'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Successful Senate candidates raised an average of more than $14,000 per day during the last election cycle — a sum that campaign finance reform advocates said shows a system begging for an overhaul.
Five months after President Obama's made-for-media convention in Charlotte, N.C., the host committee for the three-day Democratic bash still has not paid off an unprecedented $10 million loan secured by Duke Energy, and there is no way of knowing whether it will ever be paid back.
Now this is change you can believe in: After eschewing big-money donations for first inauguration four years ago, President Obama was asking for donations up to $1 million to help him throw the two big inaugural balls.
President Obama ran in 2008 while making big promises on transparency and ethics. He is making no such promises in this year's campaign, though, nor is he taking a victory lap on those old vows.
For an administration that touts its desire to make a clean break with its predecessor, President Obama and his aides have taken to citing President George W. Bush's White House tenure several times lately when challenged on the same type of indiscretions they once condemned.
Since funding a lavish half-million-dollar party to celebrate the election of Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III about 18 months ago, officials at the Bowie-based Path to Greatness have continued to raise thousands of dollars from donors while counting Mr. Baker's wife as a trustee, an arrangement that critics say opens up another avenue for special interests to curry favor with his administration.
Despite the return by President Obama and the Democratic Party of a tainted $10,000 donation from D.C. fundraiser Jeffrey E. Thompson, dozens of other federal and local campaign committees, Democrat and Republican alike, continue to hold on to tens of thousands of dollars they have received from the contractor now at the center of Mayor Vincent C. Gray's deepening fundraising scandal, records show.
President Obama — who analysts originally thought would be history's first $1 billion presidential candidate — lowered that bar Tuesday, warning donors instead that he now expects to be outspent by the GOP this year.
A serious turn in the federal probe of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray's 2010 campaign and a recent trickle of subpoenas to D.C. Council members is delving into the tricky — and supposedly arms-length — role that candidates play at the roulette wheel of political funding and influence.
To many Washington outsiders, congressional ethics is an oxymoron or fodder for late-night comedians, but watchdogs and longtime Washington observers point to one hopeful sign — an office they believe is helping members take ethics rules more seriously.
Businesses owned for years by prominent D.C. contractor Jeffrey Thompson engaged in a pattern of political giving that appears to run afoul of city campaign finance law, combining to give twice and sometimes three times the maximum donation to city politicians in a single day, records show.
For years, D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. wrote checks out to "cash," himself or his for-profit company for thousands of dollars from the bank account of a purported charity he ran, city attorneys say.
Still, Ms. McGehee said meaningful reform could theoretically happen — if Mr. Obama and his team were to expend some political capital.
"It was hard to make the case in 2008 that you could run a viable campaign" with taxpayer-funded war chests, said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center.