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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.

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Featured Work

Kochs' Freedom Partners Spent $129M in 2014, Invested Massively in Voter Data Lists

The Koch network's secret bank, "Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce," spent big during the 2014 midterm elections, including doubling its investment in voter data collection efforts and secretly backing U.S. Senate candidates associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Freedom Partners is also vastly expanding surveillance and intelligence gathering on the Kochs' perceived opponents, Politico reports, with a 25-person "competitive intelligence" team (including at least one CIA analyst) led by Freedom Partners' vice-president of research, Mike Roman. Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker's Legacy of Double-Dealing for Friends and Donors Revealed in New John Doe Emails

In 2011, prosecutors in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office suspected that Scott Walker committed felony misconduct while serving as Milwaukee County Executive due to his direct involvement in a multi-million dollar lease renewal for county offices at a privately held building called the Reuss Federal Plaza.

Newly-released emails, made public as part of a federal lawsuit, reveal crucial details about these bid-rigging allegations originally reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2012--details that were not known to the public when Walker faced recall, ran for reelection in 2014 or for the White House in 2015.

"The Reuss plaza procurement was one of the most egregious examples of procurement misconduct that I have seen," said Jerome Heer, the head of Milwaukee County's audit department. Heer has thirty-five years of government procurement experience, twenty-eight with the County of Milwaukee.

"In particular, the sharing of information with one 'insider' was unprecedented." Read the rest of this item here.

Wisconsinites Reject the "Eric O'Keefe Session" of the Legislature

Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison)
At a press conference in Madison, all the good government groups in Wisconsin stood together to demand that their elected representatives reverse course on plans to allow unlimited secret money into Wisconsin campaigns and elections.

On November 16th, the Wisconsin Assembly will take final votes on an overhaul of the Wisconsin campaign finance code (Assembly Bill 387) and a bill to dismantle the independent elections board called the Government Accountability Board (Assembly Bill 388).

Both measures passed in the State Senate between 12 and 3 a.m. last weekend. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Group Dumps Half Million Dollars in Florida Anti-Solar Campaign

Consumers for Smart Solar, the group promoting an anti-home-solar constitutional amendment in Florida, has collected half a million dollars from the 60 Plus Association, a group that has itself received at least $34 million since 2010 from organizations financially backed by the Koch brothers.

Unlike most states, Florida does not allow homeowners to enter into contracts for the no-upfront-cost installation of solar on their homes. In other states, this freedom has contributed to the dramatic 80% increase in home solar installations across the US in 2014, and seen large financial investments from corporations like Google.

Rival constitutional amendments are being proposed for the Florida ballot in 2016. Read the rest of this item here.

Amid Controversy, Ben Carson Named ALEC Event Speaker

Ben Carson
Following a week of controversies about claims made by presidential candidate Ben Carson, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has announced that he will be one of their keynote speakers at the ALEC "States and Nation Policy Summit" in Scottsdale, Arizona, in December. ALEC, which is widely known as a "corporate bill mill," describes the coming meeting as "focused on returning the appropriate balance of power between the states and the federal government." Read the rest of this item here.

Solar Fight in Florida Heats Up with Mysterious Donor

The largest contribution so far to an anti-consumer measure to impede access to solar energy just came from a mysterious new donor.

This new donation comes as the battle over whether consumers in Florida can install home solar is heating up, with rival state constitutional amendments both aiming for the ballot in 2016.

On one side are consumer and environmental groups promoting home solar, and on the other—trying to block consumer access—are major utilities, groups linked to the Koch brothers and a new mysterious funder.

"Consumers for Smart Solar" is the misleading name of the group created to promote an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would protect the monopoly of the utilities. CMD/PRWatch has reported on its known funders and activities, and has jointly with the Energy & Policy Institute published research on the corporate ties of Consumers for Smart Solar. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Ford Revealed as Funder of Climate Denial Group ALEC

Ford Motor Company, despite its much-hyped commitment to the environment, has been quietly funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group widely criticized for its promotion of climate change denial and for its opposition to the development of renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.

A Ford spokesperson confirmed the ALEC grant to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch, but said that the funding was not intended to be used by ALEC to block action on climate change. Read the rest of this item here.

As Jobs Flee WI, Legislators Lock-Down Their Own With Unlimited Dark Money

Two major Wisconsin employers sent shockwaves through the state when they announced plant closures and layoffs that could affect thousands of jobs. The Republicans who control the Wisconsin state senate called an "extraordinary session"--not to address the loss of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin, but to allow out-of-state billionaires to secretly pour even more money into state elections. Read the rest of this item here.

Charles Koch "Expects a Return" on Political Spending, and Gets It

Billionaire mega-donor Charles Koch admitted that the handful of billionaires who bankroll political campaigns are doing it because they expect something in return.

