“Misidentification Or Outright Lie?”: Oops; Republican Super PAC Misidentifies Source Of Massive Donation
Republican super PAC American Crossroads misidentified its second-largest donor last month in paperwork filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
The group, co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, listed the Glenmede Trust Company as giving it $300,000 on Aug. 29, part of the $1.7 million American Crossroads raised in August.
But Glenmede spokeswoman Melissa Stonberg says the wealth management firm — which manages more than $25 billion for wealthy individuals, families and foundations — didn’t give American Crossroads a penny.
“The Glenmede Trust Company, N.A. did not make any donations to American Crossroads,” Stonberg told the Center for Public Integrity. “We have contacted American Crossroads to let them know of the misreporting.”
Paul Lindsay, the spokesman for American Crossroads, did not respond to questions about the apparent discrepancy Monday morning.
Several hours later, however, American Crossroads filed an amended report to the FEC that now identifies the $300,000 as coming from Thomas and Sandra Sullivan, the parents of U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Lindsay confirmed the super PAC changed its report but declined additional comment.
The Center for Public Integrity first raised questions about the six-figure super PAC contribution because the address American Crossroads listed for Glenmede seemed odd: It wasn’t the location of the company’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia but that of a beachside condo in Florida.
Thomas Sullivan is the owner of the $3 million, 2,850-square-foot condo, according to Miami-Dade County records.
For their parts, Thomas and Sandra Sullivan have previously donated $250,000 to an Alaska-based super PAC known as “Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values,” which supports their son.
That super PAC has raised $460,000 through July 30, according to FEC records.
Through mid-September, the group has already aired more than 1,600 TV ads in the race, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service.
In August, only one other donor gave more money to American Crossroads than the Sullivans — Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, who gave $500,000.
By: Michael Beckel, The Center for Public Integrity, September 22, 2014
Just when much of the punditocracy was settling in for a few happy weeks of arguing over the extent of the Republican “wave” in November, while Mitch McConnell figuratively measured curtains for the Majority Leader’s offices, the worm has turned a bit, at least in the polling data, and the GOP victory parade seems a bit premature. WaPo’s Chris Cillizza sums up the confused state of prophecy:
Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, The Post’s statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.
Election Lab puts Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago, when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control…..
The movement toward Democrats in the Election Lab model isn’t unique. LEO, the New York Times’ Upshot model, gives Republicans a 51 percent chance of winning the Senate — but that is down significantly over the past few weeks.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model now has Republican chances of winning the Senate at 55 percent, down from 64 percent 12 days ago.
Meanwhile, Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang, the forecaster who focuses strictly on polling data, and refuses to tilt the data to reflect “fundamentals” like historical precedents, presidential approval ratings and the condition of the economy, has the probability of continued Democratic control of the Senate at 81%.
As Cillizza notes, though, the most prominent traditional forecasters–who do not use statistical models and tend to put a greater emphasis on factors like campaign spending and “momentum” and national trends–seem to be moving in the opposite direction:
What’s interesting about the election models is that they are moving in the opposite direction of political handicappers. In recent days, Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, the two best-known, nonpartisan prognosticators in Washington, have each written that the possibility of large-scale Republicans gains is increasing, not decreasing
I don’t know if this disconnect between poll- and non-poll-based analysis will generate the level of ferocious debate we saw during the Great “Skewing” Battle of 2012. But it is interesting that despite the shifting winds, in the heart of conservative-land there’s not even a scintilla of doubt that Republicans are on their way to a historic win in November that will carry over into 2016, and presumably last foreover. Check out these lines from TV celebrity pundit S.E. Cupp in the New York Daily News:
It’s hard to imagine Democrats can course-correct in less than two years the failures they — and Hillary Clinton, in particular — have overseen for more than six.
In the lead-up to the 2014 midterms, Democrats have tried and failed to figure out successful campaign strategies. They tried to resurrect the “war on women,” but believe it or not, Democrats have a bigger problem with men than Republicans do with women.
According to GWU battleground polling, Republicans are only six points behind among women, whereas Democrats are 15 points behind among men, and 28 points behind among white men in particular. That’s a lot of ground to make up.
Raising the minimum wage turned out not to be the barnstormer Democrats hoped it would be either.
Another of their “big ideas” was to make tax inversion, where businesses move to foreign countries to avoid steep corporate taxes here, a turnout issue. Last week Politico called that effort a “massive dud.”
Without any cohesion — united only, it seems, by their desire to distance themselves from their standard-bearer — Democrats are having to run a spaghetti strategy: throw it on the wall and see what sticks.
Republicans won big in the 2010 midterms but weren’t able to swing back to the center in time for 2012. With all this momentum behind them, the pathway is clear. And not even Hillary Clinton should be able to stop them.
There’s a rather obvious and irreconcilable gap between those who look forward to elections by consulting at empirical data and those who view them as representing moral judgments on the truth or error of world views. Think I’ll stick to empirical data, but then I would, wouldn’t I? I’m a liberal, God help me.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 17, 2014
“If Money Is Speech And Speech Is Freedom…”: Those With Less Money Get Less Freedom, Less Speech, Less Representation
If money is speech and speech is freedom, then it follows that those who have more money will have more freedom.
This includes the freedom to determine who gets to vote, the freedom to dictate how much workers are paid, and the freedom to impose their agenda regardless of public opinion.
