Wisconsin candidates can now coordinate with "dark money" nonprofits that accept secret, unlimited donations and run sham "issue ads," under a ruling from the same federal judge who blocked the criminal coordination investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker earlier this year.
If the decision from Judge Rudolph Randa is upheld, some candidates elected this November will know exactly who bankrolled their campaign -- but the public will be left in the dark.
The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by Citizens for Responsible Government, a group tied to Wisconsin Club for Growth, against the Government Accountability Board and Milwaukee's District Attorney, John Chisholm. Judge Randa issued his order before the GAB and Chisholm had even spoken with the attorney assigned to represent them. Read the rest of this item here.
Voter ID is “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government,” federal appellate Judge Richard Posner wrote in a scorching dissent published October 10.
“As there is no evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that the Legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one" that could justify voter ID restrictions, Posner asked.
"If the Wisconsin Legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?” Read the rest of this item here.
With only weeks left in the election, the U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to the implementation of voter ID in Wisconsin for this election cycle.
Voting rights advocates were jubilant, “This is wonderful news and a victory for voters in Wisconsin,” said Andrea Kaminsky, executive director of Wisconsin's League of Women Voters.
Kaminsky and other advocates had challenged Wisconsin’s voter ID law in the courts. Voter ID laws swept the nation after President Obama was elected in 2008 with huge voter turnout in black communities and on college campuses. The American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) and its member politicians helped spread the voter suppression laws, but ALEC subsequently attempted to distance itself from its model Voter ID Act. Read the rest of this item here.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Occidental Petroleum, International Paper, and Overstock.com are the latest corporations to say they have left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after a wave of technology companies led by Google and Facebook announced their departures in September.
A recent Rolling Stone article documenting Koch Industries' "lucrative blend of pollution, speculation, law-bending and self-righteousness" over the last few decades has sparked a string of personal attacks on the reporter, Tim Dickinson, by "KochFacts.com" and a point-by-point rebuttal from Rolling Stone.
The Rolling Stone article details the polluting activities, regulatory violations and penalties, and extractive goals of a privately-held company with larger annual revenues than IBM, Honda, or Hewlett-Packard. A company whose predecessor was founded on the design of a "near carbon copy" of another company's breakthrough piece of equipment with "only tiny, unpatentable tweaks" and sold equipment and technology to Stalin's Soviet Union, and which in its current iteration did business with Iran "every single chance they had" between when President George W. Bush branded it a member of the "Axis of Evil" in 2007. Read the rest of this item here.
A tactic used by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to evade state public records laws has popped up in Florida, prompting a lawsuit against the Orange County mayor for allegedly using an internet dropbox to dodge transparency surrounding the county's latest effort to thwart paid sick day legislation.
Organize Now, with assistance from the Florida First Amendment Foundation, filed a lawsuit last month against Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, alleging her office has used the cloud-based file sharing service Dropbox to undermine the Sunshine State's sunshine laws. Organize Now's Executive Director Stephanie Porta suspects that Mayor Jacobs not only deleted public records, but also may have given non-county employees -- like lobbyists -- access to files that were kept hidden from the public.
The increasing use of technology like Dropbox pose new issues for open government. Read the rest of this item here.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's refusal to defend the Government Accountability Board in a federal lawsuit challenging the investigation into Governor Scott Walker and his allies is a reversal of his office's earlier position, could have grave implications for openness in the state, and undermines the GAB's role in enforcing the state's campaign finance laws. It isn't the first time that Van Hollen has put politics above government transparency.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court could decide the future of the criminal investigation into Governor Scott Walker and independent electoral groups, but some of the justices are faced with a significant conflict of interest: two of the groups under investigation have been the dominant spenders in Wisconsin Supreme Court elections in recent years, spending over $10 million to elect the Court's Republican majority.
Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) played a key role in electing the four justices in the majority, in most cases spending more than the candidates themselves.
