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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.

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Featured Work

Blowing the Whistle on ALEC's Little Brother ACCE (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4)

A series of reports by Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata

It’s true. I plopped down my $50 and became a member of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), dedicated to the three principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. This is the basis of a right-wing movement in America to repeal existing government legislation that promotes social justice and economic equity, and stop any future such legislation.

However, while these three words are blazoned across their brochures, the literature inside says, "The goal of ALEC is to foster efficient, effective, accountable and transparent government that respects hardworking people." Heck, I’ve always campaigned supporting these goals and I don’t know anyone right or left who wouldn’t. So I was intrigued by how such commonly shared goals could lead to such divergent paths toward a more democratic America. Read the rest of this item here.

The Attack on Planned Parenthood, a View from Inside ALEC

Op-ed by Rep. Chris Taylor

When I went to work for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) in 2003 as their legislative director, I was unprepared for the attacks this organization experiences on a routine basis. There are organizations solely dedicated to shutting Planned Parenthood down, and more pop up every day. Even before the 2010 tea party takeover in state Capitols around the country, including ours, the relentless legal and political attacks on Planned Parenthood were unending.

I thought I knew something about courage, but what I learned at PPWI was that I knew nothing about it. The staff and physicians who walk into a health center every day, who are targeted and harassed while their workplace is sometimes vandalized and threatened, are the heroes. And they do it every day because there are thousands of women in our state who simply wouldn’t have access to birth control, cervical and breast cancer screens or testing and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases without PPWI. Even though abortion is only a tiny piece of the services PPWI provides, it is a critical service. And there are people in our state who risk their lives every day to provide it. Read the rest of this item here.

"Saucy Suffragettes" Party as Voting Rights Are Rolled Back

On August 26, three Republican women's clubs will head to the private Tuckaway Country Club in Franklin, Wisconsin, to celebrate the 95th anniversary of Women's Right to Vote. These "Saucy Suffragettes," as they call themselves, will wear period dress and sit down to hors d'oeuvres and drinks to reminisce about the good old days, when women marched, were imprisoned, and even hunger-struck for the right to vote.

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a former TV news anchor, is the honored guest. She will have quite a tale to tell. Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker Is the Belle of the ALEC Ball

By Rep. Chris Taylor (D-WI)

Wisconsin has become the new ALEC darling, and took center stage on the second day of the 42nd ALEC conference. It is easy to see why. Since the 2010 Tea Party takeover of our state, a deluge of ALEC model bills have become law, from policies to privatize public education to the hallmark, anti-worker package of laws that launched Scott Walker into the national spotlight and now provides his basis for running for president.

And then there is ALEC golden boy Scott Walker, the keynote morning speaker at the morning breakfast. Read the rest of this item here.

Under a Shroud of Secrecy and Security, ALEC Conference Gets Underway

By Rep. Chris Taylor (D-WI)

My 5th ALEC conference started like the others—under a shroud of secrecy and security.

The night before, I attempted to register at the host hotel, only to be told by hotel staff that they were under strict orders not to give out any information about ALEC to anyone who wasn’t staying at the hotel (I wasn’t). Though ALEC is known for trying to slide under the radar, this level of secrecy exceeded previous efforts. As I left, I noticed a police car outside.

And before I ducked out of the conference the next day, a security officer guarding the back door of the hotel warned me to take off my ALEC name tag, which must be worn at all times during the conference. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

ALEC Conference Funding Dominated by Big Polluters

At the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2015 annual meeting in San Diego, California, dirty energy companies and their supporters--including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Duke Energy--continue to dominate the funding of activities, according to a list of conference sponsors obtained jointly by the Center for Media and Democracy and Greenpeace.

At the top of the agenda, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke to ALEC delegates over breakfast on Thursday. Walker is now campaigning on a promise to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if elected President in 2016, a plan which was earlier debated by ALEC at its December 2014 conference and is in line with ALEC’s long-term legislative agenda.

Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC Admits School Vouchers Are for Kids in Suburbia

School vouchers were never about helping poor, at-risk or minority students. But selling them as social mobility tickets was a useful fiction that for some twenty-five years helped rightwing ideologues and corporate backers gain bipartisan support for an ideological scheme designed to privatize public schools.

