By Michael Beckel, Center for Public Integrity
Democrat Alex Sink, left, and Republican David Jolly
The campaign money machines of Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly have not just been matched by outside forces, they’ve been lapped.
Roughly $12.5 million has flooded the heated special election in Pinellas County on central Florida’s gulf coast, but less than one-third of that sum was controlled by the candidates’ own campaigns, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal records. (more…)
By Kara Brandeisky, ProPublica
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act last June, justices left it to Congress to decide how to fix the law. But while Congress deliberates, activists are turning again to the courts: At least 10 lawsuits have the potential to bring states and some local jurisdictions back under federal oversight – essentially doing an end-run around the Supreme Court’s ruling. (more…)
By Jason McLure, Center for Public Integrity
As Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. roll out a massive lobbying effort to win regulatory approval for the merger of the nation’s two largest cable companies, one key step for the companies will be garnering the support of prominent civil rights and minority groups. (more…)
By Marshall Allen, ProPublica
Dr. Cristine Cassel, President and CEO of the National Quality Forum, speaking before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions. Dr. Cassel was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional outside compensation after she was hired in December 2012. (help.senate.gov)
The top executive at the country’s pre-eminent health care quality organization is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by two large medical companies that have a stake in the group’s work.
The payments to Dr. Christine Cassel raise new conflict-of-interest concerns at the National Quality Forum, which endorses benchmarks that Medicare uses to compensate hospitals based on performance. (more…)
By Lois Beckett, ProPublica
A shooting victim is rushed to the hospital in Miami. Photo: CBS4
Chicago’s Cook County Hospital has one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation, treating about 2,000 patients a year for gunshots, stabbings and other violent injuries.
So when researchers started screening patients there for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011, they assumed they would find cases.
They just didn’t know how many: Fully 43 percent of the patients they examined – and more than half of gunshot-wound victims – had signs of PTSD. (more…)
By Douglas P. Guarino, Center for Public Integrity
The Environmental Protection Agency is walking away after a decades-long battle with Florida politicians and industry officials over cleaning up phosphate-mining waste in an area that could expose more than 100,000 residents to cancer-causing radiation levels.
Under a decision quietly finalized two weeks ago, the federal agency will leave it to state officials to decide the fate of the sites in and around Lakeland, an approximately 10-square-mile residential area midway between Orlando and Tampa. (more…)
By Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica
State prison inmates
Photo: Florida Department of Corrections
A new Justice Department study shows that allegations of sex abuse in the nation’s prisons and jails are increasing — with correctional officers responsible for half of it — but prosecution is still extremely rare.
The report, released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, takes data collected by correctional administrators representing all of the nation’s federal and state prisons as well as many county jails. It shows that administrators logged more than 8,000 reports of abuse to their overseers each year between 2009 and 2011, up 11 percent from the department’s previous report, which covered 2007 and 2008. (more…)
By Marshall Allen and Olga Pierce, ProPublica
Ernie Ciccotelli takes a phone call inside his law office in Norwich, Vt., on Dec. 31, 2013. Ciccotelli suffered complications after he donated a kidney to his brother in January of 2006 at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Ciccotelli was unable to find a malpractice attorney to take on his case. Photo: Matthew Healey for ProPublica
Ernie Ciccotelli was trying to do a good deed when he donated a kidney to his brother. But within days of the surgery, his incision was oozing green fluid and his guts were rotting.
Ciccotelli said he was almost killed by an infection, and the follow-up surgeries and months of disability nearly ruined his fledgling legal practice. So he looked for a malpractice attorney who would help him file a case against the hospital.
That’s when he ran into a problem faced by many who are harmed in a medical setting: Attorneys refuse their cases, not because the harm didn’t happen but because the potential economic damages are too low. (more…)
By T. Christian Miller and Jeff Gerth, ProPublica
Dr. Daniel Budnitz, at his office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Budnitz has campaigned to have flow restrictors — safety plastic devices fitted into the necks of medicine bottles to slow the release of fluid — added to all liquid medicines, but so far he’s had limited success. Photo: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica
This story was produced in collaboration with Consumer Reports.
Starting in 2007, Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Medication Safety Program, began tracking an obscure but unsettling statistic about children’s health.
Each year, more and more kids were being rushed to emergency rooms after swallowing potentially toxic doses of medication. By 2011, federal estimates put the figure at about 74,000, eclipsing the number of kids under 6 sent to ERs from car crashes. (more…)
By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity
Just after the federal government shut down Oct. 1, and one of the government’s more dysfunctional agencies stopped functioning altogether, Chinese hackers picked their moment to attack.
They waylaid the Federal Election Commission’s networks. They crashed computer systems that publicly disclose how billions of dollars are raised and spent each election cycle by candidates, parties and political action committees. (more…)
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