 meeting to be liable as a co-conspirator.

Trump ended his August 5 tweet about the Trump Tower meeting by saying, “I did not know about it!”

There is evidence that Trump did know about the meeting. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claims ­­­­­­­­­­­­the president was in the room, learned about the Russian offer, and approved the June 9 meeting. And Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current lawyer, let slip that a meeting between Trump, Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Manafort’s top deputy Rick Gates took place on June 7.

On the evening of June 7, Trump announced that he would “give a major speech” during the following week to reveal “the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” Trump never delivered that speech.

If Trump approved the June 9 meeting, that approval constitutes another overt act.

Even if Trump didn’t know of the June 9 meeting beforehand, he participated in a conspiracy to cover it up by later dictating a false statement about the purpose of that meeting.

In the memo he drafted, Trump said the people present at the Trump Tower meeting “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” and the topic of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

Can a Sitting President Be Indicted?

Whether or not a president can be criminally indicted during his time in office is a matter of controversy.

The Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations took the position that sitting presidents are immune from prosecution.

But a memo from independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Clinton says a president can be indicted for criminal activity: “It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties. In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

Some legal scholars argue that the Constitution provides the remedy of impeachment for a law-breaking president, who can only be charged with a crime after he leaves office.

But Hofstra University law professor Eric Freedman wrote a 1999 law review article explaining why a sitting president could be indicted. He noted that other federal officials, such as judges, who are subject to impeachment, have been indicted during their tenure in office.

Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor writing in The Washington Post, concluded that a sitting president can be charged with a crime. “An indicted president is a terrible proposition,” Turley wrote. “But so is the continuation of a presumed felon in office — one who clings to power as a shield from accountability.”

Giuliani told “Fox & Friends” that Mueller’s office informed Trump attorney Jay Sekulow that the special counsel did not have the power to indict a sitting president.

Mueller has made no public pronouncement about the propriety of indicting Trump while in office. The special counsel is required to send a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller after Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Even if Mueller does not think he can indict Trump, Rosenstein could override that decision.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a sitting president can be criminally indicted. But in 1997, the high court held in Clinton v. Jones that a president could be the subject of a civil lawsuit while in office.

Trump Could Be Named as an Unindicted Co-conspirator

If Mueller does not ask a grand jury to indict Trump, he could request that they name the president as an unindicted co-conspirator if the special counsel files an indictment against others, such as Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort.

There is precedent for this course of action. In 1974, a grand jury indicted seven associates of President Richard Nixon for the cover-up of the Watergate burglary. At the request of special prosecutor Leon Jaworski,the grand jury named Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Ultimately, if Trump can’t be indicted, he may not be able to refuse a subpoena to testify before a grand jury by claiming the privilege against self-incrimination. He could not incriminate himself due to his alleged immunity from prosecution. But he could take the Fifth while still in office if he faces post-presidency indictment.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

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David Garcia’s strange and embarrassing letter of defeat

While Three Sonorans has endorsed David Garcia for Arizona Governor, his latest email asking for money was shocking and has a scolding tone to it.

What do you think?

Subject: EMBARRASSING defeat – from David Garcia

We’re at a loss for words…

  • WE TOLD YOU that David Garcia’s campaign is being attacked by the GOP.
  • WE TOLD YOU that David Garcia is the KEY to flipping a battleground state BLUE.
  • AND WE TOLD YOU that if 3OO donations don’t pour in by TONIGHT, our campaign could be finished for good.
  • read more

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    In defense of Sally Ann Gonzales for LD3, an experienced Yaqui female legislator being silenced for speaking Truth to Power

    Friends,

    Its election time again. I am sick and tired of irresponsible, corrupt politicians and I am doing something about it! The following message took a lot of thinking and soul searching for me, but there comes a time when we need to stand up and tell it like it is no matter who it is! If you agree, vote for my choice if you don’t, we all have choices. If you like, please share.

    State Representative Sally Ann Gonzales is running for the vacant State Senate seat in Legislative District 3. Sally Ann has a proud history of standing up for women’s rights and the disadvantaged. An independent thinker, Sally Ann has stood up to the establishment. read more

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    Democrats Learn to Love Big Oil … Money

    Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

    The Kochs Come Calling, and the Party Reverses Its Two-Month-Old Ban on Fossil Fuel Donations 

    The Democratic National Committee (DNC) just reversed its ban on donations from the fossil fuel industry, saying it now welcomes donations from industry workers and employers’ political action committees – a stark turnaround to a stance the organization took just two months ago when it adopted a ban on donations from fossil fuel companies’ political organizations. And it comes less than two weeks after Charles Koch, leader of Koch Industries, the top-ranked political donor the fossil fuel sector, and the powerful Americans for Prosperity political action committee, said he is open to backing Democrats in the midterms.

    This latest announcement by the DNC has many Democrats up in arms because it goes against the organization’s platform to combat climate change. Though DNC Chairman Tom Perez characterized the move as a commitment to organized labor, it’s hard to see it as anything but a cash grab.

    Christine Pelosi, a DNC member who co-authored the June resolution, offered an amendment that would remove the words “employers’ political action committees” to discourage donations from corporate PACs, saying it would reaffirm the party’s “commitment to overturning Citizens United and banning corporate PAC money” while still accepting employee donations. But she was outvoted, 4 to 28, on Friday, Aug, 10.

    Koch, who is heading the political front of the Koch brothers fortune, since brother David Koch retired due to illness earlier in June, said the group plans to pour some $400 million into this election cycle, on policy issues and political campaigns, according to a recent article in The Washington Post.

    Koch’s political arm, Americans for Prosperity, recently put out ads thanking Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) for co-sponsoring legislation rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations. It also put ads out attacking Trump’s pick for Senate Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) for his vote to increase federal spending.

    The Koch political network spans 700 donors who contribute at least $100,000 annually to groups aligned to Koch Industries. In the 2016 election cycle, the super PAC spent $13.3 million supporting Conservative candidates and causes. To date, Americans for Prosperity has spent just shy of $3 million on the 2018 election cycle.

