Peter Overby

Updated at 12:27 p.m. ET

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the most prolific donors in conservative politics, died Monday night at the age of 87 due to complications from treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to a statement from Las Vegas Sands, the company he founded.

David Koch, who built one of the nation's largest private businesses with his brother Charles and pumped money into conservative groups to help reshape American politics, has died.

Charles Koch confirmed the news in a statement on Friday that referenced David's long-running ailment.

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This story is published in partnership with The Center for Public Integrity

The headline posed a straightforward question: "Where is the Republican ActBlue?"

Very of the moment — except it was published more than a decade ago, during George W. Bush's administration.

Reform-minded Democrats have long held up "dark money" — political money that can't be traced to its source — as a symptom of what's wrong with politics in Washington. But while House Democrats this winter passed a bill to end the secrecy shielding donors behind unregulated dark money contributions, liberal activist groups now deploy those funds to boost the party's candidates in the 2020 elections.

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Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Democrats have long called for President Trump to release his tax returns, and now a key congressman has put in a formal request with the IRS.

Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is requesting six years of Trump's personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses for the years 2013-2018. Neal argues that Congress, and his committee in particular, need to conduct oversight of the IRS, including its policy of auditing the tax returns of sitting presidents.

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Presidential candidates have to file their first campaign finance reports at the end of this month. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, Democratic candidates are taking a tip from last year's congressional races and asking for small donations.

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It's been a bad year for ethics in Washington. That's true even when you set aside the Russia mess. NPR's Peter Overby has the story.

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Last month, Ross Spano won the race to represent Florida's 15th Congressional District. But there's now talk of investigations into how the Republican lawmaker financed his campaign. Here's NPR's Peter Overby.

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Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January with big items topping their legislative to-do list: Remove obstacles to voting, close loopholes in government ethics law and reduce the influence of political money.

Party leaders say the first legislative vote in the House will come on H.R. 1, a magnum opus of provisions that Democrats believe will strengthen U.S. democratic institutions and traditions.

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It's one of the highest of the high stakes in the midterm elections. Democrats promise to put the Trump administration under the microscope of oversight investigations if they win control of the House.

Aggressive oversight would mark an abrupt about-face for Congress, where Republican leaders for two years have avoided confronting President Trump. GOP-led committees have resisted investigating alleged wrongdoing by officials, as well as questions about Trump's own possible conflicts of interest.

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Gender gaps aren't just for the workplace, and the midterm elections are proving it. An NPR analysis of campaign finance records shows that Democratic women candidates face a fundraising gap, compared to Democratic men, in the party's toughest House races.

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Digital advertising is gaining ground as the medium of choice for political candidates. And now campaigns are making ads that don't just beam messages out. They bring money in. It's all about small donors, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET

Fox & Friends was the natural venue for President Trump to strike back against Michael Cohen. The former self-described "fixer" for Trump had said under oath, before a federal judge, that he and Trump had violated the campaign finance law together.

The problem was the hush payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels. During the campaign, each had taken a six-figure payment that kept their claimed affairs with Trump out of the public eye.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife have been indicted on charges of diverting campaign money to pay for personal and family expenses.

Updated at 1:23 p.m. ET

At Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders misleadingly asserted that the Trump administration's use of nondisclosure agreements both during and after government employment was very common.

"Despite contrary opinion, it's actually very normal. And every administration prior to the Trump administration has had NDAs, particularly specific for anyone that had a security clearance." said Sanders.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

A widely used loophole for funneling secret "dark money" into political ads closed quietly last weekend, as a federal judge concluded it thwarted Congress' intent to have broad disclosure of political money.

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As nonprofit advocacy groups plunge into a high-priced fight over confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, they will no longer have to identify their biggest donors to the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS announced the rules change Monday evening. Earlier that day, Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's cryptocurrency-financed effort to disrupt the 2016 presidential race, and the FBI arrested a Russian national who allegedly used the NRA to build ties among conservatives and Republicans.

As the midterm elections get more heated, passionate grassroots donors are opening their wallets to Democrats campaigning against President Trump and the GOP in their quest to take the House.

When it comes to transparency for political money — who gave, how much, how it was spent — there are three buckets: fully disclosed, partly disclosed and not disclosed at all.

Long-standing law requires candidate campaigns and party committees to report their finances regularly. But among outside groups — political action committees, superPACs and nonprofit groups — nearly half the money spent so far in the midterm elections was either never disclosed or only partially disclosed.

Here's what's going on.

A new trend since 2016

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