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Featured Work

Speaker Paul Ryan Tries to Change the Topic

Speaker Paul Ryan
Image: Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 2.0
MADISON — One day after Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of 20,000 in Cincinnati, Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to a group of about 100 undergraduates, 50 reporters and a phalanx of cameras on the "Failures of Liberal Progressivism" in a heavily controlled and scripted event in Madison on Friday.

The students were members of the College Republicans of UW-Madison, a student group led by Gov. Scott Walker's son Alex Walker.

Acknowledging that the election has taken "a dark turn," Ryan quickly pivoted to his hallmark message of fiscal austerity and his Better.GOP site, a website and policy plan first unveiled in June. Read the rest of this item here.

Voter ID in Wisconsin, a Slow-Motion Train Wreck

MADISON — A federal judge held a hearing Wednesday to determine if procedures put in place by Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to implement the state's new voter ID law were sufficient to protect the right to vote.

The advocacy organization One Wisconsin Now was asking the judge to suspend the state's voter ID law for the November election or at a minimum force the state to fix demonstrated problems with the voter ID petition process (IDPP), which is designed to help people who don’t have their birth certificates or other forms of ID acceptable under the state’s strict version of the American Legislative Exchange Council's "model" law. Read the rest of this item here.

Industry-Funded Research Downplayed Sugar Health Effects

The fossil-fuel industry isn't the only sector that's poured money into downplaying the effects of its product.

A newly published article in JMA Internal Medicine reveals that the sugar industry secretly funded research since the 1950’s to downplay the risks of sugar while singling out fat and cholesterol as the main culprit of coronary heart disease.

The revelations were discovered by researchers examining the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) internal documents, historical reports and statements, following on a breakthrough story in 2012 in Mother Jones that was spurred by a whistleblower. Read the rest of this item here.

Exxon and ALEC Running Illegal Lobbying Scheme, Watchdog Groups Charge in IRS Complaint

Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause File Extensive New Evidence in Whistleblower Tax Fraud Case Against ALEC

ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are running an illegal scheme to promote the oil giant’s climate denial policies and legislative agenda in violation of U.S. tax law governing charitable organizations, the Center for Media Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause charged.

In a new filing to the IRS, the watchdog organizations detail for the first time how Exxon has used ALEC as a key asset in its explicit campaign to sow uncertainty about climate science, undermine international climate treaties and block legislation to reduce emissions. While ALEC purports to spend zero dollars on lobbying, Exxon has deliberately used ALEC for the past two decades to advance its legislative goals. Read the rest of this item here.

The Koch Connection in the Scott Walker John Doe Documents

Charles and David Koch
A cache of documents recently released by The Guardian shed new light on how Governor Scott Walker, his top advisors, and allies evaded the state's campaign finance system in an unprecedented effort to win 15 elections and maintain control of the Wisconsin Senate and Supreme Court as well as the Executive Mansion in the tumultuous recall period of 2011 and 2012.

The Guardian documents also illuminate the activities of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the shadowy "grassroots" arm of the Koch political machine. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

New Grants Announced: ED Continues to Pour Millions into Charter School Blackhole

On October 3, the U.S Department of Education announced that it had approved $245 million in grants to eight states under the federal Charter School Program. The states, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, will receive $177 million in grant money. In addition, 15 charter management organizations will receive $68 million in taxpayer dollars. Read the rest of this item here.

Bayer Makes Deal With GMO Giant Monsanto

Bayer announced this month that it plans to purchase Monsanto, the controversial chemical corporation that has been sued around the world over its products. Nowadays, Bayer has a more consumer-friendly corporate reputation, but has a checkered past too. (Bayer's history as a German company during the Nazi era is well documented.) Read the rest of this item here.

GOP Attorneys General Held Private Meetings with Fossil Fuel Lobbyists on Exxon Investigation

Notes from closed-door meeting reveal collusion between GOP AGs, industry lobbyists to defend ExxonMobil and obstruct climate change legislation.

Republican attorneys general held private, undisclosed meetings with fossil fuel industry lobbyists in July to coordinate on shielding ExxonMobil from scrutiny, according to an audio recording of the session obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Transcript available here. Read the rest of this item here.

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Exposed by CMD

Scott Walker Backers Defend Lead and Wisconsin's Poisoned Politics

Image:Thester11, CC BY 3.0
In Scott Walker's Wisconsin, lead chips have replaced cheese curds as the tasty snack of choice.

At least that's what one might think reviewing right-wing reaction to news revelations in the Guardian that Scott Walker may have secretly solicited $750,000 from Texas billionaire Harold Simmons. Simmons was the owner of numerous businesses including a lead pigment firm called NL Industries (formerly National Lead), which sold toxic paint and other products containing lead for decades. Read the rest of this item here.

New Attorney General in Georgia formerly Koch-corp lawyer and Koch-backed Think Tank Vice President

Koch blimp200px.jpg
Chris Carr, the newly appointed state Attorney General for Georgia, has multiple ties to organizations connected to the billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Carr was Vice President and General Counsel at the Georgia state think tank, Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF). The GPPF, which has received financial support previously from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, is a part of a national network of think tanks called the State Policy Network (SPN), which itself receives financial support from the Kochs. 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:

James Madison Institute

James Madison Institute (JMI) is a right-wing advocacy group that calls itself a "think tank" and describes its mission as "to keep the citizens of Florida informed about their government and to shape our state's future through the advancement of practical free-market ideas on public policy issues."[1]


The James Madison Institute has received more than $1 million from organizations funded by the Koch brothers and has consistently advocated for policies that protect the Kochs' bottom line rather than the best interests of Floridians, according to a November 2013 report by Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracy.[2]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the James Madison Institute here.


  1. James Madison Institute, About JMI, organizational website, accessed March 2008.
  2. Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.

Editors' Pick

Leaked Audio Shows How Florida Utilities Sought to Deceive Public Into Believing Amendment 1 is Pro-Solar

Wayne-national-forest solar200px.jpg
Leaked audio offers new evidence that Florida utilities and their allies have sought to deceive the public into believing that the utility-funded Amendment 1 ballot initiative is pro-solar.

Two energy industry watchdog organizations, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Energy and Policy Institute, obtained the audio recording, which captures the James Madison Institute (JMI), a Florida-based think tank and member of the national State Policy Network (SPN), boasting that it and other Amendment 1 backers successfully misled the public into believing it is pro-solar. 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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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.

You can also use the sign up box below to get breaking news about our breakthrough investigations.

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.

"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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