Military donors salute Sanders, show little support for Trump

If campaign contributions are any indication of broader support, members of the military are lining up behind Democrats in the presidential race, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in the lead. Individuals listing their employer as the U.S. Department of Defense or one of the branches of the military have given $374,600 to Sanders, more than to any other presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton comes in second behind her Democratic rival at $247,649, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) not far behind and other failed Republican candidates following. Military support for the GOP’s last man standing, Donald Trump, has been in comparatively short supply — just $15,502. The figures include gifts from those who identified themselves as retired servicemembers. While it may seem surprising that someone who applied for conscientious objector status to avoid serving in Vietnam would be the top choice of military donors, the support for Sanders can be partially explained by […] Read More

Grayson, Toomey lead in small-donor funding in competitive Senate races

The 2016 presidential candidates are well ensconced in the money race, but they are not the only ones infected with donation fever. Candidates in competitive Senate races are trying to raise as much money as they possibly can, while also seeking to boast that they receive more small-dollar donations, a sign that they are more in touch with voters and the grassroots. Thus far, it looks like Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have the most boasting to do. Among major candidates in competitive Senate races, Grayson received the largest proportion of his funds from small-dollar donations (under $200) at 47 percent, or almost $213,000 out of nearly $454,000 raised. Toomey, on the other hand, has the largest dollar amount raised from small donations, at just under $1.6 million. But he also raised the most in total, nearly $13.8 million, so his small-donation share is just 11 percent. […] Read More

New IRS process for recommending nonprofit audits draws critiques

Relatively inexperienced IRS managers could take the reins of gatekeeping panels with significant sway over dark money groups under the terms of a memo sent to agency managers last week and obtained by OpenSecrets Blog. The panels determine whether non-profits involved in political activity are called out for audits. Effective July 17, a team of three IRS employees will make up Political Activities Referral Committees (PARCs), which are tasked with “[recommending] referrals for audit in an impartial and unbiased manner,” according to the memo. To refer an audit takes a majority vote of the three committee members. Those three will be selected from a pool of manager-level employees (civil service grade GS-14 equivalents) at random. That means the PARCs will likely consist of workers with little experience administering exempt organizations, said Marcus Owens, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer and former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations division. “I analogize it as, an […] Read More

Harvard’s billionaire benefactor also a GOP sugar daddy

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is generally considered to be the oldest university in the United States. With a $36.4 billion endowment, it is generally considered to be the richest university in the United States as well. And Harvard just got richer, with some help from a big Republican donor. Yesterday, Harvard College President Drew Faust announced that hedge fund manager John A. Paulson, a Harvard Business School alum, had pledged to donate $400 million — the largest gift in Harvard history – to the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The gift seemed to have naming rights attached: The school will now be called the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science. Paulson is no amateur when it comes to big donations — he’s given millions to political causes over the years. In 2012, he personally helped fund the Republican convention with a […] Read More

2013: This Is Democracy?! Billionaires Flooding Campaign Coffers of Greedy Virginia Politicians

Money distorts democracy. Exhibit A: Virginia. If you want to see how grossly money can distort democracy, just go to the state of Virginia, where there are no limits on how big a check can be written for statewide office. Groups and individuals from outside the Old Dominion are taking full advantage, pouring millions into a governor’s race they see as a dry run for the tactics they’ll use in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race – sort of the way the Spanish civil war turned out to be a testing ground for many of the deadly weapons of World War II. Billionaires like environmentalist Tom Steyer on the left and the Koch Brothers on the right are placing their bets, but as they say at the track, the horses they’re backing are just a couple of hay burners. Once the home of Washington and Jefferson, James Madison and […] Read More