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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

Microsoft and More Leave ALEC, 80 Corporations Out

by Rebekah Wilce

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Microsoft, the $86.8 billion-a-year technology company, is no longer a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and has stopped funding the group.

The company confirmed that "in 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC. With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC." The confirmation was sent by email to The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management, which had engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with ALEC.

Read the rest of this item here.


FBI Tracks Charter Schools

by Ruth Coniff

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There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country.

From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.

What’s going on here?

Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.

Read the rest of this item here.


Dark Money Casts Shadow over Push to Tax the Sun

by Brendan Fischer

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Arizona has been ground zero for the American Legislative Exchange Council-backed effort to penalize homeowners who build solar panels on their homes.

Last year, the state's main electricity company, ALEC member Arizona Public Service (APS), pushed for a huge new surcharge on families and companies that switch to cheaper (and cleaner) solar energy, which would have had the effect of driving up the costs of rooftop solar and keeping more consumers dependent on the fossil fuel-powered electricity grid.

In November of 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission -- the agency tasked with regulating utilities -- voted 3-2 against APS' effort to "tax the sun." (The next month, ALEC considered an "updating net metering policies resolution" reflecting APS' push to charge solar users, which fit squarely within ALEC's antagonism towards renewable energy). The Corporation Commission instead passed a smaller tax, allowing APS to charge homeowners around $5 per month for home solar panels rather than the $50-100 solar "deathblow" that the industry had sought.

Many suspect that APS is now secretly seeking revenge.

Read the rest of this item here.


Social Security Still Going Strong

by Lisa Graves

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On August 14, 1935, The Progressive wrote about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal victory in securing real income security for Americans in the aftermath of the Great Depression caused by the Wall Street crash of 1929. As detailed in that story, the bill did not pass Congress unanimously and was attacked by the rightwing of that era.

For seven decades, Social Security has been under attack by opponents who consider government-guaranteed pensions for Americans to receive as they get older or if they become disabled to be socialism and unAmerican.

Social Security is one of the most successful and most popular government programs in American history.

Read the rest of this item here.


Edelman Makes a Climate Change Pledge, But Forgets About ALEC

by Nick Surgey

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Edelman, the world's largest PR company, synonymous with astroturf-style front groups and dirty tricks, has announced that it will no longer work for groups that deny climate change. The PR firm represents many of the world's most polluting companies, and numerous front groups for polluters, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has so far refused to say whether it will be continuing to work for ALEC, despite that group’s high-profile work to block action on climate change.

The announcement from Edelman came following a survey of PR firms by the Climate Investigations Center, run by former Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies, and the Guardian. Firms were asked about their work with climate denial groups and most pledged to avoid such clients. Edelman mishandled its initial response, accidentally copying Davies in on an internal email saying no response was necessary, then followed that up by stonewalling the newspaper, telling the Guardian that Edelman "takes on clients on a case-by-case basis." This eventually led to the firing of the head of Edelman U.S., Mark Hass.

Read the rest of this item here.


DOJ: Due to 9/11 Moms and Kids Are National Security Threat

by Brendan Fischer

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Migrant mothers and their young children detained at the border are being denied an opportunity to be released on bond, because of 9/11.

Department of Justice prosectors are citing a 2003 ruling from former Attorney General John Ashcroft to deny bond to undocumented immigrant mothers and children -- many of whom have valid asylum claims -- held at a remote detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico that advocates say is ill-equipped to care for children.

In that 2003 ruling, titled "Matter of D-J," Ashcroft cited national security concerns in reversing a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision granting bond to a Haitian immigrant. George W. Bush's Attorney General wrote that releasing the immigrant on bond could encourage additional migration, and that “in light of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there is increased necessity in preventing undocumented aliens from entering the country without the screening of the immigration inspections process.”

Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

ALEC Annual Conference: New Bills, New Spin-Offs, Same Corporate Backers

by Jessica Mason

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," met in Dallas on July 30 for its annual meeting. ALEC brings together state legislators and corporate lobbyists to vote on "model" legislation behind closed doors, before those bills are introduced in state houses across the country, stripped of their ALEC origins. As the Kansas City Star has noted, what happens at ALEC meetings "provides a preview for the next state sessions" in legislatures around the country.

What was on tap at ALEC this year? New bad bills, dirty energy, a new lobby shop, and the launch of a spin-off group targeting local governments.

Read the rest of this item here.


