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Today's top new stories about money in politics and democracy.
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NEWS & ANALYSIS
Friday

March 20, 2020

Top Money in Politics News

A MASSIVE GOVERNMENT FUND SITS IDLE AND BLOATED. COULD LAWMAKERS TAP IT FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF? (The Center for Public Integrity) “Pop quiz: Name the last major-party presidential nominee who tapped into the publicly financed Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

Answer: Republican John McCain, in 2008.

In the dozen years since, presidential candidates — from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to Mitt Romney and Donald Trump — have all but ignored this fund, which promises taxpayer cash to campaigns that voluntarily limit their fundraising efforts.

Yet the fund lives. It grows by the month. Republican lawmakers have tried and failed to kill it. And it now brims with more than $361.3 million that neither Trump nor presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has any designs on using.

Could Congress raid the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and direct it to people most in need of COVID-19 relief?”

Will Donald Trump Bail Out His Coronavirus-Battered Company? (Mother Jones) “On Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump sat down with hotel executives who pleaded with the president to assist the beleaguered hospitality industry with a multibillion-dollar bailout. The meeting, also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, highlighted a massive conflict of interest: Trump derives much of his fortune from hotels and golf clubs, and his properties have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak. If he bails out the hotel industry, he will also be bailing out himself. 

Trump has made money many different ways over the years—or tried to—but since taking office, his hotels and resorts have been the mainstay of his personal wealth. Though Trump made big bucks in the last decade selling condos and other properties, that business has almost entirely dried up since he became president. His once-lucrative reality TV career is also on hold. But Trump’s 11 hotels and 16 golf resorts have continued to produce revenue in recent years. Of the $434 million in revenue the president disclosed in 2018, at least $336 million came from his hotels, resorts, and golf clubs.”

For Candidates, Coronavirus Prompts More Digital Appeals for Dollars (The Wall Street Journal)The coronavirus pandemic has upended daily life for millions of people stuck in their homes. Yet one American tradition continues: politicians asking for money.

To comply with health guidelines urging social distancing, candidates have scrapped in-person events and ramped up their digital and telephone fundraising efforts, more than a dozen people involved in campaigns, fundraising and digital organizing said.

Campaigns and state parties are also scrambling to arrange virtual fundraising events, using teleconferences or digital tools such as Zoom, people familiar with the discussions said. But those are largely untested strategies, and using them effectively is a work in progress.”

Also see: Pro-Trump PAC’s New Fundraising Strategy: Coronavirus Telemarketing (The Daily Beast)

At Least 2 GOP Senators Dumped Millions In Stock After Coronavirus Briefings (HuffPost) “At least two Republican senators sold hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in stock shortly after Congress began receiving regular briefings about the outbreak of coronavirus spreading around the globe, according to several reports and reviews of financial disclosures.

ProPublica first reported Thursday that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, offloaded between $628,000 and $1.72 million worth of holdings in 33 transactions on Feb. 13, shortly after he publicly assured Americans the government was prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus that has since been declared a pandemic. A week after the sales, the stock market began to precipitously fall, erasing about 30% of its value.”

SOCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

ON CORONAVIRUS
“Could Congress raid the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and direct it to people most in need of COVID-19 relief?”” https://publicintegrity.org/health/coronavirus-and-inequality/a-massive-government-fund-sits-idle-and-bloated-could-lawmakers-tap-it-for-coronavirus-relief

ON TRUMP
The presidency shouldn’t be profitable.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/03/will-donald-trump-bail-out-his-coronavirus-battered-company

ON FUNDRAISING
The show must go on. https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-candidates-coronavirus-prompts-more-digital-appeals-for-dollars

ON INSIDER TRADING
RT RepresentUs The worst part of this #InsiderTrading scandal is that these Senators were pulling their money out of the markets while telling Americans that they would be fine.

Our politicians should represent the people, not their own interests.


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