Yet the outsized influence of the .00001% doesn't threaten democracy, he said, as long as a fellow billionaire thinks those big donors have the right intentions. Read the rest of this item here.

Fred Thompson's Legacy Includes Giving the Kochs a Free Pass

Reverse mortgage pitchman and former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) passed away on November 1, 2015, at the age of 73, but his legacy of giving the Koch Brothers a pass on one of their first major forays into funneling money into mysterious groups to try to win elections continues unabated. Read the rest of this item here.

Charter School Black Hole: CMD Special Investigation Reveals Huge Info Gap on Charter Spending

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released a special report on its year-long investigation into charter schools spending in the United States. You can access the full report "Charter School Black Hole" here.

CMD found that the public does not have ready access to key information about how their federal and state taxes are being spent to fuel the charter school industry since charters began almost 25 years ago.

Indeed, no one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector. So CMD reviewed more than two decades of federal authorizations and appropriations to calculate the sum, which is now more than $3.7 billion—as noted in this new report. 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.

Americans for Prosperity

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Americans for Prosperity:

Americans for Prosperity is a right-wing political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the owners of Koch Industries.[1] In the 2012 election cycle, it was a key component of the Kochs' $400 million political network, receiving large portions of its money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. AFP's budget, which comes from the Koch family foundations and other unknown sources, surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010 to $115 million in 2012.[2]

2016 Elections

AFP reportedly plans to spend $225 million in the 2016 election cycle.[3]

AFP Spent Nearly $900,000 in Wisconsin in Support of Scott Walker

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Americans for Prosperity made $866,000 in ad buys boosting Governor Scott Walker's reelection campaign just as polls showed him tied with his opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, in late May 2014.[4] The ad never mentions Walker by name; however, the ad touts the budget policies of his administration.

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Americans for Prosperity here.


  1. Peter Overby, "Who's Raising Money For Tea Party Movement?," NPR, February 19, 2010.
  2. Eric Lipton, Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute, New York Times, February 21, 2011.
  3. Julie Bykowicz, "Democratic Senate candidate in Ohio already under fire in new ad by Koch group," Associated Press/U.S. News and World Report, August 18, 2015.
  4. Jason Stein, Conservative group runs ad touting Gov. Scott Walker's policies, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 27, 2014.

Editors' Pick

CMD Submits Evidence of Exxon Mobil Funding ALEC’s Climate Change Denial to NY Attorney General

The Center for Media and Democracy, a national watchdog group exposing corporate influence on democracy, has submitted evidence to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman showing how Exxon Mobil has promoted climate change denial through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). CMD believes this information is relevant to the landmark investigation into whether Exxon Mobil deceived its shareholders and the public about the impact that burning fossil fuels has on climate change.

CMD has identified at least $1,730,200 in funding from Exxon Mobil to ALEC between 1998 and 2014, based on publicly available disclosures, although the actual total is likely higher. CMD has documented Exxon funding for ALEC at least as early as 1981.

This funding makes Exxon Mobil one of ALEC's biggest financial supporters as ALEC has promoted legislation, resolutions, presentations, and publications seeking to stop efforts to address climate change, and has indoctrinated thousands of state legislators with the idea that "a great deal of scientific uncertainty" surrounds the science of climate change and that carbon emissions "may even be beneficial." Read the rest of this item here.

Climate Hustle: Marc Morano's Latest Climate Change Denial Stunt

Climate change denier Marc Morano of the fossil-fuel funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) will feature a new "documentary film" called "Climate Hustle" in his latest attempt to promote his destructive climate change denial agenda. The film is due to be shown to a public audience for the first time on December 7 at the Cinéma du Panthéon in Paris at the same time as the upcoming United Nations climate talks.

"While Climate Hustle claims to feature interviews with scientists, Morano fails to explain that these characters are not among the respected mainstream climate science community, but rather a collection of washed-up scientists with no expertise in climate science, or a biased view based on ideological or industry-funded bias," writes DeSmogBlog, which has created a new website "Climate Hustler" to expose the truth about the film and Morano's climate change denial. Go to the website here.

Statement of CMD on Political Corruption in Wisconsin

The Center for Media and Democracy, a national non-partisan media watchdog group that investigates the influence of corporations on democracy, issued the following statement about disturbing trends in its home state of Wisconsin:

"Wisconsin is poised to go from first in the nation to worst in the nation when it comes to policing political corruption," said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice under both Mr. John Ashcroft and Miss Janet Reno. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured Video

The Big Picture: On the Recent "Morning Joe" Koch Interview

The Big Picture RT, November 4, 2015
Thom Hartmann sits down with Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy to discuss the Koch brothers' recent interview with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe. Fischer focuses on the discrepancy between what the brothers stated positions are on climate change and money in politics, versus the causes that they fund in actuality.

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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