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We Track Corporations and PR Spin

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.

CMD relies on concerned citizens like you to keep this research online. You can contribute here.

Please visit SourceWatch's sister websites 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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Lisa Graves, Executive Director

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Featured Work

Koch Draws on Big Tobacco for New PR Hires

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David Koch may once have called Koch Industries "the biggest company you've never heard of," but facing increasing scrutiny--as the Koch brothers’ plan to inject nearly a billion dollars in into the 2016 election cycle through their "Freedom Partners" dark money operation--the company seems to be on a spin doctor hiring spree.

The privately-held corporation now has hired a cadre of PR flacks with experience defending toxic clients like the tobacco industry as the Kochs struggle to refashion their public image.

Starting last year, the Kochs' PR blitz has included a $20 million ad campaign called "We Are Koch" featuring Koch employees and bucolic landscapes, which touts the company's "American values." One of its ads was famously mocked by Jon Stewart. Read the rest of this item here.


Josh Duggar-led Group Funded via Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Operation

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With millions of users of the Ashley Madison cheating website now searchable, some may wonder why TV reality figure Josh Duggar’s transactions with the site that "guarantees" extramarital affairs are newsworthy.

It's the hypocrisy, as Duggar acknowledged this week, but there's more to that story.

In June 2013, Duggar was hired to work as the Executive Director of "Family Research Council Action," a 501(c)(4) political and lobbying arm of the controversial "Family Research Council" charity, which promotes "family values," particularly in elections and through its related FRC Action PAC.

According to newly reviewed tax filings, it turns out that Family Research Council Action first received funding from a little known entity called "EVANGCHR4 Trust" between June 2013 and May 2014. Read the rest of this item here.


Not Just Trump and Walker: ALEC Called for Ending Birthright Citizenship Too

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It's not just Donald Trump and Scott Walker that have declared children born on American soil should no longer be considered citizens: the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," made the same claim in 2008.

This week, Donald Trump released a six-page immigration plan that, among other far-fetched proposals (like having the Mexican government pay for a border wall), called for ending the birthright citizenship guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, calling it “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”

In the face of declining poll numbers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jumped on the bandwagon, declaring that he too would dismantle the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker's False Promise of Racial Unity

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Scott Walker's solution for racial injustice? Ignore it.

When asked about race relations on the first anniversary of Michael Brown's killing at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Walker replied:

“I think in general if anyone focuses on racial discord we’re going to get more," he said. "If we focus on unity we’re going to get more of that."

In other words, acknowledging systemic problems like the documented wave ofpolice killings of unarmed black men, or the racial wealth gap, or disparities in sentencing and incarceration, creates "discord." Read the rest of this item here.


Social Security Still Strong at 80

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Social Security is one of the most popular and successful government programs in U.S. history. For 80 years, in strong and weak economic times, Social Security has benefited every individual who has paid into it upon reaching retirement age, protecting millions of Americans from poverty.

Despite such a strong record, Social Security is under attack from profiteers and their political allies who claim it will not be around when people retire and is in need of drastic reform. A myth, says the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) since “Social Security is fully funded through 2033. Even if nothing is done to shore up the system, Social Security can continue to pay three-fourths of promised benefits after the trust fund runs out. Though this would be far from ideal, it’s certainly no reason to preemptively cut benefits.” A decrease in Social Security benefits would leave over half of elderly Americans in poverty, hitting African Americans, Latinos and women the hardest. Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org


Was Scott Walker Saved by John Doe Secrecy Order?

Newly-released court filings undermine claims from Scott Walker and his allies that prosecutors were on a "partisan witch hunt" with the ultimate goal of taking down the governor.

Documents filed in federal court last week by Milwaukee County District attorney John Chisholm showed, for the first time, that prosecutors found probable cause to believe Walker and his associates had committed a felony in a county land deal involving a Walker donor--allegations that could have tanked Walker's political career had it been made public in advance of the hard-fought 2012 recall elections.

"Had Walker been named in the period leading up to the recall, that absolutely would have made a difference" in the outcome, says Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause Wisconsin. Read the rest of this item here.


Shell Parts Ways with ALEC over Climate Change, Exodus at 106

Royal Dutch Shell announced Friday that it planned to let its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lapse early next year, explicitly citing the organization's stance on climate change. The last oil company to cut ties with ALEC was BP in March 2015.

In a statement, a Shell spokesperson said, "ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own." The decision will make Shell the 105th corporation to cut ties with ALEC. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Shell is one of the largest oil companies in the world, with revenues of $421 billion in 2014. Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker Wins Koch Straw Poll, $900 Million in the Offing

The Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held their annual summits in California this year. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was a featured speaker at both, capturing enthusiastic applause as he won the Koch summit straw poll last night reports Politico.

As the Koch network of funders gets ready to unleash an unimaginable $900 million on the 2016 campaign, they are busily trying to remake their public image and spin undisclosed dark money as a plus in political campaigns. Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker Aide's Claim of Prosecutorial Abuse Refuted by New Audio

Scott Walker's former top aide Cindy Archer has become the poster child for allegations that state prosecutors investigating corruption around Walker ran amok and engaged in aggressive, unconstitutional "raids" on people's homes.

Newly-released audio contradicts many of those claims.