    And while Charles Koch himself has been critical of Trump’s policies, from the zero tolerance immigration debacle to the White House’s trade policy, don’t expect the oil and gas magnate to stop funding the GOP anytime soon. In January, the Koch political-spending strategy was to use that $400 million to help the Republicans keep hold of the Senate.

    In early March, Koch Industries donated $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Since March, it has contributed a total of $135,000 to the conservative super PAC 35th Inc. and then sunk another $25,000 into the PAC in May. In June, it donated $50,000 to the conservative super PAC Tennesseans for a Better Tomorrow.

    So far this election cycle, the fossil fuel sector has contributed a total of more than $50 million, mostly to Republican candidates and Conservative causes. Koch Industries tops the list with $5.7 million spent in contributions to candidates.

    Voters’ Resources

    Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

    U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

    United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

     

    Primary Previews

    Four states are holding primaries on Tuesday. Here’s what to watch for in each state.

    Connecticut: The 5th Congressional District is a race that is expected to stay with the Democrats after Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D) announced she would not seek re-election following criticism for mishandling a scandal in her office. The state could elect its first African-American representative if candidate Jahana Hayes, a progressive newcomer with the backing of Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) takes the primary and the election in November. Her biggest challenger is Democrat Mary Glassman. On the Republican side, Ruby O’Neill is the frontrunner, followed by Rich DuPont.

    Incumbent Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is also up for re-election but is expected to retain his seat. His lead challenger on the Republican side is Dominic Rapini, an Apple executive.

    Minnesota: The big race to watch is the special election to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Al Franken (D), who stepped down amid sexual harassment accusations. Sen. Tina Smith (D) was appointed to fill his vacancy and is now running. High-profile third-party candidate Richard Painter, who left the GOP and has become an outspoken Trump critic, is expected to be a tough opponent. He served as an ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration. On the Republican side, state Sen. Karin Housley has the endorsement of the GOP. She’s married to Phil Housley, the head coach to the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

    Vermont:  Not much is expected to change in Vermont. Despite running for the Democratic endorsement, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may not accept it and may remain Independent.

    The one race that is garnering attention is the Democratic gubernatorial primary. And that’s because there’s a 14-year-old candidate, Ethan Sonneborn.

    Wisconsin: The interesting race here is the one for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) seat in the 1st Congressional District. Democrats are backing frontrunner Randy Bryce, an ironworker, also known as the “Iron Stache”. He’s up against a local school board member Cathy Myers and has significantly outraised her. But he’s a controversial candidate, due to past arrests and a recent claim by Myers that he converted campaign funds for personal use.

    On the GOP side, Ryan has endorsed Bryan Steil, his former staffer, a University of Wisconsin regent and lawyer for a manufacturing company. Four other Republicans are vying for the seat.

    Featured image: A Koch subsidiary testing flare technologies to combust flammable gasses or liquids. (Koch Industries Instagram)

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    Trump Commission Did Not Find Widespread Voter Fraud, Report Says

    Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by MARINA VILLENEUVE / The Associated Press.

    PORTLAND, Maine—The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday.

    In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who are both Republicans and led the commission, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that drafts of a commission report included a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”

    “It’s calling into the darkness, looking for voter fraud,” Dunlap, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. “There’s no real evidence of it anywhere.”

    Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that from 3 million to 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.

    The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report.

    Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kobach, who acted as vice chair of the commission while Pence served as chair.

    “For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

    “It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.

    Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.

    “Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.

    In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and that Kobach hasn’t presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.

    “The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.

    Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

    Dunlap said he is unsure whether the administration has released all relevant documents, and said the matter is in litigation. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.

    Dunlap released his findings on a website.

    Emails released by Dunlap and promoted by the nonprofit American Oversight, which represented Dunlap, include examples of Republican voting integrity commissioners emailing each other as they worked on information requests without including Democrats.

    “Indeed, a very few commissioners worked to buttress their pre-ordained conclusions shielded from dissent or dialogue from those commissioners not included in the discussions,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter.

    In a June 2017 email, commissioner Christy McCormick unsuccessfully tried to suggest that the commission hire a statistician she knew. “When I was at DOJ, we had numerous discussions that made me pretty confident that he is conservative (and Christian, too),” said McCormick, in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The emails also show some commission members had planned to ask for an interstate database used to identify duplicate voter registrations, as well as lists of individuals deemed ineligible for federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship. It wasn’t clear in the emails whether or not such requests ended up being fulfilled, Dunlap said.

    In two November 2017 emails, Republican commission member and election lawyer J. Christian Adams emailed all members and said there hadn’t been any prosecutions for double voting or any non-citizen voting in years. “Understanding the extent of un-prosecuted and known election crimes can inform the commission’s recommendations,” Adams said.

    Adams also called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain metadata from citizenship applications as well as a list of individuals removed from the U.S. due to their unlawful participation in elections.

    “Many applicants note they have been registered to vote and are voting,” Adams said.

    ___

    Associated Press writer John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas, contributed to this report.

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    Immigration Tops Issues in Mid-Term Contests

    Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

    Some Candidates Reject Money from Private-Prison PAC Amidst Baby Jail Mess

    Immigration has become the hot-button issue of the midterms, thanks to Trump’s rhetoric, his administration’s zero-tolerance policies and the horrifying optics and audio files of his baby jails.

    A recent Gallup poll found that 22 percent of Americans consider immigration the “most important problem facing the country today” – the highest number since Gallup began asking this question 17 years ago. The last time immigration reached a level near this was in 2006 when it rose to 19% as the government under President George W. Bush was trying to pass a comprehensive immigration bill.

