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Featured Work

Money Trail Revealed: Did Eric O’Keefe Pay James O’Keefe for Hatchet Job on GOP Senate President?

by Mary Bottari

Eric O'Keefe

In 2014, as March drew to an end but the cold Wisconsin winter refused to let go, State Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) stopped at his favorite after-work hangout to relax after a long session in the Capitol. After a few drinks, Ellis was approached by what he thought were two young constituents and the veteran GOP lawmaker started holding forth, as he was wont to do.

What he did not know, however, was that his new-found drinking buddies were not from his district or even from the State of Wisconsin. They were, however, on a mission to end his career. A few weeks later, the right-wing’s favorite attack dog for hire, James O’Keefe, released a video of the conversation showing an inebriated Ellis spinning a tale about setting up a “Super PAC” to run attacks on his Democratic opponent in that year’s election.

If Ellis’ barroom boasts were actualized in the cold light of day, Ellis may have run afoul of state law prohibiting coordination between candidate committees and outside groups.

Read the rest of this item here.

Tar Sands Pipeline Planned for Dane County Eclipses KXL

by Rebekah Wilce

Wisconsinites Fighting Back Against Pipeline Expansion (Image: Occupy Riverwest)
Madison -- Whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline will transport tar sands oil from Canada through the United States has been framed as one of the critical decisions affecting our climate and our future as a planet. But a proposed expansion of the Enbridge Line 61 pipeline being debated in Dane County, Wisconsin may be even more critical.

The tripling in capacity of Line 61, which already carries Tar Sands crude oil from Alberta to Illinois, will make it a third larger than the projected Keystone XL. Read the rest of this item here.

Common Cause and CMD Seek Public Records on Scott Walker's Retreat with the Koch Brothers

by PR Watch Admin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Watchdog organizations Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy jointly filed a public records request today seeking details of Governor Scott Walker's trip to a secret fundraising retreat hosted by billionaire industrialist mega-donors Charles and David Koch in Palm Springs, California.

The request seeks details of who paid for Governor Walker's travel expenses, and recent communications between the governor's office and the Kochs' secretive political apparatus, which plans to spend $889 million in advance of the 2016 elections. Yesterday, three days after attending a closed-door meeting with the Kochs and other wealthy donors, Governor Walker announced he was forming a new fundraising committee ahead of his potential 2016 presidential campaign. Read the rest of this item here.

Fond du Lac Nuns Get Northrop Grumman to Dump ALEC

by Brendan Fischer

Northrup Grumman-sign200px.jpg
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman has ended its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), thanks to shareholder engagement from the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin-based Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.

“As a major defense contractor it is significant that the company follow the lead of many major corporations that have left ALEC in recent months,” said Sister Sally Ann Brickner, who manages the Congregation’s Socially Responsible Investment Portfolio. The Catholic organization is a Northrop Grumman shareholder and filed a resolution asking the company to review its affiliation with ALEC and other lobbying organizations, which the sisters say prompted the company to leave ALEC. Read the rest of this item here.

Curious Cure: WI GOP Injects Partisan Politics into Nonpartisan Elections Board

by Rebekah Wilce

Government Accountability Board-sign200px.jpg
After a scorching two-year controversy involving a "John Doe" criminal investigation into potential illegal coordination between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign and outside big money groups, state GOP leaders are readying a legislative package to dismantle the nonpartisan elections board.

State Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) is proposing a curious cure. He announced that he will author a bill to add partisan appointees to the Government Accountability Board (GAB), now governed by a nonpartisan board of retired judges.

Why add partisan members to a nonpartisan board that is supposed to act as an independent arbiter of elections, campaign finance law, and ethics? Because the board is currently too partisan, says Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Read the rest of this item here.

5 Years after Citizens United, Democracy Is for Sale

by Brendan Fischer

This week, Republican presidential hopefuls like Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul will travel to an exclusive resort near Palm Springs, Florida to kiss the rings of David and Charles Koch.

The New York Times calls it the "Koch primary."

Over the last five years, the Koch political network has evolved into what many have described as a shadow political party. The Kochs and their network of wealthy donors spent $300 million in the 2014 elections, after raising at least $400 million in the 2012 presidential races, with almost all of the spending passing through an array of political vehicles that are officially "independent" from candidates and political parties.

Today, candidates who receive the blessing of Charles and David can watch their political fortunes skyrocket, thanks to the huge financial resources the Kochs and their deep-pocketed allies can funnel into elections.

Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Koch Party Delivers SOTU Response

by Brendan Fischer

Newly-elected Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) will give the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, perhaps providing further proof that the Koch political network has evolved into an independent political force.

Ernst's political career has followed a rapid trajectory. Just four years ago, she was a local elected official in Montgomery County, Iowa. Today, she is addressing the entire nation in primetime.

What happened?

According to Ernst, her political rise can be attributed to support from the Koch network of funders and funding vehicles, which planned to spend an estimated $300 million on the 2014 elections. Read the rest of this item here.

Good Money after Bad, WI GOP Demands More For-Profit Schools

by Jonas Persson

Wisconsin's decades-long effort to turn public schools into for-profit cash cows for private corporations is ramping up with a bill that GOP leaders want to pass by the end of January.

A controversial new bill sponsored by Reps. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Jessie Rodriguez (R-Franklin) Assembly Bill 1, would assign letter grades to schools based on student test scores, and convert "failing" schools to for-profit charters.

Multiple studies have shown that student test scores are a better measure of a community's wealth then they are of school performance or teacher quality. And the evidence doesn't show that turning public schools into charters improves test scores or produces better-educated children.

Read the rest of this item here.

