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Anti-Hagel ad spending tops $200K

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(Updated Feb. 6, 11 a.m.)

Outside groups have spent at least $212,000 on television advertisements aimed at torpedoing former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's controversial nominee to head the Pentagon, with a Senate Armed Services Committee vote on his nomination set to occur as early as Thursday. 

The spending was picked up by Sunlight Foundation's Political Ad Sleuth, which tracks political ad buys. The figures almost certainly understate the amount of money being pumped into the anti-Hagel campaign: Political Ad Sleuth relies heavily on ads uploaded to the Federal Communications Commission's online database; currently only ...

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Total 2012 election spending: $7 billion

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A new estimate from the Federal Election Commission puts total spending for the 2012 election at more than $7 billion -- $1 billion more than previously thought. 

New FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub unveiled the latest estimate of the 2012 campaign's record-shattering cost at the agency's first open meeting of 2013, one that saw the departure of Cynthia Bauerly, one of the three Democratic commissioners. Though campaign spending was expected to break records after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that opened the door for unlimited contributions, the latest FEC estimate exceeds earlier expectations. 

The FEC processed more ...

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New members of the 113th: What they own and whom they owe

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Even before he was elected last November to represent Chicago's southern exurbs in the House, Illinois Democrat Bill Foster decided to sell his stake in Electronic Theatre Controls, a company he founded with his brother. Foster jettisoned the shares -- worth at least $5 million -- "to minimize potential conflicts of interest when voting on legislation that might impact his personal finances," according to his press secretary. 

Among this year's congressional freshmen, Foster stands out as a noteworthy exception.

Now that President Barack Obama's inaugural festivities are over and the 113th Congress is getting down to serious business, Sunlight ...

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Roe v. Wade at 40: Abortion debate fuels multi-million-dollar influence effort

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Friday's annual March for Life will bring thousands of anti-abortion protesters to the Supreme Court, marking this week's 40th anniversary of the justices' Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The event underscores the continuing intensity of a debate that has spawned well-financed lobbies on both sides at the federal and state level. 

Although the 113th Congress has been in session less than a month, the issue of abortion already is on the docket. A search using Sunlight Foundation's Scout, which allows users to track issues in Congress, the 50 state legislatures and the Federal Register ...

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Firing, fast tracked bill show clout of copyright holders

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copyright symbolIf there were any question of the clout big media wields in Washington, the fate of Derek Khanna, the House Republican staffer who called for scaling back the copyright protections these interests benefit from, should leave no doubt. Khanna, whose copyright paper was mistakenly published online by a House Republican policy making body, then quickly withdrawn after protests erupted from major media firms and their congressional allies, was fired earlier this month.

That's not the only potential win for the intellectual property protection lobby this month--the House Judiciary Committee today is taking time in the lame duck session to ...

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After election, dozens of super PACs shut down

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After an election that saw unprecedented spending from outside groups, more than a hundred super PACs have already hit the self-destruct button. Many of the now-defunct organizations spent more on themselves than they did supporting political candidates.   

Stephen Colbert announced on the Monday edition of his Comedy Central program the demise of his super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Inc., on his Comedy Central show. With Trevor ...

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House freshmen faring well as incumbents

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A vast majority of the freshmen swept into office two years ago on an anti-incumbency tide managed to survive their first reelection as incumbents, and while some appear to have been helped by last-minute infusions of cash from outside spenders, in many cases, independent expenditures don't appear to have made much of a difference.

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Outside spenders dump $210 million into last full week of the campaign

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In the last full week before the election, outside spending groups have bombarded voters with a record $210 million in ads, direct mail, and other political expenditures, and, as in weeks past, the vast majority of the funds went to support Republican candidates.

Since Sept. 7 -- when the FEC began requiring all groups to disclose independent expenditures, regardless of the content -- the rate of outside spending has ballooned, reaching a new high this week. A Sunlight analysis of Federal Election Commission records shows that organizations dropped $132.6 million to back Republicans in the period between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1, while just $76.4 went to help Democrats. That compares to $26 million for the second week of September.

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Mystery PAC drops $1.7 million before revealing Adelson connection

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Sheldon AdelsonA super PAC that deliberately disguised its connection to Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson emerged from the shadows to drop nearly $1.7 million in a single day this week to oppose President Barack Obama's reelection, one of a series of money bombs in a week where outside spending threatens to top $200 million.

On the same day it filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring the expenditure, Republicans for Prosperous America also announced it was changing its name to the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, thereby revealing its ties to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a politically active nonprofit ...

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