[Scout](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/), Sunlight Foundation's government search and alert system, is now delivering daily alerts on [federal court opinions](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/search/court_opinions/citizens%20united). Court opinions will be included by default — along with regulations, legislation, speeches, and reports — for any alert based on search terms.Continue reading
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.Anne Galloway is the founder of VTDigger.org -- a statewide news website in Vermont that publishes watchdog reports on state government, politics, consumer affairs, business and public policy. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Vermont for 17 years covering the Vermont Legislature, the governor and state government. Anne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2010, I began reporting on campaign contributions in Vermont. That year, we had an open seat in the governor’s office and there were five candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. I was shocked to discover that the only information available from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office came in the form of unsearchable PDF scans of spreadsheet forms. The secretary requires that candidates use a form available in Excel on the state website. Candidates fill out the form and submit it in paper format to the secretary. It is then scanned and posted on the website.
In spite of the fact that there was no easy way to search the information, I began scouring the web for information about people, advocacy groups and businesses. I soon discovered that many businesses, political action committees and unions had direct financial connections to the candidates. I wrote a series of investigative stories about contributions from out of state, from businesses and wealthy individuals to candidates of the two major parties in statewide races.
We revealed that paving and signage companies donated thousands of dollars to a candidate for lieutenant governor who had served as chair of Senate Transportation and who owned a road construction and engineering firm. We also tracked a donor who contributed four times to Peter Shumlin, using four different LLCs. The Associated Press picked up our story about David Blittersdorf’s contributions and the more than $4 million in state tax subsidies that he garnered for his company’s solar projects.
As a result of these stories, news organizations and others pressured the secretary of state to develop a searchable campaign finance database in 2011. Though the secretary has said he is willing to take on the project, he has been unable to obtain funding. This fall, the secretary put out an RFP for the project, which would be completed in 2015 (at the earliest).Continue reading
One day after Colorado voters ousted two state senators over their support for gun control, Missouri lawmakers are debating whether to try to make federal gun control measures illegal in their state. In a special legislative session opening today, opponents of gun control in the Show-Me State are vowing to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that would effectively nullify federal gun control measures.
The law would make it illegal for state employee to enforce them. Nixon (pictured right) called it unconstitutional when he vetoed the measure in July.
As Sunlight first reported in March, the ...Continue reading
Today, the U.S. Senate will consider the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill and to mark the occasion, we put together a handy research guide on everything we have on immigration policy. Legislation Follow the bill on Scout, and get updates on all immigration bills around the U.S., congressional speeches and more. Check out an interactive timeline that covers 125 years of immigration policy and legislation in the United States. Q: Who said “immigration reform” the most in Congress? A: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) … even though he left office in 2009. Lobbying Since January, 61 people filed new registration forms, according to Sunlight’s Lobbying Tracker, with companies seeking more high-skilled foreign workers, led by the tech sector, driving the April and May uptick. This year already surpasses the 54 registrations from all of 2011 and 42 new reports from 2012 that reported immigration as an issue.Continue reading
As the Senate opens debate on gun control after a last-minute bipartisan deal, a review of legislation now before state lawmakers gives a striking evidence of how difficult it will be to enact restrictions on firearms into law, even given the political momentum such measures have received following the December shooting tragedy that left 26 people -- most of them young children -- dead at the Sandy Hook elementary school at Newtown, Conn.
A review of nearly 1,500 firearms-related bills introduced in the 50 state legislatures since the beginning of the year by Sunlight reveals that the post-Newtown push for stronger ...Continue reading
With the U.S. Senate expected to take up gun legislation next week and recent passing of gun laws in Connecticut, Colorado and Maryland, we put together a tool kit on the issues around gun rights and gun control. For more information, you can follow the money, influence and news on the issue of gun control and gun rights in the U.S. at our resource page. Keep reading for information about state legislation, swing votes in the Senate, political spending by gun rights and gun control groups, details on how they lobby Congress and where they are airing TV issue ads.Continue reading
Last year we called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 3523 in the 112th Congress, “terrible on... View ArticleContinue reading
Updated on April 5 at 1:42 p.m. ET (see below)
While attention is focused on the U.S. Senate, which could begin voting as early as next month on gun control legislation, some state lawmakers are trying to move in the opposite direction.
Bills to nullify any gun control measures that Congress enacts have been introduced in at least 37 states since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis using Scout, Sunlight's legislative alert system. To browse the list and click through to the text of the bills, click here.Continue reading
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), a co-sponsor and major supporter of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), deleted a retweet of an analysis of contributions to lawmakers from pro-CISPA companies.Continue reading
Since the Dec. 14 shooting that left 26 people dead at a Connecticut elementary school, at least 22 lobbyists have registered to influence Congress on gun-related issues, and several have been holding fundraisers for Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who is a potential swing vote in the legislative battle on Capitol Hill.Continue reading