Huffington Post: Disclose Act’s Latest Incarnation Would Force Vote On Secret Political Slush Funds

-By Dan Froomkin

March 21, 2012- WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are setting up a showdown with Republicans on the issue of unlimited secret campaign donations, proposing new rules that would expose those donations to public view.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Wednesday introduced a stripped-down version of the 2010 Disclose Act, without any of the more controversial elements that Republicans cited in torpedoing the bill last time.

The new bill, which has 34 co-sponsors (all Democrats), would simply require all groups spending more than $10,000 on election-related advertising to publicly name all donors who gave $10,000 or more. To address the lack of real-time disclosure of who is paying what, the bill would require any broadcast ad to list the sponsoring group's top five funders.

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Politico: AFL-CIO: Crack down on super PACs

-By Robin Bravender

March 15, 2012- The AFL-CIO, the largest organized labor group in the United States, wants an immediate crackdown on super PACs.

The union federation on Wednesday afternoon adopted a policy statement saying it supports the overturning of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“The Citizens United ruling has opened the floodgates to massive spending by corporations and even more so by wealthy donors,” says the resolution adopted at AFL’s winter meeting in Orlando, Fla. “They are pouring money into our electoral system and threaten to drown out the voices of hard-working Americans. Common-sense restrictions on their spending are needed, along with robust disclosure of their contributions and expenditures—including their contributions to organizations engaged in electoral activity.”

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Huffington Post: Lincoln Davis, Former Tennessee Congressman, Sues Over Being Turned Away At Polls

-By Ariel Edwards-Levy

March 12, 2012- Former Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) is suing over being denied the right to vote in Tennessee's Super Tuesday primary.

Davis, whose name was erroneously removed from the voter rolls, filed a lawsuit Monday seeking class-action status against Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state election coordinator Mark Goins, The Tennessean reports. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Click here to see a copy of the lawsuit.

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The H: US e-voting system cracked in less than 48 hours

March 5, 2012- Researchers at the University of Michigan have reported that it took them only a short time to break through the security functions of a pilot project for online voting in Washington, D.C. "Within 48 hours of the system going live, we had gained near complete control of the election server", the researchers wrote in a paper that has now been released. "We successfully changed every vote and revealed almost every secret ballot." The hack was only discovered after about two business days – and most likely only because the intruders left a visible trail on purpose.

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Huffington Post: Super PAC Sugar Daddies Spread Campaign Contributions Around At State Level, Too

-By Matt Sledge

March 13, 2012- Don't cry for the sugar daddies. Rick Santorum may be down and Rick Perry may be out, but the billionaires and millionaires who bet big on them have plenty of other politicians to bankroll — especially those running for powerful seats at the state level, like governorships in swing states.

The donors pumping money through federal super PACs in the post-Citizens United universe have in many cases also given extensively at the state level, according to a report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Showering local politicians with money has been easy to do for decades, especially in states immune to the tighter post-Watergate campaign finance laws that tried to rein in spending on presidential and Congressional races.

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Talking Points Memo: DOJ Objects To Texas Voter ID Law; Says It Would Have Unfair Impact On Hispanics

-By Ryan J. Reilly

March 12, 2012- The federal government will not preclear a photo voter identification law signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) because it would have a greater impact on Hispanic voters, a Justice Department official said in a letter to state authorities on Monday.

Hispanic registered voters in Texas were either 46.5 percent or 120 percent more likely than average voter to lack a form of photo ID, according to data the state submitted to DOJ. The first data set was sent in September and the second in January, though Texas has refused to tell federal authorities which they believe is more accurate. The first data set said that 6.3 percent of Hispanic registered voters lacked photo ID compared to 4.3 percent of the general pool of registered voters, while the second data set said 10.8 percent of Hispanic registered voters lacked ID compared to 4.9 percent of registered voters.

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NY Times: Hatch Weighs In on Tax Status of ‘Super PACs’

-By Jonathan Weisman

March 9, 2012- Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, joined the fight over the tax status of “Super PACS” on Friday, accusing Senate Democrats of a “politically motivated witch hunt” for their efforts to rein in tax-exempt political groups.

Mr. Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was responding to a letter by seven Senate Democrats demanding that the Internal Revenue Service establish a clearer test limiting the politicking of 501(c)(4) groups like American Crossroads, a Republican group, and Priorities USA, a Democratic outfit. The letter, which still has not been sent, also requests stronger rules preventing corporate donors from deducting Super PAC contributions from their taxes, and it threatens legislative action if the I.R.S. fails to act.

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Huffington Post: Ken Griffin, Billionaire Romney Backer, Says Super Rich Have ‘An Insufficient Influence’ On Politics

-By Alana Horowitz

March 11, 2012- A billionaire backer of Mitt Romney said that the wealthy have "an insufficient influence" on politics and policy.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel was asked if he thought rich people had too great of an influence on politics.

"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," he responded. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet."

He also told the Tribune that he believes he should be able to donate an unlimited amount of money to Super PACs.

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Huffington Post: IRS May Make Political Groups Pay Dearly for Keeping Donors Secret — And Out Them

-By Dan Froomkin

March 8, 2012- WASHINGTON — For years, the IRS has done little or nothing to check the rise of overtly political groups that claim a special tax-exempt status in order to funnel secret money into election-related advertising.

But in a sign that the agency may be waking from its slumber, the IRS has sent detailed questionnaires to several Tea Party organizations — and possibly other political groups — to determine if they truly qualify for the 501(c)(4) designation intended for groups whose exclusive purpose is to promote social welfare.

Should any group currently calling itself a 501(c)(4) have its designation denied or revoked, tax experts said the consequences could be severe, including fines of 35 percent or more of the money they raised in secret.

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