Eliza Newlin Carney

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

 

Recent Articles

Collecting Campaign Cash from the Homeless

Katz/Shutterstock
democracy_rules.jpg In the special election to be decided next Tuesday between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, high-dollar donors and outside groups have pushed spending to just under $40 million , a House record. In municipal elections now unfolding in Seattle, by contrast, housing activist Jon Grant is collecting campaign contributions from a very different source —the city’s homeless encampments. Homeless donors are helping power Grant’s campaign for city council thanks to a new public financing program that gives every Seattle voter four vouchers worth $25 each, to hand out to candidates as they see fit. Such is the dichotomy between the federal campaign-finance system, where unrestricted money reigns supreme, and the experiments in publicly funded, citizen-powered elections that are popping up around the country in cities, states, and municipalities like Seattle, Maine, and Montgomery County,...

The Simple Case Against Trump

Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP
democracy_rules.jpg A simple but seldom asked question may prove surprisingly central to the Russia investigation that’s consuming Capitol Hill this week: Did Donald Trump violate the campaign-finance laws? The case that Trump and his team broke the rules that ban foreign involvement in American elections is “more or less hiding in plain sight,” argues Democratic election lawyer Bob Bauer in a recent analysis . For all the speculation swirling around whether Trump team members met with foreign officials, notes Bauer, Trump’s own public statements may already put him on precarious legal territory. Campaign-finance laws are explicit that foreign actors may not donate money or any “other thing of value” in connection with American elections, a rule that on its face appears to have been broken. U.S. intelligence officials have already concluded that the Russian government hacked and leaked Democratic National Committee emails to deliberately help Trump...

The Maps That Kill Competition

Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer, File via AP
democracy_rules.jpg Democrats eyeing the 2018 midterm elections have a lot to feel optimistic about—fired-up liberal activists are thronging to protests and town halls, low-dollar donors are opening their wallets , candidate recruitment is setting records. But Democrats also face a massive handicap: cleverly drawn electoral maps that dramatically favor Republicans, in both House and state legislative races. Democrats have mounted an aggressive, multi-million dollar effort to fight back against district lines that they say were unfairly and even illegally drawn. And they may get an assist from the Supreme Court. The practice of gerrymandering—manipulating electoral boundaries to favor the party in power—is hardly new, and the arcane topic of redistricting typically makes voters’ eyes glaze over. But the issue is drawing national attention amid mounting voter anger, a string of state and federal lawsuits, and growing concern among Democrats that gerrymandering...

Ethics Watchdog Can Only Do So Much

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
democracy_rules.jpg For more than 30 years, watchdogs have pleaded in vain with Congress to strengthen the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an independent agency set up in the wake of Watergate to ward off executive branch conflicts of interest. Now, lawmakers may finally take notice. Until this year, it’s been easy for Congress to overlook the OGE’s relative lack of clout, sleepy profile, and reluctance to take forceful action. After all, until now all presidents have voluntarily followed fixed ethics conventions, such as disclosing their taxes and placing their assets into blind trusts, and have stood squarely behind the OGE in its inevitable clashes with other federal agencies. But Donald Trump’s determination to throw those conventions out the window, and his administration’s moves to not only reject OGE’s advice but block it from doing its job, have made it impossible to ignore just how tightly the ethics agency’s hands are tied—as OGE...

Trump’s Assault on the ‘Administrative State’

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
democracy_rules.jpg Among those alarmed by FBI Director James Comey’s firing last week are surely many federal workers, who may see it as emblematic of Donald Trump’s deliberate attack on the nation’s 2.7 million civil servants. Trump’s eagerness to fire government employees, for political or other reasons, has been on display since his campaign pledge to freeze federal hiring and end “waste, fraud and abuse.” Presidential chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon put it more bluntly following Trump’s election, pledging the “ deconstruction of the administrative state .” Some of Trump’s firings, such as his dismissals of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, have raised questions about his motives. Like Comey, Yates, and Bharara—who refused to step down alongside 45 other U.S. attorneys asked to resign— were conducting Trump-linked investigations. Other firings, such as Trump’s...

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