But the times they are a-changin'. Wisconsin is well on its way towards limitless voucher schools, and last month, Nevada signed into law a universal "education savings account" allowing parents to send their kids to private or religious schools, or even to homeschool them—all on the taxpayers' dime. On the federal level, a proposed amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would have created a multi-billion-dollar-a-year voucher program was only narrowly defeated in the U.S. Senate. Read the rest of this item here.

How San Diego Is a Petri Dish for the ALEC Agenda

In July, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) descended on San Diego, California for its annual meeting of lobbyists and legislators.

In many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC's conference. Beyond the walls of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where ALEC members convene under heavy security and behind closed doors, the city known as "America's Finest" has been a major battleground in the corporate-backed resistance to local control over paid sick days and the minimum wage.

Read the rest of this item here.

Hot Topics at ALEC's 2015 Meeting in San Diego

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," brought together hundreds of corporate lobbyists with state and local politicians at a posh hotel in San Diego for the group's annual meeting.

ALEC alum Scott Walker, who has signed over 20 ALEC bills into law, addressed this meeting, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who participated in ALEC meetings before he joined the U.S. Senate.

ALEC has had a mixed year. Over a dozen companies, including tech giants Google and Facebook, stopped funding the group, yet after the 2014 elections, some states have had few impediments to the corporate-friendly legislation that ALEC peddles. 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.

Wage Theft

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on the Wage Theft:

Wage theft refers to the failure of an employer to pay workers the wages they are owed. For workers, wage theft might include "being paid less than the minimum wage or other agreed upon wage, working 'off-the-clock' without pay, getting less than time-and-a half for overtime hours, having tips stolen, being misclassified as an “independent contractor” instead of an employee and underpaid, having illegal deductions taken out of paychecks, or simply not being paid at all," according to the National Employment Law Project.[1]

Wage theft is widespread in the United States. A 2008 UCLA/UIC study of low-wage workers in large cities found that two thirds had been affected by some form of wage theft. Of those surveyed, 26% had been paid less than the minimum wage in the previous week, and 76% of those who worked over 40 hours had not been paid sufficient overtime.[2]

While low-wage service sector employees and immigrant workers may be the most vulnerable, wage theft affects workers at all levels. Even software engineers are not immune, as evidenced by a class action lawsuit brought against Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe in 2010.[3] The suit was settled in 2014 for $324 million.[4]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Wage Theft here.


  1. National Employment Law Project, "Winning Wage Justice: A Summary of Criminal Prosecutions of Wage Theft in the United States," research summary report, July 2013. Accessed July 16, 2014.
  2. Annette Bernhardt, Ruth Milkman, Nik Theodore, Douglas Heckathorn, Mirabai Auer, James DeFilippis, Ana Luz Gonzalez, Victor Narro, Jason Perelshteyn, Diana Polson, and Michael Spiller, "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers," UCLA/UIC Unprotected Workers Project report, accessed July 16, 2014.
  3. David Streitfeld, "Engineers Allege Hiring Collusion in Silicon Valley," New York Times, February 28, 2014. Accessed July 16, 2014.
  4. Dan Levine, "Exclusive: Apple, Google to pay $324 million to settle conspiracy lawsuit," Reuters, April 24, 2014. Accessed July 16, 2014.

Editors' Pick

CMD Denounces Corrupt John Doe Ruling From Conflicted Court

Madison, WI--Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state’s limits on money in politics, opening the door to unlimited, undisclosed spending coordinated directly with candidates, and handing Scott Walker a significant political victory as he begins his run for the White House. The decisions in the case can be found here.

"The dark money groups that bankrolled the Walker team's recall victories got the decision they wanted from the justices they swept into office with their spending," said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Read the rest of this item here. Tracks the Groups against Family-Supporting Jobs

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning, launched, a web resource devoted to exposing the corporations, trade associations, "think tanks," and front groups working hard against better wages, benefits, and family-supporting jobs for the American workforce.

The wage crushers have been hard at work. By 2022, three-quarters of all U.S. jobs will only require a high school education or less, according to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly all of those jobs will be low-wage service industry jobs. Americans spend an estimated $152 billion each year supplementing wages, health care, and other basic costs of living for workers, amounting to billions in indirect subsidies to profitable corporations like Walmart and McDonald's. identifies some of the key behind-the-scenes players in anti-worker campaigns.

Read the rest of this item here. Go to the portal here.

Featured Video

So a Lobbyist and an ALEC Legislator Walk into a Bar...Caught on Tape by NBC

The Investigators: ALEC - The Backroom Where Laws Are Born

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!

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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