Pa. Lawmakers Mask Millions in Campaign Expenses

A year-long investigation by Spotlight PA and The Caucus found Pennsylvania lawmakers use credit cards, gift cards and reimbursements to themselves to mask millions of dollars in campaign expenses. The spending includes lavish dinners, foreign trips, sports tickets, limos, country club memberships and more. Pennsylvania lawmakers operate under some of the country’s weakest campaign finance…

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Follow the money in state, local elections

By Kaitlin Washburn Journalists from the Sunlight Foundation, National Institute on Money in State Politics, and Voice of OC discussed strategies for following the money in state and local elections. Melissa Yeager, a senior staff writer for the Sunlight Foundation, started by giving specific reasons why state and local coverage is so important: There’s more…

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Webinar to highlight new data set on campaign advertising

Got a big election on your horizon in 2016 or even 2015? Join us for a free webinar Thursday and to get a sneak preview of an unprecedentedly detailed data set that the Internet Archive, the Sunlight Foundation and Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy compiled on political ads in Philadelphia this fall. They’ll be releasing data…

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Behind the Story: Tax forms and FEC filings reveal nonprofit’s political activity

Learning about sources of political spending can be “like unpacking a Russian nesting doll,” says Michael Beckel, a politics reporter for the Center for Public Integrity. Using tax filings as his primary source, Beckel investigated the third most politically-active nonprofit in 2012 as part of the Center for Public Integrity’s Consider the Source project.  “In…

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Join a live discussion about Econocheck

NICAR adviser David Herzog will be on hand Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific) for a live Q&A about EconoCheck on the Journalism Accelerator. EconoCheck, an IRE-Sunlight Foundation resource launched during the 2012 campaign, helps reporters quickly find and understand data about key indicators. Drop by to discuss how journalists can continue to…

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Data science, meet campaign finance

If you ever get the urge to feel a chill run down your spine, particularly if you’re interested in political journalism, give Sasha Issenberg’s new book The Victory Lab a good, close read. Here’s the headline: When it comes to using data to understand politics, journalists are playing checkers while political consultants are playing chess. Just listen to…

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Previewing election day with data

How has data been used in advance of the election season? We’ve been looking for good data visualizations and data-driven reporting centered on the upcoming elections. Below is what we’ve found. Help add to our list by emailing suggestions to tony@ire.org or tweeting us @IRE_NICAR. The Washington PostThe Post’s 2012 election map shows what’s still in play…

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Follow the money with IRE’s election coverage webinar

There are several ways that political funds can play a role in key states, especially during an election year. In IRE’s 2012 election coverage webinar from Derek Willis of The New York Times, you’ll see how to trace money that comes from outside sources to state-based political groups, and how to follow the path of…

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Tracking influence through campaign contributions, other data

By Chelsea Sheasley@csheasley  What’s the best way to follow the money, especially in an election year? Joe Stephens, The Washington Post, Duff Wilson, Reuters, and Angie Moreschi, a former investigative reporter and now director of communications at James Hoyer Law Firm, shared the databases and documents that helped them in their latest investigations during their panel, Paying…

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Campaign cash flow at the state level: Look at contributors, ballot measures

 By Beverly Magley and Anne SherwoodNational Institute on Money in State Politics For your stories about 2012 state elections, check out free campaign-finance information at The National Institute on Money in State Politics (followthemoney.org), a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization. In addition to downloadable data sets, you can mine reports on trends and anomalies, as well as…

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