How we did it: Examining influence and legislation

To examine Democratic Congressman Bob Filner’s ties to industries, as well as companies and groups, inewsource used a variety of public records, including:

  • Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Committee since 2008 to determine who gave money to his campaign and his leadership Political Action Committee, San Diego PAC. We also utilized the search engines and analysis on www.opensecrets.org, a website run by the Center for Responsive Politics that includes analysis of federal campaign data.
  • Lobbying disclosure reports that unions, associations, companies and other groups filed with the House Clerk since 2009 to determine who reported paying to lobby specifically on bills that Filner sponsored and cosponsored. We also utilized www.opensecrets.org, which enables the public to search the disclosure reports by bill number.
  • Legislation documents housed in the Library of Congress, including bill titles and descriptions, as well as records of amendments, votes and other actions. We also utilized bill summaries released by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan group that researches legislation.
  • Details on earmark requests maintained by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit, federal spending watchdog group.
  • Travel disclosure reports filed with the House Clerk to determine if any of Filner’s top contributors or entities that lobbied on his legislation paid for him or his staff to take trips.
  • Personal financial forms filed with the House Clerk to determine if Filner or his staff—or their spouses—have any obvious financial ties to his top contributors or those that lobbied on bills he sponsored.

To examine those ties, we also:

  • Interviewed six of the companies and groups that were among Filner’s top contributors and benefited from his legislation, earmarks or endorsements. We also interviewed two experts in campaign finance and lobbying.
  • Researched the position that unions, associations, companies and other groups had on Filner’s legislation to determine whether they lobbied against, in favor of or to amend his bills.
  • Searched the Internet, including social media, event invitations, and letters to federal agencies, among other things, to examine any relationship between Filner, his top contributors and those who have lobbied on his bills.
shadow-ornament

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About Brad Racino:

Brad Racino
Brad Racino is a senior reporter and assistant director at inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email bradracino [at] inewsource [dot] org.