Minneapolis Star Tribune: On amendment issues, reveal corporate donors?

The state's upcoming ballot question on definition of marriage prompts finance board to reconsider keeping donor names secret.

-By Eric Roper

June 14, 2011- As activists prepare for what is expected to be one of the costliest amendment campaigns in recent history, state campaign finance officials are rethinking guidelines on how donations are disclosed.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board met Tuesday to hear arguments on whether it should revoke a 14-year-old opinion that allows corporations to make donations to ballot campaigns without revealing their own donors.

A change could have a major impact on the role national heavyweight nonprofits like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Organization for Marriage play in Minnesota over the next 17 months. The two sides are gearing up over a 2012 ballot question that would ask voters to legally define marriage in the state Constitution as being between a man and woman. It would solidify an existing legal ban on same-sex marriage.

For-profit corporations like Target may not experience much change, however, because they rely on business revenue rather than donors.

Amendment supporters said that requiring disclosure could scare off potential donors.

Citizen Vox: Helpful Hints for our Honored Opponents

-By Bartlett Naylor

June 17, 2011- We’ve noticed some floundering in the past few months by conservative lawmakers opposing the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. So, as we approach mid-year, we thought we’d offer a few helpful hints on how better to raise campaign contributions from the banking lobby.

Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Spencer Bachus: You should not transparently recite the lines fed to you by the banking industry. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Bachus, you told the Birmingham News: “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” We’ve got some learning to do. You may sincerely believe this, but let’s understand the play.  The bad guys are the reckless bankers who trashed the economy. The victims are the unemployed in your Birmingham-centered district and the Auburn and Alabama University students who are facing a grim employment outlook because reckless bankers took down the economy. The good guys are the people trying to reform the system to better protect regular Americans from Wall Street machinations.

Roll Call: Feingold Criticizes Democrats for Forming Super PACs

-By Christina Bellantoni 

June 16, 2011- MINNEAPOLIS — Ex-Sen. Russ Feingold on Thursday night sharply criticized Democrats for forming super PACs that can take unlimited corporate cash, flatly calling the entities “wrong.”

“I empathize with the desire to fight fire with fire, but Democrats should just never be in the business of taking unlimited corporate contributions,” Feingold told the audience of liberal activists and bloggers gathered here for the Netroots Nation convention, eliciting cheers. “It’s dancing with the devil, and it’s a game that we will never win.”

Washington Post: Reps. Boehner, Cantor continue millionaires reign over House

-By Paul Kane and David A. Fahrenthold

June 15, 2011- While the majority status and chairman’s gavels may have changed hands, the “people’s” House is still run by millionaires.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) , the GOP leaders who rode to power on the grassroots wave of tea-party activists, are multi-millionaires with financial investments in some of the nation’s largest corporations.

Boehner had minimum financial holdings of $2 million at the end of 2010, while his top deputy was worth at least $3.4 million, according to financial disclosure forms that were released Wednesday. Their true net worth is likely to be far greater because lawmakers are only required to reveal a broad range of their financial holdings and the value of their primary residences is not mandatory in the disclosures. And, as is the case with Cantor’s wife, Diana, spouses are required to reveal the stocks and other assets they hold at the end of the year, not their annual income from the jobs they hold.

Talking Points Memo: Shadow Congress: Nearly 200 Ex-Lawmakers Work For Lobbying Shops

-Ryan J. Reilly

June 14, 2011- With historic numbers of congressional Democrats thrown out of office in the 2010 midterms, the stage was set for another surge of ex-lawmakers to go through the revolving door into the lobbying business. So we figured it was time to update our ongoing "Shadow Congress" project in which we chart state-by-state which former lawmakers are now lobbying.

With the addition of recently defeated lawmakers, there are now at least 195 former lawmakers cashing in on their public service, according to an updated list compiled by TPM. That's up from 172 the last time we checked.

Check out the members of this so-called "Shadow Congress" on our updated interactive chart. 

Huffington Post: Sharron Angle Super PAC Breaks New Post-Citizens United Ground

-By Paul Blumenthal

June 14, 2011- The wild west of post-Citizens United campaign finance regulation has a new frontier in Nevada.

Controversial former Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle is pushing the limits of the law as she launches a Super PAC to collect unlimited funds from individuals and corporations to spend on current and future elections.

The Supreme Court, in its landmark Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission ruling, stated that independent expenditures made by outside groups did not meet the anti-corruption principle underlying much of the current regulation of campaign finance. The Court argued in a 5-4 decision that corporate contributions to political action committees did not create an appearance of corruption because the funds did not go to a specific candidate but rather promoted or opposed an issue.

Contribution limits for candidates and bans on corporate and union contributions to candidates were both upheld by the Supreme Court in Citizens United. But a subsequent ruling allowed for the creation of Super PACs, political action committees that only spend money on independent expenditures and that can accept unlimited funds.

Huffington Post: John Edwards Prosecution Given Go Ahead By Justice Department: Report

May 25, 2011- The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated that it will allow John Edwards to be prosecuted in an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations, North Carolina station ABC11 reports.

According to the local outlet, the 2008 presidential candidate is expected to be indicted in the case.

NBC News confirms that the Justice Department will permit prosecutors to file criminal charges against Edwards.

WRAL News reported on Tuesday that the culmination of the probe was imminent.  

Sources told WRAL News on Tuesday that a major development would occur in the next two weeks. It could be an indictment or perhaps a plea deal. Sources said it's unlikely that prosecutors would walk away from the case.

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