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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.

Congressman Jack Kingston’s Republican U.S. Senate opponent dubbed the lawmaker an out-of-touch Washington insider Sunday after reports showed that major donations to the lawmaker came from companies linked to a felon that the U.S. government has long tried to deport.

Read the full story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

Of the Wyoming Legislature’s 90 members, only 28 lawmakers got one bill passed in this year’s legislative session, according to a Casper Star-Tribune analysis. Thirty-nine didn’t succeed in getting any bills passed. Fourteen didn’t sponsor anything.

But passing bills is only one way to measure a lawmaker’s effectiveness.

“There are a lot of legislators who may be equally effective because they kill bills that wouldn’t be any good,” Karl Kurtz, a political scientist for the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Star-Tribune.

Read the story here.

The unsupervised spending in El Chaparral is symptomatic of a vast community aid effort with lax financial controls. A network of more than 70,000 community groups has received the equivalent of at least $7.9 billion since 2006 from the federal agency that provides much of the financing for the program, Reuters calculates, based on official government reports.

The money is part of a broad government effort called the "communal state" that steers funds to communities, primarily through an outfit called the Autonomous National Fund for Community Councils, or Safonacc. But exactly how much money passes through this system, who gets it and how it's used are largely a mystery.

Read the story here.

On-duty police officers routinely chauffeur Fulton County commissioners around town in apparent violation of the board’s own policy prohibiting the practice.

Commissioners have asked officers to drive them to the airport, to concerts and to scores of other public events in recent years, even though county rules forbid using police officers to transport elected officials, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found.

If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN's documentary series "Chicagoland" were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Hall and the show's producers, that's because they were.

More than 700 emails reviewed by the Chicago Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor's advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.

Read the story here.

ProPublica recently reported that lobbyists for Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, reached out to community leaders and officials persuading them that pre-filled tax returns would essentially hurt low-income Americans. 

What community leaders and officials failed to realize was that the pre-filled tax returns, already endorsed by President Obama and President Reagan, would use information that the government already receives from national banks and employers. The pre-filled tax returns would be voluntary services that taxpayers could use and adjust, making it easier and cheaper for many Americans to file their taxes. 

United States Senate candidate and state senator Joni Ernst has cited her National Guard duty to rebuff criticism for missing more than half of the votes in the Iowa Senate this year.

In a WHO-TV interview posted on April 7, the Red Oak Republican acknowledged that National Guard service wasn’t the only reason she’s missed votes, but she said that only “a few of those votes were due to other activities.”

However, a review by The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) shows very little overlap between Iowa Senate votes and her National Guard service.

Read the story here.

When Broome County Executive Debbie Preston ran for re-election in 2012, about a dozen of her appointed county employees got a mandatory email assignment.

Employees were told in the note from Deputy Broome County Executive Bijoy Datta that they were required to participate in political activities to help get Preston elected, according to email messages obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development was behind the creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” a social network designed to undermine the communist government and push Cubans toward dissent.

The project – called ZunZuneo – drew tens of thousands of subscribers in the more than two years in operated. American contractors were able to gather personal data on users.

According to the report, “The AP obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development. It independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents through publicly available databases, government sources and interviews with those involved in ZunZuneo.”

Read the story here.

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