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Associated Press: New Mexico Voters to Decide on Need for Ethics Commission

Heather Ferguson, executive director of New Mexico Common Cause, said an ethics commission will help build trust in government. Aside from investigating possible corruption, she told the Santa Fe New Mexican that a commission would serve as an educational tool for officials seeking to avoid violating laws. She said the panel should be able to provide opinions much faster than the state attorney general's office, which also weighs in on questions from lawmakers and others.

Voting & Elections 10.27.2018

Associated Press: Sometimes a Ballot Issue Isn't Really About the Issue

"Initiatives are a good thing overall," said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs for the government watchdog group Common Cause. "But nefarious tactics are sometimes used by both parties to try and hijack the process ... to get a certain outcome in certain elections." Scherb said partisan use of the measures is growing. It's a tactic that can be especially potent in midterm elections, where turnout is smaller — typically 40 percent, compared with 60 percent in a general election nationally.

Money & Influence 10.26.2018

Associated Press: Dialysis companies spend $111 million to kill ballot measure

When corporate profits are at stake, campaign spending often balloons, said Kati Phillips of California Common Cause, which advocates campaign finance reform. "Health care measures are expensive," she said. "There's a lot of money to be made off of sick people."

Money & Influence 10.25.2018

NPR (AUDIO): Pritzker Breaks Campaign Finance Record, Annoys Illinois With $80 Million Of Ads

"It's just distressing where you see these figures and I just feel like it makes people think that their democracy really isn't for them anymore," says Jay Young, who leads Common Cause Illinois — a nonpartisan government watchdog group — has been tracking the Pritzker-Rauner money fight. Young says Illinois seems to be setting up a perpetual cycle in future elections; that it's going to take another independently wealthy candidate to take on incumbents who are already rich. "I'm hoping that it doesn't end up that the only field that we see from now going forward is billionaires, but sadly that's the way we've been trending."

Money & Influence 10.24.2018

Associated Press: Murphy shares campaign riches with Connecticut Democrats

It is not uncommon for well-known U.S. senators to build large fundraising bases and transfer some of the money to help their party locally, according to Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy at the election watchdog group Common Cause in Washington, D.C. "That's a big part of fundraising," he said. "It is to build up power and influence, both within their own elected bodies ... but also within their home states."

WNYC (AUDIO): Low Turnout a Problem for Menendez, But Trump Should Help

Stephen Spaulding, of the government watchdog group Common Cause, said “sometimes the appearance of corruption can be just as damaging to trust, faith and confidence in government as actual corruption.” It’s not just Menendez, Spaulding said wealthy donors buying influence is all too common in Washington, and the line between favors and bribery is murky. “And the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts has by no means been a beacon of clarity on that front,” Spaulding said. “The court has by and large said this kind of access and influence is as American as apple pie and it's really up to voters to punish or reward elected officials, not the court.”

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