    It’s noteworthy that 35% of Republicans see immigration as the country’s top problem compared to 18% of Democrats. For Democrats, the top issue was government, at 27%, according to the Gallup poll. Independent voters found immigration and government to be tied for the top issues at 17%. Perhaps even more striking about the poll findings is the fact that the Republican interest in immigration represents a 14% spike from a month ago.

    So, the question becomes how will this shape the midterms? A recent Quinnipiac poll found that nearly 80% of Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance on immigration. Huh? But that takes into consideration his reversal on his zero-tolerance family-separation policy. It’s murky ground here nonetheless.

    Perhaps that offers a shred of hope is the fact that some politicians on both sides of the aisle have begun rejecting the political donations from the political action committee of GEO Group, the country’s largest for-profit prison company.

    Voter Resources

    Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

    U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

    United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

     

    Since January 2017, GEO Group, its employees and its PAC have spent more than $800,000 on political contributions. In May, the PAC donated just over $100,000 to federal candidates. But due to the company’s role in the holding of immigrants detained at the Southwest border, 10 Congressional members either rejected or refunded contributions in June. Due to the uncashed contributions, the PAC’s June spending total was a negative $3,000. Of the 10 Congressional members, eight were Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) was the only non-retiring Republican to return a contribution last month.

    Four Republicans kept money from the PAC in June, including Reps. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and Martha Roby (R-Ala.).

    In April, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, which operates six prisons in Florida, donated $10,000 via two contributions to Gov. Rick Scott’s Rep. Senate campaign. But a month later, the PAC reported those checks as “void” and a spokesperson for Scott claimed to have never received the donations.

    GEO Group has received $560 million in government contracts from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since October 2016 to oversee several ICE detention centers. It gave $225,000 to a pro-Trump Super PAC during the 2016 election and another $250,000 for Trump’s inauguration.

    GEO Group aggressively lobbies the government on behalf of immigration policies and spent $1.7 million in 2017 – the highest amount on record for a private prison contractor. Through June of this year, it has spent close to $600,000 on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Featured image: New York Democratic Congressional candidate Emily Martz marches in Tornillo, Texas, to protest the detention centers set up to house children separated from their families while crossing the southern border illegally. (Adirondack Daily Enterprise)

     

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    You May Never Know Who Owns Your Representative or Senator

    Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

    Mnuchin Covers Up Congressional Campaign Spending by Corporations, Billionaires, Even Russians

    Call it Déjà GRU.

    The U.S. Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin’s recent decision to remove the already limited government oversight on dark money groups could open the doors for foreign donors. Add to that the FEC’s inability to regulate online advertising, which is expected to see $2 billion flood the digital platforms such as Facebook and Google this mid-term season. And then there’s Vladimir V. Putin’s generous offer to help us with our cybersecurity problem at the Helsinki Summit. And it feels like 2016 all over again.

    But let’s take a closer look at the Treasury’s recent move to loosen donor disclosure requirements.

    It means groups like the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers’ Super PAC Americans for Prosperity don’t have to disclose their donors to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), because they are not pure political organizations. Under the new requirements, only charities and political organizations must continue to report donor information to the IRS.

    That means less transparency for campaign financing and less information for voters.

    So far this election cycle, outside spending has accounted for $197.1 million. That includes money from trade associations, labor unions, social-welfare groups and Super PACs. And that number will grow substantially as we get closer to November. In 2014, at this point in the cycle, outside spending accounted for $131 million. By the time the election was over, it accounted for more than half a billion dollars.

    One-fifth of these outside spending groups provides no information on donors at all. Zero. That means nearly $39 million has flooded the campaign trails and there’s no public record of where it is coming from. Then 30% of the outside spending groups provide some disclosure, though it’s unclear how much that is. And 50.5% of the groups provide full disclosure of their donor base, according to data from the Federal Election Commission and compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. This was all before The Treasury Department changed its disclosure requirements.

    Voter Resources

    Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

    U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

    United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

     

    So far in these midterm elections, Conservatives are well ahead of liberals in raising money through dark-money channels. Based on ideology, conservatives account for $131.8 million in total outside spending. That compares to $86 million for liberals and $9.2 million attributed to others, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Thanks to the Treasury secretary, and this new policy, we can expect to know far less about who is contributing to which group going forward. Information like the fact that Robert Mercer donated $2 million to a dark money group that peddled anti-Muslim ads on Google and Facebook in the final weeks leading up to the 2016 election. Though to be fair, that only came to light in April due to a gaffe made by the accounting firm for the PAC, Secure America Now, when it provided an unredacted tax form to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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    Online Politcal Advertising Tops $2 Billion for the Midterms

    Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

    Federal Election Commission Struggles to Regulate Fast Growing Digital Media

    This year is already looking to be one of the most expensive mid-term elections in history. One place politicians and political groups are parking their cash is in digital ad spending, which is expected to hit close to $2 billion this election cycle.

    Online ad spending is projected to see a 2,539% spike over the 2014 mid-terms. It now makes up about 20% of the total political ad-spending pie. Four years ago, political campaigns and groups spent just 1% on digital ads.

    In terms of dollar amount, digital advertising falls second only to broadcast, or traditional TV, which is projected to pull in about $3.4 billion this year, down about 30% over 2014, according to a widely sourced report by Borrell Associates, an advertising data company. According to that report, the only other sector to see growth this year is cable TV.

    Those digital dollars will be spent on ads for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram with well-designed infographics and short and timely videos along with social media posts designed for sharing, according to Adtaxi, a Denver-based digital marketing agency.

    You know, the kind of ads that worked so well at manipulating the American populace in the 2016 elections.

    That’s why the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been trying for months to come up with a strategy to regulate online and digital advertising the way it does other media. Actually, it has been trying for years. But this latest round involves the agency’s efforts to come up with a solution for more transparency and a workaround for “express advocacy” ads. Many of the ads that run on the digital platforms don’t use the explicit language “vote for” or “vote against” that enables the commission to easily slap a disclaimer on the ads, so the area is murky and has stalled progress. FEC Democratic vice chair Ellen Weintraub had proposed a solution for regulation months ago, but the agency is still holding hearings and hasn’t moved forward.

