DONORS “REWARD” GOP WHILE CORPORATIONS CONTINUE LAYOFFS. Last year the Washington Examiner reported that donors were “closing their wallets” to Republicans for supporting a tax plan that “penalizes their lifestyle,” but as Politico reported this week, “the checkbooks are open again.” And the checks are coming just in time for Republicans to try to defend a bill that ensures “much of the tax cut for individuals will go to high earners.” It gets worse:

Market Watch: Wal-Mart has announced thousands of layoffs since publicizing bonuses and benefits expansion. “Wal-Mart WMT, confirmed about 1,000 layoffs in California on Monday, including 650 associates in Sam’s Club locations in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Orange County, and 359 at a Wal-Mart location in Sacramento…Last week, the company cut as many as 500 workers in the corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark…Wal-Mart would cut about 10,000 jobs as a result of 63 Sam’s Club store closures. About a dozen of the locations will be converted to fulfillment centers, with the first to open in Memphis.”

CNBC: Most of the tax cut windfall will boost buybacks and dividends, not workers’ pockets, survey predicts. “Asked to parse out how companies will use the windfall from the tax gains, most respondents didn’t see much going to workers.”

USA Today: Harley-Davidson closing Kansas City plant“The earnings drop came in part because of a charge associated with President Trump’s tax cut.”

Reuters: Few U.S. adults report bonuses, raises from Republican tax law. “About 58 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said that large U.S. corporations or wealthy Americans stand to benefit most from the tax legislation. Just 13 percent said the middle class will benefit the most, the poll showed.”

FOX Business: Private equity firms lobbied tax reform bill as carried interest survives. “The private equity industry maintained its grip on congressional leaders in 2017, spending exorbitant amounts on lobbying, especially to influence the tax reform bill and maintain the carried interest deduction, FOX Business has learned.

The newly released documents show the issues each company was trying to focus on as they started spending lobbying fees, with one of the top priorities clearly being to retain the private equity businesses coveted loophole known as carried interest. The provision let’s private equity and hedge funds take some of their funds’ profits as personal income but only pay the relatively low long-term capital gains tax on it. Without that provision, they would have to pay a higher personal income tax rate of 37 percent. Cumulatively, this loophole saves these firms around $2 billion a year.

DEMS “GAIN MOMENTUM” IN FUNDRAISING. Senate Dems continue to post impressive Q4 numbers, putting them in “strong financial shape” for the midterms as they continually outraise their opponents and start the on-year with more cash on hand.

Jon Tester raised $1.5 million and has $6.3 million cash on hand.
Heidi Heitkamp raised $1.3 million and has $7.7 million cash on hand.
Beto O’Rourke raised $2.4 million and has $4.6 million cash on hand.

REPUBLICANS’ “FUNDRAISING FUNK.” “Key Republican Senate candidates are lagging” in fundraising that will “set expectations” for the midterms. Their lackluster totals, coupled with strong Democratic numbers, “reflect robust Democratic enthusiasm and the chilling effect of GOP primaries that will consume many of their candidates well into the spring and summer months.”

MISSOURI. Josh Hawley failed to crack $1 million in Q4, an embarrassingly low amount for the GOP’s top recruit. Hawley’s total falls “far short” of Senator McCaskill’s Q4 total of $2.9 million. McCaskill also has $8 million more cash on hand than Hawley.

PENNSYLVANIA. Barletta’s “paltry” Q4 total (just $550,000) has Republicans concerned that he isn’t up to the challenge of taking on Senator Casey who raised $2.6 million and has $8.6 million cash on hand.

INDIANA. Neither of the top two Republican Senate candidates raised anywhere near what Senator Donnelly did in Q4. In fact, Donnelly’s fourth quarter total of $1.2 million is more than Congressmen Messer ($430,000) and Rokita’s ($459,000) totals combined.

NORTH DAKOTA. State Senator Tom Campbell, facing a new primary challenger, had to prop himself up by putting $744,000 of his own money into his campaign.

NEVADA. Senator Heller, “the most vulnerable Republican” up for reelection, posted “anemic” Q4 totals, just $820,000. Democrat Rep. Jacky Rosen outraised Heller nearly 2-to-1, bringing in $1.56 million.

From The Hill:

“Senate Republican incumbents and challengers posted lackluster fundraising hauls for the final quarter of 2017, an issue that could complicate the party’s ability to take advantage of a favorable map.

For the 2018 cycle, the average Democratic incumbent raised $2.1 million in the fourth quarter, with an average of $7.75 million cash on hand. Meanwhile, the average GOP challenger raised $746,000 in the fourth quarter, and has an average of $1.05 million cash on hand.”

