Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

Campaign Reforms May Never Pass, But the Low-Dollar Revolution Has Already Begun

democracy_rules.jpg A sweeping anti-corruption bill marching toward approval in the House is not expected to make it past the Senate, but Democrats may not need legislation to get at least part of their wish: a small donor revolution that dilutes the power of big money. A centerpiece of the “For the People Act,” officially HR 1, which recently sailed through the House Administration Committee and may come to the floor for a vote within a matter of weeks, is a plan to match low-dollar campaign contributions with public funding. The public matching funds would tilt policy influence away from moneyed interests and toward average Americans, say the bill’s advocates . Republicans have derided the bill, which also includes voter protections and tighter lobbying and ethics regulations, as a power grab by Democrats who want to rig the rules in their favor. But Republicans are quietly scrambling to catch up with Democrats in low-dollar fundraising, which was pivotal to the 40...

Trump’s Inaugural Was a Hot Mess from the Start, and Now It Puts Him in Legal Peril

democracy_rules.jpg President Donald Trump faces danger on multiple fronts as federal subpoenas and convictions pile up , and House Democrats dive in to scrutinize everything from his Russia dealings to his business practices, bank records, and tax returns. But Trump’s biggest legal peril may come from offenses that, while unsexy and often overlooked, make the simplest, strongest case against him: campaign-finance violations. It was illegal campaign spending in the form of secret hush money that will soon send Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to jail. The Trump campaign’s alleged violations range from soliciting foreign money and assistance , breaking disclosure rules , and illegally coordinating with not one but two super PACs that backed him. The latest political money disclosures implicating Trump, however, could prove the most damaging. The Trump Inaugural Committee has faced questions for two years about how it managed to raise a record $106.7 million without...

House Democrats Want to Reorganize Congress. They Shouldn’t Stop Halfway.

democracy_rules.jpg When the House approved a package of rules changes at the beginning of this year aimed at making Congress work better, not many people took notice. It’s easy to see why. House Democrats unveiled their new rules alongside a sweeping democracy reform bill that would overhaul the political money, ethics lobbying and voting rules. Inevitably, Democrats’ “For the People Act” overshadowed their new procedural rules, as did the government shutdown that dragged on for 35 days. But Democrats’ efforts to improve Congress as an institution, making the House more efficient, productive, transparent, and accountable, could prove as important in their own way as their more ambitious anti-corruption package. These House rules changes look more timely than ever in the wake of the recent shutdown, which has left lawmakers eager to find some way—any way—to escape their predictable and never-ending cycle of budget brinkmanship. One measure...

House Democrats’ Anti-Corruption Push Resonates Well Beyond the Beltway

democracy_rules.jpg House Democrats’ sweeping anti-corruption bill may be dead-on-arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate, but HR 1 is already having an impact outside the Beltway. New York legislators who just approved a slate of election reforms, including early and absentee voting and curbs on corporate political spending, had one eye on the democracy reforms that Democrats have placed front and center on Capitol Hill. Still further reforms, including statewide public financing, are now on the agenda in New York, which is just one of several states pursuing voting and campaign-finance changes in 2019. These follow hard on a string of democracy-related ballot wins in November. The success of the democracy movement at the state level demonstrates why HR 1 matters well beyond messaging and symbolism, and regardless of its fate in the Senate. The ambitious omnibus bill would expand voting rights, boost small donors and transparency in campaign financing, and curb gerrymandering and...

Democrats Have Promised to Clean Up Washington. Can They Deliver?

democracy_rules.jpg A key question for House Democrats who plan to vote on a sweeping package of democracy reforms as their first order of business is whether they will be content to stop at scoring political points, or will press on to genuinely fix what’s broken in public life. Inevitably, the House’s pending vote on the reform package known as H.R. 1 will be at least in part symbolic, given the likelihood that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will refuse to bring it up for a vote. McConnell’s foreseeable opposition will put the GOP on record as the Party of No—no small-donor matching funds, no disclosure, no fixes to voting rights, ethics or gerrymandering—a stance that places Republicans at odds with most Americans , and that hands Democrats a politically potent talking point. But Democrats could face their own political backlash if they cast themselves as change agents without actually following through. Democrats say the ethics, campaign-...

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