    Voters’ Resources

    Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

    U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

    United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

     

    There are even two bills in Congress addressing this issue. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the Honest Ads Act in October 2017 with a companion House bill sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and 19 bipartisan cosponsors. The bills would require information about the purchasers and targets of online political ads to be made publicly available by digital platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook.

    In recent weeks, a new bill was proposed, the DISCLOSE Act of 2018, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) with 159 bipartisan cosponsors, that aims for more transparency in all forms of political spending, including online advertising.

    Meanwhile, as the government dilly-dallies on how to manage these exploding ad platforms, and politicians and political groups pump more money into them, the platforms are trying to police themselves.

    Facebook continues its mea culpa campaign with a promise to verify the identity of people and organizations buying political or issue ads, according to statements CEO Mark Zuckerburg made in April under heavy fire following the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

    In May, Google followed suit, announcing it would also require verification from ad buyers for federal election ads. It will ask PACs, for example, to provide IRS-issued employer identification numbers and ask individuals for a government-issued identification or their Social Security number for those types of ads.

    But Google won’t be taking any steps to verify the identities of ad purchasers for candidates for state or local offices or on advertisements on political issues – the very topics that foreign agents used to sow dissent in our country ahead of the 2016 elections.

    Google will disclose who is paying for the federal election ads and plans to publish a transparency report on election ads. It also plans to create a database tracking information on funding sources and amount of money spent on election ads.

    The verification process goes into effect Tuesday (July 10).

    Featured image: A Facebook ad for Andrew Janz, a Democrat running against pro-Trump Devin Nunes in California.

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    Kimberly Reed and John S. Adams on Dark Money in Montana (Audio and Transcript)

    Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Robert Scheer.

    In this week’s episode of Scheer Intelligence, host and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer talks to filmmaker Kimberly Reed, director of the new documentary “Dark Money,” and John S. Adams, a journalist and key figure in the film, who breaks a story about the influence of money in politics in Montana and how Montanans fought back against that influence.

    Reed, Adams and Scheer discuss the making of the film, how Citizens United played out in Montana and the growth of corporate money in local elections. Reed, a native of Montana, discusses why she thinks Montana is an excellent example of how ordinary citizens can fight back against well-paid lobbyists, and why Montana’s history of battling  copper barons prepared them for this current fight.

    Adams first discovered the impact of outside funders when John Ward, a Republican incumbent running for reelection for the state legislature, found that voters in his district were bombarded with mail accusing him of being friends with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

    “For years and years, we didn’t know where it was coming from,” Adams tells Scheer. He goes on to explain how, through FOIA requests and some help from a whistleblower, he traced the name on these postcards, Western Partnership Tradition, back to a Washington, D.C., based anti-union group called the National Right to Work Committee. After publishing the story, local politicians and voters came together to fight the dark money influence and vote against candidates who were influenced by it.

    It is, as Scheer and Reed observe, a rare instance of hope in a politically bleak time. As Reed says, “I hope that our film shows–and I think it does–that by engaging in that system and taking it back over from this corporate influence, can really put power back into the hands of people.”

    Listen to the interview in the player above and read the transcript below. Find past episodes of “Scheer Intelligence” here.

    RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s Kimberley Reed, who is a director of a really interesting new movie called Dark Money, set in Montana. People don’t think of Montana as a center of great debate and social issues and progressive politics, but they’re wrong, as the film points out. Montana actually has a long history, going back to the Anaconda Copper Mine a century ago, and the fight for people over environmental issues as well as working conditions. And the film Dark Money, while hooked to the issue of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that made it easier for corporations to put a lot of money into local politics, and that money ran up against Montana’s own tradition of controlling corporate spending, had probably the most serious restraint because of its experience with Anaconda Copper. The other interesting part of the construction of this film is not only how did Citizens United play out in Montana, and the resistance–I say most people will find that rather improbable–the resistance in Montana to it; it centers around a very interesting journalist, John S. Adams, who worked for a small paper, although maybe not small in Montana, I don’t know, called The Great Falls Tribune. And I don’t want to give away the whole movie, but the Capitol bureau of that paper and others gets closed, and even though he breaks a really great, important, big story and proves the importance of journalism, he ends up, at the end of this film, having to invent his own publication called The Montana Free Press, and continue his work. I don’t want to give away the movie, but it ends with a pretty happy ending. It’s an example, really, of the vitality of journalism and how it can make a difference, how it’s endangered in today’s world by big money. Let me turn to you, Kimberley Reed. What do you think the takeaway of this film is, and what brought you to this subject?

    KR: A lot of projects that I launch into, I don’t really want to know where they’re going, and that’s especially true with documentaries. I think the roots of this project happened when I heard a news story on the radio about the passage of Citizens United, where the U.S. Supreme Court stated that corporations are people, and that money is speech, and that therefore, if you follow that logic, in order not to violate the free speech rights of these corporations, they should be able to spend unlimited money in political campaigns. And if you just look at that on its face, it doesn’t take you too long to realize that elections, that our government, the reins of our government in the U.S., are going to be turned over to fewer and fewer people who have more and more money. That that power is just going to be consolidated. And, you know, I’m pretty skeptical of slippery-slope arguments, but that’s a pretty slippery slope.

    RS: Your film opens with a history lesson. So why don’t you give me that history lesson?

    KR: Yeah, in a lot of ways, you know, I’m from Montana, and I think that going back there and telling this story that is really rooted in history was a very natural thing for me to do, because I could see so much clash, so much dramatic clash happening over this issue of campaign finance. And when you grow up and you go to school there, you learn about the copper kings. And the copper kings was just all about a couple rich dudes in Butte, Montana, known as the richest hill on earth, fighting over who’s going to control this wealth. Not really worrying about what the long-term effects are of kind of opening up this beautiful mountainside in Montana. That’s something that people live with in Montana, something that’s really cherished. Because of that, it’s a wound that is felt, that is seen continuously. I mean, you’re constantly reminded of what the effects are of corporate domination.

