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Reform Groups Slam Trump COS for Threatening Federal Ethics Director

Reince Priebus
Image:Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0
The Center for Media and Democracy joined a bipartisan list of democracy reform groups and ethics experts today in a letter calling out Donald Trump's incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, for threats he made against the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on Sunday.

Just days after OGE Director Walter Schaub called Trump's plan for handling his business empire conflicts "wholly inadequate," Priebus went on ABC's "This Week" to say, "The head of the government ethics ought to be careful because that person is becoming extremely political." Priebus then proceeded to make factually incorrect accusations against Schaub for being political and attacked his competence.

The implications were clear: Speak up for the clean government and the rule of law at your own risk. Read the rest of this item here.

Pruitt Helped Block Garland Confirmation to Supreme Court, then Fundraised from Polluters that Benefited

Scott Pruitt
Image: Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 2.0
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Trump's choice to be the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coordinated an effort by Republican state attorneys general to oppose the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Pruitt then used this effort as a basis to request financial support for his federal Political Action Committee (PAC), called Oklahoma Strong.

In a March 2015 email that he sent to supporters of Oklahoma Strong, Pruitt boasted of his effort to block Garland's confirmation. Read the rest of this item here.

Tallahassee Mayor Defends Local Democracy from the Gun Lobby

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum
Local democracy is going on trial in Florida January 10. That's when opening arguments in the lawsuit being brought by the gun lobby against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will be heard by Florida's First District Court of Appeals.

The trial is also a test of the state's super-preemption law – laws created to intimidate local, and often more progressive, lawmakers from passing and enforcing ordinances that reflect the values and needs of their communities. Read the rest of this item here.

Exxon Illegally Funded ALEC Under Tillerson’s Tenure, CMD Tells Committee

Rex Tillerson
Written Statement of Lisa Graves on Behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy Submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Hearing on the Nomination of Rex Tillerson to Be U.S. Secretary of State.

Dear Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin and Members of the Committee:

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) would like to bring your attention a matter of serious concern regarding the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be U.S. Secretary of State. We would also respectfully request that this letter be included in the hearing record on his nomination, which we oppose.

For more than a decade under Mr. Tillerson’s tenure, Exxon has poured millions of dollars into nonprofit organizations in order to undermine public confidence in climate science and promote its anti-regulatory agenda. Read the rest of this item here.

CMD Opposes Confirming Sessions to Be Attorney General

Jeff Sessions
Image:Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 2.0
Written Statement of Lisa Graves on Behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy Submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on the Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to Be Attorney General of the United States

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy, and Members of the Committee:

I respectfully submit this statement for the record in opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.

Confirmation is a privilege, not a right–even for a sitting United States Senator. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Koch Astroturf Army Cheers Union Busting in Kentucky

On the first day that the Kentucky legislature got underway with a newly elected Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican governor, the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity group blew the whistle and legislators jumped to do their bidding.

The Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover rammed through the legislature three bills to break the back of unions and lower wages for highly-skilled construction workers.

It was bare-knuckled partisan politics. "We can pretty much do whatever we want now!" crowed GOP Kentucky Rep. Jim DeCesare behind closed doors. Read the rest of this item here.

Election Losses Don’t Stop Corporate Efforts to Block Voter-Approved Minimum Wage Hikes

Voters spoke very clearly on November 8 when they elected to raise the minimum wage in Arizona and Maine, along with Colorado and Washington State.

But those wins, the democratic process, and the express will of the people are being defied and denied in Arizona and Maine, where corporate lobbyists and their legislative allies are working to block, delay, even rewrite the laws approved on Election Day. Read the rest of this item here.

Trump Urged to Put Nation Before Family Profits

With just four weeks left until inauguration, President Elect Donald Trump has yet to deliver on his promise to tell the American people how he is going to handle his corporate empire in order to avoid crippling conflicts of interest.

With investments and developments in at least 20 countries around the globe, not to mention the United States and Washington, DC, Trump brings an unprecedented array of conflicts to the White House, along with an equally unprecedented risk of bribery, foreign influence, and corruption. Read the rest of this item here.

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Exposed by CMD

The DeVos Legacy: Crumbling Schools, Poisoned Water

Betsy DeVos
Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, wants America to believe she's all about giving parents the right to choose what's best for their children. But her radical policies and politics have left a legacy of crumbling schools and poisoned water in her home state of Michigan that parents neither asked for nor wanted.

