There is a ton of money being spent on the 2012 race for the White House. The Romney campaign, unlike the Obama campaign, refuses to disclose its bundlers, which makes it more difficult for the public to assess what his biggest donors might expect in exchange for their money and we are talking a whole lot of money. CBS News reports that Mitt Romney and billionaire industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch are holding hush-hush events with wealthy donors designed to keep the dollars coming in.
Romney’s three-day retreat, which is being held at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is an opportunity for about 700 Romney’s biggest fundraisers to get some face time with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. (Many of them are “bundlers” – wealthy and well-connected individuals who call on their family, friends and associates to max out their contributions to Romney and the GOP – who have raised in the area of $250,000 for Romney.) Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party, and many of the top contenders to be Romney’s running mate, are also coming to Park City: CBS News has confirmed that attendees will include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican strategist Karl Rove, former Reagan chief of staff James Baker, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.
The Romney campaign would not discuss who is attending the retreat, which is not open to the press. Spokespersons for two top contenders for the vice presidential slot – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – told CBS News the politicians were invited but would not attend for scheduling reasons. Romney was not expected to compete in terms of fundraising with President Obama, who broke records in raising nearly $750 million in the 2008 cycle. But he has largely kept pace thanks in part to his personal engagement with wealthy donors, which has come in the form of dozens of intimate meetings around the country and, as the New York Times notes, invitations to his summer home at New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. The Romney campaign, which has garnered a reputation for aggressive and prompt engagement with potential donors, outraised the Obama campaign $78.6 million to $60 million in May.
While Romney and his Republican allies are busy cultivating donors in Utah, the Koch brothers will be in San Diego holding a convention designed to help them generate hundreds of millions of dollars to advance conservative causes. At least we think they will: The event is shrouded in secrecy, and neither representatives for Koch Industries nor a number of expected attendees contacted by CBS News would even confirm that it is taking place.
Word got out last week that it was indeed happening, when Minnesota television station owner Stanley Hubbard confirmed its existence - and San Diego location – to Politico. In an apparent attempt to head off protesters and potential infiltrators, organizers and attendees will not say exactly where the convention will be held; a San Diego alternative newspaper is holding a “Find the Koch Brothers Confab” contest in order to figure it out. (CBS News’ attempts to confirm the venue have thus far been fruitless, though we have our suspicions.) Liberals have their own version of the Koch brothers’ confab called The Democracy Alliance, where security is similarly strict; both events are awash in security personnel looking to escort uninvited guests (such as reporters) off the premises.
Organizations tied to the Koch brothers are reportedly planning to spend nearly $400 million on the 2012 campaign cycle, and their conferences are largely designed to garner contributions to the cause. Last year, Mother Jones infiltrated a Koch conference in Vail where Christie was a speaker and recorded Charles Koch thanking donors who had given more than $1 million; the list, which is here, includes more than thirty names. According to a leaked invitation, Koch conferences have attracted conservative heavy hitters such as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Govs. Jindal and Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Rep. Ryan, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
The semi-secrecy of the Romney retreat and extreme secrecy of the Koch conference mirror the secrecy that currently exists in the world of campaign financing. The Romney campaign, unlike the Obama campaign, refuses to disclose its bundlers, which makes it more difficult for the public to assess what his biggest donors might expect in exchange for their money. The Koch brothers funnel money into groups like Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit “social welfare organization” that does not need to disclose its donors because it is incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit with the Internal Revenue Service. (More on that here.) And while the super PACs that the Supreme Court freed up to spend unlimited amounts to influence the election do have to disclose their donors, they can simply funnel donations through 501(c)(4) groups – which in many cases are their sister organizations – effectively allowing the super PACs to get around that pesky disclosure requirement. (There is also anonymity on the other side of the spectrum: The Federal Election Commission does not require the campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 in an election cycle.)
In this election cycle, the Republicans appear to have a significant advantage when it comes to outside group spending – though because 501(c)(4)s and related organizations only have to file with the IRS once per year, it’s impossible to know exactly how much money is flowing into the system. The Obama campaign, which says it expects to be outspent overall, estimated Wednesday that Romney, the Republican National Committee and the outside groups will spend $1.225 billion on ads alone before November.
Meanwhile, Romney and Mr. Obama continue to spend much of their time traveling the country to attend fundraisers, many of them closed to the press. CBS News’ Mark Knoller reported earlier this month that the president has participated in 160 fundraisers since filing for re-election last April, and he has a number scheduled for next week; Romney, whose campaign frequently holds fundraisers it doesn’t let the media know about, plans to follow his weekend retreat with his big donors in Utah by heading to Phoenix, Arizona for another fundraiser on Monday.
