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Super PACs first quarter haul: More than $100 million in political contributions

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Super PACs raised more in the first three months of 2012 than they did in all of 2011, and after just two years of existence have emerged as a financial force that rivals the political parties and candidates' campaign committees.

An unusual conjunction of Federal Election Committee filing deadlines -- reports from campaign committees that file quarterly were due at midnight Sunday while those that file monthly were due Friday -- has given us the first comprehensive look at the impact of super PACs in the first presidential campaign year where they've been a factor.

An analysis of data gathered by ...

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Play ball! How MLB teams rank in political giving

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It's opening day of Major League Baseball's 2012 season, so Sunlight has decided to take a look at which teams are the heaviest hitters when it comes to political giving.

Turns out the deepest pockets don't always correlate with most home runs.

Orioles statue

The Baltimore Orioles finished dead last in the American League East last year with a dismal record of 63 wins and 93 losses, but giving by their politically active owner, Peter Angelos, has made the Charm City team the champions of campaign giving.

Angelos gave more in the 2002 election cycle--some $2.1 million--than he ...

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Super PAC disclosures: Simmons hedges his bets; PayPal co-founder hearts Ron Paul

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Monday was the day that super PACs on a monthly filing schedule file financial disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission.  Sunlight Foundation's Reporting Group is watching as they go online to see who is writing big checks. Highlights so far:

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Super PAC filings show who big donors of 2011 were

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The deadline for presidential super PACs like Restore Our Future and Winning Our Future--supporting, respectively, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich--and other committees to file their disclosures with the Federal Election Commission fell at 11:59 p.m. Sunlight's Reporting Group combed through the filings, looking to see who's writing six- and seven-figure checks to the super PACs that are trying to influence voters in the Republican primaries--and beyond. We're also providing a chart tracking super PACs playing in the presidential race where you can download .csv files of their latest FEC filings. If you do, be sure ...

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Sunlight on super PACs

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It's a big day in politics: Voters in Florida are casting ballots in their hotly contested GOP presidential primary; voters in Oregon's 1st Congressional District are picking a replacement for ex-Rep. David Wu, a Democrat. Here in Washington, we'll be hovering over computer screens and hitting the refresh button in hopes of learning who is trying to influence those contests and beyond.

Tuesday is the deadline for committees active in the 2012 races for the White House, Senate and the U.S. House to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission showing receipts and expenditures ...

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Nine things you need to know about super PACs

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  1. What makes a super PAC super?

    Traditional political action committees are bound by a $5,000 annual limit on the size of contributions they can accept from individuals and are prohibited from accepting contributions from corporations and labor unions. A super PAC is freed from these restrictions under two conditions: The PAC must neither 1) give money directly to a candidate or other political committees that give directly to candidates, nor  2)  coordinate how it spends its money with a federal candidate. As long as those two conditions are met, a super PAC may accept donations directly from corporate or ...

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Super PACs: How we got here

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Nearly four decades ago, the delivery of a suitcase stuffed with $250,000 in cash to one of then-President Richard Nixon's top aides helped fuel the Watergate scandal and a complete overhaul of the laws regulating campaign finance. Voters in the 2012 election are likely to know less about who is trying to influence their decision than they have at any time since then. And, compared to the amounts of unregulated dollars flowing into campaigns, the stash of cash that former Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans accepted during the 1972 presidential campaign seems like peanuts.

Here's a look at ...

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PAC Profile: The Tea Party doesn’t need unlimited money to make a splash

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It's hard to believe given this year's headlines, but not all of the political action committees making an impact on this year's campaign are super PACs.

While most of the attention has focused on the entities that can accept and spend unlimited money, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, a traditional political action committee that's abiding by federal limits on contributions and spending, got plenty of attention when it launched an ad blitz before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses that accused GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney of being a covert liberal.

Ryan Gill, the Campaign to ...

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Legacy media bankrolling campaigns of SOPA cosponsors

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Traditional big media firms have contributed more than $5 million to the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act, with California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Adam Schiff as the top recipients.

The bill, known as SOPA, would strengthen and extend the penalties for online copyright violations, and could force websites hosting pirated content to come down or prevent search engines from sending users their way. Legacy media companies stand to benefit if there's less unlawful movement of their content on the web, like pirated movies and songs for download.

Some of the nation's top tech companies — Facebook ...

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Music, movie industries giving to Rep. pushing for copyright enforcement

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The House Judiciary Committee chairman backing a bill that would allow the Justice department to force internet service providers to take down websites committing copyright infringement has leading communications companies bankrolling his campaign.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has seen nearly $393,000 from the TV/music/movies industry during his Congressional career and it ranks fifth among the top industries supporting him. It's legacy companies in that industry — along with other broadcasting and recording industry groups — that would benefit from stricter enforcement of pirated content that could come from Smith's H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act ...

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