Ex-senators Breaux and Lott confirm lobbying for Russian bank on Ukraine sanctions

By Alexander Cohen

A new filing says two former senators were part of a team that earned $150,000 for roughly a month of work.

Excerpts from this story referencing "bank":

"… Trent Lott and John Breaux were part of a team paid $150,000 by a Russian bank to lobby on U.S. sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, according to a new dis …"

"… quire Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., were retained over the summer by a banking subsidiary of the Russian oil giant Gazprombank and lobbied the Senate …"

"… ed over the summer by a banking subsidiary of the Russian oil giant Gazprombank and lobbied the Senate and the Department of State on the sanctions and ot …"

"… lobbied the Senate and the Department of State on the sanctions and other banking laws, according to the filing. Disclosure of their connection with Gaz …"

GAO takes on Medicare Advantage spending

By Fred Schulte

GAO will investigate program spending.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group, wouldn’t comment on the G …"

"… y lobbied to scale back planned pay cuts to the Health plans. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, spent nearly $5 million lobbyin …"

Bloomberg helps Democratic governors' group close gap on Republicans

By Ben Wieder

The Republican Governors Association is outpacing its Democratic counterpart but Democrats are catching up.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Republican Governors Association":

"… h the Internal Revenue Service show that the gap is narrowing. Though the Republican Governors Association raised about $68 million through the end of September, the Democratic Gove …"

"… Bhargava each contributed $2.5 million through the end of September to the Republican Governors Association. Private equity head Mike Shannon and his wife, Mary Sue, along with hedg …"

Gubernatorial hopefuls outspend U.S. Senate candidates

By Rachel Baye

Thirty-six seats are at stake in the U.S. Senate and 36 governorships are also up for election on Nov. 4.

Center report spurs investigation of Bank of America, JPMorgan prison deals

By Daniel Wagner

No-bid contracts with Bank of America and JPMorgan under government scrutiny after Center report.

Excerpts from this story referencing "bank":

"… enter for Public Integrity. The Center first reported this month that the banks have exclusive access to the more than 214,000 federal inmates under cont …"

"… . It is unclear how much money JPMorgan has made on the cards because the bank’s compensation comes from fees charged directly to former inmates. A sep …"

"… Comerica bank. Treasury paid Comerica an extra $32.5 million for work the bank had promised to do for free, the audit found. Treasury has spent more tha …"

"… past decade on financial agency agreements often with the same handful of banks, documents show. The Center’s report about federal prisons w …"

A call for more scrutiny of private Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte

Researchers say aggressive billing by private plans may require more scrutiny

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… s need to do a better job ferreting out billing errors and overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans — mistakes which are estimated to cost taxpayers billion …"

"… xpayers billions of dollars every year, a top government researcher says. Medicare pays the privately-run Advantage health insurance plans, which cover more …"

"… n criticized for allegedly overstating how sick some patients are to boost Medicare revenue, a practice known as “upcoding.” Researcher Richard Kronick, …"

"… that seem to diagnose much higher-than-expected rates of patient illness. Medicare Advantage plans that have been “significantly more aggressive than avera …"

Suit against Kern County schools alleges disproportionate discipline for minorities

By Susan Ferriss

Litigation follows Center pieces highlighting harsh discipline for minorities.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Education":

"… kids in school disputes; the nonprofit Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF; the nonprofit Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc …"

"… o names as defendants the district’s trustees; the Kern County Office of Education, which runs alternative campuses; and the California Department of Educati …"

"… ucation, which runs alternative campuses; and the California Department of Education. Lisa Krch, the district’s public information and communications manage …"

"… on “implicit biases of students of color.” The U.S. Department of Education has urged schools to examine discipline policies and the impact on ch …"

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 "Health":

"… s law does allow the undocumented to receive state-funded care through the Health Safety Net program for low-income persons). Schwarzenegger was feeling pre …"

"… ented immigrants is nearly a billion dollars a year,” Schwarzenegger’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Kim Belshe, told PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill …"

"… . Among the many businesses and organizations supporting Lara’s bill is Health Access California, a statewide Health care consumer advocacy coalition. " …"

"… munities, and they need to be fully included in our Health system, too,” Health Access executive director Anthony Wright told me. “This (expanding cover …"

'These families are not victims:' readers react to our prison bankers investigation

By Sarah Whitmire

While some readers were grateful for our reporting on prison bankers, others were far from sympathetic.

