New Tools to Help Advocates with Campaign Finance Data

A new site, TransparencyData.com, is acclaimed as "a central source for all federal and state campaign contributions made in the last twenty years." The Sunlight Foundation teamed up with the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, and by merging data from these groups, produced a new development in the availability of campaign finance data.

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Groups Continue to Look For Ways Around Campaign Finance Disclosure

Rick Hasen has an interesting column at Slate, discussing efforts to chip away at campaign finance regulations. Hasen suggests it will only get worse. "Opponents of reasonable regulation have a new target: trying to keep the flow of campaign money secret." For example, Citizens United submitted an advisory opinion request to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), asking if it qualifies for the "media exemption" under the Federal Campaign Finance Act.

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AU Asks IRS to Investigate Florida Church for Electioneering Against Gay Mayoral Candidate

Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate a Florida church for improper electioneering. Americans United filed the complaint against Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, as a result of the church posting a sign on its property that read, "No Homo Mayor," in an apparent attempt to deter people from voting for Craig Lowe, an openly gay Gainesville mayoral candidate.

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Disclosure Requirements Endure After SpeechNow.org Case Decided

In SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, a federal appeals court unanimously struck down limits on contributions to independent political groups that want to spend money in support or opposition to candidates. The court ruled as unconstitutional the $5,000 annual limit on donations from individuals to groups like SpeechNow.org.

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Bill Seeks to Ban Secrecy in State Redistricting

Reps. John Tanner (D-TN) and Michael Castle (R-DE) have introduced HR 4918, the Redistricting Transparency Act of 2010. The bill would require states to put together redistricting plans for U.S. House district boundaries in a public process. This includes having an Internet site to inform the public of the planning. The site would have to provide advance notice of any meetings on the subject of redrawing the boundaries of the districts.

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More Congressional Hearings to Address Citizens United

The Senate Judiciary committee held a hearing tilted, "We the People? Corporate Spending in American Elections after Citizens United." During the hearing opponents of the ruling argued that the case exemplified that the Roberts Court has abandoned judicial restraint.

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Outspent: An influx of Money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The LA Times reports on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's growing grassroots initiative, Friends of the U.S. Chamber, which "has begun to rival those of the major political parties, funded by record-setting amounts of money raised from corporations and wealthy individuals."

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The Problem Remains Money in Politics

Global Integrity, an international nonprofit organization that tracks global corruption trends, released the Global Integrity Index: 2009. The report analyzed 35 countries' ability to counter corruption, and the tools available to citizens to hold the government accountable.

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Schumer/Van Hollen Response to Citizens United

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced a summary, presented as a "framework," of the legislation they plan to introduce to curtail the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Their extensive response includes a ban on expenditures by foreign interests, as well as corporations that have federal contracts and those that received funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

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SpeechNow.org Seeks Unlimited Individual Contributions for 527 Groups

Almost two years ago, a 527 organization called SpeechNow.org, asked for a court ruling that would have blocked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from enforcing limits on contributions to the group. On Jan. 27, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case. The court must consider whether the group should be subject to an annual limit on donations from individuals and comply with disclosure requirements.

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