Eliza Newlin Carney

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

 

Recent Articles

The FEC’s Open Hostilities, Dysfunction, and Intimidation Foreshadowed the Trump Era

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images Federal Election Commissioner Ann Ravel. rules-logo-109_2.jpg D emocrat Ann Ravel’s departure from the Federal Election Commission could set the stage for a shakeup that propels the agency away from mere dysfunction and into the realm of aggressive campaign-finance deregulation. The scathing “ Dysfunction and Deadlock ” report that Ravel released on leaving the commission makes it look as though the six-member FEC couldn’t possibly get any less effective than it is today. The percentage of substantive votes that ended in stalemate spiked from 2.9 percent in 2006 to 30 percent in 2016. Fines dropped from $5.5 million to $595,425 during that same window. Blatant campaign-finance violations on issues ranging from employee political coercion to the use of shell corporations and nonprofits to hide campaign spending went uninvestigated and unpunished. But the FEC’s failure to enforce the rules, while a longtime sore point for watchdogs, could start to...

Trump’s Get-Rich-Quick Presidency

(Photo: AP/Riccardo Savi)
(Photo: AP/Riccardo Savi) O n Saturday, the Embassy of Kuwait plans to celebrate its National Day at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., one of the more than 500 businesses in roughly two dozen countries around the world owned by the president of the United States. Embassy officials have denied reports that they moved their celebrations to the president’s D.C. hotel under political pressure from the Trump Organization, even though they originally planned to hold their event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. But even if the Kuwaitis chose Trump’s hotel for non-political reasons, their National Day venue epitomizes the ethical conflicts and legal peril that Trump cannot avoid as both president and owner of an international business conglomerate. Until now, Trump has brushed aside suggestions that he divest from his vast business holdings, arguing in essence that the president can do whatever he wants. While it’s technically true that federal ethics laws do not require...

Huge Demonstrations, Huge (Low-Dollar) Donations

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta Martha Obermiller of Denver, right, chants during a rally protesting the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, near the White House in Washington, Saturday, Febuary 4, 2017. rules-logo-109_2.jpg I t will take months to establish whether Democrats can transform the grassroots energy that’s driving demonstrators to street protests, airports and town hall meetings into actual electoral gains. But by one measure, party leaders and their allies are already cashing in on a key ingredient of political clout: Money. Public reports do not yet show how much Democratic Party committees and political groups have raised since January, but organizers say the money is flowing in—much of it in low-dollar donations from first-time contributors. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a “record-smashing month” for an off-year election in January, says one aide, pulling in $4.1 million via digital fundraising alone. That’s twice the committee’s online...

Improve Vote Counting? No Way, Says House GOP

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky John Walker, 88, places his completed ballot into a machine after voting in the general election, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, in Miami Shores, Florida. rules-logo-109_2.jpg J ust in case President Donald Trump’s specious voter fraud claims haven’t done enough to diminish public confidence in American elections, House Republicans have set out to shutter the one federal agency that works to keep the nation’s polling places running smoothly. The mandate of that agency, the Election Assistance Commission, is to modernize and secure the nation’s voting machines, and to serve as an information clearinghouse for states on such best practices as how to avoid long lines at the polls, and make sure all votes are tallied. It’s the sort of thing that one might expect Trump, with his unsubstantiated claims that fraudulent ballots cost him the popular vote, might consider worth investing in. But this week the Republicans on the House Administration Committee voted to kill the...

Taking Corruption International

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise meet with reporters on Capitol Hill. rules-logo-109_2.jpg U .S. foreign policy has long sought to advance democracy around the world, but Republicans on Capitol Hill this week placed the nation on the opposite course with a measure that will advance international corruption instead. In a little-noticed move that echoed the House GOP’s very first attempted vote in the 115th Congress—to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics—Republicans approved a resolution that throws out a regulation, enacted with bipartisan backing, that targets graft and extortion in countries where publicly traded fossil fuels and mining companies do business. When they first tried to weaken ethics oversight in early January, House Republicans backed down following a massive public outcry, and a couple of condemning tweets from then-president-elect Donald Trump. But this time, with...

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