Entries in Campaign Finance (5)


Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Faces Sentencing on Wednesday

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will be sentenced Wednesday for misusing campaign funds.

Jackson, the former Rep. from Illinois, pleaded guilty to using campaign funds to pay for living expenses, clothes and luxury items, according to USA Today. Jackson's wife and former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson pleaded guilty to falsifying the couple's tax returns during a six-year period.

Jackson Jr. was first elected to Congress in 1995 and served up until he resigned in November 2012. Jackson won re-election last year before his resignation, which was connected to the finance scandal.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Presidential Campaigns and the Super PACs

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Want to run for office? Try test-driving a super PAC.

They're the muscle behind this year's presidential campaigns, although they're legally barred from coordinating with them. But any serious candidate must have a friendly super PAC to secretly raise untold sums from rich benefactors.

It's a role that could evolve in years to come, say political insiders. Don't be surprised if the seeds of a 2016 presidential campaign start with an innocuously named super PAC in 2012. It's not clear how the campaign of the future will begin, but it's a good bet that the country's Frankenstein Federal Election Commission campaign laws will involve a super PAC.

Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm, forecasts a significant decline in incentive compensation for major investment and commercial banking firms. The big banks typically disclose compensation information in their fourth quarter earnings results.

Call it the new exploratory committee. Whereas candidates at the local and federal level have traditionally had to work their way up the ranks of their party to earn enough support for a bid for office, super PAC -- the campaign cash havens that can raise and spend as much money as they want for anything at all -- are being seen by at least some potential candidates as a shortcut. The idea, according to political consultants around the country, is that if potential candidates were to raise enough money to help another candidate get elected in 2012, that candidate and other influential members in the party would repay the favor later on.

Those who have spoken with people who have expressed interest in starting their own super PACs for this reason are cautious about giving away names, but a few consultants did confirm that the idea is gaining traction. Then again, the whole idea is to remain somewhat unknown for the time being.

Spencer Kimball, a Republican consultant in Boston, described "rumblings" and "casual conversation" among potential candidates and investors in the private equity and hedge fund worlds. He said one former candidate who ran for federal office in Massachusetts was considering it.

"There are people that I can tell you who are looking to create coalitions," Kimball said, adding that they've thought of using super PACs as a "hub" for their support. "Then they can come and take credit for it as well."

Bill O'Reilly, a GOP consultant in New York (not the Fox News host), said he has "clients and former clients who are right now talking about" starting super PACs for the same reason. The PACs, he said, could replace the public affairs committee as a means to become a political force.

"Now you can do that while raising substantial money," he said. "You want to stay relevant. ... A super PAC is a great way to do it because ... previous donors can give to you."

Several political analysts drew comparisons with the way a leadership PAC works in Congress, in which lawmakers flaunt their power through fundraising rather than passing bills. Leadership PACs essentially operate as debit accounts for lawmakers who need to impress donors to raise money; their goal is to spend money to support other candidates' campaigns under the assumption that the favor will be returned if necessary.

Robert Maguire, a PAC researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, said he wasn't surprised to learn that super PACs could be used in more creative ways to benefit their creators in the long term.

"I start a super PAC in 2012 to show that I can raise money and dole it out not necessarily in the form of contributions but in the form of mailers ... phone calls, ads, things like that," he said. "It's like a shadow leadership PAC."

"It's not about rising up in the ranks of the Republican or Democratic Party," he added. "It's about gaining awareness among people that you know you want to notice you."

To many political observers, the rising power of the super PAC is a signal that money has corrupted the political process on a new level. Every presidential candidate has at least one super Pac raising millions of dollars for them, and their donors are kept secret until rare filing dates.

Even President Obama, who after the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling crusaded against the changing campaign finance law, recently bowed to reality and announced he would ship out his cabinet secretaries to raise money at events hosted by the super PAC supporting him (which was started by two of his former White House aides).

"I'm finding that people who believe they're going to run for a higher office in the next election cycle start spending huge sums of money either through their own campaigns or through IEs," said Allan Hoffenblum, a political consultant in Los Angeles, referring to the acronym for "independent expenditures," the super PAC equivalent in California.

Former GOP candidate Jay Townsend, who blames a cash disparity for his loss to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2010, predicted that super PAC spending in congressional races will have significant impacts because it takes less money to make a difference with fewer voters. That kind of effect could make the forces behind those PACs recognizable to party leaders.

