Morning session: Following the Money: There’s more money to follow in elections than ever before. Super PACs, political nonprofits and now, in the wake of the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission decision by the Supreme Court, joint fundraising committees that can take in million dollar checks from well-heeled donors. And campaigns, parties and traditional political action committees are raising and spending more money than ever.
- In the first hour, we’ll begin with a brief, simple to understand overview of current campaign finance rules governing campaigns, parties and other political players, then take you through basic tools for quickly find out who the biggest donor a campaign is, how much candidates and outside groups are spending in a race, and who’s writing the big checks in the race you’re covering.
- In the second hour, we’ll dive deeper into tools that can help you unravel the networks behind “dark money” groups that don’t disclose their donors, how to track ad buys disclosed at the Federal Communications Commission using Political Ad Sleuth and how to track the ads themselves using Ad Hawk.
Afternoon session: Using political influence data in non-political coverage: Whether you cover business, entertainment, sports, education, the environment—you name it—political data can help you get stories no one else can. Companies, unions, schools, trade associations and local and state governments leave behind lengthy paper trails at the federal level, revealing information about their interests and strategies, even their hopes and fears.
- In the first hour, we’ll show you how lobbyist disclosure forms, used in concert with Sunlight tools like OpenCongress.org which tracks legislation, can tell you about non only the legislative priorities of entities you cover, but also their real world concerns. Find out what advertising restrictions that Hershey, Kellogg and Nestle, among other food concerns, are pushing against. Why are McDonald’s and other fast food companies fighting with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which focuses on the financial sector? Lobbying disclosures can alert you to changes in business practices, in labor relations and a host of other matters.
- In the second hour, we’ll dive deeper, using Docket Wrench and Scout to find out in far more detail what various interest groups and entities object to and support in federal regulations. Regulatory dockets include comments from interested parties describing how regulations will affect their current activities or future plans, and provide insights into a wide range of businesses, professions, non-profit organizations and sometimes state and local governments. Scout can search across a wide range of federal and state documents from a single search box. Both tools can be indispensable aids in your reporting.
Registration closes at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.Platinum AAJA Members: Platinum Members may register for free.
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