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The Federal Election Commission is located at 999 E St. in downtown Washington, D.C. — a nondescript building situated across from FBI headquarters and next to a Hard Rock Cafe. Its entrance features a quotation attributed to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: 'Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.' But funding and staffing woes, along with political infighting, have rendered it a weakened watchdog.

The Federal Election Commission soon marks a dubious anniversary: one year with nobody directing its legal department. That's no trifle for an agency tasked with regulating and enforcing the nation's campaign laws. Read more»

The People’s Majority super PAC advertises itself with lofty goals. “We are the only super PAC dedicated to the research, development and enhancement of motivating conservatives to the polls,” it proclaims on its website. “No dinners, no pictures with VIPs, no shirts or yard signs here. People's Majority uses every penny of your contribution to identify and motivate low-turnout voters on Election Day.” Well, not every penny. Read more»

A spider of the Cicurina genus delayed a large highway project in Texas.

The group that put out a mailer last year to Texas voters, A Better America Now, reported to the Federal Election Commission it had spent about $65,000 for the mailer and TV advertising in the hard-fought race to represent Texas’ 23rd district. But in a tax return recently filed with the IRS, the group claimed it did not spend any money at all on “direct or indirect political campaign activities.” Read more»

Rand Paul speaking to supporters at a townhall in Meredith, New Hampshire.

Supporters of Republican Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have launched “Rand PAC 2016.” But because the super PAC uses the potential presidential candidate’s first name, this action may violate federal law. Read more»

What do the woman who founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, the co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the U.S. Senate’s lone self-described “democratic socialist” have in common? They all rank among the top beneficiaries of small-dollar political donors, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal records. Read more»

The IRS division responsible for flagging Tea Party groups has long been an agency afterthought, beset by mismanagement, financial constraints and an unwillingness to spell out just what it expects from social welfare nonprofits, former officials and experts say. Read more» 2

The totals spent are based on data collected by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG. The totals reflect estimates of expenditures on broadcast TV ads and differ from totals reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Two conservative nonprofits have spent more on TV ads to influence the presidential race so far than all other super PACs put together, new spending estimates show. Read more»

Super PACs have not led to a tsunami of contributions flowing from the treasuries of Fortune 500 corporations, contrary to expectations — at least not yet anyway. Read more»

Citizens United President David Bossie. On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled on a campaign finance reform case. Since then, Florida resident Josue Larose has formed 60 Super PACs.

Since the Supreme Court ruling paved the way for groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates, 240 so-called Super PACs have registered with the Federal Election Commission. Josue Larose — purported millionaire, alleged economist and general man of mystery — has formed 60 of them. Read more»

Karl Rove set up a model with the Super-PAC American Crossroads and the nonprofit Crossroads GPS that would allow corporations and individuals to donate as much as they want to the nonprofit, which isn’t required to publicly disclose funders. The nonprofit could then donate as much as it wanted to a Super-PAC, which lists the nonprofit’s donation but not the original contributors.

This political season promises more than just record spending—more money will be flowing from more players with more opportunities to hide the source. What you need to know about Super-PACs and 'dark money' Read more»

Edwards in a 2008 campaign photo.

First, a sex scandal, followed by a messy cover-up and an even messier fessing-up. The sequence has become all but routine in Washington. But the criminal case against two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is anything but run-of-the-mill. Read more»

Roberts

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tried his hand at "gotcha" questioning as the high court Monday heard its first lawsuit regarding public financing of political campaigns since the 1970s. Arguments were heard on a challenge to Arizona's Clean Elections system. Read more»

As outside spending to influence elections soared in 2010, the federal agency charged with enforcing election laws handed out some of the smallest penalties in its three-decade history. Read more»

Democrats are trying to turn an evidence-free allegation into a major campaign theme, claiming that foreign corporations are "stealing our democracy" with secret, illegal contributions funneled through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It’s a claim with little basis in fact. Read more»

Republican Jonathan Paton and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are in a statistical dead heat in the race for the CD8 congressional seat, a poll by Paton's campaign says. But new fundraising numbers show Paton fighting an uphill battle to raise money. Read more» 3

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