Peter Overby, NPR

A new lawsuit by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, targets an obscure provision of campaign finance law.

At issue is loophole-closing language that restricts how much money lawmakers can accept from donors after Election Day as they seek to recoup loans they made to their campaigns.

The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law puts a $250,000 limit on payments from postelection donors, even if the candidate lent more, and there's a 20-day deadline for donors to contribute. Cruz is suing the Federal Election Commission as enforcer of the provision.

It isn't your usual bill, the For The People Act introduced Friday by House Democrats. Also known as HR 1, symbolically their first legislation, it is a 571-page compendium of existing problems and proposed solutions in four political hot zones: voting, political money, redistricting and ethics.

A pledge to pass the bill was a common theme among Democratic House candidates last year.

"We heard loud and clear from the American people," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told reporters Friday. "They feel left out and locked out from their own democracy."

Updated at 1:23 p.m. ET

At Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders misleadingly asserted that the Trump administration's use of nondisclosure agreements both during and after government employment was very common.

"Despite contrary opinion, it's actually very normal. And every administration prior to the Trump administration has had NDAs, particularly specific for anyone that had a security clearance." said Sanders.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

In a blow to President Trump, a federal judge says a lawsuit that alleges Trump's business interests violate the Constitution can proceed.

Federal District Judge Peter Messitte denied the Department of Justice's request to dismiss a case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The Emoluments Clause bars any president from personally profiting from his dealings with foreign governments — or even U.S. state governments.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

In his annual disclosure of personal finances, President Trump acknowledged that he paid lawyer Michael Cohen between $100,000 and $250,000 last year.

Both Cohen and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani have said some of that money was to reimburse Cohen for a $130,000 hush money settlement with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

A federal ethics agency has ruled that one of President Trump's closest White House aides twice broke the law separating government from politics.

Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump's campaign manager in 2016, advocated for Republican Roy Moore in Alabama's recent Senate election during live television interviews broadcast from the White House lawn.

The Office of Special Counsel found Conway violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using their office for partisan politics.

President Trump joined members of Congress on Wednesday in scrutinizing alleged government travel abuses by the secretary of health and human services and at least two other Cabinet officials.

"I was looking into it, and I will look into it, and I will tell you personally I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it," Trump told White House reporters.

Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub Jr. is turning in his resignation on Thursday.

The move follows months of clashes with the White House over issues such as President Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees.

Shaub, an attorney, has accepted a job with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization of election-law experts.

When the Senate was preparing to confirm President Trump's Cabinet and other top officials, the nominees negotiated ethics agreements, promising to rearrange their financial lives to avoid conflicts of interest.

Now the Office of Government Ethics wants to know if they kept their word.

OGE is requiring the Cabinet secretaries and other Senate-confirmed officials to fill out a new Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance. NPR obtained a copy of the form before its release Thursday.

Opportunity and Freedom PAC, and its two siblings, Opportunity and Freedom PAC numbers 1 and 2, were meant to be heavyweight sluggers for Republican Rick Perry, providing big-budget support for his second presidential bid.

But Perry himself turned out to be a welterweight at best. The former Texas governor entered the race late, raised a skimpy $1.1 million by June 30 and "suspended" his campaign barely two months later.

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

A "return on investment" is a concept better known to Wall Street than to Washington. But after President Obama and the Democrats won most of the close elections last week there are questions about the seven- and eight-figure "investments" made by dozens of conservative donors.

During the election season, it was pretty common to hear about donors making "investments" in superPACs and other outside groups, rather than a "political contribution," perhaps because the phrase has a sort of taint to it.

If you thought the presidential primaries were extraordinarily negative, now there's statistical evidence that you were right.

A new analysis of TV ads finds that 70 percent of the messages were negative — a trend spearheaded by the heavily financed superPACs supporting the candidates. At this point in the 2008 election, 91 percent of TV ads were positive.

Even as Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich is riding high in the polls this week, he's been dragged back into a debate over a problematic part of his past. In 1997, he was the first speaker of the House, ever, to be punished by the House for ethics violations.

With "Renewing American Civilization," history-professor-turned-politician Newt Gingrich had a college course — a program that was supposed to be insulated from partisan politics and campaign cash.

The litany he used in the classroom sounds much like one he uses today.

Presidential candidate Rick Perry's ties to campaign donors came under more scrutiny this week when he was challenged during Monday's Tea Party debate.

Perry defended taking a contribution from a drug company and then mandating use of the company's new vaccine. "I raised about $30 million, and if you're saying I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended," he said.

Actually, the drug company, Merck, has given Perry $28,500 overall. But that's still pocket change compared with what Perry's truly big donors have given.

Political contributions from drug maker Merck to Texas Gov. Rick Perry are substantially higher than he said at Monday night's CNN/Tea Party Express debate.

Perry low-balled the number, saying the contribution was just $5,000. But since 2001. Merck has given Perry a total of $28,500.

In the debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann accused Perry of mandating a statewide innoculation program using the Merck-made vaccine Gardasil after the pharmaceutical giant gave money for his 2006 campaign.