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Olympia Snowe: A red-meat Republican after all?

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Many people in Washington will miss Olympia Snowe, the Maine Republican and bipartisan bridge-builder who announced Tuesday evening that she has decided not to seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. But perhaps none more so than Charlie Palmer.

Though the confirmed centrist hardly fits the image of a "red-meat Republican," the Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, appears to be one of her favorite venues. Records compiled by Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time show that the GOP lawmaker held 27 fundraisers there between May and December of last year. On three ...

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Rick Perry forming super PAC?

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Former presidential candidate Rick Perry is urging the Federal Election Commission to let him convert his presidential campaign contributions into a political action committee  -- and is asking whether he might turn his campaign apparatus into a super PAC, able to raise and spend money in unlimited amounts.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission this week, Perry campaign treasurer Salvatore Purpura writes that the Texas governor ended the campaign with a warchest of $270,000 earmarked for the general election. The campaign is in the process of asking donors for permission to transfer their funds to the as-yet uncreated ...

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Super PAC floodgates open

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Whether you consider it a case of raging hypocrisy or a common sense decision not to unilaterally disarm -- and there will be plenty of predictably partisan views on both sides -- President Obama's decision to greenlight donations to a super PAC that former staffers formed last year is confirmation that the influence of big money on politics is about to get exponentially bigger.

In a prescient piece of eye-opening analysis, our colleagues Lee Drutman and Jacob Fenton today take a look at how donations to super PACs took off at the presidential campaign intensified in the week's leading up ...

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Gabrielle Giffords leaves Congress with a big war chest

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., may be taking her name off her congressional office and the 2012 ballot, but that doesn't mean she can't be a player in a state that will be one of the top political battlegrounds this year.

The congresswoman's announcement that she will be giving up her House seat this week to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound leaves her sitting on an impressive campaign fund, which she can save to relaunch her political career or bestow on other candidates and campaigns, a traditional way for politicians to stockpile goodwill.

Giffords, a ...

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Super PAC profile: Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart ‘not coordinating’

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In what may be one of the most pointed political jokes since Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal, Stephen Colbert's satirical mystery tour has arrived in South Carolina.

As of Wednesday, the political action committee that the comedian founded amid much fanfare last year had spent $65,000 buying time in Charleston, S.C. to air a series of ads: one attacking Republicans who benefit from super PAC spending in general; another attacking Mitt Romney in particular, and a third suggesting that a vote for the now-non-candidate Herman Cain is a vote for faux-candidate Colbert

Earlier TV ad campaigns by ...

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Super PAC profile: Citizens for a Working America flies under the radar

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Citizens for Working America is not the biggest or the most influential of the super PACs, but it may provide one of the clearest illustrations of how hard it is to track the shadowy organizations that have sprung up to influence elections in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision.

The group first surfaced in 2010, when it became one of the big spenders in a successful GOP campaign to unseat House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt from a seat that the South Carolina Democrat occupied for 28 years. 

In July, when the PAC, filed its ...

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Super PAC profile: Restore Our Future helped Romney and infuriated Gingrich

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Arguably the most influential political advertisements so far of the 2012 cycle -- ads that helped topple Newt Gingrich from GOP presidential frontrunner to out-of-the-money finisher in Iowa on Tuesday -- were produced and purchased by a super PAC that purports to be making "independent expenditures" in the campaign but that has plenty of connections to Mitt Romney.

Restore our Future, a super PAC established and operated by a group of Romney's former staffers and supporters, spent $4.1 million before the Iowa caucus on an ad blitz aimed largely at Gingrich, the former House speaker who once appeared to be ...

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