I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

The syllabus is at http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/gov106-fall15.html


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wrapping Up

Madison again:
As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves.
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government. 
Hamilton argues against representation by occupational category:
It is notorious that there are often as great rivalships between different branches of the mechanic or manufacturing arts as there are between any of the departments of labor and industry; so that, unless the representative body were to be far more numerous than would be consistent with any idea of regularity or wisdom in its deliberations, it is impossible that what seems to be the spirit of the objection we have been considering should ever be realized in practice.

Leadership PACs and Super PACs

Time: Person of the Year

The Nation: Trump Wins Even If 'Time' Magazine Doesnt Name Him its 'Person of the Year'

The announcement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a surprise, especially when many believed that Donald Trump would take the title. In contrast to Trump, Time described Merkel as having a political style with "no flair, no flourishes, no charisma, just a survivor's sharp sense of power and a scientist's devotion to data. Her leadership over the past year is credited for her management of the Greek debt crisis, the migration of Syrian refugees, and her strong response to Putin's aggression in Ukraine. However, in a National Review article by Leslie Savan, she argues that the clear choice for person of the year should have been Donald Trump, however, whether he was given the title or not, Trump comes out as the winner. If he wins, Savan argues "he'll declare it the greatest poll ever taken." If he loses, he'll accuse Time of robbing him, although he already anticipated this outcome, "I say there's no way they give it to me..even if i deserve it, they can't do it."

Trump was listed as the third runner up - here's an interesting quote from the piece describing his influence...

Time: The Short List: Donald Trump 
This is the grim bet of Donald J. Trump. He knows how to read people, and he believes his nation is ready for a wartime consigliere, a tough guy for a scary time. He makes no apologies, even when he is wrong or people get pummeled. His words are weapons, slicing through the national consciousness. "You know what? Maybe it's good, maybe its not," he allowed, as he sat in his tower, among the trophies of his glorious life. "And if it's not, that's all right. They'll get somebody else, and you what's going to happen? Our country is going to hell."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trump's Legal Counsel Clearly Didn't Take This Class...


Last week, Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, tried sending a letter to Jeb Bush's PAC threatening "immediate legal action" if the group continued to produce ads attacking The Donald.  Garten mistakenly sent the letter to the Right to Rise PAC, a leadership PAC, instead of its related super PAC, Right to Rise USA. In response, the attorneys of the Right to Rise PAC sent Garten a letter urging him to consult the FEC website "to familiarize yourself about the differences between Leadership PACs and Super PACs. " Right to Rise's attorneys also suggested that Garten take some time to read the Citizens United and SpeechNow decisions that invalidated previous limits on contributions to traditional PACs. "They both are very helpful and might clear up some of your confusion," they wrote. Some additional fiery snippets from the exchange are:

  • "We are intrigued (but not surprised) by your continued efforts to silence critics of your client's campaign by employing litigious threats and bullying. Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing the cease and desist letters to Vladimir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel?..."
  • "Just as your client is attempting to quickly learn the basics of foreign policy, we wish you personally the best in your attempts to learn election law." 
  • "Lastly, in light of your confusion over the difference between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, we have to assume you may also be unaware of the FEC's prohibition on a federal candidate's use of corporate resources for campaign purposes. Although your client may think he is above the law and be accustomed to using lawsuits to bail out his failed business deals, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC's Regulations nonetheless apply to him and his campaign." 

Also, if you're as curious as I was about how Trump got the horrible nickname "The Donald" check this out!

Practice Final

The following will give you an idea of the format of the final exam. As you prepare, also take a look at the air midterm.

I. Briefly identify 11 of 13 items (4 points each). Explain each item's meaning and significance.
  • Jack Abramoff
  • 501(c)(4)
  • The revolving door
  • Crossroads GPS
  • Turkmenistan
  • Freedom's Watch
  • Bundling
  • Taft-Hartley
  • FARA
  • Cooperative Federalism
II. Short essays. Answer three of four. Each answer should take about half a page. (6 points each).
  • Explain the major goals of the Turkish lobby in the United States.
  • Is "the religious lobby" mostly conservative?  Explain.
  • Tell why work stoppages have declined dramatically since the 1970s.
  • Does any individual corporation have a strong material incentive to lobby for comprehensive tax reform?  Explain.
III. Answer two of three essay questions (19 points each). Each answer should take about 2-3 large bluebook pages or 3-4 small bluebook pages.
  • Why is it difficult to enact gun control at the federal level?
  • What are the major reasons for the proliferation of interest groups in the United States?
  • In 2006, Democrats took both chambers of Congress.  In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency.  The past few years should have been a golden age for labor unions.  What happened?
Bonus Questions (one point each). Very briefly identify the following:
  • Bill Paxon
  • Penny Pritzker
  • David Penzer
  • Heather Podesta
  • Trevor Potter

