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ALEC Spring Task Force Summit Agenda in Pittsburgh 2016

Ironies abound in the 2016 agenda for the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators at luxury hotels to vote side-by-side on "model bills" that then pop up in states across the country.

This spring's Task Force Summit, to be held in the glittering Omni William Penn hotel on May 6 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, features a discussion on "Taxpayer Funded Lobbying Disclosure."

ALEC is not worried about the corporate lobbyists stacking its board and committees, or the taxpayer money being shelled out so some politicians can afford the swank Omni. No, ALEC is worried about city and county governments that join statewide associations to lobby state government for funds to provide services to everyday people. Read the rest of this item here.

Confirmation: the Not-So Independent Women's Forum Was Born in Defense of Clarence Thomas and the Far Right

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HBO's new film on demand, "Confirmation," revisits the painful battle over the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in spite of the testimony of Anita Hill that he sexually harassed her.

Some pundits have attempted to disparage the film, even though it has several scenes that portray Thomas and his wife Ginny as quiet, sympathetic figures and not as the outspoken right-wing political activists that they were and are.

One of the harshest critics of the film is a group that calls itself the "Independent Women's Forum" (IWF).

IWF is hardly independent though, despite its name. Read the rest of this item here.

DCI Group Subpoenaed in Expanding Exxon Climate Denial Investigation

Image: Adbar, CC BY-SA 3.0
DCI Group, a Washington DC public relations and lobbying firm, is the latest group subpoenaed in an expanding investigation by state attorneys general into the funding of climate change denial by ExxonMobil, according to court filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

ExxonMobil has now received separate subpoenas from both the New York and U.S. Virgin Islands U.S. Attorneys' Offices. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and DCI Group have also been subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands for records relating to their role in helping ExxonMobil with climate change denial. Read the rest of this item here.

Kochs' Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, Shell out to Rescue Ron Johnson

Senator Ron Johnson
Image: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, is scrambling to hold off Democratic challenger Russ Feingold in a race that will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. But for all his claims to "outsider" status, incumbent Johnson's campaign is being driven by millions in outside spending by industry front groups, national Republican PACs and right-wing dark money groups, including the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity.

With an empty seat at the U.S. Supreme Court and public pressure mounting to overturn the Court's Citizens United decision, which open the door to unlimited spending by nominally "independent" Super PACs and dark money nonprofits, the stakes could not be higher for the Kochs and their cronies who have worked for decades to undermine disclosure rules and limits on political spending. Read the rest of this item here.

The Dark Money Is on a Contested Convention and Paul Ryan

WI Speaker Paul Ryan
Image: Tony Alter, CC BY 2.0
With Donald Trump on the news every day declaring that the "rules are rigged" and speculation rampant that the GOP may see a contested convention, the Wisconsin GOP can be forgiven for getting all starry-eyed about the possibility that native son Speaker Paul Ryan might throw his hat into the ring.

After all Ryan is working on his own "parallel platform," says the New York Times; he is fundraising with major GOP donors, he is releasing videos that look a heck of a lot like campaign ads.

But Ryan dashed the hopes of many when he held a press conference at the RNC to declare: "Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination." Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC "Right to Work" Law Tossed Out in Wisconsin

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Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Faust struck down the state's private-sector "right-to-work" law late today.

In February 2015, Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature pushed through a private-sector right-to-work bill over the objections of thousands of workers and 450 Wisconsin construction firms who rallied against the bill. Workers in right to work states have significantly lower wages and fewer benefits. The battle over "right to work" and the future of Wisconsin's workforce was the subject of a New York Times magazine cover story. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

CMD Exclusive: Why I Chose to Get Arrested in Defense of Our Democracy

On April 18, I joined hundreds of fellow citizens who were arrested as part of a non-violent act of civil disobedience on the steps of our U.S. Capitol.

I stood with people of all ages and all walks of life as part of a growing movement to reclaim an America that guarantees the unimpeded right to vote for all and a government that works for the people instead of the powerful plutocrats. Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC Touted "Transparency" in Pushing for the Panama Free Trade Agreement

An unprecedented leak of millions of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed how some of the world's most powerful figures hide their wealth from taxation and public scrutiny. But it also exposes the bankruptcy of the promises of transparency and better governance that helped corporate interest groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sell the American public on "free trade" with Panama. Read the rest of this item here.

