Eliza Newlin Carney

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

 

Recent Articles

Blowing Up Democracy and Charities in One Fell Swoop

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
democracy_rules.jpg There’s a great deal wrong with the House-passed tax overhaul bill, but its most heinous provision may be one that effectively blows up both the campaign-finance laws and the charitable sector at the same time. By essentially repealing the so-called Johnson Amendment, a tax provision that bars charities from engaging in partisan politics, the House legislation frees up big donors to funnel even more unlimited, undisclosed money into campaigns, and, for the first time, to deduct that money from their taxes. The bill also threatens the credibility and viability of charitable groups, and would drastically reduce charitable giving—even as it robs education, housing, and health-care assistance from working families who invariably will turn to charities for help. The Senate tax bill does not repeal the Johnson Amendment, enacted in 1954 at the urging of then–Senate Minority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, and thousands of charitable and religious leaders are...

Go Ahead. Make Clinton’s Day

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
democracy_rules.jpg Attorney General Jeff Sessions has put the brakes on speculation that he will designate a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton—at least for now. Republican attacks on Clinton, however, will surely continue. Republicans are having great fun rehashing conspiracy theories about Clinton’s supposed role in a uranium deal with the Russians, and casting her campaign’s run-of-the-mill opposition research and joint fundraising activities as somehow illegal. Democrats and watchdogs warn that if Sessions caves to President Trump’s demands for an investigation, he will corrode the Justice Department’s political independence. But Republicans’ renewed anti-Clinton fervor will do more to hurt the GOP than Democrats in the long run. As veteran GOP political consultant Ed Rogers succinctly put it: “ Clinton is irrelevant .” The more time and money Republicans waste on Clinton investigations, the longer they put off the work...

Democracy Is in Shambles -- or Is It?

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images
democracy_rules.jpg It would be easy to conclude one year after Donald Trump’s election that American democracy is in shambles. Trump’s assaults on press freedoms, judicial independence, and democratic norms are unprecedented in an American president. His administration has set the tone for self-dealing and ethics violations at the highest levels of government. And the U.S. has abandoned its traditional leadership role promoting accountability, transparency, and liberal governance internationally, just when democracy is on the wane around the world. Yet for all that, the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election has also shed light on the resilience of American democratic institutions and civic life, and on some silver linings. The nation’s democracy stress test has galvanized a wave of activists and candidates to enter the public square for the first time, and prompted a state-level push for new ethics, campaign finance and transparency laws, even as Washington...

Foreign Influence Peddling Bill Comes Due

Lobbyists who have shilled for foreign interests in secret for decades may now be forced to come clean.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
democracy_rules.jpg The indictments of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates have triggered a long-overdue reckoning with K Street’s rampant disregard for the laws that require lobbyists representing foreign interests to publicly disclose their activities. Foreign agents on K Street and on Capitol Hill are anxiously wondering who’s next, and are bracing for new regulations, tougher enforcement, or both. The renewed focus on the disclosure law, known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, also spotlights FARA’s potential as a potent tool to fight political disinformation campaigns by Russia or other foreign actors. FARA abuses could leave K Street with an even worse black eye than the one delivered by the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005 and 2006, warns Paul Miller , president of the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics, who has called on Congress to act quickly to enact tougher enforcement rules. Democratic super-lawyer Tony...

On Election Security, Feds Flounder While States Make Strides

Anthony Behar/Sipa via AP Images
democracy_rules.jpg The debate over the Russian election interference and American election security is a case study in the utter dysfunctionality of Beltway politics. By contrast, a number of states have already embarked on practical, problem-solving innovations in securing the ballot in future elections. On the national stage, President Trump’s “election integrity” commission has careened from one controversy to another, taking steps that actually threaten to undermine ballot security. Outside the spotlight, state election officials are quietly taking steps to respond to the Russian threat and upgrade American election systems with better machines, more accurate voter rolls, and firewalls against hacking. The state-level picture is not all rosy, of course, and plenty of Republican statehouses have moved in the wrong direction with ill-advised voting restrictions that threaten to keep voters from the polls. But when it comes to the Russia threat, many state...

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