donors

Hillary Clinton’s Obtuse Pot Policy Exposes the Dubious Right-Left Dichotomy of Every Issue

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The Daily Beast has a bit this week about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming donor clash over marijuana policy. Her position as recently as last year is that marijuana is a gateway drug and would be legalized, even medicinally, at great risk to society.

“I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states,” she told KPCC radio last July.

This is at odds with big donors she’s meeting in California soon, as well as the general public, which supports legalizing it completely. That, of course, means that Hillary’s position on the issue will almost certainly “evolve” before 2016 gets too much closer. But if she doesn’t, she could end up to the “right” of her Republican challenger here.

That raises the question of whether marijuana prohibition is even a cause of the right or the left to begin with. Currently it’s assumed to be a liberal issue, and polls support that by showing huge majorities of Democrats favoring legalization but much smaller numbers of Republicans.

Ron Paul: IRS is coming after Campaign for Liberty

Ron Paul

Campaign for Liberty is doing everything it can to fight back against harassment from the Internal Revenue Service over access its donor list, but former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) warns that fines the organization faces could be “devastating.”

“Well, they’re after us,” Paul, a three-time presidential candidate, told Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. “They want money from us. They fined us almost $13,000 with daily penalties if we don’t cough it up.”

In an email to supporters on Thursday, Paul, who founded Campaign for Liberty in 2008, explained that the IRS had handed liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”

Paul told Cavuto that the IRS asked for Campaign for Liberty’s donor list two years ago, but that the organization managed to get the tax agency to back off, citing a civil rights-era Supreme Court decision.

“[T]he NAACP fought this way back in 1958 and it was ruled by the Supreme Court [that] you don’t have to turnover names for privacy reasons,” he said. “And they asked us to do that two years ago. We didn’t do it. They accepted our letter, but they’re back at it again.”

IRS inappropriately asked for conservative groups’ donor lists for a so-called “secret research project”

There’s a long-standing legal precedent that prevents the federal government from accessing information that belongs to private organizations. In 1958, the Supreme Court, ruled that the State of Alabama violated the rights of NAACP members when it demanded information from the civil rights organization, including its membership list.

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association,” wrote Justice John Harlan in the unanimous opinion. “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The Internal Revenue Service, however, doesn’t care. Or, at the very least, the powerful tax agency didn’t care when it was scrutinizing nonprofit organizations, the bulk of which had conservative leanings. Judicial Watch has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013 in which IRS officials say that donor lists were needed for a unexplained “secret research project”:

Jeb Bush for President? Thanks, but no thanks…

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush knows that the nation is wary of putting another Bush in the White House, so why is he considering a run for president? That’s a question that many are asking, even as Republican donors are reportedly trying to draft the former Florida governor for 2016 after Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) became a less viable candidate.

Nevermind that Jeb Bush would have a tough time convincing Americans to elect another member of his family for president. Sure, each candidate rises and falls on his or her own merits, but there’s no question that the “Bush brand” was damaged after George W. Bush’s presidency, making Barack Obama’s ascendence to the Oval Office a possibility.

Regardless of how the nation views President Obama as it approaches the 2016 cycle, Jeb Bush would have a hard time overcoming voter fatigue with his family. This is a reason why Christopher Caldwell recently wrote that the Republican donors working behind the scenes to draft him “are nuts.”

Bush will have problems with Republican Party’s conservative base, something that has already become apparent after his comments on immigration. His backing of Common Core education standards is also a nonstarter with grassroots activists.

IRS targets Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty

The Internal Revenue Service is still targeting conservative and liberty-minded groups, nearly a year after now-disgraced agency official Lois Lerner admitted to the inappropriate scrutiny.

In an email on Thursday, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told supporters that Campaign for Liberty is now under fire from the IRS. The powerful tax agency, he says, has just hit the liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”

“This is one of the toughest letters I’ve ever had to send,” Paul wrote to supporters. “For years, people have joked that the three most feared letters in the English language may well be these … I – R – S.”

“But today, I’m not laughing,” said Paul. “Just days ago, the IRS handed Campaign for Liberty a hefty fine and DEMANDED we turn over sensitive contributor information.”

Paul explained that failure to comply with the IRS’s demands could mean additional fines that could severely impact the work that Campaign for Liberty is doing and possibly force the group to shut down.