It also follows that those with less money will have less freedom, less speech, and less representation.
These are the basic tautologies in logic that Conservatives refuse to address. By equating freedom with money, the Party That Loves Liberty and Freedom is actually reducing the liberty and freedom of the vast majority of Americans. Yet when the majority of Senators tried to correct this problem, obstructionist Senate Republicans killed the proposal with a filibuster. Conservatives accused the Democrats who supported the proposal of trying “to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech.”
Constitutional guarantees of free speech, it turns out, are only available for those who can afford to pay.
Bloviating pundits notwithstanding, speech is not an infinite resource. There are only so many radio and television ads that can be sold; only so many prime time hours; only so many websites. Perhaps the most finite of all resources is the attention span of voters. Once these resources have reached their full capacity, there is no room left. Other voices and ideas are simply unheard, no matter how brilliant, valuable, or vote-worthy they might be. Television stations cannot squeeze in one more commercial. Voters will not sit through another political ad.
In the war of voter attrition, the Koch brothers are winning.
The problem is exacerbated by judges that believe that political ads are not required to tell the truth. Politicians and the PACs that suppport them have the freedom to create a lie and to overpower any opposition to it, including opposing views that are based on actual facts. It’s a perfect propaganda machine.
Voter fatigue translates into skewed election results. Once in office, politicians rewrite election laws, gerrymander Congressional districts, and take other actions to ensure that their donors are rewarded and that they and their party remain in power. Laws that can’t be changed through legislation are manipulated through the budget process. New ideas are allowed to die despite having strong public approval. 92 percent of Americans think that requiring a background check before someone can buy a gun is a good idea. 72 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage. Yet these and other popular ideas are routinely killed by a minority of Senators who represent a minority of voters.
Let’s be honest. Citizens United and the closely related McCutcheon were not about increasing freedom of speech. Both were 5-4 decisions from a Conservative majority and are about ensuring political control in the face of changing voter preferences. Both cases are about drowning out any opposition.
Which brings us to Net Neutrality. If money equals freedom, then startup companies and small businesses that have less money will have less freedom. This means, among other things, less freedom for innovation, less freedom for commerce, and less freedom of speech. The end of the Net Neutrality means a decline in the quality of service for everyone who uses the Internet. Ultimately, it is one step closer to the end of discussion, debate, and democracy.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web portion of the Internet, envisioned and still supports an open and inclusive web. Conservatives are on record as opposing this freedom. Instead, they prefer a “free market approach” that will do to the Internet what Citizens United has done to political campaigns. American media is already dominated by an oligarchy of just six companies. Independent media outlets and commentators already face enormous challenges as they struggle to be heard. Banishing these websites to the slow lane of the Internet would mean less freedom, not more.
Free speech cannot exist when those without money are shut out of the conversation. Democracy, in political ads and on media websites, requires a diversity of legitimate ideas, not simply the repetition of the same biases and misinformation.
Instead of asking why Democrats oppose unchallenged speech for a few, the better question is to ask why so many in Washington seem to oppose freedom for all.
By: Bob Seay, Editor, NewsPrism.com; The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014
For those who remain engaged in public affairs, the basics on contemporary politics are usually too obvious to even mention. We know who President Obama is and what party he belongs to; we know who Speaker of the House John Boehner is and his party affiliation; etc.
But like it or not, we’re in the minority. Most Americans don’t keep up with current events enough to know which party, for example, is in the majority in the House and the Senate.
It’s easy to lament the scope of our uninformed electorate, but in the short term, it’s also worth appreciating the practical consequence. As Greg Sargent noted yesterday, there’s new focus-group research that shows many Democratic voters are likely to skip the 2014 midterms in large part because they have no idea what’s at risk.
What if a key part of the problem is that many of these voters simply don’t know that Democratic control of the Senate is at stake in this fall’s elections?
That’s one of the conclusions veteran Dem pollster Celinda Lake reached after conducting new focus groups and polling for the liberal group MoveOn. Lake conducted two focus groups of people from Detroit and its suburbs. One was made up of single white women under 55 and married white women under 35 (millenials). The second was all African American women. These are the same voters who are expected to drop off in many red state Senate contests, too.
Lake added that the drop-off voters “had no idea that control of the Senate was even up for grabs and were even very confused about who controlled it. These voters are very representative of drop-off voters in a lot of states.”
Told that their state’s election may very well dictate control of the Senate in 2015 and 2016, these voters’ motivation went up. Reminded of specific issues at stake in the event of a Republican takeover, and their interest, not surprisingly, grew further.
The point isn’t lost on Democratic officials, who’ve seen the recent polls showing Dems faring well among registered voters, but losing among likely voters. Greg noted the DSCC’s Bannock Street Project which is “investing $60 million in organizing that is premised on contacting voters again, and again, and again,” as well as “unprecedented levels of organizing to states that aren’t contested in presidential years, such as Arkansas.”
Ed Kilgore added that it’s not a simple message, “at least for low-information voters who cannot be expected to be focused on issues of Senate control and where it’s determined, much less immediately grasp what a GOP Senate could mean next year and down the road. So it requires multiple mutually reinforcing and highly targeted messages, and a lot of repetition. And that means money and scale.”
Election Day is 53 days away. Early voting in much of the country starts even sooner.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 12, 2014