The Center for Media and Democracy has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that the Wisconsin Club for Growth lied to the IRS in 2011 and 2012, violated its tax-exempt status by operating as a political committee, and operated primarily for the private partisan benefit of the Republican Party, rather than for any sort of “social welfare.”
The problem of politically-active “dark money” nonprofits abusing the tax code is growing, but never before has such extensive evidence of a tax-exempt group’s internal communications about its explicit and extensive role in elections been made publicly available. Newly-public documents contradict WICFG's assertions to the IRS that it operated primarily to advance social welfare and engaged in zero political activity.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board's crusade against the enforcement of Wisconsin's campaign finance laws has gone off the rails.
The editorial board's latest installment in its multi-part series attacking Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal investigation -- where a bipartisan group of prosecutors are looking into possible coordination between Governor Scott Walker's campaign and dark money groups -- conjures up the notion that "coordination" is a newly-constructed liberal plot "to criminalize campaign spending."
"The new liberal target is “coordination” between politicians and independent groups," the Journal warns. "This is dangerous stuff."
Based in Virginia but with offices all over the world, Maximus Inc. rakes in more than $1 billion a year from U.S. states and governments outsourcing social service and administrative functions. Wisconsin and the privatizing giant have a long and very troubled history, but breaking up, it seems, is hard to do.
Between 1997 and 2001, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development awarded Maximus three contracts to administer the newly created Wisconsin Works (W-2) program for $107 million. Read the rest of this item here.
An historic vote in the U.S. Senate earlier this year to amend the constitution to reverse Citizens United and stem the flood of money into our elections – expected to top $1 billion this election cycle – has the Koch brothers spooked.
As you stock up on candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters and prepare to inspect your children's candy haul, do you know where those treats were made, and by whom? Many candy brands are considered all-American favorites, but are they made in America?
All of the most popular Halloween candy brands in the United States are made by either Mars or Hershey, according toUSA Today. Two of the 20 most popular products were made by Nestlé.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett
image by Hunter Kahn
Pennsylvania’s Office of General Counsel “serves as the Governor’s in-house legal counsel,” providing the executive branch with “expert, responsive and cost-effective legal services … for the benefit of the public.” In addition to the 498 attorneys employed by the state, the handling of legal business is frequently outsourced to outside counsel. Last year, the total bill for private law firms – footed by the taxpayers – amounted to a whopping $32.7 million in 2013 and $100 million over three years, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Outside counsel, it has been pointed out, is an insider’s game. A comparison between the firms used as outside counsel last year and their contributions to Corbett’s gubernatorial campaign of 2010 makes for interesting reading. Read the rest of this item here.
There’s a lot of money at stake in Ohio charter schools, which as a group will receive almost $900 million in 2014. Charters get about $7,200 per student in taxpayer funding, compared to about $3,500 per student in traditional public schools.
On paper, Ohio’s charter schools are operated by non-profit organizations whose governing boards hire management companies to operate the schools. The boards are supposed to have a strong oversight role and have the power to fire charter operators if they don’t measure up.
When he was elected in 2010, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback began to slash core government services and privatize the rest. His austerity politics resulted in the state being downgraded by S&P in August 2014, and his privatization initiatives have also drawn criticism, causing one leading Republican to state, “I had hoped that it wouldn’t be as extreme as it’s been … what we didn’t know was that Sam would use this state as crash test dummies for his own fiscal experiments.”
Kids receiving child support payments from absent parents would be among Brownback’s first crash test dummies. Read the rest of this item here.
Around the world, private firms have been given “carte blanche rights to mine local groundwater supplies at the expense of local populations, say experts.” In 1997, Swiss food giant Nestlé signed a contract with the privately- owned water services provider in Fryeburg, Maine, to buy freshwater in bulk for its Poland Spring brand of bottled water. Fearing that large-scale commercial water exploitation would lead to groundwater depletion and the Saco River drying up, the town of Fryeburg enacted a Land Use Ordinance that required that any company pumping more than 10,000 gallons of water a day get approval from the planning board. With a constant stream of litigation and appeals, however, Fryeburg Water Co. was able to buy time while continuing its moneymaking sideline business without interruption. Read the rest of this item here.