"If someone had been able to write me a check for 5 or 10 million dollars, we would have had a competitive race and a serious dialogue in New York," he said. "Water runs downhill, and money has found its way into the political process, and every time you try to stop the water from going a certain direction, it will still find its way downhill eventually."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republican Primary Campaign Spending Way Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Republicans on Capitol Hill are always trying to find ways to reduce government spending, but it’s their colleagues running for the GOP presidential nomination who lead the way when it comes to being fiscally frugal.

The top nine Republican candidates running for the White House have spent a total of $53 million through the first nine months of 2011, compared with $132 million spent during the same time period four years ago, Bloomberg reports.

The $53 million spent as of Sept. 30 is also lower than the totals reported during the same time period leading up to the 2004 and 2000 primary campaigns.

Bloomberg reports the Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination of 2004 spent $58 million by the end of September 2003.  Four years earlier, 10 GOP candidates spent $68 million in the first nine months of 1999.

Media analysts cite one main reason for the drop in spending in the current campaign -- debates.  There have been 11 televised debates so far, giving the GOP candidates vital exposure and thus reducing the need to buy expensive TV advertising.

Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, tells Bloomberg, “The debates and the daily drama of the Republican presidential primary are the new TV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Herman Cain Campaign Releases Finance Report

Steve Pope/Getty Images(STOCKBRIDGE, Ga.) -- With the July 15 Federal Election Commission financial reporting deadline approaching, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has released his first campaign finance report.

According to a release from the Cain campaign, the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza has raised over $2.46 million and his campaign is debt free.

“I am pleased to announce that our campaign has absolutely no debt,” Cain said in a statement.

“In my career as a business executive, I employed sound economic principles of fiscal responsibility that I will maintain throughout my campaign. I hope to set an example to those in Washington who should be doing the same,” he went on to say.

Campaign officials say Cain has received contributions from over 27,000 individuals from all 50 states, with donations ranging from $1 to $2,500.

“I am humbled by the trust so many have put in me and assure them I will never forget where I come from, what I stand for and what matters to us as Americans,” Cain said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Revisits Campaign Finance

Comstock/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court returned to the controversial issue of campaign finance Monday, hearing a constitutional challenge to Arizona's public financing system for political campaigns. Several of the conservative justices on the bench seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the Arizona Citizen's Clean Elections Act. The law allows a candidate who qualifies for public financing to receive a lump-sum grant from the government if he or she refuses to accept private contributions.

But the law goes a step further than other public financing laws. It also says that participating candidates can qualify for additional matching funds from the government if their opponents who have chosen not to participate in public funding spend more than the initial grant. The matching funds provided by the government are capped at three times the initial grant.

Arizona voters passed the law in 1998 in the wake of political scandals in order to restore the public faith and diminish the influence of special interest money in campaign races. Supporters of the law say it encourages candidates to take public financing, promotes competition in races and also prevents corruption. But opponents of the law say that it forces non-participating candidates to limit their spending so they won't trigger the matching-fund provision.

Those opposed to the law say that by limiting spending, the law suppresses the free speech rights of the non-participating candidates. In court Monday, William R. Maurer, representing Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a political action committee that opposes the law, said that in an attempt to "level the playing field," the law actually worked as a disincentive for candidates to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Maurer has no objection to the public financing aspect of the law but rather to the government's giving additional funds to publicly financed candidates as a direct result of a privately financed candidate exceeding a spending limit.

The conservative justices on the bench were sympathetic to Maurer's argument.

"Just as a common-sense matter," Justice Anthony Kennedy asked, "if I'm someone with the capacity and the will to make an independent expenditure, why don't I think twice if this is going to generate an equal amount on the other side which might be better spent?"

Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute, who represents three state legislative candidates challenging the law, said Kennedy's comments went to the heart of the case. "Kennedy's inquiry highlights the fundamental way that Arizona's system chills free speech," he said.

But Bradley S. Phillips, who defended the law in court, said the matching funds system actually promotes speech by encouraging candidates to run.

Monday's hearing comes nearly a year after the court released the controversial and closely divided Citizen's United case that struck down laws banning corporate and union expenditures in federal campaigns.

The court is likely to rule on the issue by early summer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio