10 Things in Politics: Klobuchar’s elite club of donors

Good morning, and welcome to 10 Things in Politics. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.

I’m the Insider politics reporter Oma Seddiq, filling in for Brent Griffiths. Send me tips at [email protected] or @omaseddiq.

Here’s what we’re talking about today:


With Jordan Erb.

Developing: New York’s primary results are still coming in. Follow our Election Day coverage here.

    • Absentee ballots and a new ranked-choice voting system mean it could take weeks for the winner of New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary to be declared.
    • That said, Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, held a commanding lead after Tuesday’s votes came in.
    • The 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang dropped out of the race after early results showed him in fourth.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. The hearing was held to discuss “Protecting Competition and Innovation in Home Technologies,” with legal representatives from several major home technology companies including Sonos, Amazon’s Alexa and Google.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar offers donors special access to virtual gatherings. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

1. PAY-TO-PLAY ACCESS: For $725 a year, you can be invited to an elite donor club that has regular policy talks with Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar is a top advocate in the Senate for curbing the role of money in politics, but the Minnesota Democrat’s campaign committee is encouraging supporters to become members of the senator’s “North Star” conversation series, which features virtual conversations and more.

  • Documents obtained by Insider show the detailed list of price points that Klobuchar’s campaign committee sent would-be donors: $1,450 to become a North Stars Committee member; $725 to be a North Stars friend; $500 to be a sponsor; and $100 to be a guest. See the documents here.

Klobuchar on Tuesday night hosted a discussion with a special guest, Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, ahead of the vote on the For the People Act, which among other things seeks to reduce big money in politics (more on that below).

  • It appears that the $500 or $100 donations allowed Klobuchar’s supporters to attend the chat.

Klobuchar isn’t the only lawmaker to offer pay-to-play access for donors – but specifics are usually kept under wraps. Read our exclusive report on Klobuchar’s elite club of donors.


Chuck schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic leadership speaking with reporters about progress on an infrastructure bill and voting-rights legislation on June 15. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

2. GOP blocks voting-rights legislation: Senate Republicans on Tuesday night blocked the For the People Act, the sweeping elections bill seeking to expand voting rights and overhaul campaign-finance and ethics laws.

  • The bill became a top priority for congressional Democrats hoping to push back on GOP-led states that have raced to enact voting restrictions in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was a “yes” vote to bring the bill to debate after he initially opposed it. His support created a unified Democratic front; zero Republicans voted to advance the legislation.


3. Andy Slavitt on vaccines and the pandemic: Insider’s global editor-in-chief, Nicholas Carlson, recently spoke with Slavitt, the head of President Joe Biden’s vaccine rollout – who left his role in early June and has a new book out on the US’s pandemic response.

  • What he said: Vaccine-hesitant people generally don’t trust the government and would rather like to hear from their employer, doctor, or pharmacist, per Slavitt.
  • But the pandemic provided lessons: Don’t politicize science, and be more supportive of one another, he said.

Here’s the full interview – in just 600 words.


4. Moderate Dems work on infrastructure pay-fors: As a bipartisan group of 21 lawmakers hammers out the details on how to pay for a $1 trillion infrastructure package, some moderate Democrats are thinking of leaning on the IRS to pursue wealthy tax evaders.

  • One member, Sen. Angus King of Maine, told Insider that beefing up funding for the IRS was among “the clearest opportunities” for new infrastructure revenue. “That’s found money,” he said.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said the group would have its proposal ready soon: “I think it is overall very settled.” More on what they said here.


5. Trump reportedly wanted DOJ and FCC to go after ‘SNL’: Donald Trump was a frequent target of late-night hosts during his presidency, and now The Daily Beast reports the former commander in chief actually tried to get the Justice Department to stop the jokes.

Sources tell the outlet Trump was repeatedly told the programs were protected because they were satire.

Donald Trump on SNL


6. The US will most likely miss Biden’s July 4 vaccination goal: Biden sought to have 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Fourth of July. But as it stands, about 65% of the country has at least one dose. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the goal would probably be achieved a couple of weeks later.

  • Some groups have hit the goal: The White House says 70% of Americans ages 30 and older have been vaccinated – and by July 4 the milestone is expected to be achieved for adults ages 27 and older.

7. Burned-out workers demand more support: American workers are running on empty – including on Capitol Hill, where traumatized staffers told us they’re heading for the door after a “chaotic year.”

  • But that burnout extends far beyond Washington. Executives at major retailers, banks, and more have added a ton of benefits this year, from fat bonuses to “Zoom-free” Fridays.
  • While the execs say they’ve promised to keep many of those benefits in place, experts and workers agree it’s not enough.

Workers say employers need to address workplace cultures to really fix burnout. Here’s what the workers told us.


8. A federal agency just made it easier for people with student-loan debt to get a mortgage: The Federal Housing Administration announced new calculations to determine mortgage assistance – a move set to benefit people with student loans and particularly people of color. Here’s how the new rules work.


Hubble telescope in space above earth clouds
The Hubble Space Telescope at the boundary of Earth and space in this picture, taken after Hubble’s second servicing mission in 1997. NASA

9. Ground control to … the Hubble Space Telescope: NASA has tried repeatedly to revive the Hubble telescope after a mysterious computer issue took it offline last week. In the meantime, the telescope’s science instruments are in a hibernation-like “safe mode.”

This isn’t the first time Hubble has glitched or needed an upgrade – not even the first time this year. Here’s what’s going on.


10. Britney’s day in court: Britney Spears is set to address a Los Angeles court directly during a hearing today on her conservatorship.


Today’s trivia question: Since there’s a holiday for everything, today is Runner’s Selfie Day. So in that vein, which president is said to have finished a marathon in under four hours? Email your answer and an idea for a new question to [email protected].