SCOTUS shakes up the marketing campaign finance world- POLITICO

The U.S. Supreme Court building is shown.

The Supreme Court on Monday morning sided with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a big campaign finance ruling that struck down a limit on the amount of post-election funds that can be used to pay back personal loans from candidates. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo


1. DEPRESSING MILESTONE — Today, the U.S. officially surpassed 1 million Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic. AP’s Carla Johnson puts the devastating figure into perspective: “The confirmed number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days. It is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s as if Boston and Pittsburgh were wiped out.”

— Related reading: “How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus?” by NYT’s Apoorva Mandavilli

2. BIDEN TO REDEPLOY TROOPS IN SOMALIA — President JOE BIDEN this morning said the U.S. would return troops to Somalia, reversing a decision by former President DONALD TRUMP’s that pulled all U.S. forces from the country, NYT’s Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt report. “In addition, Mr. Biden has approved a Pentagon request for standing authority to target about a dozen suspected leaders of Al Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda, three of the officials said.”

— The context: “Together, the decisions by Mr. Biden … will revive an open-ended American counterterrorism operation that has amounted to a slow-burn war through three administrations.”

3. SCOTUS SIDES WITH CRUZ ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE — The Supreme Court this morning sided with Sen. TED CRUZ (R-Texas) in a big campaign finance ruling that “struck down a limit on the amount of post-election funds that can be used to pay back personal loans from candidates,” Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro report.

— The majority opinion: “In a 6-3 decision that split the court cleanly along ideological lines, Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS wrote for the majority that a cap that allowed federal political candidates to only use up to $250,000 in post-election fundraising dollars to pay back a personal loan from the candidate was unconstitutional.”

— The dissenting opinion: “Writing for the court’s liberal wing, Justice ELENA KAGAN said her conservative colleagues’ unwillingness to recognize the potential for corruption in such arrangements was baffling.” She also said “the high court’s decision to strike down the provision was certain to increase public perceptions that money is effectively buying political results in the U.S.”

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THE NEW NEW YORK — A draft map of the new congressional districts in New York was released this morning, and it’s a doozy. More from Bill Mahoney

Here’s the quick and early takeaways:

— City & State NY’s Jeff Coltin (@JCColtin): “Quick, messy analysis: this draft map seems devastating for House Dems. Five districts lean Republican. And NY-2, 3, 18, 19 and 22 are all tossups. 4 and 17 could be won by a Republican in a wave year. That’s like *12 of 26* districts in play for the GOP.”

— CNN’s @IsaacDovere: “JERRY NADLER and CAROLYN MALONEY, who have served alongside each other in complimentary Upper East Side-centric and Upper West Side-centric House districts for nearly 30 years, are now headed for a primary against each other.”

— N.Y. Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY tweets: “While the process to draw these maps without the legislature is against the will of voters, if the newly-announced maps are finalized, I will run in New York’s 17th Congressional District. NY-17 includes my home and many of the Hudson Valley communities I currently represent.”

Our colleague Sarah Ferris notes that the 17th “would be [Rep. MONDAIRE] JONES’ seat *but* I’m told the new map draws Jones and [Rep. JAMAAL] BOWMAN in same district, per person familiar with process.”


PENNSYLVANIA PREVIEW — As Pennsylvania prepares to vote in its closely watched primaries on Tuesday, NYT’s Blake Hounshell scoops that Trump’s gubernatorial pick, DOUG MASTRIANO, is facing an all-out effort to stop him. “JEFF YASS, a Pennsylvania-based financier and a major Republican donor, had a straightforward request for BILL MCSWAIN, a trailing candidate in that state’s G.O.P. primary for governor. During a phone call last Tuesday, Mr. Yass asked: Will you consider dropping out? … Mr. Yass urged Mr. McSwain to consider the risk that if he stayed in the race, his candidacy could split the vote in a way that would help a polarizing far-right Republican candidate and put Democrats on a sure path to victory in the fall.”

TRUMP TO THE RESCUE? — Rep. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-N.C.) got a boost from Trump, who posted on his social media platform Truth Social, urging voters to back the freshman lawmaker. “When Madison was first elected to Congress, he did a great job,” Trump wrote. “Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again…let’s give Madison a second chance!” More from Newsweek

BEHIND ELLISON’S TWITTER PLAY — Oracle head honcho LARRY ELLISON is backing ELON MUSK’s Twitter takeover to the tune of $1 billion. But what’s the endgame? “Behind the scenes, Oracle, which Ellison founded and oversees as chairman of its board of directors, has been engaged in a sprawling anti-Big Tech lobbying campaign, including funding a dark money group that presents itself as a conservative advocate against online censorship. Oracle targeted companies such as Google and Amazon with concerns about free speech and policy issues, like antitrust, in an apparent attempt to gain leverage over its competitors in Washington, interviews and records show,” Grid’s Maggie Severns and Jason Paladino report.

SANDERS’ HARSH WORDS FOR DEMS — SYMONE SANDERS, who recently left the White House for a job at MSNBC, spoke to NYT’s Kara Swisher for her podcast, “Sway.” In the episode, Sanders had some biting words for the Democratic Party ahead of the midterms:

Sanders: “There is a broad Democratic Party apparatus here that I think needs to carry its weight, right? Like, where is the surrogate operation for the midterm elections? Where is the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, hell, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee?”

Swisher: “So where is it, Symone?”