In April, Archer was the star of a National Review article called "Wisconsin's Shame" that spoke of "armed pre-dawn raids" and screaming police with battering rams ransacking her home. The article sparked a firestorm across right-wing media (including Fox News) and was even cited by the Wisconsin Supreme Court as "proof" that prosecutors used "paramilitary style raids". Read the rest of this item here.

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.

Manpower

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on ManpowerGroup:

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ManpowerGroup, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the world's second largest temporary staffing company (after Switzerland's Adecco). Manpower has offices in 80 countries and territories, but mainly in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The company had revenues of $20.8 billion and gross profits of $3.5 billion in 2014, with operating profits of $719.9 million and an overall profit margin of 3.5 percent. $2.3 billion of its gross profits were from its Manpower temp. staffing business. Across all of its divisions, ManpowerGroup reports placing 2.3 million people in temporary, contract, and permanent positions in 2014.[1]

Temporary employment has become increasingly common for U.S. workers and agencies like Manpower, Kelly Services, and Adecco "are now among the largest employers in the United States," according to reporting by ProPublica.[2]

Replacing Middle-Class Manufacturing Jobs with Low-Wage Temp Work

Temporary employment is increasingly common for U.S. workers. The United States had more than 2.7 million temp workers in 2013, and nearly one-fifth of the growth in jobs since the 2008 financial crisis has been in the temp. sector. The American Staffing Association (the temp. sector's trade association) estimates that one-tenth of workers find jobs through staffing agencies like Manpower each year. Pro Publica reports that "temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy," filling positions "in the supply chain of many of America's largest companies -- Walmart, Macy's, Nike, Frito-Lay," etc.[2] Temporary workers earn an average of 25 percent less than equivalent permanent workers.[2]

One reason why manufacturing jobs in the United States are now in the bottom half of all jobs in terms of pay is an increased reliance on temporary workers, as detailed by a 2014 report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP). According to NELP, "About 14 percent of auto parts workers are employed by staffing agencies today. Wages for these workers are lower than for direct-hire parts workers."[3]

Skirting Union Opposition by Branding as "Women's Work"

Being founded at a time when labor unions were at their most influential, temp. agencies like Manpower and Kelly Services avoided union opposition by strategically presenting temporary work as "women's work" in advertising, which suggested that temps were housewives working for extra spending money, according to Erin Hatton, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Buffalo, writing for the New York Times.[4]

"In 1961 alone, Manpower spent $1 million to put its White Glove Girls in the Sunday issue of big city newspapers across the country" (about $7.8 million in 2015 dollars), Hatton writes. With the help of these gender stereotypes, temp. agencies established "a new sector of low-wage, unreliable work" that was exempt from many of the protections won by labor unions in other parts of the economy.[4]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Manpower here.

References

  1. ManpowerGroup, "2014 Annual Report," organizational report, accessed April 10, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Michael Grabell, "The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed," Pro Publica, June 27, 2013.
  3. Catherine Ruckelshaus and Sarah Leberstein, National Employment Law Project, "Manufacturing Low Pay: Declining Wages in the Jobs That Built America’s Middle Class," organizational report, November 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Erin Hatton, "The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy," The New York Times, January 26, 2013.


Editors' Pick

Who Is Intimidating Who?

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The cheerful cheddarheads who showed up at the Iowa State Fair "Soapbox" to razz Scott Walker got a rude reception. The Soapbox is a Des Moines Register tradition and peaceful protesters have long been a part of this exercise in free speech. But after Walker was punked by two young people with a fake $900 million Koch check weeks ago, Team Walker seems a bit tense. At the Soapbox, Walker supporters ripped a sign out of one protester’s hand which read "WARNING Don’t let him do to America what he did to Wisconsin." Another protester told CNN "I got pushed into a disabled woman. I fell on her wheelchair. She started screaming at me."

Read the rest of this item here.


GOP Field Gets $62 Million so far from Fossil Fuels

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The 2016 presidential race is a bonanza of fossil fuel cash for Republican presidential candidates, even 15 months out from election day.

Just 17 billionaires and businesses with ties to fossil fuel interests have pumped $67 million into Super PACs to support the ambitions of eight Republicans, according to a new analysis by Greenpeace and the Center for Media and Democracy (which publishes PRWatch.org). The Guardian broke the story.

The top recipient?

Blatant climate denier Ted Cruz.

Read the full story in The Guardian here.


Featured Video

It's Official - The Kochs Have Chosen Their Candidate

Brendan Fischer joins Thom Hartmann. The Koch Brothers have officially picked their guy. Find out who they chose and what it means for the 2016 presidential race.


Popular SourceWatch Articles

One of our most popular articles this week is about the American Council on Science and Health, which actively solicits funding from corporations and advocates positions that back those corporate interests. Two related articles about the backgrounds of two of the doctors that are part of the ACSH PR operations, Henry I. Miller and Gilbert Ross, are also popular this week.

SourceWatch's home page is the top landing page in this website. Here are some of the other hot pages:


Get breaking news on these and other issues here, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @PRwatch and @ALECexposed."


Koch Exposed

Follow the Money!

KochExposed.org200px.jpg
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.


Praise for SourceWatch!

"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 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.

"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

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