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Featured Work

5 Things to Know about Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump Choice for Education

Billionaire Betsy DeVos, a major GOP funder and party activist from Michigan, has been tapped by Donald Trump to become the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education next year.

Many have decried the choice as a looming disaster for public schools in America, with NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia observing that DeVos' "efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers–which take away funding and local control from our public schools–to fund private schools at taxpayers' expense." Read the rest of this item here.

Trump Names Controversial Lawyer to be White House Counsel

President-elect Donald Trump has named the controversial chief lawyer for his campaign and transition, Don McGahn, to become White House Counsel.

Expect trouble.

McGahn was ethics lawyer to scandal-ridden Rep. Tom DeLay, played a lead role in transforming the FEC into a toothless watchdog, and has represented the Koch Brothers' Freedom Partners and its PAC, which bankroll a large network of right-wing groups and political campaigns.

McGahn has been a controversial figure for more than a decade, and is notorious for politicizing and crippling enforcement of federal campaign finance laws while serving as a GOP-selected FEC commissioner from 2009-2013. Read the rest of this item here.

Fracking Special Interests Spent Big in 2016 Elections

Image: Tim Evanson CC BY-SA 2.0
Corporations that profit from fracking funneled millions to PACs for "independent expenditures" in the 2016 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

For example, the fracking giant Devon Energy gave $500,000 to the "Congressional Leadership Fund," a Super PAC "exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives." Devon is notorious for helping to bankroll the fight against citizens in Denton, Texas, who won a bid to ban fracking in 2014 . The Denton ban passed with 59% of the vote, but Texas state legislators and members of the American Legislative Exchange Council nullified that local initiative and pre-empted. Devon spent $195,000 in disclosed spending in the local battle and has spent an untold sum to influence the results local and in the state capitol. Read the rest of this item here.

Reince Priebus Promotion Another Big Win for the Koch Caucus

Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan
Image: Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 3.0, 2.0
In his first major signal of how he will govern post-election, Donald Trump chose Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. The flame throwing Breitbart executive Steve Bannon will hold an unspecified position as "chief strategist and senior counselor."

The move came to name Priebus to the top spot as a bit of a shock to Trump's base, some of whom referred to Priebus as #Ryansboy, but it is another big win for the Koch wing of the Republican Party. The Kochs already have deep ties to Trump's running mate Mike Pence who took over the Trump transition team this weekend. Top Koch advisor Marc Short, who worked for Pence before heading the Kochs' Freedom Partners, is also aiding the transition effort reports Politico. Read the rest of this item here.

Republican State Leadership Committee Spends Big to Keep State Houses in the Red

The little-known Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is spending big this election cycle to maintain GOP control over state houses and is coordinating with dark money groups to fight off liberal ballot initiatives.

The RSLC is a 527 group which gained notoriety for its 2010 efforts to capture state houses and secure GOP control over decennial redistricting in a project called REDMAP.

This successful effort was spearheaded by Ed Gillespie, who is chairman emeritus of the RSLC for the 2016 election cycle. Gillespie founded American Crossroads with Karl Rove and Rove’s Crossroads helped fund the 2010 REDMAP project. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Historic Victory Against Hyper-Partisan Gerrymandering Emerges from Wisconsin

This week the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin struck down hyper-partisan legislative redistricting maps declaring them to be "an unconstitutional political gerrymander." The maps were drawn in secret in 2011 by a Republican legislature that controlled both houses and the Governorship.

The ruling was unprecedented and "truly historic" Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle told the Center for Media and Democracy. "It provides voters with an opportunity to fix a cancer growing on our democracy." Read the rest of this item here.

Progressive Policies Win at the Ballot Box

Ballot measures across the country passed on November 8th highlighting the fact that progressive values still resonate with the U.S. electorate. Gains were made even in the face of industry deception and big dollar ad campaigns.

