In March, a federal judge agreed with Van Hollen that FEC disclosure requirements for outside groups running issue ads are too lax.
July 23: In response to their numerous complaints, the IRS tells Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center that it “is aware of the current public interest” in undisclosed political activity by tax-exempt groups and “will consider proposed changes in this area” as it works on regulations.
Aug. 2: In a victory for transparency advocates, the FEC begins posting information about political ad buys in the nation’s biggest TV markets directly to the Internet. The electronic postings, previously limited to hard copy, had been challenged unsuccessfully in court by broadcasters.
Aug. 29: In a forum on Reddit, Obama declares that Americans “need to seriously consider” a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United ruling.
Sept. 5: In another sign pro-Democrat super PACs remain outgunned by their GOP counterparts, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepares to leave his post as the Obama campaign’s honorary chairman to raise money for Priorities USA Action.
Sept. 12: Van Hollen’s winning streak ends when a federal appeals court reverses previous lower court rulings that had upheld his challenge to the FEC’s disclosure regulations. The ruling again gives outside groups more freedom to run campaign-style issue ads without revealing their donors.
Oct. 26: Chevron Corp. donates $2.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backing House Republicans. The donation draws notice because super PACs in 2012 have been mostly backed by individual wealthy donors, not corporations.
Nov. 5: Outside political spending tops $1 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than three times what outside groups spent in the 2008 presidential election. CRP also predicts that total 2012 spending will reach $6 billion.
Nov. 7: The Sunlight Foundation releases its analysis of campaign spenders’ return on investment, which proved disappointing for conservative groups that spent hundreds of millions of dollars but failed to capture the White House or the Senate. Among other findings, it shows that the influential GOP super PAC American Crossroads spent $104.7 million, but had a 1.29 percent return on investment.
Dec. 7: Post-election reports show that top donors from the real estate, casino, media and financial services industries poured six- and seven-figure contributions into super PACs in the election’s final weeks.
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