Money is flowing into Wisconsin at unprecedented rates, with nearly $62 million spent thus far in the gubernatorial recall race, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group reported Thursday. Republican Gov. Scott Walker has spent more than Democratic opponent Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and special-interest groups combined, with $29.3 million of his $30.5 million war chest spent thus far.
Outside interest groups reported spending $21.5 million on the race and so-called issue ad groups that do not disclose their spending have dumped at least another $7.5 million into the election.
Read the rest of the story at Hudson Patch.
The Michigan House has passed two measures aimed at making government more transparent. Both won unanimous approval Wednesday. The bills now go to the Senate.
House Bill 5274 would require that all government contracts of $25,000 or more be publicly posted on local or state government websites. The information would have to be updated monthly starting June 30.
Read the rest of the story at CBS Detroit.
The 2000 Kansas Legislature approved the restoration of the Kansas State Capitol with a price tag of $90 million to $120 million and an eight-year timetable. It’s still several years from completion, and the price tag has risen to $320 million.
In an age when just about everything is on the Internet, the contracts for the Capitol’s restoration are not. The mammoth document isn’t even available in an electronic format, such as a text or PDF file, said Shelley King, an attorney at the Kansas Department of Administration’s Office of Chief Counsel.
Read the rest of the story at Kansas Watchdog.
Most political spending is logged in the state’s online campaign finance reporting system, ORESTAR. The database allows anyone to view campaign contributions and expenditures for any race in Oregon.
But the state Elections Division has allowed a whole class of spending, so-called “independent expenditures,” to remain hidden from public view. Rather than look up information about such spending online, you have to go to Salem, to Brown’s office, and ask to see the paper filings.
Read the rest of the story at the Willamette Week.
A Democratic Party source told the Review-Journal's Ed Vogel that candidates boycotted the survey because of the Nevada Policy Research Institute's involvement. NPRI is a free-market think tank that generally opposes Democratic positions on fiscal, taxation and education policy.
The good news: About 90 percent of the survey's respondents support the transparency agenda, which also would apply the open meeting law to the Legislature, give the public 72 hours to read bills before they go to a floor vote and require lobbyists to report gifts and spending on lawmakers when the Legislature is not in session.
Read the rest of the story at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A bi-partisan group says it is time to stop allowing politicians to draw new congressional and legislative districts every decade so they stay in power. The N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform urged the state Senate on Tuesday to pass legislation now for the next round of redistricting after the 2020 census.
A bill modeled on an Iowa law would direct the General Assembly's non-partisan professional staff to redraw legislative and congressional districts, instead of lawmakers.
Read the rest of the story at StarNewsOnline.
The measure that Gov. Jack Markell calls “terrific” and plans to sign in the coming days would require lobbyists to publicly disclose every contact with a lawmaker or state official about pending bills or ones that get introduced within five days of such contact.
While the information will be put on a website that residents can readily access, it’s only one of many steps that reform advocates insist Delaware needs to bring true accountability to lobbyists, their corporate bosses and the government officials they woo.
Read the rest of the story at the Wilmington News-Journal.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard each received $40,000 in campaign contributions from companies that the Louisiana Board of Ethics now alleges are "straw man entities" used to launder illegal donations from the embattled River Birch landfill's parent company. Jindal's campaign reported receiving $5,000 contributions from six River Birch-linked firms on the same day in April 2007.
The $30,000 haul would violate a $5,000 cap on donations from one company if all the money ultimately came from River Birch Inc., as the Board of Ethics asserts in a lawsuit against the alleged shell companies.
Read the rest of the story at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Defenders of the Florida trip say it fits into an exception that was inserted into the law that allows public officials to accept gifts (like travel and meals) from lobby groups in connection with their attendance at certain "educational meetings."
This is by any fair assessment a terrible and unnecessary exception. There is simply no good reason that lobbyists or lobby groups of any kind should be allowed to pay for lawmakers to attend meetings anywhere ("educational" or not) — much less in some luxurious, far-off resort.
Read the rest of the story at the Winston-Salem Journal.
Federal courts struck two blows last week for more transparency in election campaigns. Voters should be pleased. If the public must put up with attack ads from special interest groups and individuals, then the ads' sponsors ought to be revealed.
We're gratified that the two appeals panels ruled that the public is better served by more information, not less.
Read the rest fo the story at the Orlando Sentinel.