GuideStar and Foundation Center are Merging

The free non-profit document search engine GuideStar is merging with the Foundation Center — which has been gathering documents on foundations since 1956 — after a decade of getting to know each other. The current web addresses still work but eventually they will be at https://candid.org/ where there is more information on the merger.

Spatial Journalism Newsletter Features UIUC Associate Professor

Last week’s Spatial Journalism Newsletter by Amy Schmitz Weiss of the San Diego State University featured a trove of new developments in digital journalism. She highlighted a Medium post on the place-based consequences media is faced with today written by Nikki Usher of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IJEC’s home base. 

The newsletter also features pieces on reporting with satellite images and the latest developments in virtual reality

The Multimillion-Dollar Head Fake

The Multimillion-Dollar Head Fake is an investigative project by Jay Rosenstein, a University of Illinois professor of Media and Cinema Studies, on how the U of I spends state money on its athletic department despite claims to the contrary.

Below is the series as presented on Rosenstein’s website. It was also featured in the Huffington Post, the Champaign News Gazette, Illinois Public Media and the Chicago Tribune.

Billion Dollar Story: Campaign Finance in Indiana

With much of the intense scrutiny focused on national campaigns, political financing at the state level can be an afterthought. But state elections constitute an enormous share of the campaign finance complex, and often the reporting and regulation of contributions is lax at best.

Big spenders: What do candidates do with all that money?

When the subject of campaign finance comes up, the focus usually turns to the contribution side of the equation. That is, who’s giving money to politicians, and what do they want in exchange?

No limits: Political action committees pump millions into state elections

The influence of political action committees in Indiana politics in recent years readily can be spotted in the state’s campaign finance database. The largest single contribution, in fact, is from a PAC, the Republic Governors Association Ohio, or RGA Ohio PAC. The organization made a $1 million gift to Mike Pence during his campaign for governor in 2012. RGA Ohio PAC is one of hundreds of PACs that have contributed more than $51 million to Indiana political campaigns between 2010 and 2015, according to the state’s database. Before 2010, the state did not track the type of contributors, and irregularities in the data make it impractical to assess the full extent of PAC activity in the nearly $1 billion worth of campaign contributions since 2000.

Corporate cash helps fill Indiana politicians’ coffers

On paper, Indiana has a strict cap on campaign contributions from corporations. But in practice, it’s easy for businesses to turn on the flow of money and get around the spending limits.

How the system works – or doesn’t

Under Indiana law, any candidate, party committee, or political action committee must report its contributions and expenses at least once a year (candidate and party committees must file more frequently during election years). Committees file their financial reports with the Election Division either electronically or on paper.

A quick primer on the big numbers in Indiana state politics

It’s been said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. In Indiana politics, the milk is abundant thanks to what critics say is one of the loosest regulatory systems in the nation.

According to a review of campaign finance data from 2000 through 2015, state-level political committees have taken in a total of $942 million in contributions. That’s nearly a billion dollars raised to run campaigns and influence election contests for the Indiana General Assembly, the governor’s office and other statewide positions such as state superintendent of public instruction.