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On Wisconsin: Badger State gets no break from political air wars

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(Updated Feb. 8, 2:45 p.m. ET)

Conservative outside spending group Wisconsin Club for Growth has purchased at least $111,000 in television ads in support of incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, ramping up a political ad war in what is officially a non-partisan race for the state's Supreme Court.

The advertisements are set to start today and run at least until Feb. 18 -- the day before the primary election -- according to information gathered from Political Ad Sleuth, a Sunlight tool that tracks political ad purchases, and phone calls to local stations. Steve Scadden, a sales manager for Madison ...

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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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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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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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Shadow lobbyists, ex-lobbyists, give to Obama inaugural committee

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Lucky for longtime lobbyist Mickey Ibarra, the president of his own lobbying and strategy shop, he could buy that champagne flute with the presidential inaugural seal.

That's only because, months before, Ibarra had technically deregistered as a federal lobbyist -- on the advice of counsel, he said, even though he continued doing some lobbying. Others in the influence business -- including one lobbyist who told Sunlight she was denied inaugural tickets she had already purchased because of her job -- had more difficulty being part of the inaugural festivities.

But an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation raises questions about just how meaningful ...

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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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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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