Pork barrel ship
The great Washington tradition of pork barrel politics is alive and well if work from the Center for Public Integrity’s National Security team is any indication.
Lauren Chadwick, on a fellowship with us from Cornell, and managing editor Jeff Smith peeled back the web of self-interest and local advantage that’s still behind so much defense spending with a piece on the $400-million-odd U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship which the Pentagon doesn’t want and has called “not reliable.”
Apart from running on our own site where Jeff’s Gift Economy section has a litany of similar fiascos linked to pork-hungry politicians, the piece was also published by a key Washington partner of ours, Politico Magazine and at the time of writing has been shared almost 7,000 times.
In case you thought it was only the Hillary and Donald show, Michael Beckel and Jared Bennett reminded us that the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is still out there proving that hope triumphs over wisdom despite apparently still owing $1.9m for his 2012 campaign. It’s all part of the full non-partisan presidential coverage.
Nowhere is that non-partisanship clearer than in the federal political team’s impressive coverage of the big and dark money backing the Hillary Clinton campaign. Dave Levinthal reported a while ago on the irony that Hillary is this year the beneficiary of the “Citizens United” case which was all about a campaign against her. Dave updated that piece with news of a pro-Hillary super-PAC handing back money from a Massachusetts construction company that gains from government contracts.
As part of his almost encyclopedic coverage of the implications of the Citizens United case on contemporary politics, our deputy executive editor John Dunbar wrote about the weird comparison between the rights of the billionaire Koch brothers to hide the identity of supporters of a political group they stand behind and civil rights campaigners in the 1950s who won a privacy ruling protecting their backers from racist retribution.
A lawyer for the Kochs argued that they deserved the same protection from “threats, harassment, intimidation and retaliation”. It’s an intriguing read which also published in slightly different forms in Mother Jones and Newsweek. And if you thought that was enough Citizens United, the lawyer who successfully argued that case in the Supreme Court is out to make it even easier to give big money, according to a strong interview with Carrie Levine.
Ford and ICIJ
In fundraising news, we’re grateful to the Ford Foundation for a significant contribution to the Center for Public Integrity, earmarked for the work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It was a direct response to the impact of the Panama Papers investigation which additionally has generated a robust level of online contributions. Ford is also a big backer of the Money & Politics team at the Center, in particular stories like this one on the state of broadband access in poorer areas relative to richer areas, part of Ford’s focus on inequality.