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Assets v. Liabilities: How We Figure a Lawmaker's Net Worth

Source: Open Secrets

In the past week, our data on lawmakers' personal finances has received a lot of attention. Looking beyond the headlines, and after all the jokes, people began to ask us questions about what was reported in the data and how the numbers were calculated. For a more thorough explanation we encourage you to read the House and Senate filing instructions, and our own methodology page. But here are answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently:

Read more: Assets v. Liabilities: How We Figure a Lawmaker's Net Worth

Election 2013 Roundup


2013's election night results are a mixed bag of surprises and predictable outcomes.

Governor's Races - Chris Christie sailed to a predictable win (60% - 35.5%) over Barbara Buono in New Jersey, thanks to Democrats' abandonment of Buono. In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe edged out Ken Cuccinelli by a much smaller margin than had been predicted -- 48%-45.5%. In the Virginia Lieutenant Governor's race, Democrat Ralph Northam trounced E.W. Jackson with an 11 point margin.

Virginia Legislature - Democrats picked up two Senate seats in Virginia and the majority along with it, though the House of Delegates remains firmly in the hands of a Republican supermajority.

Virginia Attorney General - This one will head for a recount, overseen by none other than losing gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. As of 2:30 AM EST, Democrat Mark Herring leads by about 600 votes with all but four precincts reporting. Out of those four precincts, two are deep red and two are deep blue.

Tea Party vs. US Chamber Machine, Alabama edition - US Chamber-backed candidate Bradley Byrne sent tea party choice Dean Young packing, leaving Byrne as the GOP choice for AL-1 special election next month to fill Alison Bonner's seat. It's Alabama, so the actual election will just be a formality. The real race was to see whether the hardcore 'never say die' conservative would win over the more mainstream but no less conservative candidate.

Mayoral Races - Bill DeBlasio is the new mayor of New York City, winning his race by a landslide -- 73% to 24%. His populist message obviously resonated with New Yorkers enough for them to elect their first Democratic mayor in 20 years. In Houston, Annise Parker was re-elected, and in Seattle, Democrat Ed Murray was elected. Both candidates are openly gay. In Boston, Democrat Marty Walsh defeated John Connolly to become Boston's new mayor, and once again, the city voted for the populist progressive candidate over the corporate Democrat.

Minimum Wage - It was a good night for minimum wage laws. New Jersey voters approved an increase in the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour with scheduled cost of living increases going forward. In Washington State, a ballot proposition to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for workers at Sea-Tac airport had an early lead, but final results might not be known until Friday due to the mail-in rules for voting in that state.

Marijuana - Portland, Maine and three cities in Michigan all voted to legalize pot and Colorado voted to tax it.

Education - In Bridgeport, CT, the school board majority now belongs to the Working Families Party, which is a heavy blow to the school deformers who have been working so hard to bust unions and privatize schools there. In Colorado, voters rejected a ballot measure which would have raised taxes on the wealthy in order to fund schools.

GMO Food Labeling - Washington state took a run at a similar measure to the one on California's ballot in 2012, with the same result. It went down in defeat by a wide margin after millions were spent to buy that defeat.

What other results caught your eye?


Calls for Reform Grow as SEC Considers New Disclosure Rules

It has been over two years since 10 corporate law professors petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking for new oversight measures that would increase the transparency of corporate spending in elections. 

The petition, which currently has more than 600,000 comments on the SEC website, would compel publicly traded companies to disclose political spending figures to shareholders. The SEC ruling on this was expected to come sometime this year -- and as 2013 draws to a close, efforts are being ramped up to draw attention to the issue. 

Last week, Prof. Robert Jackson Jr., one of the original filers of the SEC petition, was joined by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at a briefing hosted by Public Citizen to encourage supporters to keep pressing for reform. The lawmakers highlighted their plans for legislative action should the SEC ruling run aground. 


Read more: Calls for Reform Grow as SEC Considers New Disclosure Rules

Wellspring's Flow: Dark Money Outfit Helped Fuel Groups on Political Front Lines


For people who guard their privacy closely, Ann and Neil Corkery are key players in some very public enterprises. The many groups they are or have been involved with -- as board members or officers -- include the Catholic League, an aggressive defender of the church against what it sees as "slanderous assaults;"the National Organization for Marriage, which has fiercely fought official recognition of gay marriage; and the Judicial Crisis Network, which opposes what it sees as "activist" judges and has waded into the abortion battle.

Read more: Wellspring's Flow: Dark Money Outfit Helped Fuel Groups on Political Front Lines

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