Lee Fang

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Lee Fang is a reporter for The Intercept. He has a longstanding interest in how public policy is influenced by organized interest groups and money. He was the first to uncover and detail the role of the billionaire Koch brothers in financing the Tea Party movement. His interviews and research on the Koch brothers have been featured on HBO’s “The Newsroom,” the documentaries “Merchants of Doubt” and “Citizen Koch,” as well as in multiple media outlets. He was an investigative blogger for ThinkProgress (2009-2011) and then a fellow at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation. In 2012, he co-founded RepublicReport.org, a blog to cover political corruption that syndicates content with TheNation.com, Salon, National Memo, BillMoyers.com, TruthOut, and other media outlets. His work has been published by VICE, The Baffler, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, NPR, In These Times, and The Huffington Post. His first book, “The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right,” published by The New Press, explores how the conservative right rebuilt the Republican Party and its political clout in the aftermath of President Obama’s 2008 election victory. He is based in San Francisco.

November 10, 2014

Unlike Corporations and Millionaires, Unions Disclose Midterms Dark Money

Not all dark money is the same. Unlike corporations and individuals, organized labor is forced to play by a different set of rules.

In the very dark election of 2014, voters still have no clue about who paid for a significant portion of the election efforts propping up a whole new Congress. Many donors hid behind 501c non-profit shells to conceal their identity, while spending millions of dollars to influence the outcome through advertising and get-out-the-vote programs.

We may never know the names of the men, women, and corporations that funded the 2014 election. However, we do know some of the unions.

Many unions …

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November 10, 2014

Obama Can Reform Dark Money with a Stroke of a Pen

There’s a powerful solution for disclosing the secret money sloshing around in our political system. It does not require an act of Congress or action from any of the effectively toothless campaign finance watchdogs, like the Federal Elections Commission. In fact, this solution could be passed in an instant and the only requirement for action is political will.

President Barack Obama can issue an executive order today that requires government contractors to disclose their dark money campaign contributions.

Why doesn’t he? And why don’t campaign finance reform organizations push for such a fix?

In 2011, following the first wave of undisclosed …

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November 7, 2014
Connie Mack
Connie Mack

Hungarian Gov Hires Former Congressman Connie Mack

On the heels of massive protests against a proposed Internet tax and an increasing crack down on ethnic minorities, the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is looking for political support in Washington. And it’s no wonder why. Hungarian political leaders have been widely condemned for calling for a national list of Jews who may pose a “national security risk.” In recent months, the government has also faced criticism for development projects apparently designed to remove Roma (gypsy) communities from urban centers.

For a price, any regime can find Beltway support. Registration documents show that Connie Mack IV, the former …

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November 5, 2014

Sallie Mae Lobbyists Control Midterm Election Dark Money Groups

In the midterm elections this year, tens of millions of dollars flowed from secret donors into pivotal races through nonprofits. We may never know who really paid for the election of a whole new class of politicians.

Here’s a hint of where the money might be coming from: the lobbyists who control the gusher of money.

Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network, according to filings, were two of the largest dark money groups in America. Both are organized under the 501c4 section of the tax code, meaning they do not have to disclose a dime of donor money.

Here’s another similarity: both …

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November 5, 2014
The drafting of the Constitution. The House of Representatives was designed to be a voice of the people.
The drafting of the Constitution. The House of Representatives was designed to be a voice of the people.

Gerrymandering Rigged the 2014 Elections for Republican Advantage

In the midterm elections, Republicans appear to have won their largest House majority since the Hoover administration. Republicans won on the weakness of Democratic candidates, a poor resource allocation strategy by Democratic party leaders, particularly DCCC chair Steve Israel, and an election narrative that did little to inspire base Democratic voters. That being said, in many ways, the game was rigged from the start. The GOP benefitted from the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.

As Rolling Stone reported, GOP donors plowed cash into state legislative efforts in 2010 for the very purpose of redrawing congressional lines. In the following …

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October 28, 2014

VIDEO: Leading Politicians Dodge and Deny Climate Change Threat During Midterm Elections

We took a look at the ways in which leading politicians answered simple questions about climate change during the midterms this year and compiled a video. As coal, oil and gas interests have appeared as the primary sponsors of Republican candidates this election cycle, Republic Report has watched as an increasing number of candidates this year have expressed doubt that pollution from their benefactors causes climate change. The influence of fossil fuel money is sure to have a policy impact as well. As we noted recently, climate change deniers will have the opportunity to seize control of key committee chairs if the GOP …

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October 25, 2014
Sen. Mitch McConnell poses inside of a tank in 1985.
Sen. Mitch McConnell poses inside of a tank in 1985

If GOP Takes Senate, Climate Change Deniers Will Control Key Committees

It wasn’t long ago that coal executives were openly discussing their dream of Republicans seizing the White House and making Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe — who believes climate change is a “hoax” concocted by greedy scientists — the head of the EPA.

Now, they have a second chance. As dark money groups and SuperPACs backed by millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry are propelling Republicans to a Senate majority, climate science-denying politicians are likely to seize control of key committee chairmanships, a coup for companies seeking to pollute the atmosphere with impunity. What’s more, Inhofe is slated to become chair …

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August 29, 2014

Charles Koch Personally Founded Group Protecting Oil Industry Hand-Outs, Documents Reveal

‘Lifestyles of the Rich Environmentalists,’ produced by a group called the Institute for Energy Research, is a slick web video campaign designed to lampoon Leonardo Dicaprio and will.i.am as hypocrites for supporting action on climate change. The claim is that wealthy celebrities who oppose industrial-scale pollution supposedly shouldn’t fly in airplanes that use fossil fuels. The group, along with its subsidiary, the American Energy Alliance, churns out a steady stream of related content, from Facebook memes criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency, to commercials demanding approval of new oil projects like the Keystone XL, …

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