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Notable Investigations and Solutions
The FDA wanted to pull flavored liquid for vapes off the market about four years ago, but the Los Angeles Times found that senior Obama administration officials decided not to stop companies from attracting young vape users. Why, you might ask? Because the ban would put too much economic burden on vape shops.
The rising cost of litigation and hiring expert witnesses might limit the FTC’s ability to question Big Tech’s power over the nation and monopolistic traits. Meanwhile, a quick look in Amazon, Facebook, Apple or Google’s SEC reports show they’re fiscally comfortable with waiting out litigation (though annoyed with the processes).
Even though some lobbying firms have shied away from payments from Saudi Arabia after journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Saudi interests still managed to invest more than $27 million into US politics in the year since the murder.
Through a series of highly personalized attacks and pleas, the Catholic church is working hard to unravel legislation across states that would extend the time that child sexual abuse victims can report assaults.
Sludge found that Facebook is hugely profiting off sponsored ads from hate groups and hate figures, even though this is in direct violation of its hate speech policy.
Following a ProPublica/Buzzfeed investigation into the ways Amazon skirts liability for delivery driver crashes, three senators are demanding the names of third-party companies that manage deliveries. And Amazon, buttressed by its power and economic success, is refusing to divulge.
Vanity Fair takes a colorful look into the Trump administration’s diplomacy by hospitality, and how Washington’s politically powerful social circles are circling into the Trump hotel in the DC’s Old Post Office Building.
Spotlight on Local Reporting
Proposals to raise the height of Northern California’s Shasta dam floated in and out of the Interior Department for years, but those ideas were quickly bashed because of the likely devastation to both natural wildlife and the lucrative salmon industry that would result. Now that David Bernhardt – who was the top lobbyist for the project – helms the Interior Department, the proposal is gliding through.
Alabama’s prison system is bending over backwards to cut costs, resulting in some disturbing cases of prison officials dismissing and ignoring patients’ health incidents to avoid paying high costs for health care. ProPublica and AL.com released a series this week highlighting some dramatic cases of prisoner health negligence, including a prisoner who died after officials stalled emergency treatment to check if she had health insurance.
K Street might not be the place to set up a lobbying shop anymore. Residents on the periphery of Washington DC are noticing a new crop of lobbying firms and fundraisers buying townhouses in residential areas, and they worry their neighborhoods will turn into small political districts.
Another hit on California’s environmental record from Capital & Main: the state’s Department of Public Health seemed to be aligned with the lobbyists aiming to weaken regulations on the lead acid battery industry, and perhaps even assisting them to do so, both in past and current iterations of the legislation.
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reelection campaign hit a more desperate note, his associates sought donations from the Greater New York Hospital Association. In return, that support will garner hospitals a percent increase in Medicaid reimbursements, which will cost the state $140 million a year in extra payments.
Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval is being investigated after a lawsuit emerged saying he used his role as transportation chairman to secure a job for his son. And a recent raid in the federal investigation shows that they are considering the extent the senator employed lobbyists and influencers.
A federal judge in New York struck down a bill backed by Cuomo that would have opened up information on nonprofit lobbying in the state.