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Welcome to SourceWatch!

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes this wiki, SourceWatch.

Please check out our sister sites, PRWatch and ALECexposed, to read our original reporting and see our award-winning investigations.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director

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Featured Work

Shocker! Koch Youth Group Backs Koch Politician Signing Koch-Approved ALEC Bill

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

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Generation Opportunity (Gen Opp), a "nonpartisan" youth group funded by the Koch brothers "Freedom Partners" conduit, is backing one of the Koch's favorite politicians and thanking him for his support for a Koch-approved ALEC model bill.

The Arlington, Virginia, astroturf group recently asked Wisconsinites to sign a petition thanking Governor Scott Walker for signing "The CASE for Jobs Act." The tweets signal that the group is trying to capture names in Wisconsin perhaps for use in the election cycle. As CMD previously reported, the group has been spending big money in federal races for the U.S. Senate.

The tweets from @GenOppWI went viral on Twitter, but not for the reasons the group would have hoped. Rather, Wisconsinites reacted viscerally to the call to thank Wisconsin's governor for making progress on jobs. Read the rest of this item here.


WI GOP Endorses Basis for Walker Criminal Probe

by Brendan Fischer

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For months, supporters of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have insisted the John Doe criminal probe into his 2012 campaign is "baseless," because the alleged coordination under investigation did not involve ads that expressly told viewers to elect Walker or vote against his opponent. As long as an ad doesn't include such express advocacy, Walker and his allies have claimed, it is beyond the reach of Wisconsin campaign finance law.

The Wisconsin Republican Party has just taken the opposite position.

Read the rest of this item here.


Kochs and Corps Have Bankrolled American Council on Science and Health

by Rebekah Wilce

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The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) poses as an independent science-based organization devoted to outing "junk science," but consumer advocates have called it "a consumer front organization for its business backers" that "glove[s] the hand that feeds it."

The majority of ACSH's funds have come from corporations and major foundations, but a new review of its funding sources by The Progressive Inc.'s Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals that some of the hands that feed the group that bashes people concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemicals used in factory farming, for example, are those of the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, through the Koch family fortune. Koch Industries profits from petroleum products like ammonia fertilizers and other agribusiness-related operations.

Read the rest of this item here.


Koch Political Universe Vaster than Previously Known

by Brendan Fischer and Nick Surgey

Charles and David Koch
Newly-obtained documents show that the billionaire Koch brothers' political giving is much more expansive than has previously been known.

In addition to the hundreds of millions flowing into politics by way of the Kochs' network of foundations and funding vehicles like Freedom Partners, David Koch writes millions of dollars in personal checks to political organizations every year, and funds from the Koch Industries corporate treasury are used to bankroll the right-wing infrastructure the Kochs have developed. Koch Industries, the company David runs with his brother Charles, is the second-largest privately-held company in the country.

Read the rest of this item here.


Water Rights March in Detroit

by Ruth Coniff

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On Friday, July 18, thousands of people marched through downtown Detroit to call attention to a major public health crisis as the city shuts off the water for residents who are behind on their bills.

Chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight! Water is a human right!” and “Whose water? Our water!” about 5,000 Detroit residents and allies from across the country—including many who were in town for the annual Netroots Nation blogger conference—marched from the Cobo convention center to Hart Plaza near the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Old R&B tuned blared from a mobile sound truck hired by National Nurses United, as a large, multiracial crowd gathered, carrying signs that said “Water is a human right” “Turn on the Water” and “Tax Wall Street”. Read the rest of this item here.


U.S. Senator Welcomes Climate Deniers to Help GOP Capture Congress

by Lee Fang, The Nation Institute and Nick Surgey

Oklanhoma Senator Jim Inhofe
If Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate this year, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a lawmaker famous for his belief that the entire body of climate science research is a "hoax," will take control of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees matters relating to pollution and environmental problems.

So it should be little surprise then that Inhofe made an appearance by video last week at the Heartland Institute, a think tank famous for peddling big business-friendly viewpoints on behalf of corporate sponsors, during a conference for climate change skeptics. The group, like Inhofe's political action committee, is funded through hefty donations from the oil and gas industry. Inhofe's speech came during the lunch session led by Christopher Monckton, a British pundit famous for his outlandish views, including the belief that AIDS patients should be "quarantined." Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Gov. Scott Walker, Allies Knew Prevailing Interpretation of State Law

by Brendan Fischer

Supporters of Gov. Scott Walker have been working hard in recent weeks to conjure up excuses to dismiss the John Doe campaign finance probe.

