‘Dark money’ helped Joe Biden reach the White House?

Agencies
January 24, 2021

jobbiden.jpg

President Joe Biden benefited from a record-breaking amount of donations from anonymous donors to outside groups backing him, meaning the public will never have a full accounting of who helped him win the White House.

Biden’s winning campaign was backed by $145 million in so-called dark money donations, a type of fundraising Democrats have decried for years. Those fundraising streams augmented Biden’s $1.5 billion haul, in itself a record for a challenger to an incumbent president.

That amount of dark money dwarfs the $28.4 million spent on behalf of his rival, former President Donald Trump. And it tops the previous record of $113 million in anonymous donations backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

Democrats have said they want to ban dark money as uniquely corrupting, since it allows supporters to quietly back a candidate without scrutiny. Yet in their effort to defeat Trump in 2020, they embraced it.

For example, Priorities USA Action Fund, the super political action committee that Biden designated as his preferred vehicle for outside spending, used $26 million in funds originally donated to its nonprofit arm, called Priorities USA, to back Biden. The donors of that money do not have to be disclosed.

Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, was unapologetic. “We weren’t going to unilaterally disarm against Trump and the right- wing forces that enabled him,” he said in a statement.

Campaign finance laws, in theory, are supposed to limit the influence big money has over politicians. But the system has gaping loopholes, which groups backing Biden and other candidates, have exploited.

“He benefited from it,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission.

A Biden spokesman didn’t respond to attempts to seek comment.

His campaign called for banning some types of nonprofits from spending money to influence elections and requiring that any organization spending more than $10,000 to influence elections to register with the FEC and disclose its donors.

Deep Pockets

Biden raised more than $1 billion for his campaign, which can accept donations of up to $2,800 per election from individuals. That included $318.6 million from donors who gave less than $200 each. The rest of the money Biden raised came from donors with pockets deep enough to give as much as $825,000, with that money being divided among the Democratic National Committee and 47 state parties.

Dark money is not the biggest source of cash to campaigns. Wealthy donors can write eight-figure checks to super-PACs, Noble pointed out. Joint fundraising committees that raise money for campaigns and parties can bring in chunks of $830,500.

In September, Michael Bloomberg said he would spend $100 million to help Biden in Florida, allowing Democrats to divert money to other must-win states. Biden lost Florida but flipped five states that Trump won in 2016.

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Donors who want to avoid disclosure can give to political nonprofits, like Defending Democracy Together, which spent $15.6 million backing Biden, and aren’t required to disclose their contributors to the FEC. Donors can also give money to a nonprofit that in turn gives the money to a super-PAC, like Priorities USA did. Candidates and their campaigns can’t coordinate spending with such groups under federal law.

And that lack of disclosure worries reform groups.

Big donors -- individuals or corporations -- who contributed anonymously will have the same access to decision makers as those whose names were disclosed, but without public awareness of who they are or what influence they might wield.

“The whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, which advocates for reducing the influence of money on politics. “It’s only dark money to the public.”

Battleground Attack Ads

Overall, Democrats in this election cycle benefited from $326 million in dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was more than twice the $148 million that supported Republican groups. Some of the Democratic groups that relied on dark money in whole or in part spent heavily on early ads attacking Trump in critical battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The groups started spending while Biden’s relatively cash-poor campaign was struggling to raise money for the primaries.

Future Forward PAC, a super-PAC that spent $104 million backing Biden, got $46.9 million from Facebook Inc. co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, $3 million from Twilio Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lawson and $2.6 million from Eric Schmidt of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google. But its biggest source of funds was its sister nonprofit, Future Forward USA Action, which contributed $61 million. The names of those who put up the $61 million don’t have to be disclosed.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a nonprofit that sponsors progressive advocacy, donated a total of $55 million in the 2020 election cycle to Democratic super-PACs, including Priorities USA Action Fund and Future Forward PAC, FEC records show. That total was much more than the $3 million it gave in 2018.

Amy Kurtz, executive director of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, said the surge of money to the group, which doesn’t disclose the names of its donors, included people who previously gave to Republicans or had not been engaged in politics.

The flood of dark money to Democrats and progressive groups has complicated their effort to reform the system.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, has blamed dark money for persuading Republicans to block legislation to address climate change and assuring judges who share their views are appointed to the courts.

“Dark money is toxic to democracy -- period,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “The fact that progressive groups have learned to fight back using similar tactics is no excuse for continuing the plague of dark money in America.”

Kurtz says her group would prefer rules that eliminated dark money.

