November 6, 2015 •
News You Can Use Digest – November 6, 2015
Neuropolitics, Where Campaigns Try to Read Your Mind
New York Times – Kevin Randall | Published: 11/2/2015
All over the world, political campaigns are seeking voter data and insights that will propel them to victory. Now, that includes the contentious field known as neuromarketing – or in this case, neuropolitics. Technologies like facial coding, biofeedback, and brain imaging have long been used by companies in the hope of pushing the boundaries of marketing and product development. But their use by political parties and governments is a growing phenomenon. The practice has come under attack, but the skepticism has not dissuaded political parties in many parts of the world. The campaigns of presidents and prime ministers on at least three continents have hired science consultants to scan voters’ brains, bodies, and faces, all with the aim of heightening their emotional resonance with the electorate.
New Generation of Trade Group CEOs Take More Aggressive – and at Times Unorthodox – Approach to Lobbying
Washington Post – Catherine Ho | Published: 11/4/2015
A new generation of trade group leaders are deploying a wide range of unorthodox lobbying tactics, a shift reflecting the new normal of the advocacy business. Some of the new CEOs are as much as two or three decades younger than their predecessors and came to power at the same time gridlock and chaos reigned in Congress. Rather than only forging relationships with federal lawmakers, they are turning to state-level lobbying and media campaigns to shape public opinion. These younger leaders are pushing to remake the image of some trade groups as a cushy track to retirement for former elected officials.
Bush, Clinton Benefit from Lobbying Gray Area
Politico – Isaac Arnsdorf | Published: 11/3/2015
Campaigns are required to file reports detailing registered lobbyists who round up donations, but that number is only a small slice of the fundraisers who work in some capacity in Washington’s influence industry. A quarter of those who bundled $100,000 or more for Hillary Clinton work at lobbying firms or public affairs agencies, lobby at the state level, or otherwise make their living from influencing the government, even though they are not themselves registered to lobby Congress. For Jeb Bush, 58 of the 342 people who raised at least $17,600 are advocates and operatives linked to the influence industry, although they are not reported as federal lobbyists. The reliance on these power brokers shows how much both candidates are drawing on family and party networks forged over decades in politics to bankroll their presidential bids. It also illustrates the weaknesses in the rules meant to subject lobbyists to more public scrutiny.
Paul Ryan Lands at Center of a Rivalry for the Soul of the G.O.P.
New York Times – Carl Hulse | Published: 11/2/2015
The rise of the tea party-influenced conservatives who toppled John Boehner as House speaker has driven a wedge between the party’s right flank and the corporate interests and business advocates who were the embodiment of the Republican Party in years past. Now the term Chamber of Commerce Republican has been turned into a pejorative by hard-right conservative activists who rail against “crony capitalism.” It is an extraordinary political development, one that the new speaker, Paul Ryan, will have to navigate as he takes control of the House. And those on the hard right and in the corner offices are watching closely to see which way he leans.
Twitter <3 Enhanced Political #Disclosure
Center for Public Integrity – Dave Levinthal | Published: 11/4/2015
Twitter’s nascent PAC, which is poised to make its first-ever federal campaign contributions, plans to disclose them within 48 hours. “Timely disclosure is something we could do. We figured, ‘Why not?'” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s head of global public policy. Twitter will also publicly disclose its trade association memberships and membership costs, as well as any financial associations it has with nonprofit organizations, which are not required to reveal their donors.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arizona – Elections Panel Moves to Uncover Political ‘Dark Money’
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 10/31/2015
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission adopted a rule that spells out what will be considered to be a “political committee.” That designation is crucial because only political committees are required to report both contributions and expenditures. The new guideline says the reporting requirement applies when any organization spends at least half of its overall communications expenses on Arizona political races. Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, said the rule is a direct result of heavy spending last election by groups that refused to disclose the source of their cash.
California – Tighter Rules for Lobbying Win S.F. Voter Approval
San Francisco Chronicle – Kevin Fagan | Published: 11/3/2015
Proposition C, which was approved by San Francisco voters on November 3, will require individuals or groups to register as lobbyists if they spend more than $2,500 in a month to encourage others to lobby city officials directly. The issue was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the city Ethics Commission to try to rein in “Astroturf” lobbying, which refers to third-party influence efforts that try to disguise the real group or person behind a fake grassroots message. Many of the city’s grassroots and nonprofit organizations supported the idea behind Proposition C but said it would unfairly force them to abide by the same rules as more-moneyed traditional lobbyists. Proponents maintained that all lobbyists, big and small, should be equally accountable.
Connecticut – Joseph Ganim, Disgraced Ex-Mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., Wins Back Job
New York Times – Kristin Hussey | Published: 11/3/2015
An ex-convict who spent seven years in federal prison for corruption reclaimed the Bridgeport mayor’s office, completing a stunning comeback bid that tapped nostalgia for brighter days in Connecticut’s largest city. Joe Ganim, who was released from prison five years ago, declared victory in a race involving seven opponents. Ganim was mayor from 1991 to 2003, resigning after he was convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from people and companies doing business with the city. Eddie Moro, a security employee in the public school system, said he has no problem with Ganim’s criminal record. “He didn’t kill nobody,” said Moro.