Now, Walker's allies are acknowledging that the probe is grounded in Wisconsin law, but are claiming that prosecutors are enforcing a "zombie law" — allegedly rendered unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court — that the Walker campaign was purportedly free to ignore. Read the rest of this item here.


McCutcheon’s Supreme Cynicism

by Brendan Fischer

One of the many outrageous aspects of the U.S. Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC decision is how blatantly it served the interests of the very wealthiest. After all, the plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, was complaining that his free speech rights were being infringed because he was prohibited from spending more than $123,200 in aggregate direct contributions to politicians.

But who in America can afford to spend that much? Read the rest of this item here.


After Subpoenas in Probe, WI GOP Sought to Quietly Change Law

by Brendan Fischer

New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

The John Doe investigation was never mentioned during testimony on SB 654, even among the bill's opponents. Read the rest of this item here.


Miley Cyrus and the Employment Policies Institute

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

On an almost daily basis, Miley Cyrus can be seen in grocery store lines on the cover of entertainment magazines and gossip rags. But now Cyrus is appearing in one place you might not have expected – on a billboard in Los Angeles denouncing higher wages.

The Employment Policies Institute (EPI), whose president is Richard Berman, the infamous PR flak dubbed "Dr. Evil" by 60 Minutes, reportedly purchased the image of Cyrus for a billboard attacking California's $9 minimum wage. Apparently, Berman's clients think that nine bucks an hour is just too much money for folks in Los Angeles, where the cost of living is skyrocketing.

The 72-year-old Berman may not know what twerking means, but he certainly knows how to exploit young people to advance his corporate agenda. Read the rest of this item here.


Grom Social: Cashing in on Kids

by Ruth Conniff and Nick Surgey

Grom Social, a new social media site for kids, is bursting with cuteness and commercial appeal—from the freckled 13-year-old listed as its founder, Zach Marks, to the cheerful cartoon characters on the site.

During a lunch-time presentation at Freedom Fest 2014 in Las Vegas, Zach's dad Darren explained that Grom not only allows kids to connect with friends and learn valuable lessons, it promotes a wholesome anti-bullying message and is safe, since parents monitor every click. But, best of all, according to Darren Marks, Grom is poised to cash in big by marketing products to children and parents alike, and by transforming public-education funds into profits for investors.

Walmart is in talks with Grom about advertising, the senior Marks told prospective investors in Las Vegas this month. And, the site will soon be pushing products using the subtly persuasive art of product placement and its cast of adorable cartoon avatar characters. Launched eighteen months ago, Grom has grown to more than a half million users. It is "an advertiser's dream,” Darren Marks said in Las Vegas.

Read the rest of this item here.


The Koch Brothers: The Extremist Roots Run Deep

by Lisa Graves

Some women and men spend their lives rebelling against their father or mother, but others follow in their footsteps or yearn for their approval. Some become friends.

A few spend millions to make their parents' vision a reality.

Charles and David Koch are among those few.

Raw ideas that were once at the fringes have been carved into 'mainstream' policy through their wealth and will.

According to the lore, a lawsuit against his company by big oil companies forced their dad, Fred Koch, into helping Stalin build refineries, fueling his anti-communist/anti-government views.

The truth is less tidy.

Read the rest of this item here.


Editors' Pick

Follow the Money!
New Wiki Resource

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The Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of ALEC Exposed, brings you this unique wiki resource on the billionaire industrialists and the power and influence of the Koch cadre and Koch cash.

Read about Koch Funding Vehicles:

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

The Kochs' Anti-Civil Rights Roots: New Docs Expose Charles Koch's Ties to John Birch Society

Watch the Video!

The Progressive magazine and Center for Media and Democracy have released new documents that show billionaire oil industrialist Charles Koch was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its campaigns against the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Charles Koch was following in the footsteps of his father, Fred Koch, a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding. Watch Lisa Graves talk about her new article, "The Koch Cartel: Their Reach, Their Reactionary Agenda and Their Record." Read the article here.


Featured SourceWatch Article

SourceWatch.org is an interactive wiki website that depends on readers like you to improve content. If you want to help us grow SourceWatch with well documented research and become a volunteer editor, click here for more information.