Because Campaign for Liberty is a 501(c)(4), donor information is supposed to be confidential. The organization, like many others targeted by the IRS, promotes economic and individual liberty and focuses its efforts on grassroots activism and education. It does not endorse candidates, in which case the organization would have to disclose

Senate Democrats’ “talkathon” more about cronyism than climate change

Senate Democrats will begin an all-night “talkathon” later today and into Tuesday morning to try to raise congressional awareness to climate change, what USA Today describes as the first of many steps to put the issue on the radar before the 2014 mid-term election.

This charade really is more of a nod to big Democratic Party donors who would benefit from policies aimed at combating climate change, as Byron York explains. In short, it’s is another example of cronyism:

NY Times backs IRS’s anti-political speech rules

The New York Times’ editorial board — packed with purported journalists who make their living under the protections of the First Amendment — is strongly backing the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service’s proposed rules that would limit nonprofit groups from engaging in debates over public policy:

The problem of secret money began in 2010, with the loosening of rules that was prompted in part by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Political operatives like Karl Rove realized that “social welfare” groups were allowed by the tax code to accept unlimited donations that did not have to be disclosed. They could then use that money to run political attack ads. Though the tax code says the groups, known as 501(c)(4)s, could not be engaged primarily in political activity and still keep their tax exemption, that was easy enough to get around by claiming the ads had some kind of civic purpose.

By the 2012 election, these groups were spending $300 million and were often the dominant voice in major races. The Koch brothers, in particular, got around the tax code provision by moving tens of millions among a huge number of nonprofits so that it was almost impossible to determine the purpose of each group, let alone who the donors were.

Today in Liberty: Protest against government surveillance, Obamacare hitting small businesses

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” — George Orwell

— Internet-wide protest against government surveillance: Some of the most well-known tech firms and civil liberties organizations will participate tomorrow in “The Day We Fight Back,” an Internet-wide protest against government surveillance, hoping to replicate the success of protests two years ago against SOPA and PIPA. Organizers are also dedicating the event to Aaron Swartz, an online activist who committed suicide last year. He was facing federal charges at the time of his death. More than 4,500 websites are expected to participate in the protest, according to The Hill.

— Hardly any Democrat wants to campaign with Obama: Politico reports this morning that only a handful of Democrats running in races across the country gave an “unequivocal ‘yes’” when asked if they would campaign with President Obama.

Democratic donors turn eyes to the Senate

Just hours after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that Democrats aren’t likely to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico ran a story noting that many high-dollar donors are shifting their focus to the Senate races in which vulnerable Democrats are running:

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency. 
[…]
Some Democratic operatives think a big chunk of that money should be going to Senate contests instead — and they’re beginning to make that case to wealthy contributors. One senior Democratic strategist who is involved in a number of Senate races said conversations with many of the party’s biggest donors about shifting their giving away from the House and toward the Senate had begun and that, “it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the results.”

“After the health care rollout and with the start of the new year, Democratic donors are starting to focus on a critical choice they have to make: Donate money to pick up a small handful of House races or defend the Senate majority at all costs so that the president can get something — anything — done,” the strategist said.

GOP donors pining for good ol’ days…of 2012

While polling out of New Jersey indicates that Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) will likely survive the “Bridgegate” scandal, the sordid mess may have damaged his viability 2016 presidential candidate. Just last week, for example, an NBC News/Marist poll found that the embattled Republican trails Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, by 13 points.

It’s important to remember that voters have a short-term memory and are, generally, forgiving. Christie has plenty of time to recover from the scandal and rebuild his credibility and presidential viability.

But those truisms aren’t settling the minds of the Republican faithful. Some party donors are so worried about Christie’s presidential prospects and what they consider to be a lack of other viable candidates that they’re actually pining for Mitt Romney to run again, according to a report from BuzzFeed. Because, apparently, two unsuccessful presidential weren’t enough (emphasis added):

A Republican fundraising operative who has met with Christie said much of the interest he’s seeing in the Florida fundraisers is being driven by donors’ morbid curiosity — not solidarity with the governor.

“There are definitely people jumping ship,” the operative said, noting that confidence in Christie’s electability has dropped off sharply among the donors he’s heard from.


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