Power shifts to outsiders in U.S. Senate fight

By Michael Beckel

Battle for control determined in large part by big-spending super PACs and nonprofits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "head":

"… und, a group founded by longtime Republican donor Joe Ricketts, the former head of online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade whose family owns the Chicago Cubs …"

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 "Insurance":

"… time marijuana legalization advocate from Ohio and chairman of Progressive Insurance, who died in 2013. Another backer is the Drug Policy Alliance, an anti-dru …"

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 "Federal Election Commission":

"… with “dark money,” according to a new campaign finance filing with the Federal Election Commission. The sole donor to Prosperity for Pennsylvania is listed as nonprofit Gre …"

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 "California":

"… den State’s Central Valley, had the highest rate of student expulsion in California, not just on a per capita basis, but actually numerically higher than popu …"

"… adoption of alternative discipline and student transfer practices include California Rural Legal Assistance, or CRLA, a nonprofit that has represented Kern kid …"

"… d. The suit was filed against the 35,000-pupil Kern High School District, California’s second largest high school district. Its student body is 62 percent La …"

"… Kern County Office of Education, which runs alternative campuses; and the California Department of Education. Lisa Krch, the district’s public information a …"

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 "Center for Public Integrity":

"… rest. We are still awaiting records from several other districts. …"

"… added, without including estimates of staffer hours and hourly rates. The Center for Public Integrity refused to pay the amount, arguing that the fees were excessive. Charging …"

"… o has tried to get similar records from other Florida counties.  The Center for Public Integrity on July 15 requested documents related to how judges in the county were di …"

"… er the state implemented a new plan to cut a backlog of pending cases. The Center for Public Integrity's report on Florida foreclosures found that many judges were rushing cases …"

Obamacare helps millions, but falls short in many ways

By Wendell Potter

The Affordable Care Act has reduced the ranks of the uninsured, but cost of care must be addressed.

Excerpts from this story referencing "White House":

"… he hospital companies, physician organizations and drug makers in ways the White House and members of both parties in Congress were not willing to do in 2009 bec …"

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 "Bush administration":

"… l enthusiastic about it, I can tell you.” Eventually, at the end of the Bush administration, monitoring was put into place for the most sensitive gear, but officials& …"

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 "oil and gas industry":

"… d by the state’s Railroad Commission, the primary regulator for the oil and gas industry. The agency considers the projects’ effects on water, but not on air qua …"

Obama takes star turn in state political ads

By Ben Wieder

President and his policies take center stage in political ads, with more than 300,000 mentions, including in lower level state races.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Politics":

"… yle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. He attributes it, in part, to a growing partisan split among voters. “ …"

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 …"

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 …"

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 "Verizon":

"… Shapiro: Of course we’re going to catch a bad wrap here and there. Verizon catches a bad rap, Google, whomever the customer. Customers get upset. So …"

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 "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission":

"… received significant attention since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision granted them powerful spending freedoms. Corporations may n …"

In Kansas, Democratic donors invest in uncertainty

By Michael Beckel

Independent Senate candidate Greg Orman lures left-leaning donors despite uncertainty about whether he'll caucus with Democrats.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… d by extension he will act in the best interest of all the citizens of the United States,” Cahill said. “Frankly I’m not concerned in the least who he caucus …"

"… or Senate Republicans may have the upper hand. “If I get elected to the United States Senate, there’s a reasonable chance that neither party will have a major …"

The 47-year-old nuclear elephant in the room

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith

A growing number of U.S. experts say that feigning ignorance about Israel’s nuclear arsenal creates more trouble than it averts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… world’s “worst-kept secrets” dates from a political deal between the United States and Israel in the late 1960s. Its consequence has been to help Israel main …"

"… pons, a widespread consensus exists in the region and among experts in the United States that Israel possesses a number of nuclear weapons. For Israel’s neighbor …"

"… ould not test its nuclear weapons or announce it possessed them, while the United States wouldn’t press Israel to give them up or to sign the Non-Proliferation T …"

"… ma’s top advisor on nuclear nonproliferation from 2009 to 2013, said the United States has long preferred that Israel hold to its policy of amimut, out of concer …"

DOE official seeks probe of dissident analyst’s dismissal by nuclear weapons laboratory

By Douglas Birch

The overseer of U.S. nuclear weapons production requests an Inspector General’s review of the firing of Los Alamos analyst James Doyle.

