Money and Democracy

Published — December 26, 2013 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Top politics investigations from 2013

We asked our editors to select their favorites from this year’s work


Editors note: As the year winds down, we wanted to revisit some of the best accountability journalism from each of our coverage sections. We’ll be posting a new list daily for the rest of the year.

In this election off-year, our Consider the Source team made a point of covering money-in-politics issues that don’t often get attention from mainstream media, like state-level super PAC and nonprofit spending, and potential conflicts of interest within state justice systems. Here’s a look at the work we’re most proud of.

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Nonprofit group Donors Trust lets donors fly ‘totally under the radar’

Ever heard of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity? In 2011, 95 percent of the Franklin Center’s revenue came from a charity called Donors Trust, a donor advised fund that has become a major vehicle for tax-exempt giving from wealthy conservatives such as billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. Keep reading

Corporations and conservative foundations are top sponsors of judicial junkets

Judges across the country were paid to attend seminars on topics such as “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism,” and “Corporations and the Limits of Criminal Law.” Who picked up the tab? Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Keep reading

Nearly $12 million spent by super PACs and nonprofits in state supreme court races

We looked at 10 state supreme court races from 2012 and 2013, nearly 40 percent of spending came from out-of-state groups. This outside influence was especially potent in North Carolina, Mississippi and Iowa judicial races.
Keep reading

Meet William Koch, the other Koch brother

Despite a nasty falling-out between William and his more well-known brothers, Charles and David, William is also a businessman and a billionaire who isn’t shy about using his fortune to influence politics. While Charles and David seem to prefer giving through nonprofits, William donates both personally and through his corporations. Keep reading

See the ambassadorships big money can bring

So far in his second term, President Obama has nominated 23 elite fundraisers, or bundlers, to top diplomatic posts. See where the bundlers were sent, in comparison to where career diplomats were sent. Keep reading

Puppet states: outside groups spent at least $209 million in 38 states in the 2012 election cycle

We all know the ‘Citizens United’ ruling made it easier than ever for outside groups to raise and spend cash, but the ruling also threw out spending rules in 24 states. More than one out of every two dollars spent originated from groups funded primarily or entirely by out-of-state donors. Keep reading

Forty-two states (plus D.C.) fail our review of
financial disclosure requirements for supreme court judges

Very few states require meaningful for judges’ financial holdings. Based on the rules that do exist, however, we found 35 cases of questionable gifts or investments overlapping with caseloads. As one might be able to expect, this report drew ire from a number of judges around the country. Keep reading

Read more in Money and Democracy

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