For Top GOP Candidates, Legal Questions Remain As Their PACs Raise Millions

Jeb Bush still hasn’t launched his presidential campaign, instead opting to headline massive fundraising events through his “leadership PAC.” It’s going so well that he recently had to tell his wealthy donors to limit their contributions to a measly $1 million, presumably because the optics were less-than-ideal for a guy who is already viewed as wildly out of touch with the

Today, the New York Times ran a piece on “blurred lines,” only these legal issues had nothing to do with Robin Thicke. Rather, it has to do with the questionable operational relationship between still-undeclared presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his Right To Rise PAC.

Read more after the jump.

American Bridge President Brad Woodhouse On The Kochs’ 2016 plans

“The Kochs are planning to spend an outrageous amount of money on the 2016 election, more than the RNC did in 2012, and nearly $1 billion in total, because they’ll stop at nothing to purchase a government that grows their profits, weakens pollution standards, and maintains tax breaks for big oil- all at the expense of investing in middle class families and an economy that works for everyone.”

ICYMI: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel- Investigation into Scott Walker “must continue”

Last week, former Virginia Governor Republican Bob McDonnell became the first Virginia governor to be convicted of a felony, with a federal grand jury finding him guilty of 11 counts of corruption. Across the country, another GOP Governor, Scott Walker, faces questions stemming from an investigation into his own potentially felonious behavior, as highlighted by recent editorials in his hometown newspapers. Indeed, the most recent documents released in the John Doe investigation into Walker illustrate his alleged centrality to a criminal scheme to illegally coordinate campaign spending with an outside group, Wisconsin Club for Growth.

The New York Times editorial board last week pointed to a $700,000 contribution from a large mining company to Wisconsin Club for Growth, timed closely with Walker signing pro-mining legislation into law, as evidence that the Governor and his aides “brazenly violated state campaign finance regulations”:

Newly released documents show that the mine operator, Gogebic Taconite, secretly gave $700,000 to a political group that was helping the governor win a 2012 recall election. Mr. Walker had urged big corporations to give unlimited amounts, without fear of public disclosure, and many companies that wanted favors from the state happily obliged. Once the recall failed, the favors began to flow, even at the expense of the state’s natural resources.

But perhaps even more damning for Walker are a pair of editorials from two of the local Wisconsin publications that have been tracking the investigation most doggedly, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the La Crosse Tribune. Both editorial boards not only offer strong rebukes for the Governor’s scheme to raise money in support of his campaign during the 2012 recall election, but emphasize the importance of the John Doe investigation itself.

Read more after the jump.

A Thursday Morning Koch Hangover For GOP Senate Candidates

Yesterday morning, newly released audio recordings from a secretive Koch brothers summit earlier this year offered an even clearer window into just how cozy today’s Republican candidates are with the Kochs and their powerful network.

Speaking with rare candor, key Republican senate nominees thanked the billionaires for getting them to where they are today, lavished the entire Koch community with praise, and doubled down on their adherence to the Kochs’ extreme, anti-working family agenda.

Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, and Tom Cotton all gave speeches at Koch summit in June. Yesterday, they had less to say. But the coverage spoke for itself, and it wasn’t pretty — check out the brutal headlines and key passages below from Wednesday’s reporting:

At Koch Retreat, Top GOP Senate Candidates Credited Koch Network For Their Rise
Huffington Post // Sam Stein

None of the three candidates returned a request for comment for this article. But their attendance at the retreat offered both reward and risk.
A few days after Ernst’s appearance, Charles Koch, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law each gave the Iowa candidate the legal maximum contribution of $2,600.
Cotton, meanwhile, took heat for backing out of the local Pink Tomato Festival to attend the Koch affair, with his opponent, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), all but accusing him of lacking home-state sensibilities. A willingness to go against the prevailing winds at home has endeared Cotton to the Koch brothers’ crowd, however.

Caught on Tape: What Mitch McConnell Complained About to a Roomful of Billionaires (Exclusive)
The Nation // Lauren Windsor

To put that in perspective, Mitch McConnell’s thirty-five-year career in the Senate saw the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans, the 2008 housing meltdown that threatened the entire economy and Barack Obama’s election, to cite a conservative bête noire. But it was McCain-Feingold, the bill that banned soft money and unlimited donations to party committees, that constitutes the worst day of his political life.

Secret audio nails Mitch! Endangered McConnell busted humiliating himself on tape
Salon // Joan Walsh

This year Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to spend Father’s Day with two GOP political sugar daddies, Charles and David Koch, at their annual retreat, this time at the lovely St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Orange County, California. As befit the day, McConnell brought the love: “I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you.”

Read more after the jump.

Wisconsin headlines from Scott Walker’s no good, very bad Thursday

Yesterday, documents released from an ongoing John Doe investigation into illegal campaign activities by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his allies implicated the Governor himself as being central to a “criminal scheme.” While Gov. Walker insists that “this is a case that’s been resolved,” the front pages of Wisconsin’s newspapers this morning tell a different story.