The OpenSecrets blog via the Federal Election Commission reports:
– Pro-Obama uper PAC Priorities USA Action raised about $4 million during May. The group, headed by former White House staffers Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, spent about $200,000 more than it took in. Attorney Steve Mostyn, real estate magnate Franklin Haney and Barbara Steifel — identified as a Democratic fundraiser and philanthropist by the Los Angeles Times — each gave $1 million, making up nearly three-quarters of the group’s May fundraising total.
– Romney-supporting super PAC Restore Our Future raised over $4.9 million and spent about $4.75 million. The group took in $500,000 donations from Select Medical Executive Chairman Rocco Ortenzio and Stephens Inc. CEO Warren Stephens. Restore Our Future also paid $650,000 in May for fundraising services to Podium Capital — an LLC owned by Romney fundraiser and former campaign staffer Steve Roche that has already received millions from the super PAC, according to the Center for Public Integrity. There were also three contributions to Restore our Future adding up to $1 million from three companies tied to Reynolds and Reynolds Co. CEO Robert Brockman, a Romney donor. Brockman and his wife have also given this cycle to Free and Strong America PAC, which Romney started in 2008.
- The Romney campaign picked up about $23.4 million and spent over $15.5 million in May. President Obama‘s campaign raised over $39 million, but spent about $44.5 million. Obama still holds a large cash-on-hand advantage, with nearly $110 million compared to Romney’s $17 million. (Romney, though, is the hands-down leader when the funds of each candidate’s Victory Committee and those of the national party committees are figured into the equation).
ERepublicans abandoned an effort to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from implementing new campaign advertising disclosure regulations, which will force television stations to put details of political media buys online for public inspection. While that information is already technically public, the process of obtaining access to the files is cumbersome and can be expensive.
The FCC issued the rule in April. Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee initially objected to the new regulation and sought to reverse it in the FCC appropriation bill currently under debate by removing funding for it. Democrats and transparency groups — including the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Legal Center — called on Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee to support disclosure and pass the bill without changing the FCC ruling. Wednesday’s action reversed the defunding of the rule, but requires the General Accountability Office to conduct a study of its impact.
Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said that the the conflict was a moot issue because the bill would likely not pass prior to November’s election, reported Bloomberg. However, a lawsuit filed by the National Association of Broadcasters is still pending in the courts.ver since the Citizens United and Speechnow.org court rulings, super PACs have been at the center of debate surrounding campaign finance. But nonprofit social welfare groups actually outspent super PACs in 2010, and could do so again this year. Those groups, called 501(c)(4) organizations under a section of the tax code, can accept unlimited individual contributions without disclosing their donors and air political ads as long as their primary purpose is to advance the public welfare.
What “social welfare” means in the eyes of the IRS has not always been clear, though, and enforcement actions have been scant. However, as Roll Call reports, the IRS may be taking a more aggressive stance on 501(c)4 groups which act as de facto political committees — a move that is facing pushback from GOP congressional leaders.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and ten other Republican senators sent a letter to the IRS attacking the agency’s request for detailed donor information from a list of conservative nonprofits. The letter echoed a common argument for keeping contributions anonymous: That disclosure of donors could lead to their intimidation and the chilling of speech. The letter follows a speech by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The Center for Responsive Politics hosted a conference yesterday featuring experts discussing this issue and other controversial matters swirling around the role of politically active tax-exempt groups in the election. Check out our wrap-up of the event on OpenSecrets Blog.
This OP/ED piece is based upon a story appearing on CBS News and OpenSecrets.org Caroline Horn, Rebecca Kaplan, Laura Strickler, Jenna Gibson and Chris Leyden contributed to this report. Brian Montopoli is the senior political reporter at CBSNews.com.
In the court of public opinion, Jerry Sandusky was convicted a long time ago. In a court of law…anything is possible. Remember Casey Anthony? The jury considering the fate of Jerry Sandusky reconvened Friday for a second day of deliberations. Jurors deliberated until about 9:30 p.m. Thursday before breaking off, and began reviewing testimony from two witnesses when they resumed their duties Friday morning. The former Penn State assistant football coach is charged with dozens of counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 alleged victims over a 15-year period.
It’s hard for most of us watching this and armchair quarterbacking the judicial process to fathom how the jury could return any verdict except guilty but Sandusky, tried by a jury of his Happy Valley peers could fare better. It just depends. Will the jury, based upon the evidence, convict this man? Will they bow to the prestige of Penn State and let him walk? A Jerry Sandusky acquittal seems unimaginable but stranger things have happened. For example, as the case went to the jury as new revelations came to light.