Between 2008 and 2013, Corizon Health – the country’s largest prison health care provider – was sued 660 times for malpractice. But Governor Rick Scott’s administration failed to take note of this history when it awarded Corizon a $1.2 billion contract in 2011.
Now an investigation by The Palm Beach Post reveals that Florida inmates have been dying in droves since the state privatized prison health care. Read the rest of this item here.
Ideological slogans often trump facts when it comes to the outsourcing of public services. When independent studies are commissioned, the conclusions are often disregarded. In some cases, however, there seems to be solid research supporting the cost-efficiency of privatization. Such was the case in Michigan – at least at first glance.
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In 2007, Philly rolled out the red carpet for state legislators and lobbyists attending the annual “State and Nation” policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Pennsylvania legislators appropriated a whopping $50,000 of taxpayer money to help pay for the event, including $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops.
The event apparently had a lasting impact as the ALEC agenda has continued to roll though the hallways of the state capitol in Harrisburg in the years since. After Governor Corbett took office in 2010, ALEC bill after ALEC bill was introduced and signed into law. To accomplish this feat a well-orchestrated cast of characters -- including politicians, state “think tanks” and advocacy organizations -- are singing from the same hymnal, and being bankrolled by the same interests. Behind the scenes, we find charter school magnates, ideological interests and deep-pocketed investors pumping millions into campaign coffers while playing the education “market” like a game of poker.
With this report the Center for Media and Democracy puts a spotlight on some of the power players behind Corbett’s dramatic moves to reshape state education policy for the benefit of corporate interests. A surprising number of these groups are reportedly under investigation by federal officials or have been charged with wrongdoing.
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Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Generation Opportunity:
Generation Opportunity (GenOp) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization based in Arlington, Virginia funded by Freedom Partners, a multimillion dollar Koch-tied funding vehicle. On the group's website, its describes itself as "a free-thinking, liberty-loving, national organization of young people promoting the best of Being American: opportunity, creativity and freedom." According to OpenSecrets, "[i]n the three years for which tax information is available, Generation Opportunity has raised almost 86 percent of its funds from just two Koch-linked nonprofits." In 2014, Generation opportunity has spent big money in Senate races against three Democrats: Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Udall (D-CO). Mary Bottari reported on prwatch.org that, "Gen Opp spent a total of $900,000 against Udall, $825,000 against Hagan, and $550,000 against Landrieu, bringing the ad buy to $2.275 million."
2014 Election Cycle Ad Buys
”Shopping spree” ad that ran against Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado.
Generation Opportunity, a 501(c)(4) organization, has launched ad buys in several targeted Senate races in 2014, including ads against Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Udall (D-CO), costing over $2 million.
The organization has launched two basic ads in multiple states. One ad, used against Landrieu and Udall, caricatures the senators. In the ad, the two are played by actors and are depicted as children in a shopping cart, who appear to be gleefully overspending on unnecessary items. The ad criticizes their votes on government spending, claiming they are footing younger generations with the bill.
Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Americans for Prosperity:
Americans for Prosperity is a right-wing political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers David and CharlesKoch, the owners of Koch Industries. In the 2012 election cycle, it was a key component of the Kochs' $400 million political network, receiving large portions of its money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. AFP's budget, which comes from the Koch family foundations and other unknown sources, surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010 to $115 million in 2012.  According to the Center for Public Integrity, Americans for Prosperity "spent a staggering $122 million (in 2012) as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats," including $83 million on "communications, ads, and media."
AFP's messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Kochs and the Kochs' other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create.
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.
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.
"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.
"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."
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