Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

The Campaign-Finance Reform Wish List

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP Images Move to Amend holds a rally at the Supreme Court to "Occupy the Courts" and mark the second anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case on Friday, January 20. 2012. P ublic cynicism about money in politics has become so reflexive and deeply ingrained that the stock refrain from voters, candidates, political experts, election lawyers, and even many reform advocates is “Nothing will ever change.” Public financing? It will never happen. Disclosure for secretive political nonprofits? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will never allow it. A reversal of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling? Pie in the sky. And don’t even dream of expecting the Internal Revenue Service or the Federal Election Commission to actually enforce the rules. Both agencies have decisively demonstrated their utter impotence to police campaign violations. But what if the 2016 election created a surprise opening for democracy...

Big Money Turned Upside Down

Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP Images
Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP Images Following her victories in the Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a rally for her supporters, many representing local unionized labor, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City on March 2, 2016. rules-logo-109.jpeg W hen it comes to political money, the 2016 presidential general election campaign appears likely to become a contest between convention and chaos—between a consummate establishment fundraiser and a party renegade who thumbs his nose at big donors and at the consultant class. The rule-breaker, of course, is billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who as a largely-self financed candidate has trumpeted his independence from special interest donors and Wall Street-backed super PACs. Trump’s $25 million campaign account is far smaller than those of his GOP rivals, yet wall-to-wall media coverage has helped him win one primary after another, including seven on Super Tuesday...

When Super PACs Go Dark: LLCs Fuel Secret Spending

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan Republican presidential candidate, Senator Marco Rubio, speaks at a rally Wednesday, February 24, 2016, in Houston. rules-logo-109.jpeg A hallmark of super PACs, the political action committees that may raise unlimited contributions if they act independently from candidates, is that they must publicly disclose their donors. But in this election, super PACs and their backers are proving increasingly adept at skirting the federal disclosure rules, particularly through the use of limited liability companies, or LLCs—a type of business entity that leaves no paper trail and gives political players cover to hide their identities. “The supposed transparency of super PACs is completely undermined to the extent that they receive untraceable contributions from LLCs and other business entities,” says Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center (CLC). The CLC and another watchdog group, Democracy 21, filed two complaints Wednesday with the Federal...

How Scalia's Absence Impacts Democracy Rulings

AP File/Jim Mone
AP Photo/Jim Mone, File In this October 20, 2015 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, on Thursday blasted Scalia for uttering what he called "racist ideas" from the bench of the nation’s highest court. rules-logo-109_2.jpg T he death of Justice Antonin Scalia has both short- and long-term implications for a host of judicial disputes over democracy and election law, in areas from redistricting to voting rights, corruption statutes and campaign-finance rules. Over the long term, a reconstituted Supreme Court could make it easier for reform advocates to reverse Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , the 2010 ruling that for many voters has become a symbol of campaign deregulation run amok. While Scalia staunchly defended political disclosure, he was part of a conservative majority under Chief Justice John Roberts that tossed out one election regulation after another,...

Going After the Big Bucks

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock) T he 2016 election has thrust populist candidates and big-spending outside groups to center stage. These trends further marginalize the traditional role of the national political parties. Thrown on defense by angry voters, self-financed candidates, and billionaire donors who thumb their noses at the political establishment, party leaders are struggling to reclaim power. A growing chorus of political analysts, election lawyers, and even some progressives argue that the solution is to give parties the same freedom to raise unrestricted, high-dollar contributions that super PACs and other outside groups now enjoy. That, presumably, would partly restore the influence of parties, and serve as a more democratic counterweight to freelance mega-money. On paper, the notion that parties should operate by the same rules as freewheeling non-party players has appeal. Parties fully disclose their activities, are accountable to and committed to turning out voters, and act as a...

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