Children's rights groups urge Defense program to stop giving school cops military hardware

By Susan Ferriss

Groups trying to curb use of police in school discipline urge federal officials not give military weapons to campus police departments.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… hool districts large and small, from California, Texas, Nevada and Utah to Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Michigan.   In California, the San Diego Unifie …"

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 "media outlets":

"… al Sen. John E. Sununu. For example, after Smith’s campaign chided media outlets last week for ignoring a concert event it hosted — “the media was …"

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 "Federal Election Commission":

"… lizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to seek the presidency. In a letter Sunday, the Federal Election Commission explained to Chicago-based "Ready for Warren PAC" that only committees aut …"

GOP’s Senate hopes energized by Koch network ad blitz

By Michael Beckel

How many TV ads have groups connected to the billionaire brothers aired in your state?

Excerpts from this story referencing "Thom Tillis":

"… on — about three-and-a-half times the amount raised by her GOP opponent, Thom Tillis. Meanwhile, both Udall of Colorado and Alaska’s Begich had each raised …"

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 "Thom Tillis":

"… ot Majority USA’s $1.7 million TV ad blitz slamming Republican candidate Thom Tillis. “These are the rules that are set before us,” she continued. “You …"

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 "Massachusetts":

"… heen will likely face former GOP Sen. Scott Brown, who briefly represented Massachusetts and has now gone north to the Granite State in a bid to reclaim his politi …"

Russian bank hires two former U.S. senators

By Alexander Cohen

U.S. sanctions against Russia are becoming a boon for Washington's lobbyists.

Excerpts from this story referencing "John Breaux":

"… day, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and former Senator John Breaux, D-La., are listed as the main lobbyists under the Gazprombank account for …"

Defeat of California initiative would protect insurers' profits

By Wendell Potter

Proposition 45 would allow California's insurance chief to block insurance rate hikes; insurers are spending millions to kill it.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Barack Obama":

"… ent last week on an ad in Salon.com featuring a large picture of President Barack Obama and this message: “Protect Obamacare from Legal Attacks. Prop 45’s Dir …"

Enforcement of gun laws hinges on local sheriffs' interpretation of Second Amendment

Rural sheriffs across the country are by protesting gun control laws

Excerpts from this story referencing "Arizona":

"… ered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University Sheriff Mike Lewis considers himself the last man standi …"

"… ht to own a gun for hunting purposes.” Oath Keepers and CSPOA If former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack had it his way, there wouldn’t be a single gun cont …"

"… i-government “patriot group.” But Mack, the former sheriff in eastern Arizona’s rural Graham County, is not letting up. His conviction is central to t …"

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 "North Carolina":

"… on, D.C., is considering requests from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, to pre-empt state laws that block municipalities from building or expandi …"

"… uthern cities. Tullahoma, which has a broadband network, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, which doesn’t. City-provided broadband widespread More than 130 citie …"

"… on cycle was more than $370,000, almost five times what it was in 2000. In North Carolina, AT&T’s total campaign giving in the 2012 election cycle, including …"

"… ayetteville In Fayetteville, the story is different. Like Tullahoma, the North Carolina city is adjacent to a military base: Fort Bragg. But Fayetteville’s econ …"

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 "Massachusetts":

"… or 2012, the most recent year available, but Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island denied requests for statistics or could not …"

Lobbying disclosures leave public in the dark

By Marcelo Rochabrun and Dave Levinthal

Despite efforts to beef up laws regulating lobbyists, public is in the dark when it comes to what firms are up to in Washington.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Jack Abramoff":

"… he Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, in the aftermath of the Jack Abramoff scandal. The bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared upon its …"

Women become increasingly involved in gun groups

By Lauren Loftus and Natalie Krebs

Thanks in part to targeted marketing, more women are buying guns for protection and sport

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… so a woman, Tara Mica-Reilly, the NRA state liaison for Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi. “I believe that women bring patience and logic and abi …"

Gun rights debate enters a new arena: the campus

By Wade Millward and Carmen Forman

The right to carry a firearm onto college campuses has become another issue in the gun control debate

Excerpts from this story referencing "University of Utah":

"… ons on campus. The first state to finalize campus carry was Utah in 2006. University of Utah continued banning guns on campus despite the state’s 2004 pree …"

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