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This Week in Tarbell

Keeping it short this week, as we’re currently redoing the website. Stay tuned for more soon!

Notable Investigations and Solutions

Indefensible: While the whole House is trying to interpret the White House’s briefing on the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani, analysts predict Democrats to be united in restricting Trump’s power to make defense decisions. Almost all, except Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), who receives the most funding from the defense industry among Democrats.

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Breaking apart regulations: The Trump administration is set to substantially dismantle the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which would strip significant constraints that were in place before companies could build pipelines. This is a critical threat for the people and places impacted by the Keystone pipeline and others, but the industry is over the moon. The big thrill for corporations: disaster expenses will now be primarily covered by taxpayer dollars.

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Billionaire staffs lobbyists: Deep-pocketed presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg claimed he was not influenced by special interests, but turns out he hires them instead. The Intercept notes that Bloomberg’s spokesperson previously was on retainer for Purdue Pharma, and a senior staff adviser was once employed by a coalition for investors.

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Who’s policing trusts: Shocked by the decision to let the Sprint merger fly, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is raising questions to the Justice Department to understand why the government is not aggressively pursuing mergers that smell a lot like trusts.

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Spotlight on Local Reporting

Local lobbying: As a new year begins, check out some of local coverage of lobbying and lobbyists that is hitting local newsstands.

In Vermont, health care is still the top issue for spending, but the investments dipped in 2019, VTDigger reports. 

In Maryland, ten lobbyists alone reported more than $15 million in client fees, showing the big spending — in a state dominated by health care interests, according to The Daily Record (subscription required).

And in Colorado, legislative watchdogs are expecting big money, as the state further debates a public option for health care, said Westword.