Eliza Newlin Carney

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

 

Recent Articles

Going After the Big Bucks

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock) T he 2016 election has thrust populist candidates and big-spending outside groups to center stage. These trends further marginalize the traditional role of the national political parties. Thrown on defense by angry voters, self-financed candidates, and billionaire donors who thumb their noses at the political establishment, party leaders are struggling to reclaim power. A growing chorus of political analysts, election lawyers, and even some progressives argue that the solution is to give parties the same freedom to raise unrestricted, high-dollar contributions that super PACs and other outside groups now enjoy. That, presumably, would partly restore the influence of parties, and serve as a more democratic counterweight to freelance mega-money. On paper, the notion that parties should operate by the same rules as freewheeling non-party players has appeal. Parties fully disclose their activities, are accountable to and committed to turning out voters, and act as a...

The Democracy Prospect: The Forbes 400 Pony Up

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File Maurice Greenberg, former CEO of AIG, leaves the insurance company's headquarters, Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in New York. T he 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...

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 G ood-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—a dismal showing that U.S. News & World Report dubbed “by far the worst bang-for-the-buck...

The Democracy Prospect: Voting on Trial

(Photo: AP/Chris Seward/The News & Observer)
(Photo: AP/Chris Seward/The News & Observer) The Reverend William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP announces on August 13, 2013, a lawsuit against the state's recent voter-ID bill. 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...

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 B ooks 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 Price...

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