Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 21, 2014

Posts in "Campaign Finance"

April 24, 2014

Curt Clawson Would Make 50 Richest in Congress List

Curt Clawson, the self-funding businessman who won Tuesday’s Republican primary scramble to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla. (cocaine scandal), would be among the richest members of Congress if he wins the GOP-leaning Florida district in the special election June 24.

Clawson is a former college basketball star (during his campaign, he challenged President Barack Obama to a shooting contest) and manufacturing executive who spent most of the last decade running the world’s largest maker of aluminum auto wheels.

He loaned $2.65 million to his own campaign, according to his pre-primary Federal Election Report.

According to financial disclosures, the automotive CEO, who consistently cast himself as the Washington “outsider” during his campaign, has a minimum net worth of more than $13 million, which would place him in the middle of the pack on Roll Call’s most recent “50 Richest” list. Full story

April 3, 2014

Pelosi: Campaign Cash Ruling an ‘Existential Threat’ (Video)

pelosi 240 101713 445x281 Pelosi: Campaign Cash Ruling an Existential Threat (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is one of the most prolific fundraisers in congressional history. But that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the aggregate limit on campaign contributions.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the court decision was “suffocating the voice of the many.”

The 5-4 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling overturned the overall limit on what an individual may collectively donate to parties, candidates and political action committees in one election. The limit used to be $123,200. While the Supreme Court didn’t touch so-called base limits — such as the $2,600 cap on contributions to candidates per election or the $74,600 limit for political parties per an election cycle — the ruling allows individuals to give the maximum amount to an unlimited number of candidates.

“The Supreme Court decided to pour even more money into our politics and our process,” Pelosi said.

The California Democrat added that she was not surprised by the ruling, given the Citizens United v. FEC case, but the McCutcheon ruling “adds great insult to terrible injury to our democracy.”

“This is a very existential threat to who we are and how we do our campaigning and our government — and it should be something that should be roundly rejected,” Pelosi said.

But, as one reporter pointed out, Democrats can take advantage of this ruling just as much as Republicans.

“It doesn’t make it right,” Pelosi responded.

Pelosi, who raises millions for congressional Democrats, said she wasn’t thinking politically about this. “I’m thinking about our democracy,” she said. “Is this just supposed to be a money war?”

Pelosi agreed that candidates have to raise money to win elections, but she characterized the ruling as “an unlimited, constant spigot of undisclosed, God-knows-from-where-and-from-whom supply of money into the system.”

“It’s just plain wrong,” she said.

Eliza Newlin Carney contributed to this report.

January 31, 2014

Waxman’s Retirement Spurs Race for his Committee Slot and a Slew of Speculation

waxman010914 330x212 Waxmans Retirement Spurs Race for his Committee Slot and a Slew of Speculation

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At the end of this year, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will lose another close ally — and fellow Californian, no less — in 40-year House veteran Henry A. Waxman.

Sources close to Democratic leadership say they don’t suspect that Waxman’s retirement, announced Thursday morning, will leave the same gaping hole in Pelosi’s carefully-curated inner circle as will the year-end departure of another 20-term California Rep., Education and the Workforce ranking member George C. Miller.

But his retirement will set off what Democratic aides expect to be a fierce competition for the party’s top seat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Full story

January 13, 2014

A Few Highlights — Or Lowlights — From the Omnibus

On Monday evening, appropriators from both chambers unveiled a massive omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the end of September, the culmination of just a few weeks of work and bipartisan negotiations.

The House is expected to pass the 1,582-page package of all 12 appropriations bills this week, if for no other reason than to dispel anxiety over another government shutdown and encourage a return to the age of “regular order.”

But, as with any major piece of legislation, the final product necessitated some compromises, and there are policy riders that are sure to ruffle feathers from members on both sides of the aisle — even if they won’t be enough to sink the whole ship.

Here are a handful of the provisions House lawmakers will have to swallow in the name of passing the spending bill: Full story

September 11, 2013

OCE Report: Bishop Fixed Bar Mitzvah Fireworks, Then Asked for ’5 Large’

One of the most intriguing revelations from the four reports released by the Office of Congressional Ethics may have come from that of Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y., who, according to the OCE, helped a constituent get government clearance for a bar mitzvah fireworks display and then asked for a campaign donation.

