Salon: The grim future of campaign finance

The immediate reform fight is not about stopping the flow of money, but rather securing mere disclosure

-By Justin Elliott

January 28, 2012- It’s not even the general election season, and we’re already seeing the electoral process dominated by super PACs, funded with unlimited donations and protected by a paper-thin veil of “independence.”

The super PACs operating in the GOP primary have managed to delay disclosing their donors until next month, but the identities of who funded these groups will be public. Groups in a different category — those that don’t ever disclose donors — haven’t started operating in any prominent way, but you can be sure they will in the fall.

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Kansas City Star: Ind. election chief’s job on line in fraud trial

-By Ken Kusmer, Associated Press

January 31, 2012- NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Indiana's top elections official signed documents showing he was living at an address different than one he listed on voting records, witnesses testified Tuesday as prosecutors began building their case in a trial that could cost Secretary of State Charlie White his job and his freedom.

White faces charges of fraud, perjury and theft. A conviction on even one of the seven felony counts would force his removal from the politically powerful office.

As the trial began, defense attorney Carl Brizzi tried to sow doubt in jurors' minds that White is guilty of any of the charges.

Special prosecutor Dan Sigler Sr. brought in a cart with 11 boxes of evidence, including key cellphone records that he said in his opening argument would show White wasn't living in the address on his voting records.

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Cleveland.Com: Witness in Jimmy Dimora trial tells of fake political run against Russo in exchange for job

-By James F. McCarty

January 27, 2012- AKRON, Ohio — One-time pizza shop owner Joseph Gallucci wanted a cushy job on the Cuyahoga County payroll in 2006, and to get it, he willingly corrupted one of the fundamental tenets of a democracy — the expectation of open and fair elections.

Gallucci's skullduggery involved running a sham election challenge to then-County Auditor Frank Russo in exchange for thousands of dollars in clandestine payments and then a $67,000-a-year job on Russo's staff.

All the sordid details came out Thursday, when Gallucci testified at the corruption trial of former County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Michael Gabor, a former county employee accused of helping orchestrate the election scam.

Interwoven with a series of secretly recorded cellphone conversations, federal prosecutors presented evidence of Russo and his cronies scrambling to cover the tracks of their criminal scheme in a Nixonian style reminiscent of Watergate.

The testimony and recordings also exposed the extremes that the politically fixated Russo would take to manipulate an election outcome that was never in doubt.

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Huffington Post: John McCain Goes Off Message, Predicts ‘Major Scandal’ Related To Unlimited Political Giving

-By Jon Ward

January 25, 2012- WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was supposed to do a conference call with reporters Wednesday hitting Newt Gingrich on behalf of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Things didn't exactly go as planned.

McCain did talk about the announced topic, how the number of earmarks in Congress increased when Gingrich was House Speaker from 1994 to 1998. But his attacks on Gingrich (R-Ga.) were vague and listless.

"I can't remember any specifics," McCain said at one point.

But when a reporter asked McCain about the increasingly "negative tone" of the Republican primary, that got the "maverick" off in a direction he was interested in going: campaign finance.

"I dislike it, and the fact is that we all decry negative ads and negative tones but it does move voters and as long as it moves voters it's going to happen," McCain said.

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