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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

Bernie Sanders Draws Biggest Crowd of 2016 Presidential Race

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
Image by Leslie Peterson
It’s official. Bernie Sanders achieved rockstar status when he packed Madison’s Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum last night. The Coliseum is Madison’s largest venue, usually reserved for the likes of Bruce Springsteen. The Associated Press reported that Sanders packed the house, with 10,000 boisterous supporters of all ages.

It was the largest political rally for any candidate in the 2016 run for the White House so far. Read the rest of this item here.

Divide-and-Conquer Walker Thinks Equal Pay Is Divisive

Scott Walker is taking heat for claiming that supporting equal pay for women "pit[s] one group of Americans versus another."

Here in Wisconsin, howls of laughter could be heard echoing through the marble walls of the state capitol: after all, this is a governor whose divisive approach has helped make his state one of the most bitterly polarized in the country.

Throughout Walker's political career, he has mastered the art of pitting one group against another. He has established a pattern of governing by sneak attack, or what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls "a record of dropping bombshells." And his tenure has left the state divided like never before.

Read the rest of this item here.

Feds Awarded Colorado Charter Schools $46 Million because of "Hiring and Firing" Rules

Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Colorado $46 million under the Charter Schools Program. Part of the reason the state landed the competitive grant was that charters are free to hire unlicensed teachers and then fire them at will, documents reviewed by CMD show.

Designed to create and expand “high-quality” charter schools, the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year program has been repeatedly criticized by the watchdogs at the department's Office of the Inspector General for suspected waste and poor financial controls.

Read the rest of this item here.

Walker's Wisconsin, a "Laboratory for Oligarchs"

Image by Light Brigading
Scott Walker's attacks on unions and family paying jobs in Wisconsin helped elevate his national profile and ingratiated him with deep-pocketed political donors like the Kochs. Can he take this agenda nationwide?

Last weekend's New York Times Magazine had a cover story by Wisconsin native Dan Kaufman called "Scott Walker and the Fate of the Union" that digs deep into Walker's anti-worker crusade. The piece touches on the struggle over Act 10, which lowered wages and took away the bargaining rights of 320,000 public-sector workers in 2011, and follows the story of ironworker Randy Bryce, who came to the Wisconsin capitol in 2015 to protest the "right to work" bill that would have a similar impact on 180,000 private-sector workers. Study after study has documented that misnamed "right to work" laws are associated with significantly lower wages for workers and undermine their skills and safety training. Walker promises more of the same in Wisconsin as the repeal of prevailing wage is being considered in the state legislature. Read the rest of this item here.

House Democrats Take the Moral High Ground on Trade

Image by Light Brigading
President Obama made a rare visit to Capitol Hill on Friday in a last-ditch effort to rescue his free trade agenda. He gave a short speech and took no questions, urging the House Democratic caucus to “play it straight,” swallow their doubts, and hand over their Constitutional authority to negotiate the terms of trade to him.

This was no small ask. With Fast Track trade authority, Obama would be able to jam controversial trade agreements, including the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), through Congress with little debate and no amendments.

Obama’s attempt to guilt House Democrats, after ignoring their concerns and working almost exclusively with Republicans for months, went over like a lead balloon. Democrats voted down a critical part of his trade package, stalling the Fast Track bill and three related trade agreements under negotiation. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Scott Walker’s Unprecedented Voucher Expansion

At a time when other states are reinvesting in public education, Wisconsin continues to slash and burn. The Wisconsin Budget Project says that the state is now spending $1,014 less per public school student than it did in 2008 and more funds are slated to be siphoned off as Governor Scott Walker's budget proposes an unprecedented voucher expansion, draining funds from public education and directing them to for-profit and religious schools.

In crafting the budget, Walker is taking his cues from the American Federation for Children (AFC), a major force for school privatization nationwide. It is funded and chaired by billionaire Betsy DeVos, and pushes its privatization agenda in the states with high-dollar lobbying and attack ads. Read the rest of this item here.