Maine – Maine Backs Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Initiative
Huffington Post – Paul Blumenthal | Published: 11/3/2015
Maine voters approved a proposal to expand the state’s public campaign financing system. It will increase public funding for candidates to as much as $3 million while allowing them to collect additional five-dollar qualifying donations. The initiative will also require organizations behind political advertisements to disclose the top three donors funding the ads and increase penalties for candidates who violate the state’s campaign finance laws.
Maryland – D.C. Law Student Takes Case against Md. Gerrymandering to Supreme Court
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 11/1/2015
Steve Shapiro worked on an assignment for a class at American University’s Washington College of Law, where he is a first-semester student. He pored over his brief due at the U.S. Supreme Court, where his battle against Maryland’s often-criticized gerrymandered congressional districts will be heard in a case that bears his name. It was his decades-long fight with Maryland’s political leadership over redistricting that, in part, fueled his decision to leave his job as a career federal employee and enroll full time in law school. Before he ever took his first law class, he served as his own lawyer, filing the original complaint in what is now called Shapiro v. McManus and a subsequent appeal after losing the first round.
New York – In Two Corruption Cases, the Culture of Albany Will Go on Trial
New York Times – William Rashbaum and Susanne Craig | Published: 11/1/2015
The former leaders of New York’s two legislative chambers face simultaneous public corruption trials this month in a federal courthouse. Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, long one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers, goes on trial first on charges he used his office to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes. Dean Skelos, a former Senate majority leader, faces his own criminal trial on November 16. He is charged with taking official actions on behalf of several companies in exchange for payments to his son. The trials are the highest-profile cases in a string of corruption scandals. More than 30 state lawmakers have either been indicted or forced from office in recent years.
New York – Mayor de Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private consultants help shape City Hall
New York Times – Thomas Kaplan | Published: 11/4/2015
Several consultants helped guide Bill de Blasio campaign for New York City mayor in 2013, and they have remained at his side as a kind of privately funded brain trust, offering strategic advice and helping to shape the message that comes from City Hall. Their involvement also poses conflict-of-interest concerns; some of their firms have clients that do business with the city. Most of the money for the consultants has come from a nonprofit organization, the Campaign for One New York, that was created by political professionals from his mayoral campaign as a vehicle to push de Blasio’s initiatives, and whose donors have included real estate developers and unions.
North Carolina – McCrory Brokered Meeting on Contract for Friend and Campaign Donor
Raleigh News & Observer – Joseph Neff, Craig Jarvis, and Ames Alexander | Published: 10/30/2015
Last fall, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory personally intervened on behalf of a friend and major political donor who wanted to renew $3 million in private prison contracts over the objections of McCrory’s top prison officials. Graeme Keith Sr., a developer and retired banker, has pursued private maintenance contracts in state prisons since 1999. Keith’s contracts at two prisons were set to expire December 31, 2014; a third would have ended four months later. The governor convened an October 2014 meeting where, according to a Department of Public Safety memorandum, Keith told prison officials and McCrory that “he had been working on this project ‘private prison maintenance’ for over ten years and during that time had given a lot of money to candidates running for public office and it was now time for him to get something in return.”
Texas – Opponents of Houston Rights Measure Focused on Bathrooms, and Won
New York Times – Manny Fernandez and Alan Blinder | Published: 11/4/2015
More than a year ago, when Houston Mayor Annise Parker and her supporters first proposed an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on factors such as race, religion, and sexual orientation and steered it through the city council, they expected it to be welcomed in a diverse city that had become, with Parker’s election in 2009, the nation’s first big city to elect an openly gay or lesbian mayor. Instead, voters rejected the ordinance overwhelmingly. Opponents zeroed in on the measure’s gender-identity protections and focused the debate on a narrow issue whose very relevance was disputed by rivals: bathrooms, and access to them. What was clear was that a months-long effort by social conservatives to repeal the ordinance and reframe the issue had paid off, through tactics likely to be used again in similar battles around the country.
Washington – ‘Democracy Vouchers’ Win in Seattle; First in Country
Seattle Times – Bob Young | Published: 11/3/2015
Seattle voters passed a ballot measure that was seen as a national model for campaign finance reform. Under Initiative 122, every city resident would receive four “democracy vouchers” each representing $25 of public funds. The vouchers could be given to any local candidate of their choice, as long as that candidate opted in to the program. The measure also prohibits candidates from receiving contributions from any person or company with at least $250,000 in city contracts or $5,000 in lobbying expenses. It also will bar elected officials and their top aides from lobbying the city for three years after leaving their government jobs.
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