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Ethics Code for Lobbyists


After Abramoff came reforms (Holyoke 274-275) with loopholes, as National Journal reports:
The 2007 rules pre­vent a lob­by­ist for a cor­por­ate cli­ent from plan­ning or pay­ing for a law­maker’s trip. But the same rules al­low such a trip if it’s paid for by a for­eign gov­ern­ment. So while it does re­main il­leg­al for, say, a Google lob­by­ist to plan and ac­com­pany a law­maker on a free trip abroad, if that same lob­by­ist does so on be­half of Tur­key, it’s per­fectly leg­al. And if that lob­by­ist hap­pens to have both cor­por­ate and for­eign-gov­ern­ment cli­ents (as most do), they can still go abroad so long as it’s a coun­try and not a com­pany foot­ing the bill.
And that’s only one of the loop­holes the in­flu­ence in­dustry has ex­ploited to help law­makers score free travel. Today, a wide net­work of non­profits — many with a clear agenda and some with ex­cru­ci­at­ingly tight ties to Wash­ing­ton’s biggest lob­by­ing op­er­a­tions — are put­ting to­geth­er in­ter­na­tion­al con­gres­sion­al ex­cur­sions. Some of these pa­per non­profits have no staff or space of their own; they simply share with a sis­ter or­gan­iz­a­tion that lob­bies. Yet eth­ics of­fi­cials in Con­gress have deemed them to be in­de­pend­ent enough. In one in­stance, a lob­by­ist lit­er­ally re­gistered a new non­profit — in his own of­fice — that went on to pay for con­gres­sion­al travel abroad.
Big cor­por­a­tions bank­roll some non­profits, whose trips, in turn, can fea­ture stops at the busi­nesses of their cor­por­ate fun­ders. As a bo­nus, the grow­ing use of 501(c)(3) non­profits, which oc­cupy the same char­it­able rung of the tax code as soup kit­chens and the Amer­ic­an Red Cross, means that the wealthy and cor­por­ate donors un­der­writ­ing con­gres­sion­al travel can do so in secret and get a tax write-off along the way.

Transparency loopholes

Pensions and California

The Richest Counties in the US, with Median Household Income Estimate for 2013
  • Loudoun County, VA $117,680
  • Falls Church city, VA $117,452
  • Los Alamos County, NM $110,930
  • Fairfax County, VA $110,658
  • Howard County, MD $108,503
  • Hunterdon County, NJ $107,203
  • Douglas County, CO $105,192
  • Arlington County, VA $101,533
  • Morris County, NJ $99,950
  • Montgomery County, MD $97,873

The Snake Lobby Uses Tactics Similar to The Gun Lobby


"Like the gun lobby, which the reptile industry resembles in its rhetoric, the snake dealers quickly learned to play the Washington game."

Since its founding in 2006, The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) defeated anti-reptile legislation in more two-dozen states. USARK claims that federal bans on snakes imposes national rules on a regional problem and largely depends on "red meat rhetoric" similar to the gun lobby. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Lobbying at the COP21 Climate talks in Paris

"According to a new report from the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, several of the Paris COP's corporate sponsors have direct ties to the fossil fuel industry, and, the group argues, a conflict of interest when it comes to the purported goals of the summit.

Beyond greenwashing, Bragg said it's unlikely that these companies will be able to have a direct impact on the policy outcome of this COP, given how many of the nuts and bolts were worked out by diplomats in advance. But he cautioned that the creeping influence of corporations over the last two decades of climate negotiations report has made diplomats overly sensitive to business-friendly solutions." 



Saturday, December 5, 2015

CNN has fun with Cruz's B-roll

Someone mentioned in class last week that Ted Cruz uploaded another batch of uncut footage to YouTube hoping super PACs will pick it up for ads, and CNN noticed -- and produced a glorious super-cut of all of the awkward direction that goes into "natural" scenes. This doesn't add a great deal to our discussion of how candidates interact with super PACs -- we already knew about the video dumps -- but this is a pretty entertaining display of the phenomenon.


h/t Vice

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Foreign Lobbying

Breaking News 

CAIR and San Bernardino

Lee Drutman has a very smart take on the interest group politics of gun control:
Money is not irrelevant, and the NRA and related groups do spend a lot of it. But even if the NRA and other gun groups didn't spend a dime on campaigns, they would still be in a very powerful position for two reasons:
  • The NRA and its allies have millions of dedicated single-issue voters who are deeply passionate about their Second Amendment rights; gun control advocates do not.
  • Rural and suburban areas with higher rates of gun ownership and deeper passion for the Second Amendment are overrepresented in Congress.

More recently:  Russia and Ukraine


Alternative databases from Sunlight and POGO

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan decided they will donate to philanthropic causes roughly ninety-nine per cent of their Facebook stock over the course of their lifetime (close to forty-five billion dollars).

This has opened an interesting discussion about the newfound tendency of the wealthiest people to donate their money to charities instead of their heirs (which, conveniently, allows them to avoid a few types of taxes and eventually increase their own wealth). Further, the practice of giving vast amounts to charity allows the small number of the extremely affluent to promote causes near and dear to their hearts. 

"My intention, here, isn’t to enter the education debate. It is simply to point out what should be obvious: people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can."

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Foreign Influence and Ethnic Lobbies

Disputes about foreign policy are not new:

The "natural born citizen" clause

The Citizen Genet Affair

The Nazis of La Crescenta (real video, not a parody)

 Foreign Agents Registration Act

Ban on Foreign Campaign Money ...but

No Ban on Foreign-Connected US Money

And US diaspora groups, of course, have no limit at all.

Foreign-Born Population



And what happened?