FEC's top Democrat takes show on road

By Dave Levinthal

Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel will criss-cross the country in bid to boost her agency's profile and tout merits of disclosure.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission":

"… -awaited measure that aligns FEC regulations with the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. (A similar measure addressing the more recent McCutcheon v. Fede …"

Secretive groups spend millions to influence state elections

By Reity O'Brien

Nonprofits hit TV airwaves with attacks on state-level candidates, gaining traction since the U.S. Supreme Court 'Citizens United' decision.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Politics":

"… ondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. “It’s preferred to have the outside group doing the really brutal st …"

Money talks: Key dollar amounts behind the TV ad wars in state elections

By Rachel Baye and Kytja Weir

More than 6,300 state offices are at stake this election. See who is trying to shape the message in the top races.

Democrats seize air supremacy in Senate battlegrounds

By Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel

Liberals aired more TV ads last week than their conservative foils in seven of the nine top Senate battlegrounds races.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Jeanne Shaheen":

"… in Denver; and KTUU-TV 2 in Anchorage, Alaska. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen accounted for 220 of WMUR’s Senate-focused ads, while Republican challen …"

A life-and-death struggle for asylum in America

By Susan Ferriss and Amy Isackson

Teens' tortured road to asylum in America.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… om violence so chilling her family thought it better to smuggle her to the United States in the spring of 2013. “Two years ago a friend of mine died in a very c …"

"… whatever they need to say to get to stay here because the President of the United States has told them, in no uncertain terms: If they get here, he won’t enforce …"

"… illed him. She also said she was threatened for testifying and fled to the United States. Her case had previously reached the Board of Immigration Appeals, the BI …"

"… , fearing his son would be killed, arranged to have him smuggled up to the United States. The asylum officer asked Francisco details about various parts of his st …"

Sunshine state uses fees to prevent sun from shining on judicial records

By Alison Fitzgerald

In Florida, a court is charging massive fees for some public records.

Excerpts from this story referencing "general counsel":

"… ply — for a price. A price of $132,348, to be exact. Alexandra Rieman, general counsel for the circuit that includes Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, sai …"

"… ited the scope of the search only to emails among judges, the court's general counsel brought the fees down to $7,322, plus the per-page charge.  The Cent …"

New air monitor planned for heavily fracked South Texas county

By Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

After a Center and InsideClimate News investigation, Texas regulators say they'll put an air monitor in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Judge":

"… called for improved air monitoring in the Eagle Ford. Karnes County Judge Richard Butler, the county’s top executive, said TCEQ officials told&nbs …"

"… eck their models against the real-life data, he said. In early September, Judge Nelson Wolff of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, wrote a letter t …"

Senator questions Bank of America’s no-bid prison deal

By Daniel Wagner

After a Center report, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says Bank of America's no-bid prison banking deal "raises significant questions"

Excerpts from this story referencing "Bank of America Corp.":

"… U.S. Senator is questioning the Treasury Department’s decision to award Bank of America Corp. an exclusive contract to provide technology and financial services in all …"

Investigators find Islamic State used ammo made in 21 countries, including America

By Julia Harte and R. Jeffrey Smith

A new report from an arms tracking group highlights how easily munitions shipped to the Middle East shift from one owner to another.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pentagon":

"… t respond to questions about the company’s ownership or its work for the Pentagon. But he said, “There are many United States businesses, including wholes …"

"… nse goods and services — weapons and training — are coordinated by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. When a weapon is sold or given by …"

"… om 2003 to 2008, said that during this period, he struggled to catalog all Pentagon-funded arms shipments, which arrived in the country in a disorganized stat …"

"… that full capacity." Islamic State fighters may have anticipated that the Pentagon will make a renewed effort to track whether its future arms shipments stay …"

Controversial Republican telemarketer forms super PAC

By Dave Levinthal

Gabriel S. Joseph III's past political efforts include an anti-Obama spam text message campaign that prompted legal complaints.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Steve King":

"… dvertising has also been paid for work on behalf of clients including Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa; Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas; the Republican Party of Alaska; the …"

Center wins 2014 Online Journalism Award for 'General Excellence'

By Gita Miller

Online News Association recognizes Center's digital efforts with award for 'General Excellence.'

