Eliza Newlin Carney

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


Recent Articles

The Democracy Prospect: The Forbes 400 Pony Up

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
The latest round of Federal Election Commission disclosures offered hard numbers to back up what everybody already knew: Billionaire and millionaire donors are underwriting a disproportionate share of the 2016 election. At the same time, the recently-released FEC reports served as a reminder of the other big trend defining this campaign: the spike in secret political spending that can’t be traced. Presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them pulled in $837 million , according to the latest tally from the Center for Public Integrity. Almost half of that money flowed to super PACs, which may collect unlimited contributions as long as they operate at arm’s length from candidates. Such groups collected multi-million-dollar contributions from such financiers as Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former chairman and CEO of American International Group, who gave $10 million to the Right to Rise super PAC supporting ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush. All but one of the...

Does Big Money Still Matter? You Bet It Does

(Photo: AP/Chris Carlson)
(Photo: AP/Chris Carlson) GOP presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush laugh after the January 28 Republican presidential debate. rules-logo-109.jpeg Good-government advocates are “oblivious to the failure of ‘big money’ to dictate the race,” wrote Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, in a Wall Street Journal commentary headlined “That’s Odd, ‘Big Money’ Isn’t Buying This Election.” One of the contest’s “unexpected surprises,” wrote New America senior fellow Lee Drutman, is how well Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have done with such little backing from wealthy donors. It’s easy to see why billionaire donors don’t look so influential anymore. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his super PAC spent $14.9 million on the Iowa caucuses, but won just 5,238 voters (a mere 2.8 percent of the total GOP vote) and a single delegate. That added up to $2,845 per vote...

The Democracy Prospect: Voting on Trial

(Photo: AP/Chris Seward/The News & Observer)
Welcome to The American Prospect 's weekly roundup highlighting the latest news in money and politics. A closely watched legal challenge to North Carolina’s controversial voter-ID law went on trial this week, starting on January 25. The state’s GOP-led General Assembly approved the law within weeks of the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder to overturn a key preclearance requirement the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law has been challenged by both the Justice Department and the NAACP. An NAACP lawyer told U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder that the law violates the Voting Rights Act because it makes it harder for African American and Latino voters, who disproportionately lack the required forms of photo ID, to cast ballots. Thomas Farr, the lawyer representing the state of North Carolina, countered that the law’s opponents have failed to show evidence that the ID requirement will block anyone from voting. Farr also argued that few...

Political Money: New Best-Selling Book Genre?

AP Photo/Danny Johnston
AP Photo/Danny Johnston Members of Arkansas Democracy Coalition and other groups rally at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Speakers at the rally called for a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. rules-logo-109_2.jpg Books about who pays for American elections rarely hit the bestseller lists, but a rash of new titles tackling the once-obscure topic of campaign financing signals that publishers now regard political money as popular fare. Whether your cup of tea is juicy details about the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, like those New Yorker writer Jane Mayer dishes up in her 450-page narrative Dark Money , or rigorous legal analysis along the lines of what Richard L. Hasen delivers in Plutocrats United, the newly hot genre of political money has something to offer. For progressive organizers, California writer and activist Derek Cressman’s When Money Talks: The High...

The Democracy Prospect: How Big Money Has Hurt the GOP

AP Photo/Morry Gash
Welcome to The American Prospect ’s weekly roundup highlighting the latest news in money and politics . One of the ironies of the rules-free campaign system ushered in by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling six years ago is that the Republican Party, which has championed and encouraged political money deregulation, has in some ways paid the highest price for it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, threw his full support behind the Citizens United challenge at the time, even joining in oral arguments via constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams before the Supreme Court. GOP leaders and their allies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have mounted multiple legal challenges to campaign finance restrictions and even disclosure rules, which they argue violate the First Amendment. On the surface, the brawling GOP presidential primary that has thrust the controversial Donald Trump to the front of the Republican pack has nothing to do with Citizens...