    RS: When Anaconda was this enormously powerful company, what years were those?

    KR: The late 1800s, early 1900s, right at the turn of the century.

    RS: And yet the reminder is there. Your film opens, and actually ends also, with a very powerful scene involving birds landing on a lake and dying. And that’s the legacy of Anaconda Copper, isn’t it?

    KR: Yeah. I mean, when I was growing up, you always heard these stories about, like, you could stir the water in the Berkeley Pit with a teaspoon, and then the teaspoon would dissolve. And that was kind of apocryphal; nobody really believed that, but then one day in 1995, a big flock of snow geese accidentally landed in the Berkeley Pit; they thought it was a nice pond, a place they could rest during their migration; and a bunch of them died. Hundreds of them died. And it was, it was tragic. That happened again a couple decades later, and the effects were even greater.

    RS: The point of your movie is that Montana is in the forefront of this battle against Citizens United because they have this incredible, historical example of the power of a rapacious corporation. And as you make the point in your film, because it’s a lesser populated state, with a great deal of mineral resources, the temptation there is just to rip it apart, grab the, you know, the minerals, and to heck with the consequences.

    KR: It’s a cheap date. That’s the line you hear again, and again, and again. Montana is a cheap date. Like, if you have a lot of money, and you want to develop resources, you want to make money from those resources, you have a state where there’s a lot of resources and not many people there. If you can control the politics, you can control all of the wealth coming out of that state. And that’s a story that’s a century old in Montana. It’s a story that the populace is really attuned to, is really looking out for, and is frankly, I think, by and large really sick of. And so people were really paying attention.

    RS: What’s great about your film, for my money as a journalist, is–and I didn’t know you were Montana raised, born and raised–I just thought, wow. This film is made without the usual elitism of, you know, we’re going to go see these folk out there, and you know, yes, they do some interesting things, but we’re going to bring New York wisdom, or you know, LA wisdom, or something. And your film has a great sense of respect for the folks who live there. And they end up being the heroes of the piece.

    KR: Yeah, yeah. There’s, our film is full of everyday heroes, like the people who work in the–Montana has a citizen legislature, it’s a part-time legislature; it meets every two years for 90 days, that’s hardly anything. And the people who go there, who are the elected officials, are farmers and ranchers, and you know, outfitters and lawyers, and moms and, you know, every–you know, every occupation you can think of. I think that really harkens back to the way that our country was originally devised, that we would have people who represented us, and it wouldn’t be their full-time job just to be politicians.

    RS: Yeah, it was also thought that the press, which was given absolute protection in the First Amendment, the freedom of the press, would also be pretty much a citizen press–town crier, wall posters, pamphleteers, small papers. So let me introduce your colleague here, the subject of your film, John S. Adams. You’re the local reporter, and you come across the story, and that’s really the story of this documentary; your struggle to alert people to it. So you’re this journalist that we hope we can still have, but we’re afraid is a disappearing breed.

    JA: Yeah, I started my reporting career at a small town–you know, speaking of the citizen press–I started my reporting career in Montana at a small-town, the Missoula Independent, which is an alternative weekly. Alternative weeklies used to be a really vibrant form of printed press throughout the country; the Village Voice, the LA Weekly, you know, are some that come to mind; Phoenix New Times. You know, people throughout the country have been picking up those weekly rags, you know, in cities all across America. And those started disappearing in my time when I was in Montana. The Missoula Independent stuck around for a while, but I did some reporting there that got noticed, and I was hired by the Great Falls Tribune to take over their Capitol bureau. And at one time, I think there were two or three folks in that Capitol bureau, including at one point Chuck Johnson, who is a character that you see in the film, Charles Johnson; Mike Dennison, another person who you see in the film, both were in that same bureau before I was. So it was kind of a tradition that the Great Falls Tribune–which, I should also point out, the Great Falls Tribune was the one major daily paper in the state of Montana that wasn’t at one time owned by the Anaconda Copper company. All the other paper, all the other major papers in the state had been owned by the very company that Kim’s film explores in those opening scenes. So I was really proud to work for the Great Falls Tribune and be in their Capitol bureau; it was a real honor. And I did that for many years, covering the legislature, covering state government, and just kind of watchdogging our elected officials and agencies and corporations.

    RS: So when you come there, you’re working, you’re covering the legislature–which, by the way, they are a citizen legislature, as you point out; they’re, you know, it’s not like in Sacramento here in California where, my goodness, you have professional lobbyists that are entrenched, and the legislature’s entrenched, and you’re lucky if they ever go home to talk to anybody. As you’re, in the movie you indicate, they’re out there tilling the field; they’re out fixing the fences; no, now it’s time to go and legislate, every other year. What alerts you to this story?

    JA: There’s a scene in the film where I’m speaking to a legislator who I regretfully admit in the movie that I, you know, that I kind of ignored his early warning signs. When I first started at the Great Falls Tribune in 2007, it was shortly after that, there had just been an election, and there was a republican legislator who I had known about, but I hadn’t been there covering the legislature on a regular basis, so I didn’t know him personally, I didn’t have a relationship with him. But he popped into my office, and he told me–he, you know, he talked to me about these fliers. And the story that we’re talking about here, and one of the symptoms, I guess, of dark money, which is really the underlying issue that we’re talking about here–unaccounted-for money influencing voters in races all the way down to city council races in this country. John Ward had noticed just days before his election that his district–which, you know, you might only have, in a primary election in a district like that in Montana, you might only have a few hundred voters that actually show up at the polls–I mean, literally, it might be the difference of one or two hundred people that elects that representative to that seat. And just a few days before that election, the voters in John Ward’s district got absolutely papered, their mailboxes were stuffed full of these mailers accusing him of being friends with John Wayne Gacy, who is a notorious mass-murderer. Now, what was the connection to John Wayne Gacy? Well, what it boiled down to was John Ward, who is a Catholic, voted to bring a bill to the floor for debate over whether to abolish the death penalty in Montana. So he didn’t even vote, it wasn’t even a vote on the bill itself, it was a motion to bring the bill to the floor for debate. That vote, according to these dark money groups, equated him to wanting John Wayne Gacy to live; therefore it must be true that John Ward is a friend of John Wayne Gacy. These kinds of mailers started showing up in people’s mailboxes.