Excerpts from this story referencing "Journalism":

"… nology as digital storytellers with the award for “General Excellence in Journalism” in the “small” category from the Online News Association (ONA). La …"

"… gory from the Online News Association (ONA). Launched in 2000, the Online Journalism Awards recognize excellence in digital Journalism, with a focus on indepen …"

Megabanks have prison financial services market locked up

By Daniel Wagner

Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase & Co. avoid competitive bidding process in contracts serving federal prisoners.

Excerpts from this story referencing "bank":

"… plays a perpetual second fiddle to JPMorgan Chase & Co., the only U.S. bank that holds more assets. A few blocks north, however, at the New York Metr …"

"… rovision of money transfers, e-messaging and some telephone services. The bank’s monopoly extends across the federal Bureau of Prisons system — 121 i …"

"… which include earnings from jobs and money their families send them. The banks’ exclusive deals came not from the Bureau of Prisons, but from the U.S. …"

"… de cards for federal prisons. Fees from former inmates make up most of the bank’s compensation for these cards, documents show. A separate Treasury docu …"

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 …"

Eyeballs burn in North Carolina, Iowa ahead of U.S. Senate elections

By Michael Beckel

Last week, North Carolina, Iowa residents saw three political ads focused on contentious Senate elections every five minutes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… n pro-Tillis issue ads, according to filings in September submitted to the Federal Election Commission. It also aired a number of ads praising Tillis in August, but because the …"

Inside the virtual tollbooth at many U.S. prisons

By Daniel Wagner, Eleanor Bell and Sarah Whitmire

How Reporters Dan Wagner and Eleanor Bell investigated a fee structure that's oppressive for many inmates' families.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Washington":

"… ked carefully at their tools and authorities. There are two regulators in Washington that could have the authority to look at prison bankers’ monopolies, and …"

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 "Florida":

"… ment of Corrections informed her that JPay Inc., a private company in Florida, would begin handling all deposits into inmates’ accounts. Sending a mo …"

"… t year, when her son was sentenced to 20 days in jail in St. Lucie County, Florida, for reckless driving, Linda wanted to buy him a second pair of underwear …"

"… r, she was instructed to make the money order out to JPay and send it to a Florida post office box. The company would credit it to Eddie’s account. Under …"

"… e fees related to his business. He said he did not know, for example, that Florida now charges its own fee for money order deposits after JPay processes the …"

Debit cards slam released prisoners with sky-high fees, few protections

By Amirah Al Idrus

Former prisoners say funds earned in prison eaten away by exorbitant debit card fees.

Excerpts from this story referencing "bank":

"… hoice: Many consumers who choose to use a prepaid card, often instead of a bank account, can shop around for the least costly option. Released inmates lik …"

"… against fraud, said Marty E. Moore, a Utah-based lawyer who represented a bank that issued prepaid cards given to inmates at Ramsey County Law Enforcemen …"

"… cording to former Ramsey County inmates who last year sued the county, the bank and Keefe Commissary Network, which provides the cards to the jail.   …"

Time is money: who's making a buck off prisoners' families?

By Eleanor Bell and Daniel Wagner

Video: How a web of prison bankers, private vendors and corrections agencies profit by shifting costs onto inmates' families.

Excerpts from this story referencing "president":

"… ld. Powder cocaine, never crack. Vincent Townsend, Pay-Tel Communications president: The reason we’re in this mess now, on my side, my industry has abused t …"

McAuliffe names panel to reform Virginia’s ethics laws

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Governor cites Center’s State Integrity Investigation in announcing new initiative.

Senate Democrats lead TV ad blitz

By Michael Beckel

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aired more TV ads in key Senate races last week than any other group.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Kentucky":

"… than any other spender last week in the Senate races underway in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina, according to Kantar Media/CMAG. The campai …"

"… .C., and Alison Lundergan Grimes — the Democrat challenging McConnell in Kentucky — each aired about 1,200 TV ads last week. That’s one ad about one ad …"

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 "Florida":

"… th more than $37 million already spent, followed by Texas ($36.8 million), Florida ($33.7 million), Illinois ($26.4 million) and New York ($14.5 mi …"

"… t groups so far are the Republican Governors Association at $11.4 million, Florida’s conservative Let's Get to Work political committee ($10.8 million), th …"

"… een gubernatorial races, with Pennsylvania ($35.5 million), Florida ($31.8 million) and Illinois ($26 million) leading the pack …"

"… the open seat being vacated by Gov. Martin O’Malley due to term limits. Florida has the second-most expensive governor’s race in the country despite the …"

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