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Today's Influence Must Reads

Roxana Tiron of Bloomberg Government reports on lobbying spending by defense contractors:

Defense contractors Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon spent a combined $33.4 million on lobbying in Washington last year, a 10 percent increase from 2010, as Congress and the Obama administration weighed cuts in the Pentagon budget. ... Pentagon contractors face an era of limited government spending after an impasse on how to cut the federal budget left open the prospect of $1 trillion in defense cuts over a decade. Even with future cuts looming, defense companies focused their lobbying last year on protecting contracts and programs from immediate cuts, according to Michael Herson, president of American Defense International, a defense lobbying and business-development firm in Washington.

Dan Eggen of the Washington Post reports on the emergence of Super PACs as players in congressional races:

The powerful political groups known as super PACs, whose heavy spending has become a significant factor in the presidential race, are also beginning to play a role in congressional races around the country. ... Targets of super PAC money in recent months include at least two dozen pivotal House districts around the country, along with high-profile Senate races in states such as Massachusetts, Ohio, Utah and Indiana, according to Federal Election Commission data and interviews with political strategists. In Oregon's 1st District, which is holding a mail-only special election on Tuesday to replace disgraced Democrat David Wu, Republican candidate Rob Cornilles has been bombarded with $1.8 million in ads and mailings from the Democratic Party and allied outside groups.

And Shira Toeplitz of Roll Call reports on the independent expenditure arms of the Senate campaign committees is a post-Citizens United world:

Senate campaign committees tapped two familiar hands to lead their independent expenditures this cycle -- a high-stakes gig that controls tens of millions of dollars in spending for 2012 races. But these Senate money managers will confront new challenges this cycle as outside group and super PAC spending increasingly compete for air time. ... For most of the past decade, these IE arms were the best-funded game in town for Congressional races. In 2010, the DSCC spent $40.1 million in IEs and the NRSC spent $25.9 million in IEs, according to the campaign finance disclosure website OpenSecrets. But in wake of the high court's ruling, anyone can try to contend with the IE's cash largesse by starting a super PAC. ... For example, the conservative American Crossroads and its sister organization, Crossroads GPS, spent more than $40 million on Senate-related advocacy last cycle. This cycle, Democrats launched their own outside IE arm, Majority PAC, to contend with Crossroads' spending blitz.

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