Read more after the jump.

BREAKING: The 5 Things You Need to Know About Scott Walker & John Doe

The release of new documents today in the most recent Wisconsin John Doe investigation is making major headlines for one key reason: we now know that Scott Walker is a direct subject of this investigation into potentially illegal coordination between Walker’s recall campaign and outside groups. More importantly, prosecutors are alleging that Walker’s campaign “tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law.”

Bridge has posted all of today’s newly released documents here for your review, but we’ve done one better and read through them all for you. Here are the 5 things you need to know about Scott Walker and this latest John Doe investigation:

  1. Prosecutors are citing the existence of a “wide ranging scheme” to illegally coordinate activities between Walker’s campaign and outside groups
  2. Scott Walker’s campaign “tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law” per prosecutors – Page 139-140
  3. Prosecutors argue that this scheme “pervaded nearly every aspect of the campaign activities during the 2011 and 2012 elections” – Page 144
  4. Even the national Club for Growth raised concerns about the coordination – Page 126
  5. Scott Walker personally emailed Karl Rove to praise the coordination efforts of R.J. Johnson, who was at the center of the alleged coordination – Page 128

DUI: Democracy Under the Influence (of Koch)

The Koch brothers have been trying to abolish campaign finance laws for more than three decades. In 1980, David Koch discovered a loophole that allowed him to contribute unlimited funds to a campaign if he was on the ticket. So he wrote to the Libertarian Party, bought a spot as their VP nominee, contributed over $2 million of his own money, and ran on a ticket that advocated for abolishing campaign finance laws (among others, like the minimum wage).

Fast forward 30+ years and the Kochs’ dream of overrunning democracy with unbridled political spending has essentially been realized. Their extensive network of dark money organizations reaches far and deep – like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, which has already promised to spend $125 million to buy midterm elections for extreme Republican candidates that will push the Kochs’ self-serving agenda. It’s the same agenda that they’ve been pushing for decades–abolishing the minimum wage, slashing Medicare, removing environmental protections, and dismantling Social Security.

Read more after the jump.

Why is Michael Grimm Being Indicted?

Reports surfaced this afternoon that Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm will soon face criminal charges after a long federal investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. Wondering what those charges will be about? Bridge has the background on one of Grimm’s many campaign finance issues that have been subject to federal investigation.

Michael Grimm & The Rabbi Pinto Scandal

Law Enforcement Source Claimed That Grimm Threatened Orthodox Rabbi And Congregation. According to the New York Daily News, “Grimm had mentioned that he was a former FBI agent and let the rabbi know, through his interpreter and staff, that he could help the congregation, or make life tougher for them, and that he was a good person to have as a friend, not an enemy,’ a law enforcement source told Roll Call.” [New York Daily News, 03/03/12]

New York Times: Grimm Told Supporter That “There Were Ways Of Working Around The Campaign Rules.” According to the New York Times, “A second follower recalled that Mr. Grimm came to his office in Manhattan to solicit a legal contribution. As he was handing over the check, the second follower said, Mr. Grimm confided in him that there were ways of working around the campaign rules. ‘Grimm wanted you to supply the money, and if someone wants to give and cannot give, you have to find a friend to give it through,’ the second follower recalled. ‘Let’s say someone is not legal to give because he’s not American. Grimm wants this guy, Joe A, to give the money to Joe B so Joe B can make the contribution to the campaign.’” [New York Times, 01/28/12]

Rabbi’s Followers Alleged That Grimm Told Congregation Members He Could Take Illegal Donations. According the New York Times, “Three of the rabbi’s followers said in separate interviews that Mr. Grimm or Mr. Biton told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners without green cards. Congressional campaigns are not allowed to accept cash donations of more than $100.” [New York Times, 01/28/12]

Read more after the jump.

Bridge President Brad Woodhouse on Koch Brothers: Dark Money Fueling a Dark Agenda

Nearly half of Americans are now familiar with the infamous conservative donors the Koch brothers. Their trail of dark money funds a broad and complex political network that has one goal in mind: driving a conservative agenda that enriches the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle and working class.

This agenda is nothing new. Charles and David Koch’s political activism and their attacks on programs that support and bolster the middle class date back to a failed 1980 vice presidential run by David Koch on the Libertarian ticket, running to the right of conservatives’ now revered icon Ronald Reagan. The brothers’ policy agenda — attacking Social Security, Medicare and the minimum wage, and protecting corporate tax breaks — has barely changed since. Its newest addition: efforts to take America back to the days of insurance companies making decisions about patient care.

Americans for Prosperity, the centerpiece of the Koch machine, spent $122 million in 2012, as detailed in Bridge Project’s recent report on “Conservative Transparency,” including a whopping $33.5 million on their failed effort to defeat President Obama. This cycle, AFP has already spent more than $30 million in states with competitive Senate races. As the Kochs work to advance their self-serving agenda, voters should keep a keen eye on the true motives behind their attacks.

Read more after the jump.