A bipartisan group of prosecutors allege that the Walker campaign illegally coordinated fundraising and expenditures with WiCFG and WMC (and perhaps other groups) during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Read the rest of this item here.
The bodies and minds of children living on the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i are being threatened by exposure to chlorpyrifos, a synthetic insecticide that is heavily sprayed on fields located near their homes and schools.
For decades, researchers have been publishing reports about children who died or were maimed after exposure to chlorpyrifos, either in the womb or after birth. While chlorpyrifos can no longer legally be used around the house or in the garden, it is still legal to use on the farm. But researchers are finding that children aren't safe when the insecticide is applied to nearby fields.
Like a ghost drifting through a child's bedroom window, the airborne insecticide can settle on children’s skin, clothes, toys, rugs, and furnishings. Read the rest of this item here.
Grassroots campaigners are on a roll, as first Microsoft, then Google, Facebook and now Yelp have caved to public pressure to drop their membership in the controversial corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Next in their sights: Yahoo and Ebay.
ALEC, which generated or disseminated voter suppression legislation, “Stand Your Ground” laws, and measures to dismantle unions as well as preempt minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, is now in hot water for its “free market” agenda to promote fossil fuels and cook the planet. Read the rest of this item here.
In May of 2011, Wisconsin Republicans took the rather extraordinary step of stopping work on the budget to pass a voter ID bill in advance of the recall elections. Earlier this year, Walker vowed to call the legislature back into session to pass a new voter ID law if courts didn't ultimately uphold the measure, which lower courts had blocked.
Yet now that the voter ID law has been reinstated, Walker and legislative Republicans have, thus far, declined to make any effort to mitigate the law's negative impact on the 300,000 voters who don't have the forms of ID required under the law. Most of those who don't have ID are people of color and students -- which happen to be populations that tend to vote for Democrats. Read the rest of this item here.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has endorsed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for reelection.
No surprise here.
The NFIB purports to represent small business, but receives much of its funding from big business interests including the Kochs, the far-right Bradley Foundation, and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS -- which are the same groups that have long supported Walker.
The NFIB uses those funds to fight paid sick days for workers, fight the expansion of health care, and fight efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state level. NFIB claims to be bipartisan but 90 percent of its donations go to Republican candidates -- when small business owners themselves are split evenly between Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Read the rest of this item here.
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Maggots, drug smuggling, sex with inmates. As if the news were not already bad enough, shocking new allegations of a murder-for-hire plot are emerging from Michigan as the media digs deeper into that state’s failed outsourcing of prison services.
In 2013, Governor Rick Snyder invited the Philadelphia- based for-profit company Aramark to take over food services in the state’s prisons. The action was a 180-degree change in course, as the administration previously rejected all such bids on the grounds that none of the proposals would save the state money. The $570,000 Aramark spent on lobbying surely helped the company persuade the administration to change its mind.
Since Aramark took over Michigan’s $145 million food service contract – eviscerating the stable middle class jobs of some 370 public workers – one stomach churning scandal followed another. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March for food shortages, “unauthorized menu substitutions” and sexual relations between kitchen workers and inmates, and another $200,000 in August after problems persisted.
All the while, the Snyder administration has stood behind the company and the state prison director secretly waived the $98,000 fine soon after it was imposed. Perhaps Snyder will reconsider this position given new allegations that an Aramark worker has asked a prisoner to assist him with the murder of another inmate. Read the full report at Outsourcing America Exposed.
In response to the increasing media interest around the business practices of America's largest employer and retailer, the Center for Media and Democracy launched a new web resource on Walmart that fact checks the company’s advertisements and statements. Using the model of AlecExposed.org, Walmart’s profile in SourceWatch details Walmart’s employee pay and policies, its PR on veterans, its lobbying and political contributions, environmental impact and its spin on domestic sourcing. The site also includes a section analyzing the impact that the company’s business practices on shoppers.
Read the rest of this item here.
Visit the Walmart SourceWatch page for more!
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.
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.
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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