My latest project with the Center for Responsive Politics on the secret money networks spending about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
I contributed research to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics on President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and her family’s extensive history of political contributions and nonprofit activity.
The Wesleyan Media Project’s final political ad report before Election Day was released this week.
I had the opportunity to discuss money in politics and the 2016 election on 970 WFLA’s Reality Check with Ryan Gorman.
Listen below or access the full story here.
The IRS has broken new ground in nonprofit data transparency
Last week, the IRS released more than one million electronically-filed tax forms in bulk, open, machine-readable form.
There is still, however, work to be done.
Read more about what this means and how the Center for Responsive Politics in building on this concept to expand access to political nonprofit data on the OpenSecrets Blog.
A new report released by the Wesleyan Media Project in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics hows that 2016 presidential advertising is more than twice what it was at the same point in 2012.
The Center for Responsive Politics has a great OpenSecretsBlog post with highlights from the report.
At the Center for Responsive Politics, we officially launched our newly redesigned Dark Money section, tracking the activities of politically active nonprofits that don’t disclose their wealthy corporate and individual donors to the voters they seek to influence.
This is the first phase of our Knight News Challenge project, Inside the 990 Treasure Trove, aimed at providing the public, journalists and policymakers access to data on dark money groups and clear information about how these groups operate.
Libby Watson’s new blog post for the Sunlight Foundation follows her account of attempting to discover who’s behind dark money ads as a part of a fascinating larger investigation into Protect America’s Consumers, and also includes a blurb about my own attempt to find more about ads being run by a super PAC on Fox Business Network during a GOP debate:
Verizon FiOS TV makes public inspection files available to be viewed through a limited number of retail stores. … The staff had apparently been briefed not to let me touch the computer so I had to tell the staff members what search terms to use. The clerk helping me was originally hesitant to even let me look at the computer but eventually broke when he realized how many hundreds of file names we would be looking through. The store clerk was patient and continued running searches based on terms I told him such as “Baby Got PAC” and other individuals with ties to the group for over an hour. We performed searches and manually scrolled through the political folders in every region, the entire visit was ultimately fruitless.”
Read more on the Sunlight Foundation blog.
My recent collaboration at the Center for Responsive Politics is about a new organization claiming to be “dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency” that gets 100% of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a “dark money” vehicle for donors to elude transparency.
Its funding — $600,000 in 2014, according to the only tax return it has filed to date — comes entirely from a conservative donor-advised fund called DonorsTrust, which means it could come from anywhere. DonorsTrust is a pass-through vessel that manages the charitable contributions of wealthy individuals and foundations to organizations that are “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website, while allowing the donors to remain anonymous. Charles Koch is among the many conservatives who have filtered money through DonorsTrust.
In other words, an organization “dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency” gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency.
While we’re on the theme of dark money, there was a fantastic political cartoon in the Washington Post this weekend by Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Tom Toles (seen below).
Andrew was kind enough to include a quote from me in this piece on the blurry lines between campaign and organization in Trump’s FEC disclosures.