Freedom Partners

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Freedom Partners:

Freedom Partners, formally known as the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce (and previously the Association for American Innovation), describes itself as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society."[1] Koch Industries issued a press release stating that Freedom Partners is legally separate from the corporation.[2] Politico describes the group as "the Koch brothers secret bank."[3][4] Additionally, a document discovered after the winter 2014 donor meeting revealed extensive one-on-one meetings between donors and "representatives of the political, corporate, and philanthropic wings of Kochworld."[5]

Raising $256 million during the 2012 election cycle, it served as a "de facto bank" in the $400 million Koch network by "feeding money to groups downstream."[6] It is run by former top AFP strategist Alan Cobb and wages "a behind-the-scenes push in state capitols for reforms consistent with the brothers’ small-government, free-enterprise philosophy, including possibly curbing union power and abolishing income taxes."[7]

The Association for American Innovation was chartered as a Delaware corporation on November 2, 2011, according to Bizpedia.[8]

Deceitful Campaign Advertising

"Pants on Fire" Attack Ad Against Rep. Bruce Braley
Freedom Partners aired this untruthul attack ad against Rep. Bruce Braley that was rated by fact-checkers as "pants on fire"

On April 8, 2014, Freedom Partners began a $1.1 million advertising campaign against Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) that ran for three weeks.[9] The ad claims that Braley took "tens of thousands from his friends in the health insurance industry" and gave them "special favors" by voting for the Affordable Care Act. Fact checkers determined that Braley has received "$20,500 from health insurance sources...about $2,000 for every year he’s served in Congress" and total "insurance donations account for less than 1 percent of all the cash Braley has raised during his political career."[10]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Freedom Partners here (including source citations).

Web Resource on Outsourcing & Privatization

CMD Launches OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org to "Expose the Private Companies Behind the Corporate Takeover of Public Services"

by PRW Staff

  • The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public assets and services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.
Outsourcing America Exposed

CMD has unveiled corporate profiles of America’s most notorious corporations that are quietly working with state and local lawmakers to take over public services with little accountability, along with in-depth examinations of the CEOs personally profiting from this corporate coup.

Read the profiles on featured privatizers:

Read the rest of this press release here.


Take Action!

Tell Congress: Reject the NRA’s Wage-Crushing Agenda!

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The National Restaurant Association, the “Other NRA,” represents giant fast food chains like McDonald’s, Darden, and Taco Bell. NRA is a member of ALEC and a leader in the effort to stop minimum wage increases and paid sick leave ordinances.

Click here to tell Congress you can't stomach
what the NRA is dishing out!


ALEC News

Reporters' Guide to Rex Sinquefield and the Show-Me Institute

by Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer

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The Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Missouri released a new report on April 29 entitled, "Reporters' Guide to Rex Sinquefield and the Show-Me Institute," that should be an eye-opener for Missouri residents and national press.

"Sinquefield is one of the top right-wing political funders in the country, and the single top political spender in Missouri, where he has spent at least $31.5 million since 2006 seeking to reshape Missouri laws, legislators, and policies according to his own ideological mold," said co-author Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy/The Progressive. 

Read the full report here


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Praise for SourceWatch!

Here's what they're saying about SourceWatch:


"The folks at the Center for Media and Democracy have done incredible work documenting fake grassroots ("astroturf") groups. Here, they're helping protect the rights of all Americans to exercise their right to vote. They are completely non-partisan. These guys are the real deal."
Craig Newmark, Craig's List

"A truly impressive project based on cutting edge web technology."
David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

"The troublemakers at the Center for Media and Democracy, for example, point to dozens of examples of "greenwashing," which they defined as the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy" or rehabilitate an image. In the center's view, many enterprises labeled green don't deserve the name.
—Jack Shafer, "Green Is the New Yellow: On the excesses of 'green' journalism," Slate.

"As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, [CMD's SourceWatch] is an invaluable resource."
Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

"Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without CMD [the Center for Media and Democracy] and your fabulous websites."
—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada

"The dearth of information on the [U.S.] government [lobbying] disclosure forms about the other business-backed coalitions comes in stark contrast to the data about them culled from media reports, websites, press releases and Internal Revenue Service documents and posted by SourceWatch, a website that tracks advocacy groups."

—Jeanne Cummings, 'New disclosure reports lack clarity," Politico.

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