In May 2012, the report states, one of Bishop’s constituents sought to hold a fireworks display off a barge near his home to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah. The U.S. Coast Guard denied a permit, as it was apparently filed after a deadline. After attempting — and failing — to get permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for an alternative location, the constituent contacted Robert Sillerman, a business associate, for advice, the report states. The business associate then offered to pass along word of his predicament to Bishop, whom he also knew.

Bishop, after making the necessary arrangements with government and local authorities for the constituent’s fireworks display, sent the following email to Sillerman, as included in the OCE report:

“Ok, so just call me the friggin mailman – we are all set with (the Constituent) [OCE BRACKETS]. Hey, would you be willing to reach out to him to ask for a contribution? If he donates before June 26, he and his wife can each do 5 large – if it is after June 26, they can each do a max of 2500…”

Bishop told the OCE that “in the email, he was relaying to Mr. Sillerman that they were ‘good to go’ and that he asked Mr. Sillerman to request a contribution because, in the past, Mr. Sillerman would occasionally solicit contributions on his behalf,” according to the report.

When another news organization started looking into the story later that summer, according to the OCE report, Bishop and the constituent engaged in a round of text messages where Bishop told the constituent to decline interviews so as to “kill this story.”

“I am being screwed,” Bishop said, according to the report.

The report states that the constituent has made repeated efforts to clear any taint from Bishop’s reputation, including issuing public statements.

May 17, 2013

5 Takeaways From the Ways and Means IRS Hearing

miller051713 445x295 5 Takeaways From the Ways and Means IRS Hearing

George, left, and Miller are sworn in before testifying at the Ways and Means Committee hearing. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

On a rare Friday of congressional action, the first hearing was held to examine the IRS scandal involving the extra, and in some cases unprecedented, scrutiny given to conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status over a two-year period covering 2010 to 2012.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller was in the hot seat for nearly four hours, as the House Ways and Means Committee grilled him on how and why the federal tax-collecting agency appeared to inject politics into what is supposed to be an independent process. Miller, who will leave his job next month, was joined by Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George — he received a considerably more friendly reception.

As the hearing progressed, Ways and Means members slowly but surely veered into typical partisan camps. Republicans insisted that a political conspiracy was behind the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Democrats tried to walk a line between disapproval of the IRS’ actions, while defending the credibility of the IRS and accusing the GOP of using the scandal to undermine Obamacare, which requires the agency to hire thousands of new agents to police the new law.

Here are the top five takeaways from Friday’s hearing:

Full story

May 14, 2013

Bachmann to Lead Tea Party’s Response to IRS Matter

Since news broke of allegations that the IRS improperly targeted applications for conservative tax-exempt organizations, members of Congress of all stripes have been eager to go on the record condemning these revelations.

On Tuesday, however, lawmakers who are actual stakeholders in the controversy continued to move the ball forward in responding to the charges and holding the agency accountable.

The Congressional Tea Party Caucus, which just last month relaunched after a period of dormancy, will hold a press conference Thursday morning.

Caucus chairwoman and former federal tax attorney Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and “Tea Party leaders” will “tell their stories of IRS intimidation and demand further investigation,” according to a Tuesday press release.

Full story

May 13, 2013

Blast From the IRS’ Scandal Past

Way back in March 2012, Roll Call published a story about how tea party types were pretty irate over the amount of info they were being asked to provide to the IRS in order to get nonprofit status.

“In the past two months, dozens of tea party groups … say they have received lengthy and intrusive questionnaires, some of which request the names of donors and volunteers,” staff writer Janie Lorber wrote. Full story

Pelosi Injects Campaign Finance Debate Into IRS Scandal

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s two-paragraph statement on allegations that the IRS targeted tea party organizations for extra review could have come from any concerned lawmaker Monday.

But a single sentence tying the IRS’ alleged misconduct with a controversial Supreme Court decision signaled that Democratic leaders see an opening to restart the debate over the nation’s campaign finance system. Full story

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