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Q&A: HOLDING A CONTEST WITHOUT THE REFEREE
What happens at the start of an election year when a partisan squabble essentially shuts down the federal agency charged with overseeing – and enforcing -- campaign finance laws? Capital Eye consulted three experts with differing backgrounds and opinions about what the Federal Election Commission stalemate in the Senate means for this election year, what message it sends and what should be done to resolve the issue as the costly presidential primaries roll along.
*Read the full Q&A: http://www.capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=322
BETTING ON NEVADA
As Democrats prepare to caucus Saturday in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada, the candidates are hoping they haven't just gambled away their money to campaign there. Hillary Clinton led Democratic fundraising in Nevada during the campaign's first nine months, but Barack Obama reported spending more. If Nevada's big industry, gambling, were to decide the Democratic nominee through its contributions, Clinton would win hands down. By the end of September, she had collected $60,000 from the industry nationwide, more than any other Democratic candidate in the running. Barack Obama brought in nearly $25,000, and John Edwards reaped $14,000. The casino industry's favorite candidate, though, appears to be a Republican, Rudy Giuliani.
*Presidential contributions from the casino/gambling industry: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/select.asp?Ind=N07
*Contributions from Nevada: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/presstatetots.asp?State=NV
REPUBLICANS VOTE SATURDAY IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Four days after Michigan's primary, Republican voters in South Carolina will decide their favorite candidate on Saturday. (Democrats will vote Jan. 26.) The top fundraiser in the state was Rudy Giuliani over the campaign's first three quarters, with at least $390,860, despite not campaigning there. John McCain, who reported the most spending in South Carolina, was second in fundraising, followed by Mitt Romney and the others.
*Contributions from South Carolina: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/presstatetots.asp?State=SC
*Presidential primary calendar: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/calendar.asp?cycle=2008
CANDIDATES DEBATE WHO'S THE MORE "INDUSTRIOUS" FUNDRAISER
Hearing the presidential candidates debate who is more beholden to certain industries, you'd think they'd been researching their opponents' fundraising on OpenSecrets.org. There, you too can learn which candidate has the most financial backing from insurance companies, lobbyists, drugmakers and many other industries whose influence the candidates have been debating. If you're voting in a primary anytime soon, check this out before heading to the polls.
*Contributions from selected industries: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/select.asp?cycle=2008
"MILLIONAIRES' AMENDMENT" ON TRIAL
After twice battling Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) and losing, Democrat Jack Davis is now challenging federal campaign finance law. The millionaire industrialist, who spent more than $2 million of his own money to unseat Reynolds in 2006, has persuaded the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the "millionaires' amendment." This measure in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 allows congressional candidates who face wealthy opponents to collect more money from individuals than the law would normally allow, ostensibly to even the odds. Davis says this provision protects entrenched incumbents from the only people who beat them: wealthy challengers. He says the additional disclosure requirements he faced limited his free-speech rights. The Supreme Court will consider a lower court's ruling that upheld the law, stating that it was Davis's choice to spend his own money and, in doing so, allow his opponent to collect more money from donors. The Supreme Court may also consider a case involving an anti-Hillary Clinton movie that the conservative group Citizens United wants to advertise in key primary states. A three-judge panel said that advertising the movie should be considered direct advocacy against a candidate and, therefore, should be subject to campaign finance laws, including the disclosure of donors.
*Campaign contribution limits: http://www.opensecrets.org/basics/law/index.asp
*FEC primer on the millionaires' amendment: http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/MillionairesAmendment.html
*2006 Reynolds-Davis race:
*2004 Reynolds-Davis race: http://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.asp?ID=NY26&Cycle=2004
*Citizens United Political Action Committee: http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.asp?strID=C00295527&cycle=2008
*Citizens United's 527 activity in 2004: http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527events.asp?orgid=50
REVOLVING DOOR: HEDGE FUND ASSOCIATION RECRUITS FROM CONGRESS
The main lobbying group for the hedge fund industry, the Managed Funds Association, has tapped Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) to be its new leader -- with his compensation valued at more than $1 million per year. (That's far higher than Congress's salary of $169,300, even after a recent pay raise.) Baker, who was elected to Congress in 1986, is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the industry he will soon represent. As one of Baker's top 20 contributors in the 2006 election cycle, MFA's PAC gave him $10,000, more than any other House member. During that cycle the entire hedge fund industry gave Baker $24,000 -- more than all but two other members of the House. The MFA spent $300,000 on lobbying efforts in the first half of 2007, with a focus on fending off Democrats' efforts to bring taxes on hedge fund managers more in line with other high earners.
YEAR-END CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS DUE JAN. 31
Don't expect the candidates' final campaign finance reports of 2007 until Thursday, Jan. 31 at midnight, when they're due at the FEC. CRP will update the presidential data on OpenSecrets.org over the ensuing days. Since it's an election year now, candidates for the White House will file monthly beginning in February. Monthly reports will be due to the FEC on the 20th of every month, documenting the prior month's finances.4112 times viewed