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First POST: AmBushed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 18 2015


  • When your friends ask you in a few weeks, how did John Ellis (Jeb) Bush get to the front of the 2016 Republican presidential pack, tell them to read this piece by Ben White and Marc Caputo in Politico. Bush is replaying his brother's 1999 strategy of overwhelming his putative rivals by outfundraising them early, but with one twist, they report:

    All this money flows to Bush’s Right to Rise PAC and a separate super PAC that can take money in unlimited sums. The way that Bush set up the two committees — at the same time and with the same attorney, former Romney super PAC lawyer Charlie Spies — is “unique,” said elections law lawyer Kenneth Gross, a former attorney for the Federal Election Commission. Because Bush is not an announced candidate or a federal office holder, he is far freer than others to work with the super PAC to collect unlimited contributions. Once Bush announces his candidacy, he will be restricted from working directly with the super PAC. But, by then, the committee will have been thoroughly infused with Bush’s campaign DNA and operate almost automatically in accordance with his campaign vision….“What Bush has done will usher in two things with other candidates in the future: 1) the way to get big donors up front with a greater measure of coordination and 2) a way to delay your official candidacy,” Gross said.

    Let's hear it for innovation! And Citizen's United!

  • Why are some "reform conservatives" like Yuval Levin of National Affairs magazine and political consultant Alex Castellanos, along with longtime GOP idea-mongerer Newt Gingrich, attracted to (or fearful of) California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat? Jon Ward offers some answers, starting with a little book by Newsom called Citizenville.

  • Speaking of things out west, check out CALmatters, an explanatory journalism start-up coming this summer to fill the state capital political news vacuum, as previewed by Ken Doctor for Capital NY.

  • Back in the frigid east, Checkbook NYC, an online public data resource for information on the city's spending, now includes information on sub-contractors, City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced yesterday. Believe it or not, this level of spending transparency is quite rare in America (, for example, the Obama administration's highly touted portal to the $787 billion in 2009 economic recovery spending, never offered sub-contractor details.)

  • Blog traffic is down, and developer Marco Arment doesn't think changes in Google's search results are the core reason. He writes, "Everyone’s spending increasingly more consumption time dicking around in apps and snacking on bite-sized social content instead of browsing websites and searching Google. Publishers are relying more on social traffic not because Google’s squeezing them out, but because that’s where everyone went."

  • On TechRepublic, Alex Howard zeroes in on how open mapping platforms MapBox and CartoDB are using open government data, often in surprisingly high-definition quality, to enable all kinds of public and business uses.

  • This new report from the European Commission on the digital social innovation ecosystem in Europe suggests there are three major hubs: one focused on open hardware and networks, one focused on open knowledge and the collaborative economy, and one grouped around funders like Nesta (which undertook the report) and focused on open democracy.

  • Estonia's e-Governance Academy worked with 26 other countries in 2014, reports Anu Vahtra-Hellat for Estonian World.

  • Mashable is expanding to India.

  • This is civic tech: This weekend, more than 50 communities across the US are hosting CodeAcross events (in tandem with International Open Data Day). Here's a full list.

  • Also, Code for Progress is looking for a community organizer and coding instructor (in Washington, DC).