Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters

By Lisa Song and Rosalind Adams

Amid a fracking boom, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has quietly weakened air pollution guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Massachusetts":

"… director of research at the Silent Spring Institute, a research center in Massachusetts. Bias in risk assessment is rarely a product of fraudulent science, she sa …"

"… of time and resources on this issue as Texas." Last year, the TCEQ paid a Massachusetts-based consulting firm, Gradient, $1.65 million to examine the science …"

Sex, drugs and political money

By The Center for Public Integrity

Center reporter Dave Levinthal goes one-on-one with the Democrats' former finance chief on C-SPAN2 show.

Excerpts from this story referencing "executive director":

"… op of Democrats' fundraising structure before abruptly quitting. He's now executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute and a stro …"

'I felt like I was getting pelted with excrement': Readers weigh in on political ads

By Sarah Whitmire

We asked readers if they found political TV ads to be informative, here's some of what they said.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… 't flooding the airwaves with negative campaign ads. From Sandra Holt of Florida: All ads are promoting a product. Political ads are advertising a person …"

"… ng. Their income from ads is just too great.  From Robert Boxold of Florida: [Ads had a] very negative impact, I have voted since the '60s and this …"

Grover Norquist nonprofit funded pro-Republican women’s group

By Michael Beckel

Conservative-leaning Independent Women's Voice got 13 percent of its revenue last year from Americans for Tax Reform, new documents show.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Mitt Romney":

"… f dollars backing Republican politicians such as 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Chris McDaniel, who unsuccessfully challe …"

Obama administration let opponents define the Affordable Care Act

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Obama administration let foes define Affordable Care Act.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Massachusetts":

"… orked on health care reform with both Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, and the Obama administration. In fact, he’s one of the reasons Obamacar …"

"… , he’s one of the reasons Obamacare looks so much like Romneycare, which Massachusetts lawmakers enacted in 2006. During remarks he made at the Health Economist …"

Koch-backed nonprofit raised $44 million in 2013

By Michael Beckel

ObamaCare-bashing Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, raised $44 million in 2013.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Kay Hagan":

"… ted in the fall of 2013: embattled Democratic Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Kay Hagan, D-N.C. and Mary Landrieu, D-La. All ranked among the most vulnerable incu …"

Juvenile facilities strive to foster ‘family engagement’

States adopt programs to involve families in rehabilitation of young offenders.

Excerpts from this story referencing "law school":

"… blic Interest Law and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, law school, labels such outreach “family-driven justice” in an 83-page article in …"

"… infants. The project of the Early Learning Center at Georgetown University law school and the nonprofit, San Francisco-based Youth Law Center relies on a standa …"

"… youths did not have a strong father figure in their lives. Arya, the UCLA law school researcher, says early results are promising, showing fathers the big role …"

Ballot measure backers spend big, win big

By Liz Essley Whyte

Of the most expensive ballot races, top spenders won over voters in 21 of 25 contests.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Bloomberg":

"… ks for all gun purchases, a measure backed by Microsoft elites and Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety Fund.” A San Francisco initiative t …"

GOP rides cavalry to U.S. Senate majority

By Michael Beckel, Dave Levinthal and Carrie Levine

Super PACs, 'dark money' nonprofits help make Election Day difference as Republicans seize a U.S. Senate majority

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… on funding has changed since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling in 2010. Democrats, who enjoyed a six-seat Senate majority going i …"

"… ber, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of filings with the Federal Election Commission. Yet all outside groups active in Colorado had reported spending about $5 …"

Surprise! No. 1 super PAC backs Democrats

By Carrie Levine and Dave Levinthal

To the surprise of many, the top-spending super PAC this election backs Democrats, not Republicans.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Responsive Politics":

"… ority PAC’s spending is a fraction of the close to $700 million the Center for Responsive Politics predicts outside groups will spend on the midterm elections. Overall,  …"

Corporations, advocacy groups spend big on ballot measures

By Liz Essley Whyte

Corporations and national advocacy groups are throwing big dollars behind TV ads before voters decide 158 state ballot measures.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… s varied as minimum wage increases in Alaska and recreational marijuana in Florida. The committees are using that money to put their message out in expensiv …"

