Money in Politics in the 2018 Midterm Elections
October 23, 2018
The Brennan Center for Justice, NYU DC, and The John Brademas Center hosted an afternoon discussion as we gear up for the midterm elections. Young Mie Kim, Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alicia Bannon, Deputy Director for Program Management, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Reporter, National Political Enterprise and Accountability Team, The Washington Post, Anna Massoglia, Researcher, Center for Responsive Politics, and Ian Vandewalker, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, led the dialogue.
Do we know what is happening with money in politics this year? How much foreign spending is coming through dark money channels? In terms of online political ads, do we know how much is coming from unknown sources? How are super PACS and dark money groups shifting the balance of power with official political party fundraising operations? And are these trends filtering down to federal and state judicial elections?
*1.5 credits of NY CLE were available in the areas of Professional Practice category. The credit was both transitional and non-transitional and appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.
Alicia Bannon, Deputy Director for Program Management, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Alicia Bannon is Deputy Director for Program Management in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. She leads the Center’s fair courts work, where she directs research, advocacy, and litigation to promote a fair and impartial judicial system. Ms. Bannon has authored several nationally-recognized reports and articles on judicial selection, access to justice, and government dysfunction, including Who Pays for Judicial Races? (2017), Rethinking Judicial Selection in State Courts (2016), and Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry (2010). She was previously an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, where she taught the Brennan Center Public Policy Advocacy Clinic, and at Seton Hall Law School, where she taught a course in professional responsibility and legal ethics. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Bannon was a John J. Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, N.J., where she engaged in a wide range of public interest litigation within New Jersey and nationally. Ms. Bannon was also previously a Liman Fellow and Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.
Ms. Bannon received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a Comments Editor of the Yale Law Journal and a Student Director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Kimba M. Wood in the Southern District of New York. She graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude with a degree in Social Studies. Prior to law school, she worked in Kenya and Uganda managing impact evaluations of education and health interventions, and at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Reporter, National Political Enterprise and Accountability Team, The Washington Post
Michelle Ye Hee Lee is a reporter on The Washington Post's national political enterprise and accountability team, covering money and influence in politics. Previously, she was a reporter for The Post's Fact Checker and a government accountability reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. She is senior vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Anna Massoglia, Researcher, Center for Responsive Politics
Anna Massoglia first joined the Center for Responsive Politics in September 2015 and works with CRP's data on politically active nonprofits, nondisclosing groups, and foreign influence. She holds degrees in psychology and political science from from North Carolina State University and a J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. Prior to rejoining CRP in June 2018, Anna worked as a research analyst, editor, and writer at Bloomberg BNA. Anna previously held roles with a lobbying firm, political action committee, the D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge's Chambers, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Voting Rights Project, the U.S. State Department, the D.C. Council Committee on Government Operations, the U.S. House of Representatives, and various other organizations.
Young Mie Kim, Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Young Mie Kim is a Professor of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Faculty Affiliate of the Department of Political Science.
Kim’s research concerns media and politics in the age of data-driven digital media, specifically the role digital media play in political communication among political leaders, non-party groups (issue advocacy groups), and citizens.
Kim’s recent research project, Project DATA (Digital Ad Tracking & Analysis), empirically investigates the sponsors/sources, content, and targets of digital political campaigns across multiple platforms with a user-based, real-time, ad tracking tool that reverse engineers the algorithms of political campaigns. The project uncovers the “behind-the-scenes” operations of digital political campaigns, i.e., microtargeting practices (individual-level voter identification, targeting, and message placement and customization strategies).
Kim’s research, “The Stealth Media? Groups and Targets behind Divisive Issue Campaigns on Facebook,” identified “suspicious groups,” including Russian groups on Facebook. Her work appeared on nearly 400 national and international media (WIRED; Bloomberg TV; BBC5) outlets. Kim also actively engages in public scholarship to work toward policy solutions for malicious actors’ disinformation campaigns and microtargeting on digital platforms. Kim testified at the Federal Election Commission‘s hearings on the rulemaking of internet communication disclaimers. She presented her research and provided expert opinions at the Congressional briefings on foreign interference in elections, the Honest Ads Act, and other technology policy matters. Kim was also invited by the European Data Protection Supervisor, the European Union’s data protection authority, to speak at the European Parliament on her research on data-driven political advertising and inequality in political involvement.
During her faculty career, Kim’s research has developed a program of research on how the digital media environment contributes to the changing foundation of political communication. Her research theoretically explains and empirically demonstrates that the digital media environment has set a condition to facilitate the development of passionate publics who care about a particular issue almost exclusively based on their values, identities, and self-interests. Kim’s research also demonstrates that in the data-driven digital age, political actors—including malicious foreign groups—identify, target, and mobilize passionate publics. Kim’s research illuminates the contemporary outlook of passionate issue publics, issue advocacy groups, and political leaders in the age of data-driven digital media.
Kim’s research has appeared in the flagship journals in the fields of Communication and Political Science including Communication Research, the Journal of Communication, and the Journal of Politics, among others. Her work has also received prestigious awards and research grants in social science, including the Best Article of the Year Award (awarded for the best published article on political communication across the fields of Communication, Political Science, and Sociology) and the Nafzinger-White Dissertation Award (awarded for the best dissertation in Mass Communication).
Kim has been teaching 15 different courses on a wide range of subjects including digital media, political communication, mass communication, and strategic communication. Integrating her research expertise and her passion for public service, Kim has developed a service learning course, Communication and Community Service: Technology for Social Change, where her students partner with a community organization and experiment with the democratic potential of digital communication technologies. The class project, Savor South Madison, garnered a number of accolades including the Best Service Learning Practice and the Innovator in Community-Campus Partnership.
Kim received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a Visiting Fellow of the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. As the Microsoft Visiting Professor of the Center for Information Technology Policy, Kim also taught a course, Politics in the Age of Digital Media, in the Department of Politics at Princeton University.
Ian Vandewalker, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Ian Vandewalker serves as Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program where he works on money in politics and voting rights. He has authored or co-authored nationally recognized reports and articles, including Getting Foreign Funds Out of America’s Elections (April 2018), and Stronger Parties, Stronger Democracy: Rethinking Reform (September 2015), as well as a recurring series of analyses of spending in U.S. Senate elections. His work has been featured in press outlets across the nation, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, MSNBC, Newsweek, and the Los Angeles Times. He has also published academic articles in the fields of election law and civil liberties. He has testified before Congress and in state and local legislatures.
Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Mr. Vandewalker served as a legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where he litigated constitutional cases in state and federal courts across the country. Before that, Mr. Vandewalker served as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow in Nonprofit Law at the Vera Institute of Justice and clerked for the Honorable Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York. He earned his JD cum laude in 2008 from New York University School of Law, where he was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree from New College of Florida.