Tom Steyer isn’t giving away his millions to some stranger. He’s building his own political apparatus (both a super PAC and a nonprofit, of course) from scratch. Michael Bloomberg is executing the same do-it-yourself strategy. So are a growing number of big donors who are rejecting the established old guard. Some of these mega-donors have grown disillusioned; some have narrow agendas; others just think they know better.
— One of these solo super PAC practitioners is John Jordan, the wine executive who funded the $1.4 million super PAC that failed to defeat Sen. Ed Markey (D) in last year’s Massachusetts special election. Count Jordan, the subject a magazine profile in this week’s National Journal, among the disillusioned. He’d been a “seven-figure” Crossroads contributor but said, “With Crossroads, all you got was Karl Rove would come and do his little rain dance.”
— Jordan’s latest venture: Helping fund $250,000 (and counting) in worth of ads for pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby (R), a candidate many Republicans believe could give Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) a real race in Oregon.
— And for those thinking that the McCutcheon Supreme Court decision might shift substantial power back to the political parties, think again. “It is a tempest in a teapot in terms of practical politics,” Jordan says. That’s because the big, unlimited money remains outside money.
What’s most interesting about Jordan and donors like him is that because of the rise in DIY activity, money is increasingly not just beyond the party’s grasp, but the broader establishment’s as well, as more and more donors go it alone.
— Shane Goldmacher
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."