Charter Program Expansion Looms Despite Probes into Mismanagement and Closed Schools

As Congress stands poised to increase funding for the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year federal Charter Schools Program by a whopping 48 percent, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has uncovered that the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General has major nationwide probes underway into closed charter schools and suspected waste and financial mismanagement within the program.

The program is designed create and expand “high-quality” charter schools, but it has been repeatedly criticized by the watchdogs at the department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the past precisely because there is no way of knowing whether the money has gone to “high quality” schools.

With the vote looming in the U.S. Senate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act containing the provisions expanding the charter schools program, Department of Education officials have assured stakeholders that the problems with millions disappearing down black holes is a thing of the past.

Read the rest of this item here.

There Is No Budget Surplus in Wisconsin

When grilled by Jonathan Karl on ABC's "This Week" about why he had failed to meet his 2010 pledge to create 250,000 new jobs by almost half, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker changed the topic. "Look we fixed the budget from $3.6 billion in a hole to surpluses," he assured America. According to Walker, Wisconsin is in the black, unemployment is down, and all is well.

But talk to the folks struggling to address the state’s staggering budget deficit and you get a different story.

The facts are these: Walker does not have a surplus. He has a $2.2 billion deficit and a big problem. With his budget committee now caught up in a hot debate over how to fund the Bucks’ new arena and bankroll new road-building, Joint Finance is stuck, with no new meetings scheduled. The standoff could delay Walker’s much-anticipated announcement as a candidate for president. 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.

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on the Paid Sick Days:

Paid sick days enable workers to take a minimum number of paid days off from their employer to recover from a routine or short-term illness or care for a sick family member without risking being fired or losing pay. Laws providing for paid sick days have been enacted in four states and at least 18 cities in the United States as of June 22, 2015, most of them passed since 2012.[1]

Before recent wins, through which more than 9.5 million workers will newly have access to paid sick days,[2] about 43 million or one third of U.S. workers lacked access to paid sick days in 2014, concentrated in low-wage work and service industry jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[3][4] Close to eight in ten food service workers do not earn paid sick days.[5]

A coalition of corporate lobbying groups including the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which have long opposed paid sick days, recently started pushing preemption bills in many states.[6][7][8]

ALEC Origins of Paid Sick Day Preemption

Corporate-backed state interference laws known as preemption bills prohibiting paid sick days have passed at the state level in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Mississippi, and other states that would override or preempt (or, as one GOP operative put it, "deliver the kill shot" to)[9] local laws requiring paid sick days.

This paid sick day preemption effort can be traced back to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) first reported in 2013.[10]

Walker pushed Senate Bill 23 to override a Milwaukee ordinance providing for paid sick days in May of 2011.[11] This appears to have been the first paid sick days preemption bill passed in the country.

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Paid Sick Days here.


  1. Claire Cain Miller, "New Momentum on Paid Leave, in Business and Politics," The New York Times, June 22, 2015.
  2. Ellen Bravo, "Why the Momentum for Paid Sick Days?," Family Values At Work, November 6, 2015.
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employee Benefits in the United States--March 2014," government publication, March 2014.
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Paid Sick Leave in the United States," governmental publication, March 2010, accessed February 16, 2015.
  5. Kathryn Vasel, "Who doesn't get paid sick leave?," CNN, January 20, 2015.
  6. "Coughing Cooks Stay Home as U.S. Cities Require Paid Sick Leave," Bloomberg News, March 22, 2013.
  7. Joshua Holland, "Oklahoma Provides a Win for ALEC’s 50-State Campaign Against Democracy," Moyers & Company, April 18, 2014.
  8. National Restaurant Association, "Cities and states debate paid sick leave," press release, June 25, 2013.
  9. David Damron, "Latest release of sick-time records lacks crucial texts," Orlando Sentinel, January 2, 2013.
  10. Brendan Fischer, "Efforts to Deliver 'Kill Shot' to Paid Sick Leave Tied to ALEC," Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, April 3, 2013.
  11. Wisconsin State Legislature, Act 16, state law, accessed February 16, 2015.

Editors' Pick 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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