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About last night: State of the Union includes nods to special interests

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Yesterday, we posted an item asking if influence data--campaign contributions and lobbying reports--could offer a useful prediction to the content of President Barack Obama's fourth State of the Union address. Did Obama include items on their lobbying agendas? How well did we do?

Reasonably well, we think. Of the ten areas we made predictions, we were right or partially right on eight of them. And in our two misses, we knew we were pretty far out on a limb when we suggested that Obama would suggest bolstering the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to tweak Sheldon Adelson, who along with ...

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What big donors would like to hear in the State of the Union

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2012 State of the Union

Though we can't predict the rhetorical tropes--not the thematic structure or the memorable lines or phrases that will fall flat--a look at the world of influence might tell us some of the issues President Barack Obama will touch on in his fourth State of the Union address. If a part of politics is rewarding your friends while giving your opponents good government, then the 2012 contest--which featured history's first billion-dollar presidential campaign (Obama's), first billion-dollar-plus outside spending campaign, plus oodles of special interest cash flowing to congressional candidates--leaves a lot of ground to cover.

Sunlight combed through ...

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In S&P suit, Obama biting hand that fed him?

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Maybe it's proof that money can't buy you love:  President Barack Obama's administration is widely reported to be about to take Standard & Poor's to court, despite the fact that employees of the credit rating agency and its corporate parent, McGraw-Hill, have disproportionately favored Democrats in recent election cycles.

At issue: whether S&P helped fuel the nation's financial woes by giving overly upbeat ratings to shaky mortgage securities. 

Sunlight's Influence Explorer shows Obama as the top recipient of contributions from S&P employees, followed by Secretary of State John Kerry, who just left the ...

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Super Bowl blues: Safety concerns set off lobbying scrimmage

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Updated: Feb. 2

America is settling in for this Super Bowl weekend against an unsettling backdrop of questions about football safety -- an issue that gained traction this week when, in an interview with The New Republic, First Fan Barack Obama raised doubts about whether parents should let their children play the sport.

That presidential play highlights an ongoing scrimmage on Capitol Hill between the helmet-making industry, which opposes federal regulations on the headgear, and interest groups who are pushing for them. The lobbying centers around a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., in the last Congress that pushed ...

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Temporary Massachusetts senator an active political donor

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William CowanWilliam Cowan, a Massachusetts lawyer who will take John Kerry's place in the Senate until a special election can be held to replace the Bay State Democrat, about to become the next secretary of state, has donated more than $36,000 to candidates for state and federal office, according to data downloaded from Sunlight's Influence Explorer.

All of the recipients of Cowan's largesse were Democrats with two notable exceptions: In 2002, he made a donation of $200 to Republican Mitt Romney. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee was then running what would turn out to be a successful ...

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Majority of states prohibit access to gun records

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(Updated 1/19 7:25 a.m.)

Following a New York newspaper's controversial decision to publish the names and address of local gun owners, state legislators are moving to make such information private, even as a Sunlight Foundation analysis shows that in a majority of states, the data are already off the public record.

Forty states plus the District of Columbia do not make data available about who owns a gun or has received a state permit to carry a gun, according to Sunlight's examination of state gun laws. There are ten states that do make data available ...

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Change (and a lot more) you won’t believe: Obama for America’s encore

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President Barack Obama has made history in a lot of ways and now he's got another bullet point to add to the list: Since the Federal Election Commission was established in the late 1970s and started keeping records of such things, he's the first second-term president to continue fundraising after the last ballot of his political career has been counted.

Unless Obama wants to imitate John Quincy Adams and return to Congress after leaving the White House -- or run for local school board, as former President Bill Clinton once jokingly suggested he might do -- it seems pretty safe ...

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Oscars of influence: Sunlight’s nominees

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After this morning's announcement of nominees for this year's Academy Awards, there will be a month of balloting before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tells us which 2012 films had the biggest impact on Hollywood. But the film industry's impact on Washington is already evident.

The envelopes, please.

The nomination for best tax break goes to...

Production companies behind the Academy Award frontrunners (or their parent companies) spent large sums to donate to politicians or lobby in 2012, and, as Sunlight reported last week, they were rewarded for their efforts in the 'fiscal cliff ...

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