campaign contributions

No Donor Left Behind

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has highlighted some interesting information on President Bush's No Child Left Behind Reading First program. It would appear the Department of Education Inspector General, which has criticized the program on a number of occasions, is concerned that the quality of reading material available through the program is being compromised to favor corporate donors to Bush's campaign.

 

 

A Donor's a Donor

Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari is a generous guy. Since 2002, he's given $15,250 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. And yesterday he was charged with funding a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

Power Players

Think the latest series of lobbying reforms is going to cut the cord between lawmakers and lobbyists? Says the Wall Street Journal: think again. The story highlights activities of top lobbyist Heather Podesta to illustrate, among other things, the prevailing power of campaign cash and challenge in overcoming an atmosphere of exclusivity around our lawmakers and their lobbyist friends.

 

Testimony to Philadelphia City Council

Philadelphia’s City Council's Law and Government Committee was scheduled to consider a proposal by City Councilor Jim Kenney to change or eliminate the the city's contribution limits for municipal elections in the middle of an election cycle; a move prompted by a wealthy mayoral candidate self-financing his campaign. Abolishing or increasing the limits would set up a desperate dash for cash by all candidates just before the primary; forcing candidates to spend even more time with those who can write big checks, and less time with ordinary voters.

How Congress Learned to Stop Worrying

...and Love the Loophole. The start of 2007 saw Congress rally support behind a series of lobbying reforms to ban lobbyist-funded meals, travel, and other tools used to curry favor with lawmakers.

Bungling Bundling

Legally, the most an individual can donate to a presidential candidate is $2,300 for the primary election and another $2,300 for the general election. But for the big donors for whom $4,600 just doesn't buy enough, there's bundling: getting your friends to donate the maximum to your candidate -- donations for which you get credit, and access, from the candidate.

 

Freshman Orientation

It. Never. Ends. The Hill covers the sad reality of Washington: on the heels of promises to clean up Congress, freshman congressmen and women are out on the special interest fundraising circuit -- not because they want to be, but because if you want to survive re-election you have to raise money from the moment you win your seat, even before you're sworn in.

Toad-Free Campaigning

Newsday joins the growing chorus asking Congress to fix the presidential public financing system (read: more money -- sooner) before it's gone for good. Cautioning a return to candidates "toadying" to special interests in exchange for campaign cash should public financing be abandoned, the paper tells Congress to get on it already before the fundraising situation gets any worse.

Conventional Fundraising

Fredreka Schouten of USA Today points to a significant loophole in the recent ethics bill passed by Congress: lobbyists can still underwrite the party national conventions, a big way to buy influence. Bills are in the works that might address this activity.

 

Hedgy Bet

Much has been made of the millions upon millions of dollars that 2008 presidential candidates will have to raise- this article from The New York Times adds insight on where a big chunk of that money will come from: lucrative relationships with hedge fund managers who can not only donate thousands in their own right, but bundle big checks from their friends.