Through the 2012 election cycle, It’s A Free Country will keep a focus on the mechanics of elections, from voting rules, political party rules to redistricting to, of course, the money that fuels campaigns.
As part of that, we'll be keeping a regular eye on top-line news, undercovered stories, and opinion on our changing political process in a weekly roundup. As with most things around here, we welcome tips, thoughts, and fierce debate about whether any or all of this is good for our democracy.
Banks Abandon Obama: America’s six largest banks have dramatically changed allegiances since the 2008 presidential money race, and GOP candidate Mitt Romney is reaping the spoils. Recent campaign finance reports “offer a vivid illustration of how the president's first 30 months in office have fractured what was once a warm relationship with the largest American banks,” reports American Banker, a daily financial industry newspaper. "You could sum it all up in a hyphenated word: Dodd-Frank," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato tells the paper. (American Banker)
Bloomberg Reelection Effort in Court: How does $110 million add up to a win at the polls for a controversial third term as mayor of New York City? The public is likely to learn more about how Mayor Michael Bloomerg spent that money in his 2009 race in a criminal hearing on September 12. The man on trial is GOP operative Kevin Haggerty, who prosecutors allege illegally pocketed more than $1 million of Bloomberg’s campaign funds, but the NY Post reports the mayor may also face questions on the witness stand. The mayor made a personal donation to the Independence Party for a poll-watching effort that Haggerty organized, and Haggerty allegedly used some of funds to buy a house in Queens, not to watch polls. (The Independence Party endorsed the mayor’s reelection bid.) A judge has already questioned why the party didn’t monitor the Bloomberg money more closely. “Something doesn’t smell right,” Justice Martin Shulman commented at a March hearing, reported The New York Times. (NY Post)
Race and Redistricting: In Georgia, the legislature is in the middle of “the penultimate day of the redistricting session,” writes Jim Galloway in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A key question, he says, involves districts shaped to concentrate the African American vote. The Voting Rights Act created these special majority-minority districts, but legislators are debating what happens when voters in these districts elect white Democrats? Should these reps get special consideration or not? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)