“We have lobbied in favor of reform to the current campaign finance system,” she said, referring to H.R. 1, an election reform measure Democrats have proposed that includes more rigorous disclosure of donors to political nonprofits, “but we remain equally committed to following the current laws to level the playing field for progressives.”

Even Cecil, who runs the super-PAC supporting Biden, said the group supports reform.

“We still look forward to the day when unlimited money and super-PACs are a thing of the past,” he said.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
Agencies
February 20,2021

Image result for Greta Thunberg bats for freedom of speech, tweets in support of Disha Ravi

Stockholm, Feb 20: Greta Thunberg on Friday tweeted her support for an Indian activist jailed over a guide for anti-government farmers protests, which the Swedish climate campaigner had earlier shared to social media.

In a post on Twitter, Thunberg wrote "freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights."

Freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights. These must be a fundamental part of any democracy. #StandWithDishaRavi https://t.co/fhM4Cf1jf1

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 19, 2021

"These must be a fundamental part of any democracy. #StandWithDishaRavi," the 18-year-old activist tweeted, referring to Indian climate campaigner Disha Ravi.

Ravi, 22, was arrested on Saturday. Police alleged she helped edit a so-called toolkit, which offers basic advice including joining on-the-ground protests and showing support on social media.

"The main aim of the toolkit was to create misinformation and disaffection against the lawfully enacted government", Delhi Police's Joint Commissioner of Police for Cyber Crime, Prem Nath, told reporters on Monday.

Officers decided to investigate the toolkit after Thunberg linked to it in a tweet in early February showing support for farmers protesting against new agriculture laws deregulating the sector.

Delhi Police added Monday they had also issued arrest warrants for two others for allegedly working with Ravi to draft the online document.

Ravi's arrest has been criticised by opposition politicians and activists within India, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal -- whose Common Man Party supports the demonstrations -- calling it "an unprecedented attack on Democracy."

Farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the capital since late November, and calling for the repeal of new agriculture laws, in one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government since it came to power in 2014.

Modi has said the changes are necessary to modernise India's agriculture sector, but protesters fear they would be placed at the mercy of big corporations.

The tussle between the government and the farmers took an international turn in early February when Rihanna and Thunberg tweeted about the rallies to their millions of social media followers.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
February 25,2021

The oil marketing companies (OMCs) again hiked the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) domestic gas cylinder (14.2 kg) by Rs 25 per cylinder from Thursday. 

This is the third hike in February alone. A domestic cooking gas cylinder now costs Rs 794 in Delhi. The cumulative increase in February alone is Rs 100 on a cylinder.

Prior to this, the price of LPG cylinder was hiked on February 14 and February 4. This is the first time in the recent history of India that the cooking gas prices have been increased three times in a month. Since December cooking gas price has been hiked by Rs 200 per cylinder.  

The rise in the price of LPG comes at a time when petrol and diesel prices in India have hit the roof. LPG is a byproduct of natural gas and crude oil refining.

The price of LPG gas cylinders is determined by state-run oil companies. It used to be revised on a monthly basis until November 2020. 

However, in December, the OMCs hiked the price twice. The LPG price depends on factors such as international fuel rates and US dollar-rupee exchange rates. The prices keep going up or down based on these factors.
 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
February 22,2021

CM Narayanasamy resigns.jpg

V Narayanasamy resigned as Chief Minister of Puducherry on Monday after he failed to prove his government's majority on the floor of the Assembly.

Speaker of the Puducherry Assembly, V P Suvakolundhu, announced that the motion of confidence moved by Narayanasamy stands defeated after the chief minister and members of the ruling party staged a walkout. 

Minutes later, Narayanasamy met Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and submitted his resignation. In the morning, Narayanasamy moved the motion and made a long speech during which he accused the BJP and N R Congress of toppling his government. 

Narayanasamy said the Congress staged a walkout after the Speaker refused to accept their argument that nominated MLAs do not have voting rights. He also said the BJP toppling an elected government is nothing but "political prostitution."

The L-G had last week directed Narayanasamy to prove his majority after his government plunged into a minority. The issues for the chief minister compounded on Sunday when two more legislators from Congress and DMK resigned. With this, the strength of the ruling combine came down to 12, including the Speaker. The Opposition claims support of 14 MLAs, including 3 nominated legislators who are BJP members. 

It is unclear for now whether the L-G will recommend President's rule or allow N Rangasamy, the Opposition Leader, to form a new government.

The development comes just months ahead of the elections as the tenure of the current government is scheduled to end on June 6. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.