Tag Archives: campaign finance

RoboBomb

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) recently made over 70,000 robocalls asking for volunteers and money. Only 400 people pressed a button to respond positively to new MCDCC Chair Kevin Walling’s plea to support state and local candidates.

So far, multiple sources report that they do not know if a single dollar has actually been raised by follow-up calls to the estimated 0.57% who responded positively to this recorded message. Regardless, it looks like that MCDCC will be lucky if they don’t lose money.

The calls came as a surprise to much of the Central Committee, which did not, at least as a whole, approve or learn about them in advance. I have heard the calls described as misleading because they give the impression that the money donated is directly going to support local and state Democratic candidates.

I imagine that MCDCC leaders would argue that monies raised will support their efforts to aid Democratic candidates. Except that it looks as if any money raised will have to be plowed back into paying for the solicitation. The poor response is why most dialing for dollars occurs with a live voice on the phone.

This fizzling fundraising effort follows on a similarly unsuccessful direct mail campaign. MCDCC included return envelopes in the solicitation, which sounds like a good idea. But it also made the mailing more expensive and did not result in a higher return rate than previous efforts with only small amounts raised.

So far, Kevin’s early efforts to increase fundraising by MCDCC–one of his core promises in seeking the chair–have yet to bear fruit. And expanding the broader donor base has to be even more difficult outside the height of election season.

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Campaign Finance Aggregate Report

Over the next few days, pre primary campaign finance reports will appear on the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System Websites. Instead of breathlessly hitting refresh, you can simply check out this public, crowd sourced google doc I put together (just like I did in January and April).

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OyeuTrFuRlp_4qtqRPw9JSKcW29e6Z-yVjmRXcyWWyM/edit#gid=0

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Duchy Trachtenberg, Joe Trippi and DFA

Democracy for America (DFA), a PAC founded by Howard Dean to advance progressive causes, has sent out an email attacking Roger Berliner and trying to raise funds for Duchy Trachtenberg. The email is reproduced at the end of this post.

So why did DFA send out the email?

Though DFA endorses at virtually all levels of office, it has not endorsed Duchy Trachtenberg as of May 20th based on my search of their online list of endorsed candidates. Indeed, they have endorsed no one in the State of Maryland.

The answer could be Joe Trippi. Duchy hired Trippi as her consultant according to her January campaign finance report:

DuchyFinance

Duchy January 2014 Campaign Finance Filing

Trippi received national attention for his success as Campaign Manager at catapulting Howard Dean to the front of the Democratic pack for awhile in 2004. That campaign was the first to grasp the importance of social media. DFA started out as Dean for America and pioneered attracting small donors via social media.

The email was funded by DFA as an independent expenditure rather than by Duchy’s campaign. So it would be illegal for Trippi to contact DFA to ask them to spend money on Duchy’s behalf. Since he works for Duchy, coordination between Trippi and DFA would turn this legally from an independent expenditure into a contribution that should appear under Duchy’s own authority line. But if Trippi didn’t contact DFA and get them to do this for Duchy, who did?

Inaccurate, Bizarre Attack

The attack on Roger in the email for promoting development at Ten Mile Creek is particularly strange as Roger helped protect it. Moreover, Duchy has received strong support from the developer who is angry with Roger over his efforts.

Ironically, the email starts to wrap up with “When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers.”

Indeed.

 

Democracy for American Email:

We don’t need to tell you: Roger Berliner is bad news. He’s consistently undermined the needs of working families in Montgomery County, despite the fact that he calls himself a Democrat. How’s that for a betrayal?

Berliner has voted to strip bargaining rights from county employees, to remove indexing from any minimum wage bills, and to approve a construction project right by Ten Mile Creek. After hearing Ten Mile Creek — one of the last clean creeks in the area — would be polluted by storm runoff from his construction project, a progressive voice pushed back.

Duchy Trachtenberg won’t stand for this failed leadership and that’s why she’s running for Mongtomery County Council in District 1.

Montgomery County needs a bold progressive leader. Click here to help elect Duchy Trachtenberg to office!

As a former at-large councilmember and a longtime resident of Montgomery County, Duchy understands the needs and priorities of its residents. As a councilmember, she oversaw the creation of the Family Justice Center, which brings coordinated and effective services to domestic violence victims. She passed a landmark civil rights measure extending protection in employment and housing for transgender persons, and worked to protect pay equity for women.

Her background in grassroots organizing for women’s equity, mental health concerns and public health issues shows her ability to put people-powered policies first. Going forward, Duchy will fight for public employees’ job security and collective bargaining rights, affordable housing for families, and fully funded youth service programs.

