Who pays for it all?
Our political funding work is at the center of the history of the Center for Public Integrity and no more so than in this election year — though the rise of a candidate “theoretically” less beholden to vested interests has made that approach to money and politics challenging.
Michael Beckel analyzes the latest advertising data from affiliates of the Hillary Clinton campaign to illuminate the funders behind the most powerful super-PAC in the election: Priorities USA Action.
It is so far the primary vehicle for her attacks on Donald Trump’s character with 36,000 TV ads run since May, almost all in the key swing states. As Michael shows from our advertising data project, if you live in Florida you may have been exposed to one of these anti-Trump ads every 15 minutes.
So who pays for it all? Michael reveals that it is a group of “liberal billionaires” with famous names like George Soros, Steven Spielberg, members of the Pritzker family as well as labor groups such as the Laborers’ International Union of North America. The group’s raised more than $110 million since January 2015. (I also appreciated the way Michael noted that Soros’ Open Society Foundations philanthropy group supports the Center.)
It’s been an ironic element of this campaign that Hillary Clinton is the prime beneficiary of the big spending of super PACs unleashed by the Citizens United case — a case involving a group trying to raise money to fight her. Here is Dave Levinthal’s strong piece on that irony. And here’s deputy executive editor John Dunbar’s evergreen piece on what Citizens United is all about a piece that continues to draw huge numbers of eyeballs almost four years after it was written.
Take a look at the entire Buying of the President 2016 package from the federal political team, including Carrie Levine. Our news applications developer Chris Zubak-Skees has also updated his presidential advertising tracker.
Dave also had a nice scoop on Bernie Sanders managing to entirely avoid his already heavily delayed income disclosure. It was picked up widely with Dave appearing on SiriusXM and the piece quoted in the New York Daily News (including an editorial), run on NBC and the Huffington Post, among others. It is a good example of how widely Center for Public Integrity stories often travel.
Voter rights from young journalists
Each year in the dog days of August we have had a habit of opening our site to journalism students from the News 21 project hosted at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. It is a terrific program run by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. It’s supported by Carnegie Corporation and the James L. Knight Foundation and we are delighted to showcase the project’s work on our site.
I think it has been particularly relevant and additive to our own work this year because much of the project has been about voting rights and the various attempts to set barriers — often affecting minorities — to exercising democratic rights. For example, this piece on how voting rights legislation may affect African-Americans and this on Asian-Americans. They’re all in Accountability.
Our appreciation here also to our digital editor Jared Bennett, who managed publication of the hefty project on our site.