Sanders: “That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know. I don’t work there, but I’m just saying, those are the things. When I say it’s broader than just the White House, I do think that the president is coming out here, and the vice president, and they are trying to give their roadmap, honey. The president has been on the road more. People are very critical. They’re like, he hasn’t been on the road to sell his agenda. And he’s like, I’m on the road, selling my agenda. And the entire apparatus has to wrap their arms around what is happening and do their part. And I think comparably, if you look at the Republican Party apparatus, that happens on that side.” Read the full transcript


VEEP ABROAD — VP KAMALA HARRIS and a U.S. delegation are visiting the United Arab Emirates today “to pay respects to the federation’s late ruler and meet with the newly ascended president,” which AP’s Isabel Debre and Jon Gambrell write “marks the highest-level visit by Biden administration officials to oil-rich Abu Dhabi, a potent show of support as America tries to repair troubled relations with its partner amid the fast-changing geopolitical landscape precipitated by Moscow’s war on Ukraine.”

REMEMBER THIS? — Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN is in Europe this week to meet with leaders about the topics du jour (the war in Ukraine, inflation and food shortages), but “one of Ms. Yellen’s first orders of business … will be trying to get the global tax deal that she brokered last year back on track after months of fledgling deliberations about how to enact it,” write NYT’s Alan Rappeport and Liz Alderman.


LOOMING LITIGATION — Should the Supreme Court’s draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade become law, the seismic ruling “could create an instantaneous paradigm shift: the very people playing legal defense around abortion rights will now be on the lookout for offensive maneuvers to challenged anti-abortion state laws,” Alice Miranda Ollstein and Laura Barrón-López report. “Some abortion rights groups, for example, have already sued towns that passed ordinances outlawing abortion and declared themselves ‘sanctuary cities’ for the unborn. Others are readying for legal fights with states that attempt to ban travel across state lines for the procedure.”

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AFTERNOON READ — “Alyssa Farah Griffin, The Ex-Trump Aide, Wants To Be America’s Household Conservative,” by Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein: “Since fleeing MAGA-land, Farah Griffin scored a CNN gig and is auditioning to fill MEGHAN MCCAIN’s old seat on The View. Can this MARK MEADOWS protégé pull off a post-Trump rebrand?”


BY THE NUMBERS — Here’s a breakdown of the state of Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, six months after its passage, via the AP’s Josh Boak:

  • $110 billion: The amount of funding that has been announced thus far.
  • 4,300: The number of projects that have begun, as of today.
  • 125: The number of trips that administration officials have made across the country to highlight the package’s initiatives.

But will it matter? Biden painted the passage of infrastructure legislation as a boost for Dems entering the midterms. “Six months later, the stock market is down, inflation is near a 40-year peak, Russia’s war in Ukraine is pushing up energy costs and many Americans feel pessimistic about the economy’s health. There is an open question whether voters will reward infrastructure projects in which the benefits are years away as part of what Biden has portrayed as an ‘infrastructure decade.’”


— As Ukraine continues pushing back Russia forces in key areas, Ukrainian refugees are returning home in large numbers, WSJ’s Natalia Ojewska and Ian Lovett write.

— McDonald’s this morning announced that it will “exit the Russian market and has initiated a process to sell its Russian business,” according to a company statement.

— NYT’s Roger Cohen writes in an analysis piece that Finland and Sweden’s decisions to join NATO “made clear that they expect the threat from President VLADIMIR V. PUTIN’s Russia to be enduring, that they will not be cowed by it, and that after the Russian butchery in Bucha, Ukraine, there is no room for bystanders.”


THIS IS CONCERNING — The headline alone stops you: “1 in 6 Americans live in areas with significant wildfire risk”: “A new analysis reveals for the first time that a broad swath of the country, not typically associated with wildfires, is already under threat. Nearly 80 million properties in the United States stand a significant chance of exposure to fire, according to a model built by the nonprofit First Street Foundation,” write WaPo’s John Muyskens, Andrew Ba Tran, Naema Ahmed and Anna Phillips. WaPo also provides a helpful tool where you can search a zip code and see the current and future risk


SPOTTED at the NRSC’s 2022 Spring Retreat at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va., this weekend: VIP speakers Linda McMahon, Robert O’Brien, Chad Wolf, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Karl Rove and Ronald Gidwitz. Virginia Lt. Gov. WinsomeSears and A.G. Jason Miyares also stopped by and spoke at a reception on Saturday evening. Also in attendance: NRSC Chair Rick Scott, Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), J.D. Vance and Tiffany Smiley.

TRANSITION — Stephanie Johnson has joined the National Grocers Association as VP of government relations, where she will be responsible for food and nutrition issues. She previously was a legislative assistant for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

WEEKEND WEDDING — Cori Sue Morris, founder of Retreat Foods and CMO of Wisewell, and John Tass-Parker, who works on the executive team at Instagram, got married on Saturday at Alemagou on the banks of the Aegean in Mykonos, Greece. The weekend included a boat trip, a cocktail party at Soho Roc House and was topped off with the Zorba (a Greek dance), pyrotechnics and confetti cannons. The two met in D.C., when John ran politics and government for Instagram and Cori Sue worked in marketing and established the beloved and feared “Bitches Who Brunch” brand. Pic … Another pic … SPOTTED: Julia Gillard, Amy Dacey, Matt Dornic, Brent Colburn and Nichole Mayer, Katie Harbath, Oliver Ressler, Crystal Patterson, Cat O’Neil, Ben LaBolt and Leo Nissola, Heather Wong, Jamie and Daniela McInerney, Hadas Gold, Gabe Amo, Sarah and Matt McGrath, Dave Sommer, Ben Graham and Hayley Van Dyck, Shelly Marc, Ayeshah Abuelhiga, Chris Bedford, Sarah Westwood, Richie Frohlichstein, Sharon Yang, Dave Simnick, Dan Sachs and Benton and Maureen Atchison.

BONUS BIRTHDAY: Susan Ariel Aaronson

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