Billionaire DeVos—who has no relevant education experience and never attended public school—won the nomination by virtue of her family being one of the largest soft money contributors to the Republican National Committee and the dominant political force in Michigan, where Trump's razor-thin margin helped him clinch his Electoral College victory. Read the rest of this item here.

Seema Verma: Trump's Pick for Medicaid and Medicare Cashes In on "Reform"

Seema Verma
While Trump repeatedly said on the campaign trail that he will not cut Social Security Medicare or Medicaid, he plans to put opponents of these programs in key positions in his administration.

Congressman Tom Price, Trump's pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is a leading proponent of changes to Medicare. He has supported raising the eligibility age, which would leave more seniors without health care options, and he wants to privatize the program with vouchers, which would lose value over time and shift more costs onto seniors and the disabled. He also wants to cap Medicaid assistance to states, likely to result in states reducing services to the most needy–often very low-income families with kids.

One of his top officers will be the CEO of a company that has been cashing in on the Medicaid "reform" schemes she has designed for states. Read the rest of this item 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.

Excerpts from longer SourceWatch article:

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos is one of the nation's primary proponents for the privatization of the public education system advocating for private charter schools, on-line schools and taxpayer funded vouchers for private and religious schools (so-called "school choice"). She was selected to serve as Secretary of Education under President-elect Donald Trump on November 23, 2016.

DeVos-Led Ohio's "All Children Matter" Still Owes Millions in Election Fines

All Children Matter, one of a number of pro-voucher issue advocacy groups led by Betsy DeVos owes the state of Ohio more than $5.3 million for election violations according to Politico. "The unpaid fine dates back to 2008, when All Children Matter — a group that lobbied for school-choice legislation and was run by DeVos — broke Ohio election law by funneling $870,000 in contributions through its nationwide PAC to its Ohio affiliate, according to the Ohio Elections Commission." The commission told Politico that the group asked if the spending was permissible, when rejected DeVos's group did it anyway.[1]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Betsy DeVos.


  1. Benjamin Wermund and Kimberly Hefling, Trump's education secretary pick led group that owes millions in election fines, Politico, November 29, 2016.

Editors' Pick

Scott Pruitt: Trump’s Pick for EPA

Scott Pruitt
Image: Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 2.0
Scott Pruitt is President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since 2010, he has been the Attorney General of Oklahoma, having previously served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1999 to 2006.

Pruitt was the subject of a Pulitzer prize winning New York Times investigation in 2014 ("Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General") which described "the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation's top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda". He describes himself as "a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda."

Many fossil fuel funded groups responded to Pruitt's nomination with delight. In a joint January 12, 2017 letter sent to the Senate, leaders from 22 organizations gave their "strong support" for Pruitt's confirmation. The signers featured many climate change denial groups backed with fossil fuel cash, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute and the 60 Plus Association. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) expressed its own support for Pruitt, who is a former ALEC member, stressing that he would "work constructively with industry" as well as the states to "spur economic growth." Read the rest of this item here.

Featured Video

ALEC and Criminal Justice Reform; RAGA and Oil Companies

October 3, 2016 - Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman talks with Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the expansion of the U.S. prison system. ALEC has worked with states to write legislation promoting the privatization of prisons in addition to pushing for harsher, longer sentences. Amy also asks Graves about the connection between oil and gas companies and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).

Koch Exposed

Follow the Money!

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:

Visit Koch Exposed for more.

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The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch to track corporations.
  • We provide well-documented information about corporate public relations (PR) campaigns, including corporate front groups, people who "front" corporate campaigns, and PR operations.
  • Dating back to when tobacco companies deployed doctors to try to prevent labeling of cancer-causing cigarettes, many corporations use the "tobacco playbook" to hide behind neutral-looking "experts" as well as think tanks or non-profits in their efforts to influence or distort public policy to protect their bottom line or agenda--often a narrow agenda at odds with the broader public interest.
  • This specialized encyclopedia watches those sources and provides detailed information about corporations and special interests, using the collaborative "wiki" platform, like Wikipedia.

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Please visit SourceWatch's sister websites EXPOSEDbyCMD, to find our investigations and original documents we release, PRWatch, to read our original reporting, and ALECexposed, to see our award-winning investigation of a corporate front group where corporate lobbyists actually vote as equals with elected legislators on "model" legislation to change our rights.

Also, please check out the in-depth research from around the world by our partner projects within SourceWatch: CoalSwarm and FrackSwarm.

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Praise for SourceWatch!

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Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

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—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada

"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.

"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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