National donors pick winners in state elections

By Ben Wieder, Kytja Weir, Reity O'Brien and Rachel Baye

Two giant D.C.-based players dominated political giving in 2014 state-level elections.

Excerpts from this story referencing "David Koch":

"… s top 50 donor list: Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; billionaire David Koch, who runs the Kansas-based Koch Industries with his brother; electricity g …"

Who needs lobbyists? See what big business spends to win American minds

By Erin Quinn and Chris Young

Trade groups pay top PR, advertising firms $1.2 billion over five years to influence public.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau":

"… ency was behind a public affairs campaign targeting the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency birthed out of the 2008 financial crisis. The campaign on behal …"

Liberal ‘dark money’ group could face IRS fine

By Michael Beckel

Union-backed Pennsylvanians for Accountability could face IRS fine after failing to file a mandatory tax return.

Excerpts from this story referencing "spokeswoman":

"… ll not have a comment on this,” SEIU spokesman Beau Boughamer said. NEA spokeswoman Sara Robertson also declined to comment. saying the union had “no contro …"

"… n anything else." Lynsey Kryzwick of public relations firm BerlinRosen, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvanians for Accountability at the time, dismissed the criti …"

Groups sue to force EPA's hand on oil and gas emissions

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Nine groups sue to force the EPA to decide whether emissions from oil and gas extraction should be publicly reported.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… vironmental statutes are filed against the agency each year. The state of Texas alone has nine cases pending against the EPA. Earthjustice, a nonprof …"

One-stop science shop has become a favorite of industry—and Texas

By Rosalind Adams and Lisa Song

The EPA's sluggishness in assessing chemicals has created opportunities for a consulting firm with ties to chemical and tobacco interests.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Frito-Lay":

"… ed to evaluate the chemical's oral cancer risk, was funded by Burger King, Frito-Lay and other food companies. Four of its eight authors were TERA scientists, …"

"… their results displayed on ITER. Those clients have included Dow Chemical, Frito-Lay and the International Copper Association. If the study passes TERA's revie …"

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 "ExxonMobil":

"… ts came from industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council and ExxonMobil. Adam Finkel, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania's Penn …"

Citing health risks, New York State bans fracking

By Talia Buford

"The potential risks are too great," says the state's acting health commissioner. "In fact, they are not fully known."

Excerpts from this story referencing "Andrew Cuomo":

"… officials announced Wednesday, citing potential health risks. At Governor Andrew Cuomo’s year-end cabinet meeting, acting state Health Commissioner Howard Zuck …"

Health worries pervade North Texas fracking zone

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the heavily fracked Barnett Shale in North Texas blame their health problems on toxic oil and gas emissions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Benzene":

"… ample contained anywhere from a dozen to more than three dozen substances. Benzene and xylenes without fail. Toluene almost as frequently. 1,3-butadiene once …"

Plant expansions fueled by shale gas boom to boost greenhouse gas, toxic air emissions

By Talia Buford

At least 120 planned plant expansions driven by the fracking boom collectively could release 130 million tons per year of greenhouse gases.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… ta. The three projects that have received final permits from regulators in Florida, Maryland and Louisiana have the potential to emit up to 7.5 million tons …"

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 "Insurance":

"… stupid.   Wendell Potter is the author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and …"

Ad war winners take governors' mansions

By Ben Wieder, Reity O'Brien and Rachel Baye

Three out of four races won by top spending candidates and their allies

Excerpts from this story referencing "Democratic Governors Association":

"… ups were the Republican Governors Association ($28.5 million) and the Democratic Governors Association ($17.2 million), national committees that spend and raise millions to elec …"

Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Petroleum Institute":

"… o the development of natural gas in a safe and responsible manner.” The American Petroleum Institute did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But McCawley, with …"

Mega-donors give big to state candidates

By Rachel Baye, Reity O'Brien and Ben Wieder

More than two dozen donors have given at least $1 million to state-level campaigns ahead of Nov. 4.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Governor":

"… unseat unpopular incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican; The Republican Governors Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has given at le …"

"… ding at least $4.5 million from Griffin and $7 million from the Republican Governors Association. “The millions reassured prospective donors that the Repub …"

"… his running mate to accept more than $3.6 million from the Democratic Governors Association, more than $755,000 from Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner an …"

"… the five largest donors to the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association in the first nine months of this year, according to the …"

Pennsylvania congressman launches frack waste investigation

By David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji

Congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is asking state officials to review environmental exemptions for fracking waste.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Public Integrity":

"… waste disposal's threat to human health. For the past 18 months, The Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News have been reporting on air pollution from oil …"

Pennsylvania super PAC gets 'dark money' infusion

By Michael Beckel

Nonprofit Green Orchard Inc. is listed as the sole donor to new Prosperity for Pennsylvania super PAC.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Internal Revenue Service":

"… en Orchard’s sole director and treasurer on its 2013 tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. When asked by the Center for Public Integrity about Green Orchard recent …"

Ads in U.S. Senate contests turn nasty

By Dave Levinthal

More than seven in 10 U.S. Senate-focused television ads last week attacked or criticized a political candidate.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee":

"… red a positive message during that month’s second week.  Crown the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as last week’s ultimate hater. Not only did it produce more TV ads than …"

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 "Pollution":

"… ity. They formed a grassroots opposition group called Concerned About Pollution, or CAP, and held their first meeting under the gazebo in Nordheim’s Jub …"

Prison bankers cash in on captive customers

By Daniel Wagner

Private company profits by helping prisons squeeze inmates' families for cash.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Ryan Shapiro":

"… with current and former employees.) “We invented this business,” said Ryan Shapiro, 37, the company’s founder and CEO, in a phone interview in June. “Eve …"

Non-candidate spending increases in state elections

By Rachel Baye, Reity O'Brien, Kytja Weir and Ben Wieder

TV ad spending in state elections since 2010 is down, but the portion ponied up by political nonprofits and state-level super PACs rises.

