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Around the watchdogs: Big Candy, fake 'drag queen boobs' and Sonny & Cher

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Jennifer Peebles,Watchdog Blog

It’s time for our pre-Election Day/post-Sandy/Halloween installment of Around the Watchdogs.

That’s a lot of Crunch bars: You’ve heard of Big Oil, Big Coal, and those other “big” interests that throw their weight around in Washington? Here’s a new one: Big Candy. Just in time for Halloween, National Journal’s Influence Alley blog writes about the war between the candy lobby and the sugar lobby, who together spent nearly $1 million on lobbying in the third quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, OpenSecrets writes about specific candy makers’ lobbying and political giving. Spending the most is Nestle, which has dropped $1.4 million on lobbying and which has given twice as much to Mitt Romney as it has to President Obama.

The Center for Public Integrity also blogs on Halloween-themed super PAC ads.

Elsewhere on the campaign finance front:

ProPublica and Frontline have more evidence that a key dark-money group, Western Tradition Partnership, misled the IRS about its political activities. WTP is the group that recently won a lawsuit to rollback campaign finance limits in Montana.

More one-campaign super PACs are backing candidates in Congressional races this year, according to OpenSecrets and the Center for Public Integrity. And environmental PACs are spending big bucks to help Dem candidates in Western states, the Rural Blog notes.

Batting .500: U.S. Solicitor General Donald Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the man who argues on behalf of the U.S. government before the Supreme Court, had a batting average for the previous season, er, term, of .517, according to George Washington University Law School’s Alan B. Morrison, blogging at SCOTUSblog.

From the IGs: The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Information Technology “has not instituted a human capital strategy for its workforce of approximately 7,300 employees and has been managing its human resources in an ad hoc manner,” the VA Inspector General said in a new report posted online this morning.

Around the states:

Skipping out on taxes: Banks have blown off paying $3 million in back property taxes to Georgia cities and counties after foreclosing on homes, Atlanta’s WSB-Channel 2 reports.

You mean not all government employees get taxpayer-funded “drag queen boobs”? Workers at Tennessee’s state public housing oversight agency spent thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on trips to Dave & Buster’s and buying costumes for an employee talent show, including Sonny & Cher getup with fake “drag queen boobs,” Nashville’s WTVF-Channel 5 reports.

Down the drain: The state of West Virginia spent $1.7 million in federal stimulus money on fancy computer routers -- at $22,600 a piece -- for its state police. But it turns out they are basically unusable because they don’t have voicemail modules. Just one of the 77 routers is being used, the Charleston Gazette reports (which we spotted via the #muckreads hashtag on Twitter).

Jennifer Peebles is The Washington Examiner's data editor. Contact her at jpeebles@washingtonexaminer.com. Follow her online at @DCPeebles.

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