HAWLEY’S STAR FALLS. Throughout the cycle, whenever Republicans were confronted with questions about their embarrassing recruitment failures, they pointed to Josh Hawley as evidence that not all was lost. This week, their star candidate reported disappointing fundraising numbers, was further tied to an out-of-state mega donor who also backed Roy Moore, and is “coming under fire for controversial remarks” showing he believes sex trafficking stemmed from the 1960s sexual revolution. Hawley finds himself “once again on the defense” – he’s even drawing Todd Akin comparisons.

Here’s a peak at his week:
News Tribune: Hawley trails McCaskill in Missouri Senate fundraising.
Kansas City Star: Josh Hawley blames sex trafficking on ‘sexual revolution’ of 1960s in leaked audio.
WATCH: NBC 41: Hawley “In Hot Water,” “Under Fire for Controversial Remarks.”
WATCH: FOX 4: Hawley “Once Again on the Defense” After Sexual Revolution Comment.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri’s attorney general blames Sexual Revolution for sex trafficking.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editorial: Hawley ignores centuries of human trafficking in his spin on morality.
Springfield News-Leader: Josh Hawley on defense after linking human trafficking to sexual revolution of 1960s.
Vanity Fair: The Republican Party Is Having Another Todd Akin Fiasco.

PA GOP PANICKED OVER BARLETTA’S “ANEMIC FUNDRAISING & STRATEGIC MISFIRES.” Following the CNN report that Barletta repeatedly granted interviews and appeared publicly with known Holocaust deniers, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and other extremist groups, the Washington Examiner reports that Pennsylvania Republicans are “fretting” over Barletta’s campaign. See for yourself:

  • Republican officials in Pennsylvania are fretting that Rep. Lou Barletta’s anemic fundraising and strategic misfires are jeopardizing the party’s opportunity [in 2018].
  • Barletta’s fourth quarter report is expected show around just $550,000 raised, Republican sources say. That’s a paltry figure for a candidate in a high profile contest — especially after Trump personally recruited Barletta and anointed him the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.
  • It’s indicative of widespread anxiety among Pennsylvania Republicans that Barletta is headed toward defeat, and could take the down-ticket with him.
  • A second Republican operative from Pennsylvania, granted anonymity, was less charitable. “He’s looked at this thing pretty naively. Lou’s is not known as the hardest worker in the world and has never been a prolific fundraiser. He thought that simply by branding himself with Trump, it would mean tons of cash. That’s not been the case,” this Republican said.

SCOTT’S CRONYISM: “UNIQUELY UNQUALIFIED” CANDIDATES APPOINTED TO STATE AGENCIES & COMMISSIONS. Governor Scott’s penchant for rewarding unqualified political cronies with appointments to important state agencies and commissions is well documented. The latest example? Scott appointed 29-year-old Wes Maul as Director of Emergency Management – the agency in charge of hurricane preparedness – despite Maul’s lack of experience in emergency management. It’s just another example of Scott only looking out for himself and his cronies at the expense of Floridians.

NICHOLSON WORKED FOR DEMS THROUGH 2002. After facing backlash from conservative talk radio around the state (not to mention Reince Priebus) for his lack of conservative bonafides, a new report details paid work Wisconsin Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson did for Democrats in 2002, despite having previously said he was “absolutely sure” he was not a Democrat after 2000. The changing timeline raises more questions about Nicholson among conservative voters who aren’t sold they can trust him.

IS GIBBONS TAKING A PAGE OUT OF MANDEL’S HANDBOOK? This week Mike Gibbons touted an endorsement from Ohio State Senator Matt Huffman who, as recently as last week, made “derogatory,” “offensive,” and “crude” comments about a fellow female lawmaker. We know Ohio has joined the ranks of nasty Republican primaries, but is Gibbons so desperate for endorsements that he’ll take them from anyone?

FL – Sunshine State News: Bill Nelson, Dems Blast FEMA Decision to Cut Off Aid to Puerto Rico
MN – Fergus Falls Daily Journal: Sen. Smith hears rural health care leaders out on concerns
(MORE) MN – Post Bulletin: Our View: Smith visit another reason for hope on housing
MO – KY3: Sen. McCaskill urges stopping pharmaceutical tax deductions for ads
NV – Las Vegas Review-Journal: Rosen introduces bill for programs for homeless veterans
ND – Washington Times: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp: Pension protections need to be in new spending bill
OH – WTRF: Senator Sherrod Brown pushes for passing of “Butch Lewis Act”
WI – The Daily Cardinal: Baldwin pushes for Buy American legislation ahead of State of the Union
WI/FL – The Hill: Green group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection


Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

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