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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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Big donors to Obama super PAC have lobbying priorities of their own

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Priorities logoPriorities USA Action Fund, the third biggest super PAC in the 2012 elections, had 31 donors--individuals and organizations--who contributed $1 million or more to support President Barack Obama's reelection effort. At least 15 of them have business before the federal government, either directly, or through companies they own large stakes in, either from their own efforts or through inheritance. 

A Sunlight analysis of these donors' influence profiles in Washington suggest that some of them were thanking the president for favors already accorded, while others may have been donating with the hope of receiving favors in the second term. While ...

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Latest Dark Money Tallies: $213 million in the general election and counting, 81% on behalf of Republicans; 34 races with $1 million or more

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Back in July, Senate Republicans successfully blocked the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required all organizations spending $10,000 or more to reveal their donors. Now we understand why. Though Nov.1, $213.0 million has been spent by “dark money” groups to influence the 2012 elections. Of that, $172.4 million (81%) has been spent to help Republican candidates, as compared to $35.7 million (19%) to help Democrats. (By “dark money” we mean groups that do not disclose their donors and only are required to disclose their congressional race spending within 60 days of House and Senate elections and their presidential race spending following the national party conventions).

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Censored? Information goes missing from political ad files

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FCC headquartersThe Federal Communication Commission's online political ad database is supposed to make information about heavy political hitters more accessible, but a lack of clarity in the rules has resulted in some stations effectively censoring what the public is permitted to see.

An analysis using Sunlight's Political Ad Sleuth, a project to organize and expand the FCC database, shows that of the more than 220 stations that are required to post their political files online, more than half have removed documents since the process began Aug. 2. More than 2,100 of the total 35,400 records appear to ...

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Haney campaign contributions hard to follow

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Franklin L. Haney is a case study on how hard it can be to get a comprehensive picture of the campaign contribution clout of a particular individual or company given the limits of state and local level disclosure. 

The influential developer, who bid unsuccessfully to become the owner of the Washington Nationals baseball team and helped bankroll the political career of fellow Tennessean Al Gore, has long been known as a major Democratic donor. But he leaves a surprisingly small footprint on Sunlight's Influence Explorer. The totals show $1.2 million since 1989 to federal candidates and parties and ...

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Democratic super PACs come into their own

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Chart of donations to super PACs by party

Democratic super PACs, which earlier this year lagged far behind their Republican counterparts, passed a milestone in August: they took more in contributions into their coffers than GOP super PACs: $28 million versus $22 million. Filings covering September are due this Saturday.

It may be more of a photo-finish than it first appears: a portion of the Democratic groups' take involve PAC-to-PAC transfers, which are difficult to extricate from the totals due to way reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission. But quarterly filings that landed Monday leave little doubt that the Democratic super PACs, including Priorities USA and ...

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