Re: She just doesn't [...] understand how soft money influence actually works
No - the journalist protests too much. The original article was long on innuendo and short on fact as well, and this one follows the same pattern - start with an agenda and fit the facts to it. If these articles combined analysis with fact rather than opinion with fact they would carry more weight. For example, plenty of great commentary like this:
"That Lynn felt the need to push his statement out without going through Slaughter, and the fact that she had such a strong reaction when he didn't, combined with the virtual certainty that Schmidt called soon after to express his annoyance, is as clear an example of soft money influence as you will ever find."
Confirmation bias at its best - where are the facts that just about fit the story I want to write? Any number of explanations could fit the circumstances and all are only conjecture without relevant evidence and analysis.
Ref the earlier story: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/30/google_soft_money/