Front groups are breaking rules on campaign spending — but does anyone care?

Stunning Statistic of the Week:

Average amount that senators who voted for TARP and against financial reform received from the financial sector since 2007: $879,803

Source.

Most groups broadcasting elections ads violate rules, hide donors’ identities

More than two-thirds of outside groups spending heavily on electioneering communications in the 2010 elections are not reporting where they got their money – highlighting a stunning reversal in transparency of money in politics over just the past few years, a new report from Public Citizen shows. Only 32 percent of the organizations

broadcasting electioneering communications in the 2010 primary season revealed in their filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the identities of donors funding their advertisements.

Senate GOP marches in lockstep to keep campaign funders secret

On Thursday, every single Republican senator marched in lockstep with the GOP leadership to keep the funding sources of independent campaign ads secret from the public. In a party-line vote, the minority Republican caucus once again employed the filibuster to stop a floor vote on the DISCLOSE Act – effectively casting a cloak over money in politics.

House lawmakers advance public funding of elections

At no time in U.S. history has a congressional public funding bill received so much support and enthusiasm in Congress. The reasons are clear. Poll after poll shows that large majorities of Americans across the political spectrum are fed up with the influence of big money in politics. On Thursday, lawmakers on the House Committee on

Administration approved public funding of congressional elections. Now the full House should vote on it.

New loophole? A contribution is not a contribution if it underwrites an election party

It seems as though a new loophole in campaign finance law has been discovered. Or has it? The National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are asking supporters to give between $2,500 and $10,000 to underwrite a party on the night of elections. It’s not a fundraiser, they say, so it’s not subject to campaign finance restrictions. One expert called it “a little too cute by half.” Another said that it sounds illegal.

Anticipating Republican gains, businesses shift donations

Apparently anticipating significant Republican wins in November corporations have started giving most of their political donations to Republicans. They had been sending money primarily to Democrats, not unusual since Dems have been in power for two years. Evidently, though, industry honchos think the winds are shifting. Business

political action committees representing businesses gave a little more than half their $72.2 million in donations to Republicans from January through July. During the same period in 2009, they have 59 percent of their donations to Dems.

Americans for Job Security runs pricey ads but tells FEC it has zero contributions

The pro-business group Americans for Job Security (AJS) has run millions of dollars of broadcast ads in advance of November’s elections. But it told the Federal Election Commission that it has received zero contributions. How can this be? The group claims that under an interpretation of FEC rules – an interpretation adopted by the Republican commissioners on the panel – contributions must be reported only if a donor designates his or her money to be used to a specific ad run at a certain time and place. This, of course is rare. And that’s the point. Speaking of that group, The New York Times ran a front-page story today in which AJS is a poster child for influencing elections while evading disclosure.

Rove groups’ haul: $14.5 miliion in 30 days

Two groups founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove to vacuum up money to then spend on election ads have raked in $14.5 million in just 30 days. The grand take so far this year is $32 million.

Minnesota disclosure law upheld

Minnesota’s disclosure law, enacted in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, will stand. A U.S. district court judge denied a request from an anti-abortion group, an anti-tax group and others to suspend the state’s new disclosure requirements. In Citizens United, the court gave the green light for corporations to spend as much money as they want to influence elections. Minnesota, along with other states, quickly enacted a law requiring the identities of those paying for campaign ads to be made public.

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