Decision Halting Walker Criminal Probe "Completely Unmoored"

by Brendan Fischer

A slew of election law experts and Wisconsin's elections board have filed briefs with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sharply critiquing federal Judge Rudolph Randa’s decision halting Wisconsin's criminal campaign finance probe, describing the ruling as “erroneous,” and as “completely unmoored" from U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

On May 6, Judge Randa -- a George Bush appointee who is on the board of advisors to the Milwaukee Federalist Society -- halted the "John Doe" investigation into alleged illegal coordination between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and outside political groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) during the 2011-2012 recall elections. WiCFG spent $9.1 million during the recalls on electoral “issue ads” that stopped short of expressly telling viewers how to vote, and funneled millions more to other groups that also ran issue ads.

Read the rest of this item here.


How ALEC Fronts for Fossil Fuels

by Nick Surgey

Even as the Environmental Protection Agency finally attempts to limit carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants, it is meeting resistance at the state level, thanks to a secretive campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

This reporter has obtained a number of internal documents from ALEC that provide a rare glimpse into how this corporate-funded lobbying group is attempting to derail the draft federal pollution standards.

ALEC is funded by many of the largest fossil fuel and utility companies in the United States, the very companies that have played such a destructive role with our environment. Read the rest of this item here.


Tax dodger Running for Governor in Illinois

by Ruth Coniff

If you are not in the Chicago media market, you might not know much about Bruce Rauner, the Mitt Romney-like candidate for governor in Illinois, who is running ahead in the polls against Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

If Rauner wins, Illinois will have a lot more in common with its neighbor, Wisconsin. Politically, Rauner resembles union-basher and school privatizer Scott Walker. Only Rauner is much, much richer.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, Rauner talked about his career at GTCR, the Chicago-based private equity firm he founded.

“I made a ton of money, made a lot of money,” he told Sun Times reporter Natasha Korecki. Read the rest of this item here.


Winning with People Power, KXL and Beyond

by Guest Contributor: Dave Saldana, Keystone PipeLIES Exposed

Even as the Environmental Protection Agency finally attempts to limit carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants, it is meeting resistance at the state level, thanks to a secretive campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

This reporter has obtained a number of internal documents from ALEC that provide a rare glimpse into how this corporate-funded lobbying group is attempting to derail the draft federal pollution standards.

ALEC is funded by many of the largest fossil fuel and utility companies in the United States, the very companies that have played such a destructive role with our environment. Read the rest of this item here.


Republican Hijinks Defeats Dark Money in Milwaukee Sheriff Race

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

Sheriff David Clarke effectively won his reelection for Milwaukee County Sheriff yesterday, holding back a challenge in the Democratic primary with what appears to be a great deal of help from Republicans.

The race between Clarke, a favorite of the Tea Party and conservative talk show hosts, survived a primary challenge from Chris Moews, a city of Milwaukee police officer, in a race that saw a dramatic influx of phony “issue ad” spending in the final weeks. No Republicans are on the ballot for the general election, so Clarke's victory Tuesday almost guarantees that he will keep his position.

Read the rest of this item here.


Editors' Pick

Walmart’s Spin on Workers and Manufacturing Exposed

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In response to the increasing media interest around the business practices of America's largest employer and retailer, the Center for Media and Democracy is launching 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.

“Walmart likes to say it is committed to supporting families, communities, and our economy, but the facts often tell a different story,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director at the Center for Media and Democracy. “This new resource gives reporters and consumers the information they need to understand the true nature of Walmart’s business practices and the effect the company’s decisions have on U.S. manufacturing, workers, and other aspects of our economy.”

This new resource is being launched shortly before a manufacturing summit hosted by Walmart in Denver. The website includes information highlighting the company’s role in off-shoring and raises important questions about the company’s current manufacturing commitment.

Read the rest of this item here.
Visit the Walmart SourceWatch page for more!


Follow the Money! 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:

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.


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Go to FightingBobFest.org for more info!


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.

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]

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.

2012 Funding

According to their 2012 IRS 990 tax filing, Americans for Prosperity received $115 million in contributions and spent $122 million.[4] It reported spending $33.5 million on political activities to the IRS and reported spending $36.4 million on campaign activities to the Federal Election Commission. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington explained the disparity in that "AFP left off its tax return spending on electioneering communications as well as any political spending it did in state elections." [5] CREW also noted that 78% of AFP's donations were in amounts of $1 million or more, with the three largest donations being $26 million, $21 million, and $11.5 million. Donations from Koch-funded Freedom Partners accounted for "at least 28 percent of AFP’s money in 2012."[6]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Americans for Prosperity 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

Outsourcing America Exposed
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.

Read the profiles on featured privatizers:




Read the rest of this press release here.



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


Featured Video

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back


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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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Disclaimer: SourceWatch is part of the Center for Media and Democracy—email the publisher of SourceWatch, CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via lisa AT prwatch.org. You can also contact our Editor, Friday Thorn, via friday_thorn AT prwatch.org.

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