Sign up to help Duchy Trachtenberg ensure that progressive voices are heard in Rockville!

When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers. Let’s make sure that instead, we have forward-looking, compassionate leadership.

Thank you for all that you do,

– Franco

Franco Caliz, Electoral Campaigns Manager
Democracy for America

Paid for by Democracy for America, http://www.democracyforamerica.com/?t=3&akid=4786.2643726.fr7nXK and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

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McCutcheon Comes to Maryland

Today, the State Board of Elections lifted the aggregate limits on the total amount that any individual could donate on state races in Maryland. Previously, donors could give only $10,000 total in any four-year election cycle. That is no longer the case.

This change is not due to a shift in Maryland law but to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which invalidated the federal limits from the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The $4000 limit on the amount that can be donated to a single state candidate in Maryland remains in place–for now. This limit will increase to $6000 after the 2014 elections.

Lobbyists and wealthy people can expect to be hit up even more as they can no longer plead that they’ve maxed out. It’s also an invitation to extremely wealthy individuals who want to expand their influence in Maryland politics. Common Cause (h/t) outlined their view in a statement:

The State Board of Elections issued guidance today that eliminates the aggregate limits for campaign donations. This guidance was anticipated as the state grapples with the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon, which was released last week.

“Before this guidance came out, donors could only give $10,000 for all their political spending – to candidates, political action committees, and slates,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “Eliminating that limit will have a direct and alarming influence on Maryland’s political landscape starting with this year’s election. The cost to run for office – particularly for down-ballot races, such as Delegate and County Council, will increase exponentially as a result.”

“The last defense we have against big money influencing our elections is the individual limit on donations to candidates,” said Bevan-Dangel. “We are very concerned about how the Board’s guidance will be implemented to ensure that donors do not use slates and political action committees to skirt that last line of defense.”

Individual limits are currently $4,000 but will increase to $6,000 starting in 2015.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC was Citizens United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation’s wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us,” said Bevan-Dangel. “This decision makes alternative fundraising mechanisms, such as public funding for elections, even more critical. Public funding empowers more diverse candidates to run because it gives an alternative to major donor fundraising. And it empowers everyday citizens to engage in the political process because it leverages their small donations and turns them into major donors.”

“We hope that the McCutcheon case spurs Montgomery County to act quickly on the public funding bill under consideration and encourages other counties and the state to establish alternate funding sources to ensure that the extremely wealthy cannot drown out the voice of everyday citizens in our political process.”

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Don’t Pick Up the Phone

The General Assembly is out of session. There are now around ten weeks between now and the primary. So it’s that dangerous time when the thoughts of legislative candidates turn to their campaign accounts. And how they wish there was more in them.

Whatever you do, don’t pick up the phone unless you want to open your wallet, volunteer to give time, or just feel like having a nice chat with a stranger. No amount is too small. Don’t have $100. How about $50. Or even $25 so we can broaden our contribution base? Even $10 can help.

If you’re really wealthy, you can’t even use the excuse of having maxed out anymore because the Supreme Court did away with the limits on the total amount anyone can donate with the McCutcheon decision, though the limits on the amount you can donate to a single candidate remain in place.

Lobbyists really hate the McCutcheon decision as they know they’ll be dunned more than ever. While the wealthy can at least just say no, it’s harder for lobbyists who know that they may well be knocking on these same people’s door and at least want a hearing.

Of course, the not so big secret of campaign finance is that most candidates hate asking for money even more than other people hate giving it. They didn’t seek office to become fundraisers. Oh sure, some are good at it and thrive on it. But most would rather do just about anything else.

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What McCutcheon v. FEC Means for Maryland

Today’s 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC has implications for campaign finance law in Maryland as well as the federal level.

McCutcheon voided aggregate limits on contributions. Put another way, the Court voided the bar on any individual donating more than $48,600 to all federal candidates and $74,600 to political parties. At least for now, the Court upheld the limit on donating $2600 to any one candidate but Chief Justice Roberts would clearly like to get rid of it.

The Court’s decision is grounded in precedents that go back to Buckley v. Valeo that view campaign spending as the equivalent of free speech. The five person majority on the Court believes that the aggregate limits violate the First Amendment by limiting speech.

Presumably, Maryland’s limit of any individual or other entity donating more than a total of more than $10,000 to candidates, PACs, or political parties is now also unconstitutional. The $4000 limit on donations to any one candidate, PAC, or political party should remain in place.

The change will allow wealthy individuals or PACs to invest in a much broader array of races. Moreover, wealthy donors have all the more reason to screen their calls. They should now expect to get hit up more aggressively by candidates, as they can no longer say that they’ve hit the limit and cannot donate legally to them.

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