Matt Sandusky, one of six adopted children of Jerry Sandusky, 68, said through his attorney Thursday that he was sexually abused by the former Penn State assistant football coach, adding that he had been prepared to testify against him. But Matt Sandusky’s allegations are not known by the jury. They were not made public until last night, well after the jury had began it’s work having been sequestered. The new accusation could lead to additional charges, including incest, even though he is adopted, according to Marci Hamilton, a Cardozo Law School professor who has represented victims and written on sexual abuse cases.
“At Matt’s request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators,” attorneys Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in a statement. “This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt, and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy.” During closing arguments, his defense sought to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, pointing to inconsistencies with the testimony of Mike McQueary, a former graduate student and assistant coach who said he saw Sandusky apparently sodomizing a boy in a university shower. Defense attorney Joe Amendola reminded jurors of the lack of physical evidence in the case. He accused the alleged victims of conspiring for financial gain while blaming the media for what he described as biased coverage. During the arguments, Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, quietly wept.
Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan rebuffed the defense’s account of a coordinated action among Sandusky’s accusers allegedly bent on financial windfall. “The commonwealth has overwhelming evidence against Mr. Sandusky,” he said. Judge John Cleland announced that three of the counts were dropped against the former coach, bringing the total number of charges to 48. He told jurors that all three counts pertain to “alleged victim 4,” while the defense further petitioned to have all counts related to “alleged victim 8″ dismissed as well. Cleland said one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse duplicated another charge. Two other counts — one of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and another of aggravated indecent assault — were not supported by testimony and the evidence presented, Cleland found.
Prosecutors dropped one of the original 52 counts earlier this week because the statute on which that charge was based wasn’t in effect on the date of the alleged incident. Dr. Elliot Atkins testified that he diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder, part of a class of conditions called dramatic personality disorders that are marked by unstable emotions and distorted self-images. But a second psychologist, prosecution witness Dr. John O’Brien, disputed those findings, saying that the “personality profile Mr. Sandusky exhibited was within normal limits.” Some court observers had said that if Sandusky were to testify, prosecutors could submit as new evidence a TV interview the ex-coach had with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas.
Matt Sandusky’s name came up during testimony from one of the alleged victims. The accuser talked about what occurred after he played racquetball once with Jerry and Matt Sandusky. “Matt went into the shower, and then me and Jerry came in … he started pumping his hand full of soap, like he was going to throw it. Matt got out … he went to another shower [area].” According to some alleged victims, Jerry Sandusky would often use shower “soap fights” as a prelude to inappropriate sexual contact. In his 2001 autobiography, “Touched,” Jerry Sandusky wrote about his relationship with Matt Sandusky, whom he met through Second Mile when the youth was 7 or 8.
Sandusky detailed the youth’s discipline problems and struggles, ultimately becoming close to his new family. Meanwhile, a man who claims he was repeatedly sexually abused by Sandusky while a child spoke out Thursday. “He (once) told me if I ever said anything that nobody was going to believe me and he would get my dad fired from Penn State,” Travis Weaver, 30, told NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams.” Weaver did not testify in Sandusky’s trial, but filed a civil action against the former coach.
At the end of the day, jurors must decide whether Jerry Sandusky molested those boys. As the judge, appropriately told them, simply touching or showering with those boys is simply not enough. It may be creepy…even nasty…but it is not a crime in and of itself. I cannot imagine the jury ot believing the witnesses who revealed the most intimate details of sexual assault on the stand but in the back of my mind are the memories of the riots on the Penn State campus, the revelation of jurors ties to Penn State and the fact that this trial is happening in the middle of Happy Valley where Jerry Sandusky might as well have been the Mayor.
This OP/ED commentary is based on a piece that appeared on CNN.COM. CNN’s Susan Candiotti, Ross Levitt, Jason Carroll, Dana Garrett, Laura Dolan and In Session’s Michael Christian and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.
HOUSTON, Texas — (DMN) – Forecasters are keeping a close eye on an area of tropical weather originating from near Yucatan, Mexico. The system, Invest 96L, has a 70 percent chance of becoming a depression or storm within the next two days. There is still considerable uncertainty about the path the storm may take but the National Hurricane Center warns that “interests along the entire U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of this system throughout the weekend.”
KTRK-TV Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller says that “initially, all the model guidance suggested the storm would be picked up by a trough of low pressure moving across the U.S. That would have pulled the storm into Florida. Now, it looks like the trough might miss the storm which could allow it to drift westward along the northern Gulf.” Heller observes that the GFS model (Global Forecast System) had been consistently showing the storm tracking into Florida. But late Thursday, the model changed course. Instead of racing eastward, the 7 PM run of the GFS showed the storm stalling over the northern Gulf of Mexico and weakening throughout the week.
As of midnight, the late evening data from the European model was not yet available. But earlier runs had suggested the storm would turn westward and track toward Texas. Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly into the storm Friday afternoon. Data from that flight will be used by the computer models to help predict the eventual track of the storm.