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Sens. Ayotte, Menendez continue raising money for their defense funds

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Sens. Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

While candidates and their supporters wooed donors to bankroll their campaign committees in this year’s elections, two senators continued to maintain legal defense funds that attracted thousands of dollars from deep-pocketed supporters and their parties' leadership.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., both filed third quarter reports with the Ethics Committee listing donations to funds set up to provide financial support from lawsuits against political opponents. Ayotte has raised $147,000, and Menendez $120,000 since setting up the legal defense fund. 

Documents obtained from ...

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Watch dog groups call for Congress, President to fill ethics posts

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Government watchdog organizations went to Capitol Hill yesterday to remind the White House and congressional leadership--currently deadlocked in negotiations over avoiding the flscal cliff--that there's a void in some of the critical institutions that police ethics in Washington.

Representatives from 10 government-accountabilty groups gathered to make sure that House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi maintain the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) by appointing new board members. They also emphasized that the president needs to take the lead in campaign finance reform by appointing new Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioners.

Full disclosure: Though it did not participate ...

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Follow the money from big Dem donors to super PACs to races

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Big money won big on Election Day. That is, big money supporting Democrats.

In this year's campaign, many wealthy individuals and groups with large campaign coffers were involved -- directly with contributions to candidates or indirectly through outside spending. Sunlight decided to zero in on five mega-donors who gave the most to super PACs backing liberal candidates. They comprise two millionaires, two unions and a political action committee with strong ties to labor:

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Outside spending group defends Republican outsiders

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In the final weeks leading up to Election Day, an outside spending group with ties to two infamous negative campaigns against Democrats has launched efforts to rescue two Republican Party outcasts.

Freedom's Defense Fund is an independent political action committee advocating for limited government with a consultant connected to both the discredited "birther" rumor questioning President Barack Obama's citizenship and the 2004 Swift Boat campaign questioning the Vietnam combat credentials of that year's Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts' Sen. John Kerry. Recently, the group poured $312,589 into two states:

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Web of union giving

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Graph of union giving

To view a larger version, click here or the image.

Deep-pocketed corporate moguls have captured most of the headlines this year when it comes to creative campaign giving, but the working class is showing it can play the same game.

The Supreme Court's landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United gave unions, as well as corporations, the right to spend money directly from their treasuries to influence elections. An examination of independent expenditures by labor unions, captured by Sunlight's Follow the Unlimited Money, reveals an interlocking web of donations to a plethora of super PACs, some of them clearly ...

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Political big bucks in paradise: Hawaii Senate race draws outside donors

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Hawaii's first open Senate seat in more than three decades has attracted two high-profile women candidates and lots of outside money.

The race, which guarantees that Hawaii will elect its first woman senator in the state's 53-year history, represents a rematch between Republican Linda Lingle, below left, and the Democratic congresswoman Mazie Hirono, at right. Lingle beat Hirono in a 2002 race for governor. Both women have attracted considerable support from inside and outside their state, as well as from a host of interest groups, which have pumped more than $1 million into the race.

Early on, Lingle ...

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Party crash fail: No Sunlight at Mitt’s fundraiser

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Mitt RomneyWe at Sunlight Foundation are fond of writing about fundraisers and gatherings, especially the quirky or high-priced local ones that we come across on our Political Party Time website. But, once in a while, we get a chance to check out the parties in person. Or at least, experience the novelty of attending and meeting the folks who donate and coordinate these expensive affairs while we hang around outside closed doors. 

So Thursday evening's fundraiser for Mitt Romney held at the Rennaissance Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, was an irresistable target. The event was tagged at $2,500 for ...

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Todd Akin on the November ballot: Will he have any serious money?

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This post has been updated.

Todd Akin is resolute about staying in his race for Missouri's Senate seat, but the question is how much money he'll have for the contest. 

Ignoring calls from leaders of his own party to abandon the contest -- one the GOP had been counting on winning in its quest to take over the Senate -- after airing his controversial theories about "legitimate rape" and female biology in an interview last month, the Republican congressman on Tuesday evening let the last deadline pass for getting off the ballot.

Even though the GOP establishment is shunning their ...

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