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Search results for "Super PACs" ...
While the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 'Citizens United' decision to deregulate campaign finance laws has been well noted in federal elections, the effect it’s had on state level elections has been virtually ignored. In its yearlong "Puppet States" investigation, the Center for Public Integrity systematically examined the new radical reordering of campaign finance in 2012 state level elections to assess the impact of Citizens United.
The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group tracked the outside spending by groups unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and made it easier for others to Follow the Unlimited Money as well. The centerpiece of the effort was an online database that tracked, in real time, the latest data released by the Federal Election Commission on super PACs, nonprofits, labor unions and other groups that spent money to influence elections. Our in house team of reporters used data from the database to break stories and write in-depth pieces; we also made the database publicly available on the Web and helped hundreds of journalists use it, running the gamut from major television networks such as CBS and MSNBC to newer media entrants such as Gawker and BuzzFeed and numerous local outlets. The database and the reporting derived from it provided information on outside spending groups--including super PACs and the donors that funded them and the nonprofits that don’t disclose donors--and the races they tried to influence.
The Year in Closed Government encompasses seven months of tough reporting, exhaustive research and dozens of public-records requests, culminating in a sweeping exposé of public officials’ attempts to evade public scrutiny and undermine public-records laws under New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who campaigned in 2010 on a promise to restore transparency in government. Our IRE entry includes only a selection of our print and online reporting on the issue of open government in New Mexico. It begins in July, with our first big story on a massive trove of leaked emails that revealed the extent to which public officials were using private email to conduct state business, in an apparent attempt to hide it from the public record. Our reporting on open-government issues extends to the 2012 elections, during which we delved into the close relationships among political action committees, super PACs, campaign managers and candidates connected to Gov. Martinez. Our entry ends with a December cover story that encompasses the entire series and offers unprecedented insight into the degree to which New Mexico's public officials sought to hide important information from the public.
“Never Mind the Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election” investigates previously unreported ways that businesses have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which overturned a century of campaign finance law and allowed corporations to spend directly on behalf of candidates. The piece debunks a common misperception that businesses have taken advantage of their new political spending powers primarily through so-called Super PACs. In fact, most Super PAC donations have come from extremely wealthy individuals, not corporations. The investigation shows how corporations have instead used a variety of 501(c) nonprofits, primarily 501(c)(6) “trade associations,” to direct substantial corporate money on federal elections. As one prominent advisor to GOP candidates as well as corporations points out, "many corporations will not risk running ads on their own," for fear of the reputational damage, but the trade groups make these ad buys nearly anonymous. In 2010, 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy groups outspent Super PACs $141 million to $65 million. The investigation shows that the growth of trade association political spending has had a number of significant ramifications, such as increased leverage during beltway lobbying campaigns. Most troublingly, legal loopholes allow foreign interests to use trade associations to directly influence American elections. One of the most significant revelations in the piece was that the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry, had funneled corporate cash to groups that had run hard-hitting campaign ads while being led in part by a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, Tofiq Al-Gabsani. As an API board member, Al-Gabsani was part of the team that directed these efforts, which helped defeat candidates who supported legislation that would move American energy policy away from its focus on fossil fuels. Federal law prevents Al-Gabsani, as a foreign national, from leading a political action committee, or PAC. But nothing in the law stopped him from leading a trade group that made campaign expenditures just as a PAC would.