Missouri Press Association teams up with Reynolds Center for Business Journalism

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The 2012 election campaign promises to be one of the most expensive ever, with companies contributing even more because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case in 2010. That ruling says that government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

But corporate influence on politics extends beyond campaign contributions to lobbying expenditures and contributions to independent groups trying to sway elections. Then, there’s the question of how to tie it all together – what’s the connection between corporate spending and legislative or regulatory actions?

Bring the name of a company you follow to this workshop and learn how to track its

efforts at political influence from two experts: New York Times reporter Ron Nixon and Sunlight Foundation editorial director Bill Allison. Sign up here for this free workshop on Feb. 22, the afternoon before IRE’s Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference. The Reynolds Center is offering the same workshop ahead of IRE’s Conference in Boston on June 13.


  • How to find campaign contributions by companies at the state and federal level.
  • How to find lobbying expenditures by companies at the state and federal level
  • How to tie company spending on candidates or lobbying to legislative or regulatory actions
  • How to find corporate contributions to independent groups.


When: 12:30 -5 p.m. Feb. 22

St. Louis Union Station Marriott,
One St. Louis Union Station
St. Louis, MO 63103

Ron Nixon, New York Times
domestic correspondent;
Bill Allison,
editorial director, Sunlight Foundation.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE),
National Institute for
Computer-Assisted Reporting, Illinois
Press Association.

Workshop is the afternoon before IRE’s
Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR)
Feb. 23-26, 2012.

Register here for this free workshop.

AGENDA: Follow the money – tracking companies’ influence on politics

12:30-1 p.m.: Registration

1-1:10 p.m.: Welcome and introductions

1:20-2:10 p.m.: Overview of why companies are in politics and what resources exist to track companies’ campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures at the state and federal level.

2:10-2:40 p.m.: Case study of a St. Louis-area company and its political involvement, as revealed in these databases

2:40-3 p.m.: Bring your own company to look up, either on your own or as a class exercise

3-3:15: Break

3:15-4:15 p.m.: Closing the loop: how to tie what you’ve found to legislative action/regulation on either the state or federal levels, illustrated by case studies.

4:15-5 p.m.: How to find corporate contributions to independent groups such as 501(c)4s and 527s, as well as other independent spending, such as “Astroturf lobbying”

Bill Allison is the editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation. A veteran investigative journalist and editor for nonprofit media, Allison worked for the Center for Public Integrity for nine years, where he co-authored “The Cheating of America,” was senior editor of “The Buying of the President 2000″ and co-editor of the New York Times bestseller “The Buying of the President 2004.”

Prior to joining the center, Allison worked for eight years for The Philadelphia Inquirer—the last two as researcher for Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.

Ron Nixon is a domestic correspondent in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, where he has worked since 2005. He is the former computer-assisted reporting editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a former training director for Investigative Reporters and Editors.


Signing up and not participating deprives someone else of the opportunity.

Those who successfully complete three regional workshops or online seminars presented by the Reynolds Center are eligible to receive a “Circle of Achievement” certificate.

This workshop is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. If you have any questions about the workshop or the center, please email Executive Director Linda Austin or call 602-496-9187.



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