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Featured Work

Congress to Reinstate Taxpayer Subsidies for Reckless Derivatives Trading

by Mary Bottari

George washington gas mask 200px.jpg
The New York Times called it "a textbook Washington play: use a must-pass bill, on the eve of the holidays, as a vehicle for changing unrelated policies."

The liberal Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, called it "the worst of government for the rich and powerful."

The conservative Senator from Louisiana, Dave Vitter, called it "a Christmas presents to the megabanks and Wall Street."

Firebrand Florida Representative Alan Grayson told the Huffington Post's Zach Carter who broke the story, that it was "a good example of capitalism's death wish."

What has these watchdogs of Wall Street riled? Read the rest of this item here.

Conflicted Supreme Court Takes Up Walker Criminal Probe

by Brendan Fischer

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to review the long-running investigation into possible criminal campaign finance violations by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign and "dark money" electoral nonprofit groups, setting the stage for significant questions about conflicts-of-interest on the court and the future of clean elections in Wisconsin.

The Court's decision to take the case raises serious questions of judicial ethics, as the majority of justices were elected with millions of dollars in backing from precisely the same groups that face criminal liability in the probe, as the Center for Media and Democracy first described. The two groups at the center of the investigation, Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), have together spent over $10 million since 2007 helping elect the court's four-justice conservative majority, in most cases spending more than the candidates themselves. Read the rest of this item here.

How State and Local Subsidies Fuel Inequality

by Brendan Fischer

Low-wage employers have received more than $3.3 billion in taxpayer subsidies from state and local governments, and companies linked to members of the Forbes 400 have received at least $19 billion -- which has the effect of using taxpayer dollars to make income inequality worse.

"When a state or local government subsidizes a Walmart store or an warehouse, it is doing the most to intensify economic inequality by enriching individuals at the very top of the income hierarchy while also perpetuating poor quality jobs at the bottom," according to a new report from nonprofit taxpayer advocacy group Good Jobs First that analyzed official subsidy disclosure data nationwide.

Walmart, for example, overwhelmingly pays low wages and offers few benefits to its workers, yet has been awarded more than $161 million in state and local subsidies. Read the rest of this item here.

Governor Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State

by Jonas Persson

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
(image by Pat Arnow)
In a landmark decision, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his administration will ban fracking in the state. The decision comes in the wake of sustained campaigning by environmental, consumer and public health groups as well as a scathing report published by the State Department of Health, concluding that the health risks of hydraulic fracturing outweigh the potential benefits.

It has long been established in the scientific community that fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – both contaminates and depletes vital ground water supplies while posing severe risks for livestock and fish populations. In 2011, researchers at Cornell University concluded that the practice has an environmental footprint that is even worse than that of coal. Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC Fumes: Transparency Threatens Corporate Free Speech!

by Brendan Fischer

ALEC dark money-200px.jpg
After spending hundreds of millions of undisclosed funds on state and federal elections, the corporate members of the American Legislative Exchange Council are demanding that state legislators preserve their "right" to anonymously spend money on politics and curry favor with elected officials, and to thwart shareholder efforts to hold the corporations they own accountable.

A December 3 workshop titled "Playing the Shame Game: A Campaign that Threatens Corporate Free Speech," held at ALEC's meeting this week in Washington, DC, warned of "an increasing chorus of anti-business activists calling for an end to corporate political participation in the name of ferreting out so-called 'dark money," according to an agenda obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. Panelists set their sights on campaign finance disclosure laws and shareholder proposals aimed at promoting transparency in corporate political spending.

It is little surprise that corporate interests would peddle secrecy to the hundreds of Republican state legislators at ALEC. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch-Tied Group Pushes New Union Busting Bill in Wisconsin

by Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari

Just weeks after Wisconsin's controversial Governor Scott Walker was elected to a second term, a group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers has launched a new effort to destroy unions.