Excerpts from this story referencing "University of Oklahoma":

"… his year,” said Tyler Johnson, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma. “You have 20-plus governors running for re-election, so you’re immedi …"

"… ave long provided the “best of both worlds,” according to Johnson, the University of Oklahoma professor. “They get outsiders who are willing to attack and get those …"

"… at it removes curriculum control from local decision-makers. Johnson, the University of Oklahoma professor, said criticism of Barresi’s position on the policy ultimately …"

Secret politics pervade popular companies

By Dave Levinthal

Some well-known brands keep their political spending secret while others are more forthcoming, new survey shows.

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

"… ertly advocating for or against federal-level candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  Topping the list is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the natio …"

Bill aims to stop coal companies from denying benefits to miners with black lung

By Chris Hamby

Two coal-state senators plan to introduce legislation to reform the federal benefits program for black lung victims.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Jay Rockefeller":

"… lation, sponsored by Sens. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, aims to put a stop to those strategies. "T …"

Can this 'dark money' group help the Democrats keep the Senate?

By Michael Beckel

Patriot Majority USA raises millions from unknown sources to play attack dog in the South.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Service Employees International Union":

"… d seven-figure sums from at least two labor unions: $1.14 million from the Service Employees International Union, including $280,000 from the SEIU’s state council in Pennsylvania, and $ …"

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 "Verizon Communications Inc.":

"… sse. He received $16,750 from AT&T, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications Inc. in the 2012 election cycle, the third-largest amount among North Carolina …"

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 "Prevention":

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

"… oncentrate on the motives of suicide victims and not the means people use. Prevention specialists are increasingly studying the link between guns and suicide. …"

"… o measure what hasn’t happened, Murphy said. State Prevention measures Prevention specialists in New Hampshire and Nevada are looking at firearm suicides an …"

"… ides happened in Nevada in 2012, data shows. The Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention has coordinators contacting gun stores, ranges and training centers with p …"

Firearms used in homicides often purchased illegally

By Kelsey Jukam, Aaron Maybin and Jordan Rubio

A News21 analysis of the FBI’s national database of supplementary homicide reports found that across the country, 17,422 black men between a

Excerpts from this story referencing "Iraq":

"… liest cities. One is dedicated to a veteran who survived his deployment in Iraq unscathed only to be shot and killed in his hometown. “This is not a wa …"

Growing number of biosafety labs raises public health concern

By James Arkin

Construction of new biosafety labs a waste of money, possible threat to public health, say reports and experts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Inspector General":

"… s needed, according to a report released last week by Department of Energy Inspector General Gregory Friedman. Friedman wrote that the $9.5 million proposal had been …"

"… ries of the national lab,” the assessment said. In his July report, DOE Inspector General Friedman wrote that the Los Alamos project would nearly double the NNSA’ …"

"… ext two years. It did not say which one. When asked for comment about the Inspector General’s report, representatives from both Los Alamos and the NNSA referred the …"

EPA: No comment on fracking air pollution

By Jim Morris and Lisa Song

No one at the Environmental Protection Agency has been willing to talk on the record about air pollution associated with fracking in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… air pollution caused by the fracking boom in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas. Despite hundreds of complaints from residents, many of them about noxious …"

"… and rarely fines companies for breaking emission laws. On our 11 trips to Texas we encountered many residents who asked what seemed to be a reasonable que …"

"… easonable question: If a state regulatory agency — in this case the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — isn’t doing much to curb the ind …"

"… eking on-the-record interviews with EPA officials in Washington, D.C., and Texas. Five months later, no such interviews have been granted. Instead, EPA pr …"

Families sick from fracking turn to scientists

By Lisa Song

A Pennsylvania nonprofit provides free health consultations to people who live near gas drilling sites and complain of health effects.

Excerpts from this story referencing "reporter":

"… ing,” he said. “But I think we should find out."  Lisa Song is a reporter for InsideClimate News. …"

How oil and gas firms gained influence and transformed North Dakota

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Industry has transformed the state, but at what cost?

Excerpts from this story referencing "North Dakota":

"… the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s Heritage Center makes for a jarring sight in this Midwestern prairie c …"

"… se drab Capitol grounds. Each cube features a gallery devoted to an era of North Dakota’s history, but the state’s present is everywhere. The legislature app …"

"… the boom. Energy companies have drilled more than 8,000 wells into western North Dakota’s rugged prairie since the beginning of 2010, quadrupling the state’s …"

"… l-funded sovereign wealth fund that will approach a balance of $3 billion. North Dakota is in the uncommon position of facing a labor shortage, spurring a state-r …"

Medicare Advantage plans require more scrutiny

By Fred Schulte

Government inspector says private Medicare plans difficult to investigate due to lack of access to data.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicaid":

"… at more needs to be done to protect tax dollars. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials unveiled a new data analysis system to identify o …"