FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard
The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.
Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.
The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations. READ MORE
Shining a light on dark money
New York Daily News - Opinion - Eric Schneiderman
After the 1970s, when President Nixon’s illegal campaign cash was used as a secret slush fund to pay for the Watergate burglary and cover-up, Americans have demanded to know where the money fueling our elections is coming from. Today Americans are still worried about political corruption — and they have good reason to be.
One consequence of the notorious Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which opened the floodgates to unlimited contributions to campaigns, is that enterprising political operatives have seized upon a sleepy section of the tax code to create a new vehicle that allows unlimited election spending without any disclosure of the sources of the money.
Nonprofit organizations that are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code are supposed to exist “exclusively” for the “promotion of social welfare.” But these groups have been engaging in political activity without telling the public where they get their money. READ MORE
John Boehner pressured by some to let Democrats pass fiscal cliff bill
In case the public weren't frustrated enough over Congress' failure to resolve the "fiscal cliff," consider this: lawmakers probably could enact a compromise quickly and easily if Republican leaders let Democrats provide most of the votes.
That would give Democrats a bigger voice in the bargain, of course, which the Republican-led House is loath to do. That's why about 10 percent of the House's members – staunch anti-tax conservatives – were able to thwart Speaker John Boehner's bid to pass a narrowly crafted bill that might have strengthened his bargaining hand.
By trying to pass his plan with GOP votes alone, Boehner could afford to lose only two dozen of the 241 House Republicans. His private headcount found nearly twice that many defectors, party insiders say, forcing Boehner to give up without seeking a formal vote. The miscalculation left negotiations in disarray as the Dec. 31 deadline nears. READ MORE
How dark money helped Republicans hold the House and hurt voters
In the November election, a million more Americans voted for Democrats seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives than Republicans. But that popular vote advantage did not result in control of the chamber. Instead, despite getting fewer votes, Republicans have maintained a commanding control of the House. Such a disparity has happened only three times in the last century.
Analysts and others have identified redistricting as a key to the disparity. Republicans had a years-long strategy of winning state houses in order to control each state's once-a-decade redistricting process…
Corporate campaign contributions and abnormal stock returns after presidential elections
Harvard Law School Blog
A hard-fought campaign is over and President Obama has been reelected. Should shareholders take notice? In brief, yes. In the paper, Corporate campaign contributions and abnormal stock returns after presidential elections, forthcoming in Public Choice, we explore the stock market performance of top corporate contributors after the elections that brought Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively, to power. In both cases, the top contributors strongly outperformed the market.
We focus on campaign contributions by corporations before a presidential election and their stock market performance afterwards. From a rent-seeking perspective, companies can have an incentive to spend money for presidential candidates. And, as presidential hopefuls need to raise large sums, campaign contributions by companies and business associations are usually a welcome source of funds. After the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United against FEC, which grants companies the same free speech rights (and thus spending in the political process) as those accorded to individuals, corporate campaign contributions are likely to become even more important in the future. READ MORE
For outgoing lawmakers, connections mean chance to cash in
Center for Responsive Politics - OpenSecrets Blog
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) easily won a 10th term to Congress in November. Less than a month later, she said she was stepping down for a better offer.
Emerson will become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a lobbying group that represents more than 900 federally-subsidized, not-for-profit electric utilities. Emerson said in a statement that she was leaving Congress not "because I have lost my heart for service," but rather because the job offered "a new way to serve."
Since 1998, the NRECA has spent nearly $49 million on lobbying and has been one of the biggest overall donors to federal elections. It has been the top contributor to Emerson dating back to her start in Congress in 1996, having given her nearly $80,000 over that period. READ MORE