The calendar for campaign fundraisers in Springfield last Monday night was so packed, reports the Chicago Tribune , that lobbyists used spreadsheets to keep track of all the places they needed to be. With more than 20 events, it was the biggest fundraising night of the year for Illinois politicians. Reporters Ray Long ( @raylong ) and Alissa Groeninger ( @A_Groeninger ) explain that the flurry of activity is the result of Illinois' upcoming primary on March 20 as well as an interesting twist in when fundraising can happen under the state's ethics laws.
In California, The Sacramento Bee takes a look at another type of fundraising. While lobbyists' donations to legislative campaigns are capped, gifts to charities run by lawmakers and their allies are not. Those nonprofits typically help constituents, especially in poor neighborhoods. But politicians benefit, too, suggests reporter Jim Sanders ( @jwsanders55 ). "Special interests are not in the habit of throwing money around," Phillip Ung of California Common Cause told Sanders. "This money is spent to influence legislators and other elected officials."
Reuters looked at three states where measures to advance same-sex marriage passed with the help of Republican legislators and found those GOP lawmakers were swayed by personal stories. "Among them," writes Mary Slosson ( @maryslosson ), "were two Washington State legislators with gay relatives, a New Jersey state senator who changed her mind while working on an anti-bullying measure and a Maryland state House delegate inspired by a gay couple coping with cancer."
Finally, The New York Times writes about a number of states that are backing away from policies of isolating prisoners, sometimes for 23 hours a day for years on end. The story by Erica Goode ( @egoode ) focuses mostly on Mississippi but mentions similar shifts in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Washington State. Officials are moving away from long-term isolation both because they see evidence it is not working and because their states cannot afford its steep costs.