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THIS WEEK IN TARBELL

I’m online now! You can check out Under The Influence on Tarbell.org! This edition will be up on Friday morning, but until then, you can revisit last week’s edition online right now.

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Wendell Potter led a discussion at last week’s Unrig Summit on the high cost of health care and the overwhelming influence of Big Pharma and insurance in U.S. health care. Check out a photo from the summit below, and you can see more coverage on the Unrig Summit page.

 

Notable reporting and solutions

Corporations and lobbyists are leaning into the DCCC after the Democratic party machine announced that it would not working with (progressive) candidates running up against incumbent officials. And those lobbyists are doing so in the main way they can: by pouring gobs of money into the DCCC.

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Against the progressive grain, The Collective PAC called on major liberal groups to stop distancing themselves from single-candidate super PACs, arguing the movement deprives nonwhite candidates of funding.

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“We know the spotlight is on us right now,” says Colin Woodall, head of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “The way we see it, the Green New Deal has given us a great opportunity to tell our story.” Behind the snarky partisan fight over the impact of “cow farts” on the climate, meat lobbyists are working hard to make sure their industry doesn’t go the way of fossil fuels.

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In other meat-related news, the Trump administration passed the much of the power and responsibility over food inspections in hog plants from federal inspectors over to the industry itself. Obviously, this is a big win for the National Pork Producers Council, but not necessarily a surprising one for a $20 billion industry.

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Once the Federal Election Commission’s deputy inspector general resigned and went unfilled, the sole body that investigates waste, fraud and abuse in the FEC became useless. The Center for Public Integrity investigates what happens when no one is watching the election watchdog.

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With Russian meddling in both propaganda and voting during the 2016 elections, voting system manufacturers are starting to feel more intense pressure. Bloomberg takes a look at the growing number of lobbyists being recruited to aid the biggest voting system manufacturers.

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Royal Dutch Shell announced this week that it would let its membership in American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers lapse because the industry organization doesn’t align with their views on climate change. It’s a small move, but with the potential to send waves to other members of these industry orgs.

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Lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck saw their revenues from lobbying the Interior Department jump from $3.5 million in 2017 to $4.8 million last year. What happened, you might wonder? One of their partners, David Bernhardt, left the firm to become the Interior Department’s deputy secretary.

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spotlight on State INfluence

Public officials had been kept in the dark about the Texas-based tech company Handy’s role in rewriting state labor laws, and the potential state ethics violations are potentially severe.

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With lobbying in New Jersey hitting an all-time high of nearly $90 million, the state’s top lobbyists made out with a pretty penny, NJ Advance reports.

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In the first two months of the year, Kentucky’s lobbyists already edging toward outspending their 2018 record: businesses, industry groups and lobbying firms already poured more than $5 million into lobbying this year.

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Do you see some local influence reporting that should be flagged in Under the Influence or the Tarbell page? Send them my way: danielle@tarbell.org

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