Eliza Newlin Carney

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


Recent Articles

Democracy Is on the Ballot

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo) Voters enter the Hamilton County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting on October 10, 2018, in Cincinnati. D emocracy itself is on the ballot this fall, as voters consider not just candidates, but an unprecedented number of ballot initiatives that seek to protect voting rights and rein in special interests, gerrymandering, and big money. Voters also face mounting challenges to direct democracy by state legislators who have chosen to ignore or overrule popularly approved ballot measures, and who have moved in some cases to weaken or block the initiative process altogether. At least 33 states mulled 190 different proposals to change the ballot measure rules this year, including bills that would boost the number of signatures needed to get an initiative on the ballot, for example, or increase the percentage of votes needed for enactment. This push-and-pull reflects something of a vicious cycle in states where voters see their legislators as out of...

Will the Next Women’s March Be Taxed?

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana Protesters rally in front of the U.S. Capitol during the Women's March on Washington, on January 21, 2017. democracy_rules.jpg W hen protesters first turned up on Capitol Hill last month to heckle Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the senators considering his Supreme Court nomination, President Donald Trump voiced amazement “that people allow the interruptions to continue.” “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protestors,” Trump told The Daily Caller , all but suggesting that such public demonstrations should be illegal . Trump may soon get his wish, or something like it, if the National Park Service follows through with plans to impose steep fees, waiting periods, and other new restrictions on protesters demonstrating on the National Mall and other public lands in the nation’s capital. The new rules would effectively ban protests in front of the White House, give government officials broad discretion to thwart permits, and force protesters to cover...

FARA Fiasco: Congress Swings at Manafort, Hits Environmentalists

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington democracy_rules.jpg N ow 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...

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

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) A City of Seattle Democracy Voucher 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...

When the Rules Matter After All

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Michael Cohen leaves federal court on August 21, 2018, in New York. W hen 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...