Inside Politics: Victims bypass lawmakers by raising funds online

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Some who lost their homes or businesses in Superstorm Sandy have turned to crowd-funding websites to elicit a faster response than they might get from the government or traditional charities.

While Congress considers a $60 billion disaster aid package for victims of the late-October storm, hundreds of them have gotten quicker results by creating personalized fundraising campaigns on sites including GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and HelpersUnite.

These individual fundraising efforts have totaled a few million dollars, enough to show the funding model can work. GoFundMe leads the way with $1.3 million raised by about 320 individual campaigns from more than 14,000 donors.

Some charity watchdogs warn, though, that such sites could be ripe for abuse by people taking advantage of a tragedy.

ICE

Number of audits at all-time high looking for illegals on payrolls

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reached its highest number yet of companies audited for illegal immigrants on their payrolls this past fiscal year.

Audits of company I-9 forms increased from 250 in fiscal 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew from $1 million to nearly $13 million. The number of company managers arrested increased to 238.

The probing of employers is one of the pillars of President Obama’s immigration policy. He has said that any plan Congress considers this year to reform the nation’s immigration system should continue the audits.

Immigrant advocates say the audits have pushed workers further underground by causing mass layoffs, and industry representatives say the audits disrupt business operations.

SENATE

Crapo arrested in Alexandria, charged with drunken driving

Sen. Mike Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington suburb, authorities said.

Police in Alexandria said Sunday that the Idaho Republican was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Mr. Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. without incident. He was transported to the Alexandria jail, released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m., and had a Jan. 4 court date set.

“There was no refusal (to take sobriety tests), no accident, no injuries,” the police spokesman said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”

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