    RS: Was he a republican?

    JA: He was a republican. He was targeted because he was part of a group of, I would call them “business oriented” republicans; I don’t like to use the term “moderate,” because I think it’s too bland and it’s not nuanced enough to really categorize these folks who, in my view, are very conservative individuals, very conservative in their political thinking, but independent. And John Ward was among a group of people who believed that the government did actually have to pass a budget in the previous session, and so they worked with the democratic governor to do that. And they hammered out a deal with the governor, and they passed a budget, and the folks on the far right of the party didn’t appreciate that. And so these individuals were targeted in subsequent elections, and John Ward was among the first wave of those who got hit.

    KR: And it’s important to keep the scale in mind. I mean, I think what happened to John Ward, that he was flagging, was that, you know, kind of the usual back-and-forth of political campaigns was happening, and then all of a sudden he got swamped by something that was 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 times as much traffic, and money behind it. And he just didn’t know where it was coming from.

    JA: He didn’t have the ability to respond, and he didn’t have the time to respond. There was nothing he could do. And so he was summarily taken out. And I will also say, he didn’t run again. I mean, that’s the other really disappointing thing about this, is a lot of these folks who get targeted by these dark money groups, it’s so painful for them and their families to have these lies spread about them throughout these small-town communities, that they don’t want to go through that process again. And they leave politics.

    KR: And there’s a couple important things to note: that this attack was happening in the primaries, and it was happening with republicans on the far-right attacking other republicans.

    JA: Incumbent republicans.

    KR: Incumbent republicans. So it’s not an issue in a primary where everybody’s paying attention, it’s in a–an issue in a general election where everybody’s paying attention; it’s in a primary with republican against republican. So you have to realize that the ultimate goal of this is not to get this republican vs. that democrat in office; it’s an effort to get this republican vs. that republican into office. It’s an effort to purify the party.

    RS: So tell us about the dark money. Where was this dark money coming from, and why did they want the far right rather than the more moderate?

    JA: For years and years, we didn’t know where it was coming from. And that was the thing. I mean, we knew it was from groups called American–well, it started out Western Tradition Partnership. Their name was on all of these postcards. But nobody really knew who Western Tradition Partnership was; we didn’t know who was funding it, we didn’t know how much funding they had, and we didn’t really know what their agenda was, because their, ostensibly their message was about, you know, resource development, and about creating good-paying jobs, you know, based on developing Montana’s vast mining wealth, timber wealth, et cetera. That was really a red herring, because what we ended up finding out–thanks to the discovery of a series of several boxes of documents that showed up in another state and were mailed to Montana–our elections regulator in Montana, the commissioner of political practices, over the course of many years of investigation and litigation, opened up this trove of documents to the public. I put in a FOIA request, a Freedom of Information Act request, to the commissioner’s office to inspect these documents that they had obtained. And it was through that, those records, that we were able to really find out who was behind it. And to answer your question, it was basically a group out of Washington, D.C., the National Right to Work Committee, an anti-union outfit whose goals is basically to end public-sector unions in this country. The same groups that were very active in Wisconsin undermining the unions in Wisconsin under Scott Walker, those same groups were operating in Colorado, in Montana, and elsewhere.

    RS: You have a wonderful young woman in your film who worked for this group. And she becomes a whistleblower. And she says: I believe in Right to Work; I’m not pro-union, but I’m offended by the chicanery here. Why–

    KR: Yeah, she said, “You can’t fight evil by becoming evil.” And while working at this organization that was essentially running campaigns on behalf of candidates, which is illegal, she saw this illegality going on, and she saw that they were intentionally breaking the rules, and she became a whistleblower. And she wanted to do something about it. And becomes a, you know, a big revelation in the trial that our film ultimately arrives at, and has some really surprising things to say.

    RS: [omission for station break] I’m talking to John Adams, who is the courageous journalist, intrepid journalist, who helped break the story of dark money in Montana, and Kimberley Reed, the director of the film Dark Money. You know, first of all, one of the things, the response to this film, Kenny Turan, the film critic for the LA Times–I forget exactly the way he put it, but this is the least disheartening film you’ll watch about [the] political situation. And it is, it really is heartening. Because all sorts of people step forward and support honesty, and getting at the truth of the matter. Former district attorneys, and the attorney general–I forget all their titles, but–and they’re regular Montana folks, they’re not do-gooders who’ve come in from out of state. They’re–right? People like our film director here, who were actually born there. I think that’s one of the liberating notions, that there’s something in the–you know, this whole podcast thing I’m doing is a sort of exploration of the crazy-quilt of American life. And I usually say when I introduce it, out of this different mixture of immigration and backgrounds and religions and everything, we actually have heroic figures who emerge.

    KR: Oh, yeah.

    RS: You know, that don’t only come from one cut of cloth. And your film has that. I mean, these are local Montana people who are stepping up and doing the right thing, and challenging powerful interests who are mostly from out of state.

