The Center for Public IntegrityWeekly Watchdog
January 31, 2013 

Center reports on the money bankrolling big-spending nonprofits
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Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens Uniteddecision in 2010, nonprofits such as the American Future Fund have played a more prominent role in electoral contests — all while keeping their donors secret. During the 2010 midterm elections, politically active nonprofitsoutspent super PACs by a 3-to-2 margin. The American Future Fund ranked third among “social welfare” nonprofits in spending in the 2012 federal election,according to the Center for Responsive Politics, trailing only the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads GPS andAmericans for Prosperity, which is backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The American Future Fund has raised more than $60 million, with spikes in contributions coming in election years. Much of that money has come from another conservative “social welfare” nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors by name — the Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights. The nonprofit has no website and lists its address as a post office box in Phoenix. It was launched in 2009 by Republican operative Sean Noble, who has extensive ties to the vast political network underwritten by the Koch brothers.
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From the Primary Source: Major retailer seeks help on K street
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The teen- and twentysomething-focused clothier, Urban Outfitters, has hired Abraham & Roetzel LLC, the lobbying firm of former Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., to represent it, according to a new U.S. Senate lobbying registration filing. "Retail" and "federal policy involving economic development and urban development" are the issues on which Abraham & Roetzel will lobby for Urban Outfitters, the filing states. Federal records indicate that this is the first time Urban Outfitters has hired federal-level lobbying representation. In April, the company will be required to disclose how much it paid for the help.

Join The Center’s ‘Primary Source’ reporters Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel for a discussion on campaign finance in a live chat on Monday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.
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IMPACT: More states seek reform after Center’s ‘State Integrity Investigation’
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In the 10 months since The Center launched the State Integrity Investigation in collaboration with Global Integrity and PRI/Public Radio International, more than 12 states have proposed new legislation or started a reform campaign. Four more states have passed new measures. The latest actions come from Maine and North Dakota. InMaine, legislation to make it unlawful for state officials to leave their jobs and immediately go to work for industries they regulated – the so-called “revolving door” – is one of several ethics bills expected to be debated this session. And lawmakers in North Dakota have introduced a package of ethics reform bills that would revamp the state’s oversight of its politicians. Dubbed the Sunshine Act, the measures would create an ethics commission to investigate state officials and would tighten campaign finance reporting rules, among other changes.

What grade did your state earn?
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Shedding light on secret spenders
Last year, the Center for Public Integrity’s investigative work was cited nearly 15,000 times by other media organizations. I expect that number will grow this year. That’s in part because of a new Center project launched this week called Primary Source.

Primary Source will publish daily original reports on all things influence-related: examinations and analyses of primary source documents pertaining to political contributions, spending, lobbying and other forms of special interest influence. Primary Source is part of the Center for Public Integrity's larger Consider the Source project that focuses on developments in the post-Citizens United world of money and politics.

The 2012 campaign may be over, but the money and influence game continues apace. We want to show where that money comes from. For example, Primary Source reported that a brand new conservative group, American for a Strong Defense, just popped up two weeks ago and started buying hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads against the Senate confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s PAC (Sarah PAC) still has $1.15 million in the bank and remains a political force, even if its namesake has dropped her Fox TV contract. And there is a new super PAC for Hillary Clinton, a group called "Ready for Hillaryregistered Fridaywith the Federal Election Commission.

These and other influence updates will find their way to Primary Source with an eye on naming those who seek to manipulate public opinion and elected officials for political gain. Please bookmark Primary Source here, subscribe to its RSS feed here, follow daily updates on Twitter at @PublicIand "like" us on Facebook. Also be sure to send in your tips, hints and suggestions totips@publicintegrity.org.

Until next week,
 

Bill Buzenberg
Executive Director

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