In 2011, Wisconsin passed Act 10, a complex bill that forced public sector unions to re-certify annually, made it harder for unions to collect dues, and eliminated the incentive of people to join unions by severely limiting issues on the bargaining table. The bill was designed to destroy public sector unions, a powerful force in Democratic politics in the state, and subsequently union membership dropped dramatically.

Now out-of-state special interests and the Wisconsin GOP will use that drop in membership to argue that private sector workers deserve the same "choice." The poison pill for private sector unions likely be a model bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with the Orwellian name of "right to work." Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

President Walker? Five Things You Should Know About Scott (Calvin) Walker

by Mary Bottari

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is walking and talking a lot like he is running for President of the United States. The Wisconsin governor who famously told his cabinet that he was inspired by Ronald Reagan to kill Wisconsin unions is throwing his hat into the ring, and Walker is garnering kudos from good friends like government-slayer Grover Norquist.

Grover is banging the drum for a Walker presidency, writing rapturously about how Walker is much like Calvin Coolidge, who busted the police unions as governor of Massachusetts. He fails to note that Calvin’s minimalist approach to his presidency between 1923 and 1929 helped bring about the Great Depression. Read the rest of this item here.

Monsanto Sues Maui for Direct Democracy, Launches New PR Campaign

by Rebekah Wilce

Residents of Maui County, Hawai'i voted on November 4 to ban the growing of genetically modified (GMO) crops on the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai until scientific studies are conducted on their safety and benefits. Monsanto and Dow Chemical's unit Mycogen Seeds have sued the county in federal court to stop the law passed by the people.

In Vermont, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA, of which Monsanto and Dow were recently listed as members) has sued the state over its law requiring GMO labels. And Monsanto has a history of suing to prevent consumer labeling regarding its products.

Read the rest of this item here.

What Rightwing Media Gets Wrong about the Reagan and Bush Immigration Orders

by Brendan Fischer

Republicans and right-wing media are in panic mode. They've spent weeks describing President Obama as an "emperor" or a "monarch" for using his executive authority to grant a reprieve to some undocumented immigrants -- and are now faced with evidence that Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did the same thing.

They are trying, and failing, to claim that Reagan's and Bush's uses of executive authority on immigration were different than Obama's. Here is what they get wrong. Read the rest of this item here.

Should Obama Use Executive Action on Immigration? Ask Ronald Reagan

by Brendan Fischer

Republicans and right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation are howling that President Obama will use executive action to defer deportation for some undocumented immigrants -- and trying to deny that Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush led the way, and in some ways extended their authority even beyond Obama's plans.

Obama's planned executive action would not grant undocumented immigrants a "green card" or citizenship -- only Congress can do that -- but would instead grant a reprieve for the same people that would be affected by the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and likely has majority support in the U.S. House.

Read the rest of this item here.

Broad Coalition Supports Petition to Protect Monarch Butterflies

by Rebekah Wilce

The world's population of Monarch butterflies has been declining for at least the last ten years, according to researchers at the University of Kansas. Some estimates suggest a 90 percent drop since 1994.

Scientific studies by the University of Kansas, University of Guelph, and others point to the increasing use of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup and the rise of genetically modified crops (GMOs) designed to resist such herbicides as one possible cause of the decline. Read the rest of this item here.

Fat on Restaurant Cash, Democratic Lawmakers Float Minimum Wage Preemption in IL

by Brendan Fischer

Democratic state legislators in Illinois are mulling an effort to thwart Chicago's effort to raise its minimum wage, even as they raise the state wage above the national average. And the state National Restaurant Association affiliate is eating it up.

Efforts to "preempt" local governments from enacting a higher minimum wage is most closely associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which counts the National Restaurant Association among its members and has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act." At ALEC's meeting next month in Washington, DC, "Minimum Wage Preemption Policies" will be at the top of the agenda. Read the rest of this item here.

