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Paul Blumenthal
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Paul Blumenthal is a reporter at The Huffington Post covering campaign finance and money-in-politics. His work has appeared on PBS' Frontline, MSNBC, CNN and The New York Times and been included in Principles and Practice of American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 5th Edition and in Transparency International's Global Corruption Report: Climate Change. He previously worked as the senior writer for The Sunlight Foundation.

Entries by Paul Blumenthal

Bernie Sanders Raises Millions After Call For Donations In New Hampshire Victory Speech

(14) Comments | Posted February 10, 2016 | 2:54 PM


WASHINGTON -- Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ large victory in the New Hampshire Democratic primary on Tuesday brought a torrent of donations, with his campaign raising $5.6 million in the 21 hours since the Granite State polls have closed.


The huge haul came after...

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Jeb Bush Raised $100 Million, But Now He's Mad About Citizens United

(1) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 2:51 PM


WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush wants to get rid of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, but it's not because he's worried about too much money in the political system.


No, he wants to let all those wealthy donors to...

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Fossil Fuel Company Super PAC Gifts Came Before Congress Ended The Oil Export Ban

(2) Comments | Posted February 3, 2016 | 3:00 PM


WASHINGTON -- A handful of the biggest oil and gas companies and their CEOs poured millions into a super PAC created to boost the election of Senate Republicans as the industry made a successful lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old ban on oil exports.


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Plutocrats Not Named Trump Are Paying To Influence The 2016 Race

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 1:18 PM


WASHINGTON -- Very rich people are playing an outsized role in funding the race for the White House, especially on the Republican side. Newly released figures show that over one-third of all publicly disclosed contributions to support presidential bids in 2015 came from wealthy donors, corporations or labor...

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Super PACs Supporting Hillary Clinton Rely On $1 Million Donors

(1) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 7:01 PM


WASHINGTON -- Priorities USA Action and Correct the Record, both super PACs allied with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, raised a combined $27.3 million in the second half of 2015, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.


The majority of the money...

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Hedge Fund Billionaires And Untraceable Money Fill Rubio Super PAC Coffers

(1) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 4:01 PM


WASHINGTON -- Super-wealthy hedge fund managers were some of the biggest donors to Conservative Solutions PAC, the super PAC created by allies of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to support his presidential campaign, in a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.


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Charles Koch Complains About Lack Of Influence While His Super PAC Raises $11 Million

(5) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 2:37 PM


WASHINGTON -- The main super PAC run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch raised more than $11 million in the second half of 2015, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday.


The largest donor...

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Bernie Sanders' Small Donor Fundraising Continues To Set Records

(22) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 1:16 PM


WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign raised $33.6 million in the last three months of 2015 and another $20 million in January alone, the campaign announced Sunday. The campaign further stated that 1.3 million people have made 3.25 million donations to Sanders' run -- a record number...

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Political Advertising Is About To Become A Lot More Transparent

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2016 | 1:47 PM


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to expand a political advertising transparency rule to cover cable and satellite television operators and radio stations. The new rule will put a massive amount of data about political advertising online...

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Mystery Dark Money Group Attacks John Kasich In New Hampshire

(2) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 6:45 PM


WASHINGTON -- The conservative dark money group American Future Fund just bought a sizable amount of advertising in New Hampshire that will run during this week's Republican presidential debate and into the New Hampshire primary, The Huffington Post has learned. Its target: Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 


American...

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Citizens United Celebrates 6 Years Of Giving A Voice To Voiceless Billionaires

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2016 | 12:43 PM

WASHINGTON -- Six years ago today, the Supreme Court handed down its immediately controversial decision in...

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Concentration Camp Inmates Had To Rebuild A Nazi Refinery The Koch Brothers' Dad Helped Construct

(3) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 3:11 PM


A new book by New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer about billionaire oligarchs Charles and David Koch reveals that the initial Koch fortune accrued by their father, Fred Koch, was built with contracts from the authoritarian regimes of Nazi Germany and the USSR.


It's been known...

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The Big Thing Obama Probably Won't Do In His Last SOTU Speech

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 11:37 AM


WASHINGTON -- Every year since 2012, campaign finance reform advocates have cautiously anticipated whether President Barack Obama would use his State of the Union address to announce an executive order requiring the disclosure of some of the “dark money” funding campaigns. Each time, he has declined to do...

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Charles Koch Pines For More Influence In Republican Presidential Primary

(12) Comments | Posted January 8, 2016 | 11:50 AM


WASHINGTON -- Despite leading a massive independent political operation and pumping untold millions into U.S. elections, billionaire Charles Koch is irritated at his extreme lack of influence in the Republican Party presidential primary.


In a candid interview over a lunch of tilapia and...

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Want To Know The Real GOP Rivalries? Check Out These Attack Ads.

