Federal Election Commission (FEC)

The Beltway Way (Moneygoround Mix)

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL15). (Detail of photo by David Banks/Bloomberg)

We get a glimpse into the Beltway moneygoround; Curtis Tate looks into Congressional PAC spending:

The leadership political action committee affiliated with Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois has splurged on Napa Valley wine tours, Miami Beach luxury hotels and Washington Nationals baseball tickets worth tens of thousands of dollars over the past four years, federal campaign disclosures show.

The nine-term Republican represents a coal-producing region of southern Illinois and frequently speaks in defense of fossil fuels as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But earlier this year, his John S Fund PAC put down a deposit for a fundraising event at a California spa hotel that’s powered by solar panels.

PACs are lightly regulated entities that members of Congress typically use as fundraising tools for their party, but not for their own campaigns.

The McClatchy report notes Rep. Shimkus (R-IL15) is not uncommon: “Most senior lawmakers with PACs spend at least some of the money on perks their salaries don’t cover”, Tate explains. Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics calls the PACs “a nice little piggybank to have”, explaining, “There are so few restrictions on how you can use it.”

The thing is that the story really is just a glimpse; the whole thing sounds sordid but in this framework it is a matter of aesthetics versus law, and the question of how to make these things work just right is pretty much as complicated as any other question of freedom versus civilized society as a suicide pact. That is to say, good luck electing a Congress that will get rid of the things; the Supreme Court is pretty much a wildcard, though we can easily guess it would be something of a stretch to imagine the judiciary banning these practices outright. And, really, just how badly will society and its political institutions fail at not being undignified if we hold a big sit-down in the public discourse and parse out the details of what is or isn’t acceptable?

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The Word from K Street

This is probably relevant to something:

An election year filled with anti-K Street rhetoric hasn’t stopped candidates up and down the ballot from pressuring prominent Washington lobbyists to pony up record sums of political cash.

Lobbyists may well give more in 2016 than they did in previous cycles. The 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission did away with an aggregate limit on donations to candidates for federal office. And with control of the Senate in play, it’s increasingly difficult for lobbyists from both parties to resist fundraising pleas.

(Ackley)

― "Leading Lobbyists' Donations to Federal Candidates and Super PACs" (Ryan Kelly/CQ Roll Call, 20 May 2016)

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Image note:“Leading Lobbyists’ Donations to Federal Candidates and Super PACs” (Ryan Kelly/CQ Roll Call, 20 May 2016)

Ackley, Kate. “Lobbyist Donations Surge, Despite Anti-Establishment Rhetoric”. Roll Call. 20 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Trump Dump)

Real estate mogul Donald Trump announces his bid for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race during an event at the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City on 16 June 2015. Trump, one of America's most flamboyant and outspoken billionaires, threw his hat into the race Tuesday for the White House, promising to make America great again. The 69-year-old long-shot candidate ridiculed the country's current crop of politicians and vowed to take on the growing might of China in a speech launching his run for the presidency in 2016.

Welcome to the Donald Trump Show. We expect this will be, proverbially speaking, at least, interesting, and would encourage at all times to bear in mind that this is, after all, Donald Trump we’re talking about.

To wit, NBC has severed ties with Trump; Cynthia Littleton of Variety explains:

NBC is ending its long relationship with Donald Trump in the wake of the presidential hopeful’s recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

NBC said it will no longer carry the Trump-produced Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Nor will he return to the long-running reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice” as host, a role Trump already said he would give up because of his presidential bid.

“Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,” NBC said in a statement. “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”

Trump told CNN that he was considering filing suit against NBC. He said in a statement that “NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct” before saying that NBC will support disgraced journalist Brian Williams “but won’t stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.”

“We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States,” Trump said. “As has been stated continuously in the press, people are pouring across our borders unabated. Public reports routinely state great amounts of crime are being committed by illegal immigrants. This must be stopped and it must be stopped now. Long ago I told NBC that I would not being doing ‘The Apprentice’ because I am running for president in order to make our country great again.”

So, here’s the thing: This might be a calculated gamble.

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