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Abortion restrictions going viral?

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As state lawmakers in Texas and North Carolina move towards enacting tough new limits on abortions, Sunlight decided to use some of our data tools to see how far the trend is spreading nationwide. To do so, we lifted key phrases from four of the most restrictive abortion bills that have either been enacted or considered recently and ran those terms through our Open States database, which surveys activity in all 50 state legislatures.

Restrictive abortion bills on the move in 2013

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Americans for Prosperity takes aim at farm bill

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Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a 501(c)4 non-profit backed by the family behind the Koch Industries conglomerate, is lining up with some unusual partners as it launches a multi-media campaign against the farm bill that the U.S. House of Representatives is set to consider this week.

As the House takes up the bill, AFP has started an Internet ad campaign targeting 15 members of the House of Representatives, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, according to a press release the group issued Monday. In addition, the organization has launched an email campaign urging voters to contact their lawmakers ...

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Study finds link between who gives to judicial candidates and how they decide

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images of the scales of justice with cash and gavelA rising tide of campaign contributions to candidates for states' top courts appears to be influencing the way those courts mete out justice, a new academic study finds.

"Justice at Risk," a report from the American Constitution Society, examined more than 2,300 business-related cases decided between 2010-2012 by the Supreme courts of the 50 states and compared them to 175,000 records of campaign contributions obtained from the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics. The conclusion: "There is a statistically significant relationship between campaign contributions from business groups and justices voting in favor of business interests."

The ...

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Verizon lobbyists host fundraisers for Intelligence Committee members

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Verizon logoLobbyists for Verizon Communications, which is refusing comment on a now-confirmed report that the telecommunications giant turned millions of its customers' records over to the National Security Agency, have thrown fundraisers for members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, records compiled by the Sunlight Foundation show.

According to the Political Party Time database, which tracks candidate fundraising events, lobbyists for Verizon Communications have hosted at least five fundraising events for Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. Louis Dupart, of the lobbying firm The Normandy Group, hosted at least three events, two for Mikulski and one for Collins, while Wayne Berman hosted two more for Collins, including a birthday reception in 2010. Both senators voted in 2008 in favor of  the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which shielded telecom companies, including Verizon, from lawsuits related to an earlier wiretapping controversy

Lobbyists for Verizon have also hosted a fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., an ex officio member of the Senate committee, and Rep. Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

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Two freshmen seek end to corporate personhood

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Two new members of Congress, Reps. Rick Nolan, DFL-Minn., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., will introduce a resolution on Tuesday aimed at reducing corporate influence in politics through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

According to Nolan, the amendment would establish that "corporations are not people, and money is not speech." In a press conference Monday, he announced the plan along with representatives from Move to Amend (MTA), a coalition that seeks to eliminate corporate personhood rights. The organization officially launched Jan. 21, 2010, the day that the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates ...

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Emergency Committee for Israel keeps spending in fight against Hagel

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(Updated Feb. 8, 5:52 p.m.)

The Emergency Committee for Israel has launched a new ad campaign to oppose former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense, after the vote to confirm him was delayed in the Senate. 

A decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone its vote on Hagel's nomination -- made because some committee members said they wanted more information about Hagel's speaking engagements -- gave the groups spending against him more time to place ads. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee, said he plans to hold the vote as soon ...

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Bloomberg spending in Chicago congressional race

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(Updated Feb. 7, 10:06 p.m. ET)

A super PAC founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has jumped into a special election to fill a Chicago-area congressional seat, criticizing one of the candidates for her opposition to gun control.

Independence USA PAC has purchased at least $660,000 of ad time from Chicago network stations to oppose Democrat Debbie Halvorson, one of a big field of candidates vying for the seat that ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. vacated last year. Halvorson already won a House seat in 2008. In her failed 2010 reelection bid, she won the endorsement ...

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On Wisconsin: Badger State gets no break from political air wars

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(Updated Feb. 8, 2:45 p.m. ET)

Conservative outside spending group Wisconsin Club for Growth has purchased at least $111,000 in television ads in support of incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, ramping up a political ad war in what is officially a non-partisan race for the state's Supreme Court.

The advertisements are set to start today and run at least until Feb. 18 -- the day before the primary election -- according to information gathered from Political Ad Sleuth, a Sunlight tool that tracks political ad purchases, and phone calls to local stations. Steve Scadden, a sales manager for Madison ...

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