Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

An investigation by fact-checking company Snopes finds that a series of seemingly innocuous local websites, which have popped up all over the country, are being run by GOP consultants whose businesses are funded in part by candidates the websites cover.

Why it matters: The consultants setting up these websites, first reported last year by Politico, are expanding their efforts to more battleground states in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

  • They claim that the sites are funded by ads. But the Snopes investigation found that the websites are often supported by wealthy benefactors.

Details: Michael Patrick Leahy, a Tea Party-connected conservative activist that is tied to one of the sites, Tennessee Star, wrote in an email to Snopes: "We are in business to make a profit, and have a number of advertisers to prove it."

  • But Snopes found that Tennessee Star runs ads from political groups such as the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity and local GOP fundraisers.

The big picture: It's difficult to draw a line between political activism and journalism in the digital era, in part because activists have gotten so good at using technology to blur lines by creating news outlets that look impartial. 

  • Earlier reports have uncovered many of these efforts, and there isn't much framework in place to stop them from spreading.
  • While Congress has invested countless hours grilling tech companies about foreign meddling, far less attention has been paid to these types of misinformation efforts. 

Go deeper: The rise of the pro-Trump media machine

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 30,588,989 — Total deaths: 953,482— Total recoveries: 20,832,830Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 6,745,190 — Total deaths: 198,921 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 93,150,052Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  5. World: Guatemalan president tests positive for COVID-19.

Schumer: "Nothing is off the table" if GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told congressional Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Schumer's comments come amid calls from fellow Democrats to expand the number of judges on the Supreme Court if President Trump and Senate Republicans move to fill the newly empty seat next time the party holds a majority in the Senate.

ActBlue collects record-breaking $30 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

A makeshift memorial in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 19. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing site, reported a record-breaking $30 million raised from 9 pm Friday to 9 am Saturday in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, NPR writes and ActBlue confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."