Eliza Newlin Carney

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


Recent Articles

FARA Fiasco: Congress Swings at Manafort, Hits Environmentalists

democracy_rules.jpg Now that the full story of Paul Manafort’s foreign lobbying abuses has come out, one might expect lawmakers on Capitol Hill to finally follow through on their pledge to fix the nation’s broken lobbying disclosure laws. The dirty tricks made public as part of Manafort’s recent plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller capture foreign lobbying at its worst. Manafort hid millions in foreign payments from the IRS in offshore accounts, and reveled in his bare-knuckled campaign to “plant some stink” on former Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as he put it. Manafort pled guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires lobbyists representing foreign interests to register and report their activities. But instead of doubling down on regulating agents like Manafort, Republicans on Capitol Hill have largely abandoned their push for new foreign lobbying legislation, and are instead using FARA to go after...

Small Donors May Soon Be the Only Way to Fight Big Money

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Supreme Court already hostile to campaign-finance restrictions looks poised to careen even further to the right if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, say election law experts who warn that contribution limits may soon be a thing of the past. Kavanaugh not only “absolutely” embraces the money-is-speech doctrine that defined the Roberts Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling, which has unleashed secret, unregulated campaign cash. Kavanaugh is also skeptical of disclosure rules and the ban on foreign money, which even this conservative high court has consistently upheld. And he has branded contribution limits, one of the few remaining pillars of the campaign-finance system, as constitutionally suspect, recently disclosed emails show . Kavanaugh critics, who object both to the haste and secrecy surrounding his confirmation, and to his stance on not just campaign financing but on issues ranging from abortion rights to gun safety and executive privilege, still harbor...

When the Rules Matter After All

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
When politicians and their cronies violate ethics and campaign-finance rules, two things can stop them: A legal crackdown, or a political backlash. Both may now be starting to put the brakes on a political corruption spree that has been building for years and has spun out of control under President Trump. The fallout could reach all the way to the White House, where Trump now stands directly implicated in campaign-finance violations, and may give Democrats a big assist in this fall’s midterms. Though all eyes were focused this week on Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen , both declared guilty on eight counts each of bank, tax, and other criminal violations, the anti-corruption backlash goes well beyond Trump’s former campaign manager and his ex-personal lawyer and fixer. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani may insist that “truth isn’t truth,” but judges, jurors and voters are reasserting that rules do matter after all. Cohen’s guilty plea on two campaign-finance...

Trump's and the Koch Brothers' War on Disclosure

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Treasury Department’s recent move to expand the cloak of secrecy that shrouds political “dark money” groups has triggered understandable outcry from watchdogs and Democrats worried about foreign interference in U.S. elections. Under the new rules, nonprofits that spend money on elections are no longer required to share the names of their big donors with the Internal Revenue Service. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, has sued the Trump administration on the grounds that Treasury violated procedural rules when it loosened the nonprofit reporting requirements. Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill to reverse the Treasury directive, citing a “threat to our democracy.” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer blasted Treasury for opening a “massive loophole for foreign money” just as evidence of Russian political meddling piles up. But the Treasury directive, while appallingly timed, is just one part of a much broader...

The Teacher Paradox: Educators Organize Under Fire

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
By rights, the nation’s teachers should be reeling this summer from a potentially crippling one-two punch. The Supreme Court dealt teachers the first blow on June 27 with its Janus v. AFSCME ruling, which could drastically shrink the budgets of all public employee unions, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The next day, several far-right groups launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to urge teachers to ditch their unions, sending thousands of emails directly to schools. But instead of crumpling, teachers are punching back hard. Unprecedented numbers of educators are running for public office . Teachers union membership is going up, not down. And the anti-union emails blasted to teachers by such conservative groups as the Mackinac Center for Public Policy appear to have backfired, at least for the moment. “I have never seen the energy I am seeing right now,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The membership...