"… e way of getting out a message,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor who has studied ballot measures for more than 20 years.  Ad …"

"… ska, supporters of marijuana have aired just $8,210 worth of ads. In Florida, opponents of a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana have spent ro …"

"…  governor’s race. Analysts say the marijuana legalization effort in Florida is really a tactic to get more young and left-leaning residents to turn ou …"

North Carolina's state of political hate

By Dave Levinthal

North Carolina's U.S. Senate race is the nation's nastiest — and few are particularly friendly affairs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "North Carolina":

"… is calling the shots and where the money is being spent. Congratulations, North Carolina: You’ve become the year’s great state of political hate. Tar Heels la …"

"… mittees, super PACs and politically active nonprofit groups contributed to North Carolina’s hostility parade, which Hagan and Tillis themselves helped marshal in …"

"… n of the more than 10,800 Senate race-focused TV ads that ran last week in North Carolina had a positive tone. Since last year, North Carolina voters have been pre …"

"… hat ran last week in North Carolina had a positive tone. Since last year, North Carolina voters have been presented with more than 90,000 ads trying to influence t …"

Center for Public Integrity hires Carrie Levine as federal politics reporter

By The Center for Public Integrity

Carrie Levine — former Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington research director — to investigate money in politics.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… aign finance and political influence issues in the post-Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission era of politics. She will also contribute to "Primary Source," a 2014 Webb …"

California coverage plan for undocumented echoes earlier call by Schwarzenegger

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: former governor supported plan allowing coverage for undocumented residents.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… rmer California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Democrats in Congress decided as they worked on health care reform that providing coverage to th …"

Open pits offer cheap disposal for fracking sludge, but health worries mount

By David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji

Air emissions from oil and gas waste are among the least regulated, least monitored and least understood components of the fracking boom.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Massachusetts":

"… drilled Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, an area roughly twice the size of Massachusetts. The agency recently announced it will add another monitor in the area. B …"

"… nbsp;three-year ban this year and a waste ban bill is pending in Massachusetts. But some places are resistant to change — and some have even reversed …"

'Ready for Warren' to change name

By Dave Levinthal

Federal regulators convince a pro-Elizabeth Warren super PAC to change its name.

Contractor, Hispanic worker deaths up in 2013, BLS says

By Talia Buford

The number of contractors and Hispanic workers who died on the job increased in 2013 even as the overall tally of worker deaths declined.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… new tranche of data came on the same day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a final revised rule requiring employers to n …"

"… gel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of local and state worker safety groups. “That’s one reas …"

Mitch McConnell revs ad machine

By Michael Beckel

Kentucky’s embattled senior senator has aired roughly one campaign ad every five minutes since Labor Day.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Arkansas":

"… gan and North Carolina, according to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG. In Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana, Democrats and their allies also edged out t …"

In New Hampshire, quixotic super PAC shaking up Republican primary

By Dave Levinthal

Big-spending Mayday PAC giving Jim Rubens an unexpected boost — and Scott Brown a headache — ahead of GOP primary.

Excerpts from this story referencing "NextGen Climate Action Committee":

"… than $1 million attacking Brown: liberal super PAC Senate Majority PAC and NextGen Climate Action Committee, a super PAC run by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer. The Lea …"

FEC not 'Ready for Warren'

By Dave Levinthal

The nation's election regulator is telling an upstart super PAC to change its name, saying it violates federal law.

Excerpts from this story referencing "New Hampshire":

"… n. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who's now attempting to win a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire. …"

Why Republican control of Congress hinges on nine big-money Senate races

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Nine big-money Senate races will determine whether Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Washington":

"… during the primary, and she gained nation attention for promising to make Washington “squeal” in one notable campaign ad that touted her background castrat …"

How big telecom smothers city-run broadband

By Allan Holmes

Municipal broadband boosts business, but often stops at city limits thanks to lobbying muscle of telecom giants.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Telecommunications":

"… ycle, according to the money in state politics institute. Going to court Telecommunications companies aren’t hesitant to spend millions of dollars on lawsuits to ki …"

