Despite lobbying ban, Trump transition staffers head to K Street.
Wertheimer's Political Money Report
May 5, 2017
President Trump said in February, “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” The Johnson Amendment, adopted in the 1960s, prevents 501(c)(3)tax-exempt organizations, such as churches and charitable groups, from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate. 4,500 tax-exempt groups, including Democracy 21, oppose Trump’s position that the amendment needs to be eliminated and sent a letter to Congress in April that opposed efforts being undertaken to repeal it. The groups said the amendment “protects the integrity and independence of charitable nonprofits and foundations.” If 501(c)(3) groups are allowed to participate in elections, a new class of dark money groups will emerge. Contributions to these groups would become the only campaign-related contributions that are tax-deductible, providing a discriminatory incentive to shift enormous resources to these groups that do not disclose their donors. The motivation for wanting to repeal the Johnson Amendment is couched in terms of freedom of religion, but it is a raw partisan political effort to increase the influence of activist religious groups that support conservative candidates and politics.

Despite lobbying ban, Trump transition staffers head to K Street, says POLITICO. At least nine Trump transition staffers have now registered as lobbyists, "highlighting holes in the president’s pledge to keep people from cashing in on government service. Many are registered to lobby the same agencies or on the same issues they worked on during the transition." Read more

The State Department promoted Ivanka Trump's book, says the Huffington Post. In another ethics blunder, @GenderAtState, the official State Department account run by their Office of Global Women’s Issues, retweeted Ivanka's post promoting her new book. This is likely a violation of a federal rule that says federal employees cannot use their public office for private gain or for endorsement of a product. Read more

Biggest share of inaugural funding came from Wall Street, says Open Secrets. The investment industry contributed $14.3 million or about 13% of all donations to Trump's inaugural committee. Obama received $4.6 million from Wall Street in 2009. "Not that Trump has made it easy to calculate where the money came from. The required listing of donors the inaugural committee filed with the FEC in April was riddled with false names." Read more

Democratic fundraisers target vulnerable Republicans after healthcare vote, says the Atlantic. Democrats sent out a "flurry of fundraising emails" shortly after the House vote Thursday. In 24 hours, ActBlue reported raising over $1 million in small donations to target House Republicans who supported the legislation. Read more 

Hillary Clinton to begin raising money for new political group, says POLITICO. The new group, expected to be called Onward Together, will fund organizations working to oppose President Trump's agenda. Clinton has been "meeting with donors and potential groups to invest in, and recruiting individuals for the group’s board of directors." Read more

Two secret donors funded almost all of a pro-Rubio non-profit during the 2016 election, says Open Secrets. The c4 group Conservative Solutions Project raised nearly $22 million supporting Rubio's presidential bid. New data reveals that 93% of that money came from just two anonymous donations of $13.5 million and $7 million. "This lack of donor disclosure is the reason politically active nonprofits are often referred to as “dark money” groups." Read more


A pair of super PACs have together already spent more than $1 million to support Trump's 2020 re-election bid, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

MI: The Michigan Senate is considering a bill that would allow political candidates to solicit unlimited contributions for super PACs that support them, but do not directly coordinate with their campaigns. Read more

MN: Republicans are trying to eliminate Minnesota's public campaign fundraising ahead of next year's gubernatorial election. Read more 

TX: The House approved a bill that would require state officials to disclose their government contracts, bond counsel work and legal referral fees. Read more 

MO: This week, a Senate committee held a public hearing on a bill that would force dark money groups to disclose their donors. Read more

By: Fred Wertheimer (@FredWertheimer) & Kathryn Beard (@KathrynBeard)
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