Floridians voted down Amendment 1, an amendment which would have made it hard for people with solar panels to sell energy back to the grid. South Dakotans passed Initiated Measure 22 52-48 that cracks down on dark money and phony industry front groups. In Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, citizens voted to approve ballot measures to phase in a $12 an hour minimum wage by 2020. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Cash Working to Flip the Senate in Iowa

The billionaire Koch brothers sought to make Iowa the next Republican state government trifecta with a late influx of cash into races. While the national press focused on the fact that the Kochs were not playing in the presidential, too little attention was paid to their activities in the states.

The GOP holds the governorship and both state houses of 23 states. The Iowa GOP’s goal was to hold the House and flip the Senate by gaining three seats. Read the rest of this item here.

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Exposed by CMD

Hypocrisy and Trumpism on the Agenda as ALEC Meets in Washington, D.C.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its offshoot the American City and County Exchange (ACCE) are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week to strategize on how to advance a far-right agenda under a Trump presidency.

Trump Transition leader, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is an ALEC booster. Not surprisingly the Trump team has been picking many with Koch and ALEC ties to fill key positions in government including Koch Congressman Mike Pompeo, school privatizer and ALEC funder Betsy DeVos, and South Carolina Governor and ALEC stalwart Nikki Halley. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Cash Instrumental in Key Senate Races and May Have Buoyed Trump

After indicating they would spend $889 million to secure the White House and Congress in January, by July the Kochs were singing a different tune. They publicly refused to back Donald Trump and pledged to "focus on the Senate."

The bet paid off for the billionaire industrialists. They backed 19 U.S. Senate candidates, and only two lost. And, in the process, their efforts to get voters out for GOP Senate candidates in swing states helped Trump in those 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:


This article is part of the FrackSwarm portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. To search by topic or location, click here.

Fracking (also often referred to as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking) is a process stimulation procedure first used by the oil and gas industry in 1947 at a well in the Hugoton gas field located in Kansas. Hydraulic fracturing was first used commercially in 1949. The premise is simple, fluids are forced under pressure into the formation surrounding the wellbore. Once those fluids reach the fracture gradient of the surrounding rock the rock parts and fluid continues to flow further from the wellbore. The fluid continues to propagate the fracture, and eventually proppant is added to the fluid stream in order to keep the fractures from naturally healing once the wellbore pressure is released. Once the process is finished the now propped fractures provide conduits for fluids to flow to the wellbore. To date hydraulic fracturing has been performed more than 1 million times in every oil and gas producing region in the country. It is estimated that of the existing wells in the United States hydraulic fracturing has been performed in more than 70% of them. [1]

Water quality Impacts

Although no complete list of the cocktail of chemicals used in this process exists, information obtained from environmental clean-up sites demonstrates that known toxins are routinely being used, including hydrochloric acid, diesel fuel (which contains benzene, tuolene, and xylene) as well as formaldehyde, polyacrylimides, arsenic, and chromates.[2] These chemicals include known carcinogens and other hazardous substances.[3]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Fracking here.


  1. L. Britt and J. Jones, "Design and Appraisal of Hydraulic Fractures", SPE, 2009.
  2. Q+A: Environmental fears over U.S. shale gas drilling, Reuters, Dec. 23, 2009.
  3. "Gas Drilling Plan Raises Water Contamination Fears in New York City", Voice of America News, Carolyn Weaver, December 24, 2009

Editors' Pick

Dispatches from COP 22, UN Climate Negotiations in the Hottest Year on Record

This is a special report for CMD from Alex Carlin about his observations from the international climate conference. Please check back for regular dispatches from the field about what's happening on the ground at these negotiations.

Since last year's "Paris Agreement" at COP 21, we have seen a rallying of the world's nations to ratify, well ahead of schedule, these accords whose ambitions can eventually ramp up into reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid Climate Ruin. At this year's conference, called "COP 22," the task is to hash out the details that were not hashed out in Paris. 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.

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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

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.

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