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Secret Summit: 24 hours with the Koch brothers

"The retreats drum up hundreds of millions of dollars for conservative political candidates and set policy for the Kochs’ network of political organizations, which all share the same goal — moving the country to the right.

Most of the cash is funneled through “dark money” groups that are not legally required to disclose their donors.

According to Forbes, the brothers are worth $41.3 billion.

These are the most elite and most conservative political events in the country, and for the past few years, reporters and political bloggers have attempted to gain access. Twoinewsource reporters booked rooms at the St. Regis, a five-star resort, to find out who would attend and what was on the agenda."

Read the full story from inewsource.org here.

Donors linked to contractors, developers and landowners involved with the increasingly controversial rebuilding of Kakaako have contributed more than $680,000 since 2009 to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's two gubernatorial campaigns, according to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis of state data.

"News broke in San Diego last week about a mysterious foreign national bent on influencing San Diego politics by illegally funneling money to political campaigns through a retired San Diego police detective and a undisclosed “straw donor.” Now, the politicians on the receiving end of the tainted funds are scrambling to distance themselves from the scandal." Brad Racino and Joe Yerardi from Inewsource walk through how they unraveled the scandal.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the online files from the Minnesota agency charged with tracking candidate and campaign fundraising are riddled with inaccuracies, leading to errors that total as much as $20 million over the past decade, according to an analysis. About 7,000 records of donations between Minnesota groups are incorrect — an error rate of about one in seven. The flaws are enough to hamper any comprehensive attempt to examine the flow of political money in the state, at a time when that spending has soared to record heights.

“Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz potentially violated ethics rules by failing to publicly disclose his financial relationship with a Caribbean-based holding company during the 2012 campaign, a review of financial disclosure and company documents by TIME shows.”

“Long before the term "Super PAC" entered the national lexicon of campaign finance, unauthorized committees — those acting in support of but without the expressed approval of candidates — gave donors a means to skirt limits that New York places on those donating directly to candidates.”

How Sunrise police make millions selling drugs | Sun Sentinel
"Police in this suburban town best known for its sprawling outlet mall have hit upon a surefire way to make millions. They sell cocaine."

How safe are Indiana day cares? | Indianapolis Star
"Indiana spends about $2.5 million inspecting and licensing more than 4,000 day cares that serve more than 150,000 children every year. Yet an Indianapolis Star investigation found that the system fails to hold many day cares accountable — even if they jeopardize the safety of children. In fact, at least 21 children have died in Indiana day cares since 2009, nine in 2012 alone, records show. And 15 of them were in unlicensed or illegal homes or centers."

Faking the Grade | Texas Tribune
A Texas Tribune investigation of a No Child Left Behind tutoring program has uncovered years of inaction by state officials while money flowed to tutoring companies, delivering few academic results.

Mugged by a Mug Shot Online | The New York Times
“Web sites are publishing arrest photos of millions of Americans and often charging fees to remove the pictures.”

Pharmaceutical firms paid to attend meetings of panel that advises FDA | The Washington Post
“A scientific panel that shaped the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration, according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.”

Congressional budget crisis was months in the planning | The New York Times
“The stand by conservatives that led to the current crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort, waged by a galaxy of well-funded groups, to undo President Obama’s health care law.”

There was time to help Paul Schmidt, but county politics got in the way | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“At the time, Paul Schmidt — PJ, as he was known then — was 5, an easygoing tow-headed boy who lived less than a mile from the land where the new hospital would be built. In the years to come, he would climb apple trees and play "Ghosts in the Graveyard" there with the kids down the block. It would be years before he would begin to withdraw and make plans to kill himself. There was plenty of time to build a system that could help him.”

In Minnesota, nurses in trouble get second chances | Star Tribune
“Records examined by the Star Tribune of more than 1,000 disciplinary actions by the Minnesota Board of Nursing over the past four years show that it tolerates or forgives misconduct that would end nursing careers in other states. The board actively licenses more than 260 nurses since 2010 who have records of unsafe practice, including botched care that led to patient harm or even death. Eighty-eight nurses are allowed to practice despite having been charged or convicted of crimes such as physical or sexual assault and drug thefts — some against their own patients. The board gives nurses who admit misconduct second, third and sometimes more chances to keep practicing. Getting fired for incompetence, even multiple times, rarely means Minnesota nurses lose their licenses.”

Large hospitals enjoy revenue, borrowing advantage | CentralOhio.com
“Hospitals are confronting declining revenues and continuing investment demands from their patients and the government. These twin pressures are bringing into focus the advantages that large hospital operators hold over smaller independent ones, and why the latter might want to align with the former.” 

Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries deny, delay asbestos, hazard claims, suits, insiders allege | Scripps News
“Scripps interviewed more than 20 sources -- some confidential -- reviewed dozens of lawsuits and spoke with former insiders, who all allege the Berkshire-owned companies that handle its asbestos and pollution policies -- National Indemnity Co. and Resolute Management Inc. -- wrongfully delay or deny compensation to cancer victims and others to boost Berkshire’s profits. In multiple cases, courts and arbitrators have ruled that the Berkshire subsidiaries’ tactics have been in “bad faith” or intentional.”

Hidden cash fueled Warren campaign | Democrat & Chronicle
“Long before the term "Super PAC" entered the national lexicon of campaign finance, unauthorized committees — those acting in support of but without the expressed approval of candidates — gave donors a means to skirt limits that New York places on those donating directly to candidates.”

Drugged Driving Tough to Detect, Convict | NBC Bay Area
“An investigation into current law governing impaired driving by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit discovered large holes when it comes to regulating and determining who is legally impaired due to drug use.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: "If candidates for mayor of Minneapolis were running in Boston, they would file a report online of their campaign contributions every two weeks for six months before the election. If they were running in Seattle? Once a week. And in a range of other cities with a mayoral election this fall, they would have shared their donor lists at least four months before voters go to the polls. Instead, contenders in the first open-seat race for Minneapolis mayor in 20 years have received contributions for as long as eight months without having to disclose a single detail to the public, and they won’t release their first campaign finance reports until Sept. 3. Campaign-reform advocates and some candidates say that the system is outdated and that it lags the rest of the country, creating “data dumps” that hinder the public from learning the information in a meaningful, timely way."

The Sunlight Foundation reports that in the wake of Citizens United, tax-exempt social welfare groups, 501(c)4 organizations, have becoming increasingly popular as conduits for big, anonymous campaign donations. A survey by the Sunlight Foundation found dozens of groups in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia that appear to benefit Republican and Democratic politicians, despite being set up as social welfare nonprofits that according to tax code most benefit whole communities. The Sunlight Foundation also reports "plenty of evidence that a group's ability to operate as a tax exempt organization has less to do with its political persuasion than its budget and political connections."

“A major defense contractor used campaign donations and insider access on Capitol Hill to defy the Air Force and keep a troubled drone aloft at a cost to taxpayers of billions of dollars,” according to a Center for Public Integrity report.

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