    KR: That’s right. And in a lot of ways, you know, telling this story in our film of Montana being a microcosm, being this kind of perfect case study where you can really see what goes on with this massive shell game of money and politics, which has been rigged in many ways. So we can kind of get our arms around the story of Montana, and I think in a lot of ways, because there aren’t a lot of people living there, because you got to depend on your neighbors to pull you out of a ditch, you know, when you end up in a snowbank, regardless of what political party they’re in, I think, you know, there is a larger sense of community responsibility, perhaps. I don’t want to be too rosy, I don’t want to make it too, you know, idealistic. But I think that because of that sense of kind of a smaller sense of community, more people were paying attention. More people were paying attention to the chicanery that was going on, to use your word; more people were reading reporting that was coming from people like John Adams and Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, who were covering this issue. And that helps you clamp down on this corruption that happens due to the dark money loophole. And I hope that with our film, we inspire people in other states to make their community as small as it was in Montana, to pay as much attention as people can there, and to follow the money through individual citizens who are really curious about the issue, or journalists like John Adams who are fulfilling the role of watchdog reporters, or citizens who are supporting watchdog reporters, right? I mean, this is a really important aspect of how we’re going to break this problem down and solve it.

    RS: I want to swing into what I think is an optimistic message from this film, that here is a case where powerful interests with a lot of money are pouring into a state; now they’re empowered. And John, you are great with the blackboard in this film; you get up on the blackboard and you show, you got this money here, and it comes from this corporation, then it goes to this group you know nothing about, and then it goes here, and blah blah blah. And it’s really a story, and the critique of the Citizens United decision is it just makes it all that more difficult to follow where this money is coming from. And again, what I think is terrific about this film is you show that in the state of Montana, through its history, there is a tradition of accountability and transparency, and suspicion of corporate money. And what turns out–and tell me how this happened, your film describes it–you end up having a lot of allies, even though your own paper pulls back, right? The Great Falls–well, they close their bureau or something.

    JA: Well, yeah. I mean, what happened with the Great Falls Tribune is what happened with Gannett-owned newspapers throughout the country. I mean, the Great Falls Tribune wasn’t–I want to be clear about that, because the publisher who just retired from the Great Falls Tribune, Jim Strauss, this was a guy who, in my view, went out of his way for many, many years to do everything that he could to keep the newsroom together in the wake of what was large-scale, nationally driven corporate downsizing of newsrooms. So I don’t believe that the Great Falls Tribune went, you know, that they were pulling back from the coverage; I think they would have been more than happy to have me continue to do the coverage. What happened in that case is the Great Falls Tribune–what Gannett required was that all of us who worked for Gannett at that time had to basically get laid off from our jobs, and then reapply for new positions that involved all kinds of things like website analytics and metrics–I mean, basically, it was, they wanted us to be writing clickbait for their website. And that wasn’t what I was interested in; my stories never have been, you know, the hot, Buzzfeed-type clickbait stories, because they require a lot of focus and attention. And you know, most readers who are skimming their iPhones aren’t reading 2,000-word stories on their phone. So anyway, with that out of the way, I think this was able to happen, and I think I was able to do what I was able to do in Montana, partly because of scale, and partly because we had people in places like the Commission of Political Practices who truly believed in the public’s right to know. Montana has a very progressive constitution that was passed in the seventies–

    RS: When you say in the seventies–

    JA: The 1972 constitution–

    RS: Ah.

    JA: –the very first clause of the constitution is the right to a clean and healthful environment. And that is the bane of a lot of these corporations, and one of the reasons why they can, you know, continue to try to push through the legislature to pull everything further and further to their favor. Because the constitution and the courts are a tougher battleground for them. So–

    RS: I didn’t know that Montana got a new constitution in 1972.

    KR: In 1972, in the wake of Watergate–

    RS: A-ha.

    KR: –and kind of a, kind of widespread repulsion with the Nixon administration, Montana convened a constitutional convention. Again, somewhat similar to the citizen legislature that Montana has. The minister of the church that I went to was on the constitutional convention; it was made up of everyday folks, who rewrote the constitution in 1972. And as John says, the first clause of it provided a clean and healthful environment.

    RS: The conventional wisdom now is you can’t do the old gumshoe kind of journalism that you do, that you did. And you know, really dig, and find things out, and confront people about what’s happening. And yet as your film demonstrates, this thing that the nation has had trouble comprehending, Citizens United–it’s in the air, there’s a buzz about it. But watching your film, I got a clearer sense of what Citizens United is about, that I had got–I personally was not a big opponent of Citizens United, you know. I, you know, I have a little bit of a libertarian leaning in me, and boy, your movie really challenges that. And until I saw it operating in Montana, ignoring the wisdom of Montana’s history and the role of corporate money in that state–I must say, I wasn’t in favor of it; I underestimated it. And I think your movie really captured it that way.

    JA: I wanted to weigh in on the issue about the future–you know, the current state of journalism and the future of journalism. And I think, I’m one of these people who by circumstance found myself trying to make a decision like the decision that a lot of people make in this situation, which is do I try to stick with it, or do I do what a lot of folks do and go into public relations or go into some other, you know, communications field, which a lot of journalists really thrive at and make good money at and make good careers at. And I respect that. I wasn’t ready to do that yet, and I by circumstance decided that if I couldn’t find a place that was going to employ me to do it, I would try to figure out a way to do it myself. And what I’ve learned over the course of the last few years while doing that is that I think that there is still a place, and there is still a desire, and there is still a way for that kind of journalism to thrive in our current environment, our digitally driven, information-fueled environment. But it requires new ways of thinking about it than the old systems. The old systems of, you know, owning a huge operation with a printing press and a distribution network and everything else, you know, the overhead that it takes for that–those systems worked well for a long time in an era where people didn’t get their information instantly on their phones. And so we have to just find new, innovative ways to continue to tell the stories, but people still want to hear the stories; those stories still have impact. And what we’re trying to do at the Montana Free Press is just find new and innovative ways to keep doing that kind of journalism, but deliver it to people in the ways that they are now accustomed to receiving it.

    RS: So let me bring in the Montana Free Press, and our director Kimberley Reed. I thought one of the terrific things about your film is it’s not a downer. And you have this scene which I think, oh, this movie’s going to end, it’s going to be really depressing, because John here–

    KR: [Laughs] Because it’s a documentary.