Democrats Gear Up to Battle Wall Street in the New Congress

by Mary Bottari

Democrats appear to have learned some lessons from their 2014 mid-term whipping. Numerous analysts said the lack of a coherent Democratic message to address the problem of stagnating wages and a stumbling economy hurt the party, especially among lower-income voters.

On election day, the AFL-CIO polled voters and found that 54 percent lost household income during the past year. Sixty-three say the economy is fundamentally unfair. Eighty percent say that both political parties are too focused on helping Wall Street and not Main Street.

Apparently some in Congress got the message. On Monday, President Obama's nominee for a key spot in the Treasury Department, a Wall Street banker, quietly withdrew his candidacy. On the same day, U.S. Rep. Van Hollen embraced one of Wall Street's most despised policy proposals, a financial transaction tax, in an effort to boost middle class wages. Read the rest of this item here.

Hotel Lobby Sues Los Angeles to Block “Extreme” Wages

by Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson

Two trade organizations affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial corporate bill mill, filed suit on December 16 against the City of Los Angeles to block an ordinance passed last September to raise the wages for hotel employees. According to the ordinance, more than 40 percent of the city’s hotel workers currently make a living below the federal poverty line, but once it goes into effect, large non-unionized hotels will be required to pay their employees $15.37 an hour.

In what is one of the most expensive cities in the country, the state minimum, recently boosted from $8 to $9 an hour, has proven woefully inadequate to give people adequate housing and to keep people out of poverty. Even conservative real estate CEO Rick Carusi voiced his support for the measure, telling the LA Times that “It’s very difficult to live in this region … with that kind of money.”

Yet, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (which counts Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton as its members) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, argue in the lawsuit that the city has created an “insidious mechanism that improperly aids the Hotel Workers’ Union.” Read the rest of this item here.

Editors' Pick

The Kochs Will Spend $1 Billion on the 2016 Elections, but Deny It

by Brendan Fischer

Expose the Kochs money350Wpx.jpg

The political network organized by Charles and David Koch plans to spend an incredible $889 million to capture the White House in 2016 and deepen the Koch party's bench in Congress. But that's not what they'll tell federal regulators.

If history is a guide, the Koch network will claim that much of the nearly $1 billion it will funnel through an array of nonprofit groups is not about elections at all. Instead, the Koch groups will claim that their efforts to elect politicians who will lower capital gains taxes and overturn environmental regulations is really all about "social welfare."

That's what happened during the last presidential cycle.

The Kochs' main political advocacy arm, Americans for Prosperity, spent $122 million in 2012--more than it had spent in its previous eight years of existence combined--but told the IRS that the vast majority of its spending had nothing to do with elections. Read the rest of this item here.

CMD Issues Report on Latest Assault on Clean Election Laws

A bipartisan effort to enforce Wisconsin’s longstanding laws governing coordination between campaigns and independent groups has been mislabeled a “partisan witch hunt” by a well-funded legal and media campaign, with the ultimate goal of undermining what remains of limits on big money in politics, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy.

Five Years After Citizens United

“Anti-coordination laws have become more vital than ever before in the post-Citizens United world, where ‘independent’ political organizations are raising and spending unlimited funds for elections but keeping their donors a secret,” said Brendan Fischer, CMD General Counsel and the author of the report. “If a candidate can coordinate with these secretly-funded groups and establish shadow campaign committees, then the candidate contribution limits and disclosure requirements are rendered meaningless.”

And that, it seems, is precisely the goal.

Read the rest of this item here. Read the report 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:

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

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.

60 Plus Association

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on 60 Plus Association:

The 60 Plus Association describes itself as "a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues" and lists ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities.[1] It was founded in 1992 and is registered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit with the Internal Revenue Service.[2] Between 2010 and 2012, it received more than $42 million from organizations, most of which are affiliated with the Koch brothers, including Freedom Partners and American Encore.[3]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

The Koch network was one of the biggest political operations in 2012 and worked largely outside the campaign finance system, raising at least $407 million. Source: Robert Maguire with the Center for Responsive Politics.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the 60 Plus Association is not required to disclose its donors. However, 60 Plus has received funding from organizations with links to the Koch brothers. According to its own tax filings, Freedom Partners reported giving $15.7 million to 60 Plus in 2012. The Koch-linked organization American Encore (formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights) reported giving $2,6 million to 60 Plus in 2012, $2.4 million in 2011 and $9 million in 2010.[3]

2014 Election Activity

"Obamacare for the Mortgage Industry (Hagan)"

In April 2014, the 60 Plus Association made a $1.6 million TV and radio ad purchase attacking seven senators on the Senate Banking Committee for supporting a measure to scrap Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, including Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).[4] While the ad stated the plan amounted to a "takeover of the mortgage industry", Politico reported that the plan "represents a centrist approach in which the government will still play a role in supporting the mortgage market but less of one than it does today."[5]

Despite 60 Plus receiving funding from the Koch brothers, an anonymous official with the Koch-funded Freedom Partners group admitted to Politico that they were not informed about the ad and were frustrated by it.[6]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on 60 Plus Association here


  1. 60 Plus Association, "About Us," organization website, accessed May 13, 2014.
  2. GuideStar, "60-Plus Association," IRS 990, accessed May 23, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Conservative Transparency, "60 Plus," IRS documents 2010-2012, accessed July 7, 2014.
  4. Annenberg Public Policy Center, "Obamacare for the mortgage industry?,", April 4, 2014.
  5. Jon Pryor and Kevin Cirilli, "Senate Banking leaders reach housing finance deal," Politico, March 11, 2014.
  6. Philip Elliott, "Koch brothers weren't consulted before seniors group criticized senators," Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 2014.

Featured Video

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response

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"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.
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