by Lisa Sorg
Many North Carolina legislators will tell you that campaign contributions in no way influence their votes or policy-making.
Once you've stopped laughing, check out the new project by the Institute for Southern Studies, Follow NC Money which tracks outside money flowing in to North Carolina elections.
The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling relaxed political spending rules, spawning the rise of so-called SuperPACs, innocuously known as "independent expenditure committees." There is a flotilla of other committees unaffiliated with a party or candidate that also bear watching: Political action committees, plus nonprofits, business leagues and special interest groups that are allowed to lobby and campaign. (They file as 501c4s, 501c6s and 527s, respectively.)
Follow NC Money offers a searchable database of committees, races, candidates and amounts for the 2012 election cycle. The information was compiled from the N.C. General Assembly, State Board of Elections and Internal Revenue Service records.