    RS: gets in his pickup, you know–well, because it’s a documentary, right. [Laughs] But he gets in his pickup truck, you know, with his dog, and puts all his possessions in. And he says, oh, I’ll find some friends who got cabins I can stay in, you know, and I’ll figure something out, but I’m going to still keep this writing going. And then here we have the introduction of the Montana Free Press. And there you are, you’ve got a little board of directors meeting to try to raise some money. And so tell us about this reincarnation of journalism.

    JA: I haven’t figured it out yet. It’s not–you know, we’re still a long way from being financially sustainable–

    RS: You’re never going to, you’re never going to–I’m here to tell you, the myth about the internet is that content providers are ever going to do well. No. Google and Facebook and these people are going to get, you know, most of the profit, and you’re going to have chump change. But–

    JA: But what we’re doing, we’re finding that there are people that, they believe in what we’re doing. And I’ve found that if you are, if they believe in you and they believe in what you’re doing, then they’ll support you. And those are the folks that we’re looking for. You know, it was obviously fortunate for me that while all of this was unfolding, you know, this thing that I was just thinking about as my life, there happened to be this documentary filmmaker who would pop in from time to time with her camera and record chunks of it. You know, and I didn’t know at the time–I never really realized until very late in the game, you know, the significant role I was going to play in the film. I thought I was just helping Kim tell a story; I didn’t know that she was going to make me part of it. [Laughs]

    RS: What this documentary not only shows the value of a guy like John here, that you need that dogged investigative reporter, you just need ‘em, you know. And if we lose them, we got to find some other way of reinventing them, and maybe the Montana Free Press is the new model. I also want to take my hat off to the role of the documentary filmmaker. I think that your film–and people should go see it if they really want to understand why Citizens United is a big deal, and what it unleashes, and what the danger of it is in trampling over the sensibility of ordinary folks in a place like Montana. That state had great rules, great law, preventing corporate influence from once again raping the environment, you know, and destroying the lives of people. And what undermined that sensible restraint, coming from the state–which after all, used to be a conservative value, you know; states having a say, that’s why we have a senate and so forth. And what your film shows is big money can come in and just wipe out the power of the citizens.

    KR: Yeah, and hopefully it shows the citizens pushing back against that, and paying attention to it, and having a strong press that’s in place that’s following it, and having not only the laws on the books, but enforcement mechanisms that are going to hold that accountable. Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot of hopelessness when it comes to these issues of money and politics, and a lot of people throw their hands up and feel like they can’t do anything about it as voters. They certainly don’t want to get involved in the whole system by running for it. There’s just a lot of, like, disaffection. And I hope that our film shows–and I think it does–that by engaging in that system and taking it back over from this corporate influence, can really put power back into the hands of people.

    RS: That’s it. I want to thank you folks for coming in, Kimberley Reed and John Adams. Our producers for Scheer Intelligence are Rebecca Mooney and Joshua Scheer. Our engineers at KCRW are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore. And Sebastian Grubaugh here at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has done stellar work in engineering this particular session.

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    Democrats Are Winning the Money Race

    Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

    Individual Donors Heavily Favor the Party’s House and Senate Candidates

    Democrats are outraising Republicans across the board this mid-term election cycle, including in the House races, something we haven’t seen since 2010. They are also heavily favored by individual donors – pulling in three times as much money from individuals in Senate races than Republicans. This is also shaping up to be one of the most expensive mid-term elections on the books.

    At this point, with 13 states still to hold primaries, the Democrats have raised a total of $574.8 million for current candidates. That compares to a total of $398.8 million for Republicans. And that number should climb as we get closer to the general election and people and PACs put more money behind the horses they want to see win the race.

    Right now, there are 567 Democrat candidates for House seats who have raised $337.7 million. That compares to 411 Republican candidates who have raised $300.1 million. Democrats have pulled in $83.4 million from PACs, compared to the $116 million Republican House candidates have gotten so far. But individual donors are heavily favoring Democrats this election cycle. For House races, Democrats have received about $221 million from individual donors. Republican candidates have received $146.3 million, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Democratic candidate Jonathon Ossoff raised the most of any candidate at $30.4 million only to lose to Republican challenger Karen Handel, who raised $7.4 million, in a special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

    For Senate candidates, 39 Democrats have raised $237.1 million. On the Republican side, 46 candidates have raised a total of $98.7 million. Democrats have pulled in more donations from PACs and individual donors. They have received $31.8 million from PACs, compared to $12.1 million for Republicans. But they have raised about three times the amount from individual donors as their Republican counterparts, at $181.8 million to the GOP’s $52.3 million.

    Incumbent Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) had raised the most of any Senate candidate so far at $26.9 million, according to a filing at the end of March and based on the most current FEC data.

    Voting Resources

    U.S. Election Assistance Commission – This site gives information on how to register to vote, election day, contact information, candidates and tons of other helpful links. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission created in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act.

    U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

    United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

     

    Looking back at 2010, when Republicans “shellacked” the Democrats, as President Obama put it at the time, the fundraising numbers looked like what we are seeing now, with the edge going to the Republicans. But those numbers account for the full election cycle right up through the election in November. We’re in early July. In 2010, the Democrats had 391 House candidates who raised a total of $474.2 million; $190.3 million from PACs and $263 million from individual donors. The Republicans had 414 candidates who raised a total of $461.2 million; $128.4 million from PACs and $289.6 million from individuals, according to FEC data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

    On the Senate side, the Democrats had 34 candidates who raised $224.9 million; $37.1 million from PACs and $166.1 million from individuals. There were 38 Republican candidates who raised a total of $347.2 million; roughly $40 million from PACs and $210 million from individuals. The Republicans took back control of the House and Senate that election and have held control since.

    Look at the numbers again and compare where we are now – four long campaigning months away from Election Day –  to the 2010 numbers and consider just how expensive this year could be for a mid-term cycle.

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