OpenSecrets.org Newsletter: Lawmakers need little educating on student loans, and more …

Wellspring gives big boost to Judicial Crisis Network with $6.6 million grant

A secretive nonprofit that has given millions of dollars to conservative 501(c)(4) groups over the years sank more than $6.6 million into the Judicial Crisis Network in 2014, giving a significant boost to a group that has become increasingly involved in not only state judicial but also attorneys general races.

The donor, the Wellspring Committee, gave out nearly $8.3 million in grants last year, according to a new filing with the IRS, more than triple what it donated the year before. The sum was more than Wellspring has given away in any year except 2010, when it sent $8.4 million to like-minded organizations. That year, though, JCN and an offshoot group received just $400,000 from Wellspring, a sliver of what it got last year.

The bond between the two groups is strong — familial, even. Wellspring was founded and is still headed by Ann Corkery, a lawyer who for years has been involved in conservative fundraising and also helped launch JCN. Her husband, Neil, is JCN’s treasurer. Their daughter, Kathleen, is on Wellspring’s board, and the secretary-treasurer of the group, Michael Casey, is the son of one of JCN’s board members.

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Getting schooled: 1 in 10 members of Congress has student loan debt

While more than half of federal lawmakers are millionaires and their combined median net worth shot up 6.7 percent between 2013 and 2014, there’s at least one way in which many members of Congress can understand the plight of millions of Americans: They owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. With the astronomical cost of a college education taking an increasingly prominent role in the 2016 presidential campaign … read more.

Old campaign money flows to former intelligence chair’s new group, and former staffers

As they await January 2, 2016 — the day they can legally become lobbyists — former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and his former chief of staff, along with two more of Rogers’ onetime staffers, have found a use for some of the lawmaker’s $1.3 million leftover campaign funds. It doesn’t involve many contributions to other candidates or the Republican party — two of the more common deployments of unneeded … read more

Pfizer won’t lack resources in lobbying for $160 billion Allergan deal

In politics, 2015 may be remembered as the year of Trump and Carson, Clinton and Sanders. In the business world, especially in the health care industry, it may be remembered as the year of the merger. But many politicians aren’t at all happy about the latest such effort: New York-based Pfizer‘s plan, announced Monday, to join forces with Allergan in a mammoth $160 billion deal. What’s making them queasy: Allergan, headquartered in Dublin … read more

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