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2016 | 1:26 PM


WASHINGTON -- With a little less than a month to go until the first votes are cast, candidates in the crowded Republican presidential primary -- or rather their supportive super PACs -- have begun the advertising assault on each other.


Examine who is attacking whom, and you can see...

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Donald Trump Has Led The Polls For Months, And Barely Any Money Has Been Spent Attacking Him

(1) Comments | Posted January 5, 2016 | 1:45 PM


WASHINGTON -- From April 2015 through Jan. 4, 2016, independent groups spent roughly $99.3 million on ads for the 2016 presidential campaign.


Of that total, just $1.71 million was spent to attack or negatively portray Republican front-runner Donald Trump, according to a...

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Democrats Are Proving Samuel Alito and John Roberts Wrong

(7) Comments | Posted December 29, 2015 | 2:20 PM


WASHINGTON -- What was once characterized as a "wild hypotheticalby Justice Samuel Alito in a 2014 campaign finance case is now a reality.


A joint fundraising committee linking Hillary Clinton to the national Democratic Party and 33 state...

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Harry Reid Directly Solicited Contribution From Private Equity Giant Before Controversial Rider

(5) Comments | Posted December 17, 2015 | 2:29 PM

WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that legalizing unlimited election giving to groups such as super PACs would have no corrupting effect on democracy because PACs are independent from the candidates. Luckily for Kennedy, he was not among those present at a 2013 meeting involving Harry...

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Campaign Finance Reformers Use The Force To Gain New Supporters

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2015 | 11:04 AM

With the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" imminent, there is high expectation that political and policy campaigns will use the Force -- the light or the dark, depending on your personal point of view, I guess -- to reach out to new supporters. Case in point: supporters of campaign finance reform.

The U.S. Rebel Alliance is a project of Civic Hall’s Andrew Slack and a host of partner organizations working to reform the way American elections are funded. The purpose of the campaign is to gain new supporters who will be directed to perform weekly tasks, such as calling lawmakers to ask for their support of reform legislation and pressing the issue when presidential candidates appear in New Hampshire.

The campaign’s launch comes with a video with a bunch of Hollywood and YouTube stars you may or may not recognize (depending upon your age) calling for people to join the Rebel Alliance. There’s actor Mark Ruffalo, actor and musician Darren Criss, comedian and author Baratunde Thurston, teen actors Karan Brar and Ty and Ryan Simpkins, and voice actor and YouTube star Brizzy Voices.

“The story and symbolism of Star Wars are the story and symbolism of America," Slack, who founded the Harry Potter Alliance, an effort to organize fans of the wizard book series for political action, said in a statement. "America’s founding revolution has never truly stopped, as subsequent generations have worked for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. More than two centuries later, we’ve made great strides, but a new Empire is Striking Back at our Republic, threatening to undo the progress we’ve made.”

“It is comprised of super wealthy villains -- accountable to no one -- fueling their narrow, self-serving agenda through massive infusions of big money,” Slack said. “Big money, like the Death Star of the Empire, uses brute force to impose the will of the few upon the many. It has created an unlevel playing field for American voters, and corrupted our political system. What we need is an awakening of the Rebel Alliance.”

Nearly every group working to reform election fundraising and spending has signed up as a partner, including 99Rise, Common Cause, DEMOS, Every Voice, Free Speech for People, Funny or Die, MAYDAY.us, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.US, US PIRG and Working Families Party.

Slack, who has a background in comedy, acting and social organizing, has experience in tapping into communities created around popular culture through his Harry Potter Alliance. The group succeeded in fights for fair trade and LGBT issues, among others, and now has a full-time staff and 300 chapters throughout the world. He calls this practice of tapping into pop culture communities "cultural acupuncture."

“That is finding where that energy is in the culture and moving that energy into places in the real world where it is needed,” Slack says.

Star Wars was a natural next target for activating a community invested in popular culture. “Ultimately, Star Wars is the most resonant and relevant modern myth,” Slack says.

He calls it “a retelling of the American revolution,” saying that “it really speaks to something important to the American psyche.”

What supporters will be asked to do will be decided on a web call on Sunday -- once everyone has seen the new movie. For now, Slack imagines that the first action likely will take place around the next State of the Union address to press President Barack Obama on discussing the issue of money in politics.

The U.S. Rebel Alliance will then work with partner organizations in early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire to press presidential candidates on the issue.

For now, supporters can sign a Jedi Pledge to obtain their very own virtual lightsaber. Of course, be careful how you use those things. You could lose an arm or just embarrass yourself.

This story has been updated to include comment from...

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Mitch McConnell Loses Campaign Finance Budget Fight

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2015 | 11:00 AM


WASHINGTON -- A controversial proposal to allow unlimited financial coordination between candidates and political parties that was pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) did not make it into the end-of-year omnibus budget bill.


The proposal to lift limits on...

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