"… s. They include Ashland, Oregon; Burlington, Vermont; and the 11-city Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency. Some, such as Provo, Utah, and Groton, Connect …"

"… r bill passed, Avila spoke at the 2011 meeting of the North Carolina Cable Telecommunications Association in Asheville, in the scenic Great Smoky Mountains, where Avila …"

"… the FCC’s regulatory powers in deploying broadband as stated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Silberman, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, not …"

Firearms more likely to be used in suicides than in homicides

By Carmen Forman and Jacob Byk

At least 50 people died per day from firearm suicide; 26 died from firearm homicides.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Suicide":

"… Miller, who studies Suicide at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Suicide rates have been higher than homicide rates for as long as Miller remembers …"

"… t the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Suicide by firearm has been loosely studied for the past 20 years by the American …"

"… large-scale national issue, which no one has the key to the lock yet.” Suicide generally stems from a buildup of depression and internal despair, said Ca …"

"… he trigger. Two weeks later, Johnson and his wife joined the Survivors of Suicide group. Three years later, they became facilitators to help others process …"

‘Dr. Evil’ fuels dogfight between AKC, Humane Society

By John Dunbar and Erin Quinn

Public relations pro, food industry behind website, ads blasting Humane Society.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Washington":

"… the lawsuit was a former employee.   …"

"… less of how they are treated. The Humanewatch.org ad currently running in Washington’s metro trains says that HSUS gives 1 percent of its budget to pet shelt …"

"… early $16 million in a settlement reached in a U.S. District Court in Washington. Heymann said its share of the settlement, which was not disclosed, will b …"

Lawmakers issue dueling Dodd-Frank reports

By Jared Bennett

Republicans say the financial reform law creates a bailout fund. Democrats says the 4-year-old law makes banks safer.

Is this U.S. coal giant funding violent union intimidation in Colombia?

By Rosalind Adams

Lawsuits allege Alabama-based Drummond Co., which mines coal in Colombia, has financial ties to groups that have threatened union leaders.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Labor":

"… not just for those with Sintramienergetica. According to the National Labor School, an organization based in Medellin that researches Labor issues, be …"

"… agreement because of Colombia’s poor Labor rights record. In response, a Labor Action Plan was signed in 2011 to pressure Colombia’s government to crea …"

Most senators wait to take e-filing leap

By Michael Beckel

Only a slice of the Senate has opted to e-file campaign finance documents as members debate mandating the practice.

Excerpts from this story referencing "campaign finance reports":

"… …"

"… D-Mass. — voluntarily e-filed unofficial copies of their second-quarter campaign finance reports to the FEC by Tuesday's deadline. The reports covered funds raised and spe …"

"… pefuls, U.S. House candidates and political groups, Senate candidates file campaign finance reports on paper with the Secretary of the Senate. That office, in turn, scans the …"

"… rom mid-2011, when only nine senators electronically filed copies of their campaign finance reports.     …"

Praise for UK-style health system vindicates spurned nominee

By Wendell Potter

Former Medicare chief's support for UK's health care system may win votes in race for governor of Massachusetts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… dely respected physician and health policy expert, to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Despite having broad support among other heal …"

Credit rating industry dodges reforms, despite role in financial meltdown

By Alison Fitzgerald

Despite playing a central role in the economic collapse, firms that gave inflated ratings to toxic bonds remain untouched by reforms.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Responsive Politics":

"… spent nearly $106 million on lobbying in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. When the House and Senate got together to reconcile their versions of fi …"

After Lindsey Graham met billionaire, supportive super PAC secured donation an hour later

By Marcelo Rochabrun

Sen. Lindsey Graham and a super PAC supporting him pitched a billionaire donor at same place an hour apart from one another other.

Excerpts from this story referencing "South Carolina":

"… e from people like Catsimatidis — wealthy donors with few direct ties to South Carolina. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Ele …"

"… siness — has reported raising has come from donors who reside outside of South Carolina, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of FEC filings. The …"

"… selling homes across the country, does not have any business operations in South Carolina, according to the latest filing that his company, MDC Holdings, has submit …"

"… etto State contributed to the West Main Street Values PAC. One was former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. The other was Donald Finkell, the …"