Colorado’s Not So Independent Oversight of Charter Schools

A new review of documents provided to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch from the state of Colorado shows close relationships between the agency charged with administering public education and the growing charter school industry.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education approved a Charter School Program-State Education Agency (CSP-SEA) grant to the state of Colorado for $36,359,999. The federal government previously awarded the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) $45,982,596 in 2010. Read the rest of this item here.

Most CEOs Support Paid Sick Leave, Increased Minimum Wage, and More But Chamber Lobbyists Told How to "Combat" These Measures

Video footage of a closed-door webinar provided to CMD reveals top GOP pollsters instructing Chamber of Commerce lobbyists to ignore internal survey data showing that Chamber members across the country overwhelmingly support progressive workplace policies including raising the minimum wage, providing paid sick days, and increasing paid family leave. Read the rest of this item here.

Highlights of Luntz Poll of American CEOs Shows Broad Support for Progressive Policies

When considering American CEOs as a category, "empathetic" is not the first word that comes to mind. Yet, the fact that these top executives have empathy for their workers is a major take away from a closed-door webinar about a new poll taken by LuntzGlobal, the polling firm of prominent GOP pollster Frank Luntz. Read the rest of this item here.

Exposed by CMD

KIPP's Efforts to Keep the Public in the Dark while Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies

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Charter schools are big business, even when they are run by "non-profits" that pay no taxes on the revenue they receive from public taxes or other sources.

Take KIPP, which describes itself as a "national network of public schools."

KIPP (an acronym for the phrase "knowledge is power program") operates like a franchise with the KIPP Foundation as the franchisor and the individual charters as franchisees that are all separate non-profits that describe themselves as "public schools."

But how public are KIPP public schools? Not as public as real or traditional public schools. Read the rest of this item here.

Unmasking the Chamber of Commerce Networks

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This week, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) unveiled new documents showing the role that lobbyists for state chambers of commerce play in thwarting measures that American workers and, as it turns out, the overwhelming majority of CEOs support.

Who are these state chamber lobbyists and what are the trade groups they lead? 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:

Republican State Leadership Committee

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is a 527 group which surged onto the political scene in 2010 in an effort to elect right-wing politicians to state offices under the direction of former George W. Bush advisor Ed Gillespie, who is closely tied to Karl Rove. RSLC was a leader in 2010 redistricting efforts favorable to Republicans and received a massive infusion of cash from Rove's American Crossroads group. Politico has described RSLC as "one of the most influential outside players on the right."[1]

2015-2016 Election Cycle

As of March 2016, RSLC had received about $6 million in contributions and spent nearly $3 million during the 2016 election cycle, according to, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.[2]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Republican State Leadership Committee here.


  1. Alexander Burns, "Exclusive: Powerhouse GOP group snared in money scheme," Politico, August 4, 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.
  2. Center for Responsive Politics, "Republican State Leadership Cmte", spending profile, Open Secrets database. Accessed March 28, 2016.

Editors' Pick

Secret Money Advocates Prepare to Unload on Milwaukee DA John Chisholm

DA John Chisholm
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm may soon appeal the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that ended the five-county "John Doe" criminal investigation into whether Governor Scott Walker illegally coordinated with supposedly "independent" dark money groups during the 2011-2012 recall elections to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As prosecutors ready their case, the secret money advocates at the heart of the investigation are planning their next move.

Dark money maestro Eric O'Keefe, who sits on the board of Wisconsin Club for Growth, has declared that Chisholm "is not fit for public office" and "should not be allowed to serve out his term." He has threatened to get him disbarred and he has tried to get Scott Walker to fire him. Read the rest of this item here.

Chambers of Commerce Exposed by CMD

New materials provided to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch reveal that a top GOP polling firm instructed state Chamber of Commerce lobbyists how to try to defeat popular measures like increasing the minimum wage, despite polling data from business leaders that shows overwhelming support for such progressive workplace policies. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured Video

Arizona's NBC 12 and CMD Expose ALEC's Corporate Influence on State Laws

Sunday Square Off, December 9, 2015
Phoenix Arizona's NBC affiliate KPNX hosted the Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves on the December 6 episode of "Sunday Square Off" to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) effort to push corporate backed model legislation in state legislatures.

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:

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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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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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