Eliza Newlin Carney

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


Recent Articles

Gun Lobby Starting to Meet Its Match

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With his declaration this week that voters should oust members of Congress who block gun safety laws, President Barack Obama has thrown down the political gauntlet to one of the nation’s most influential and deep-pocketed special interests: the gun lobby. Americans who back gun safety must be “just as passionate” as gun lobbyists, urged Obama at a Tuesday press conference to unveil ten executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. He called on “voters who want safer gun laws, and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way, to remember at election time.” It’s a tall order, given the National Rifle Association’s $348 million budget , and its legendary knack for mobilizing millions of members to exert grassroots pressure on lawmakers. The NRA and its gun rights allies spent $12 million on lobbying in 2014, compared with just $1.9 million by gun safety groups. Second Amendment defenders also have showered millions on elections in...

Political Money in 2015: More Secrecy, Deregulation, Voter Anger

AP Photo/Alan Diaz
A swirl of contradictions defined political money trends in 2015, a year dominated by unfettered super PACs and secretive groups, but also by candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who rejected big outside money and still managed to fire up voters. Congress set the tone even before the year began by quietly slipping a rider into omnibus spending legislation late in 2014 that blew the lid off the limits on contributions to the national political parties. The previous party contribution cap had been $64,800 per election cycle, but the new rules allow parties to pocket as much as $1.6 million from a single individual for special accounts that pay for conventions, recounts, and buildings. GOP leaders promptly set about scooping up six-figure contributions from CEOs, financiers, and lobbyists for those special party accounts. Republicans moved to exploit the new, higher party limits much more swiftly than Democrats: the Republican National Committee alone has collected more than...

Democracy Prospect: Omnibus Battles Spotlight Political Money Fault Lines

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh House Speaker Paul Ryan calls on a reporter during an end-of-the-year news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, December 17, 2015, as the Congress moves toward passage of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. Welcome to The American Prospect ’s weekly roundup highlighting the latest news in money and politics . The $1.1 trillion spending bill unveiled on Capitol Hill became ground zero this week for all the competing impulses now tearing apart the campaign-finance system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell maneuvered, without success , to let the increasingly marginalized national political parties spend money more freely. Tea Party conservatives hated that idea , but said it might work if only outside groups, too, could get out from under spending restrictions. That idea, too, fell flat. Campaign-finance reform advocates lobbied without success to block Republicans from tying the hands of the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities...

GOP Riders Fuel Secret Spending

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Secret political spending is playing an ever-larger role in the 2016 election, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have just closed off two important avenues to force disclosure. Non-disclosing political groups have already spent close to $5 million in this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a tenfold increase over the same point in the 2012 presidential contest. These include a secretive nonprofit backing Florida Senator Marco Rubio that, according the Wesleyan Media Project , is now the second-largest ad spender in the GOP presidential primary. Disclosure advocates have tried multiple strategies in recent years to pull back the curtain on so-called dark money in elections. These include disclosure legislation, complaints to the Federal Election Commission and to the Justice Department, as well as calls for action at the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The disclosure movement’s only...

Super PAC Debate Spotlights Illegal Coordination

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In the midst of their wrangling this week with GOP leaders over a controversial spending bill rider to lift campaign-finance restrictions on political parties, members of the House’s far-right Freedom Caucus had a bright idea. Why not compromise, Freedom Caucus members argued , by lifting the limits on outside groups as well as political parties? Conservatives had hated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s first idea, which was to lift the cap on what parties may spend in coordination with candidates. That struck Tea Party lawmakers and activists as a power grab by the GOP establishment. Under the right-wingers’ plan, non-party super PACs and politically active nonprofits would also be free to coordinate directly with candidates. As Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan declared at a “Conversations With Conservatives” event on Capitol Hill this week, freeing up the parties is “not the direction you need to go unless you’re going to free up...