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Editors' Pick

More Corporations Flee as ALEC Rolls Out Its Legislative Agenda

by Lisa Graves

Mark Fiore-CMD-ALEC Bill200px.jpg
Only nine funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual winter meeting in Washington, DC, are listed on ALEC's conference brochure this year.

The small number comes at a time when ALEC is crowing about the November 4 elections, which swept in more Republican legislators and potential recruits for ALEC's operations--where elected lawmakers vote as equals with corporations behind closed doors on "model' bills to change Americans' rights.

The way ALEC works has been called a "corporate dating service" by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who has observed ALEC's closed-door votes of corporate lobbyists and state legislators. But with nearly 100 private sector funders having left ALEC since CMD launched in 2011 and citizens across the country began learning about how special interests wine and dine lawmakers through ALEC to push controversial bills into law, ALEC brochures listing corporate sponsors are not as full as they used to be. (The list of sponsors is here.)

Read the rest of this item here.

An Embattled ALEC, Buoyed by Election Results, Lays Blueprint for 2015

by Brendan Fischer

ALEC logo magnifying lens200px.jpg
The midterm elections may have given the embattled American Legislative Exchange Council a new lease on life. ALEC has been bleeding corporate members, but with Republicans now in control of 68 out of 98 state legislative bodies, there are fewer impediments to the enactment of the corporate-friendly legislation that ALEC peddles -- and in early December, ALEC and the corporations that still fund it will likely lay out the legislative blueprint for 2015 at the ALEC States & Nation Policy Summit in Washington, DC.

Yet, the actual policy ideas that ALEC promotes are less popular than ever. Republican and Democratic voters across the country voted overwhelmingly in favor of increasing the minimum wage on election day -- which ALEC and ALEC funders like the National Restaurant Association have long opposed -- and not surprisingly, a top agenda item at ALEC's December meeting is aimed at thwarting efforts to raise the wage.

Read the rest of this item here.

Follow the Money! Wiki Resource

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:

The Kochs' Anti-Civil Rights Roots

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

Watch the Video!

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 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.

Americans for Prosperity

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 Charles Koch, the owners of Koch Industries.[1] 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. [2] 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."[3]

2014 Campaign Ads

As of May 2014, AFP had already spent $35 million on ads targeting Democrats like Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Mark Pryor. According to Politico, the "projected budget for Americans for Prosperity would be unprecedented for a private political group in a midterm, and would likely rival even the spending of the Republican and Democratic parties’ congressional campaign arms."[4]

Untruthful advertisement from Americans for Prosperity that aired in Colorado

On March 17, 2014, Americans for Prosperity began airing ads in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina that make statements about the Affordable Care Act rated as "false" and "misleading" by fact checkers. These ads target Senators Mark Pryor, Mark Udall, Mary Landrieu, and Kay Hagan, all of whom are up for election in November 2014.

According to Americans for Prosperity, "millions are paying more and getting less." The Tampa Bay Times Politifact rated this claim as "FALSE", noting that there was "a slowdown in the increase in health costs during the last four years, including a modest 4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012" and "Americans are getting more benefits under the law in a number of ways -- including, in some cases, being able to buy affordable insurance for the first time."[5]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Americans for Prosperity here


  1. Peter Overby, "Who's Raising Money For Tea Party Movement?," NPR, February 19, 2010.
  2. Eric Lipton, Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute, New York Times, February 21, 2011.
  3. Michael Beckel, "Koch-backed nonprofit spent record cash in 2012," Center for Public Integrity, November 14, 2013.
  4. Kenneth Vogel, "Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity plans $125 million spending spree," Politico, May 9, 2014.
  5. Politifact, "Millions of Americans are "paying more and getting less" under Obamacare,", March 17, 2014.

Web Resource on Outsourcing & Privatization

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

by PRW Staff

Outsourcing America Exposed
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning, launched, 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.

Read the profiles on featured privatizers:

Read the rest of this press release here.


Power Players Behind the Corporate Takeover of Pennsylvania Schools

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.

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.

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.

Read the full report here.

Featured Video

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back

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