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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

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Featured Work

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

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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.


ALEC Conference Funding Dominated by Big Polluters

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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.

At ALEC conferences and meetings, rhetoric against the EPA--and in particular the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution--is frequently extreme.

Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC Admits School Vouchers Are for Kids in Suburbia

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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

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Last week, 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.

It was at ACCE's last meeting, held in Washington D.C. in December, where an ALEC task force director claimed that "the biggest threat comes from the local level" when it comes to grassroots efforts to raise the wage and enact paid sick days, and warned that "we are seeing a number of localities that have increased their minimum wage." Read the rest of this item here.


Hot Topics at ALEC's 2015 Meeting in San Diego

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This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," will bring 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, will address this month's 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 over its role in promoting climate change denial, yet after the 2014 elections gave Republicans control of 68 out of 98 state legislative bodies, some states have had few impediments to the corporate-friendly legislation that ALEC peddles. For example, in just the first half of 2015, Wisconsin became a "right to work" state and repealed the prevailing wage; Michigan blocked local control over minimum wage and paid sick days; and Texas banned cities from regulating fracking. Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Five Things to Know About the Scott Walker John Doe Ruling

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has single-handedly rewritten the state’s limits on money in politics, rendering the state’s disclosure laws and contribution limits meaningless, and opening the door to unlimited funds directly from corporations and foreign firms.

In a 4-2 decision that broke along ideological lines, the Court's conservative majority ended the John Doe probe into whether Governor Scott Walker illegally coordinated with supposedly "independent" dark money groups during the recall elections. The Court declared that any coordination that did occur didn't violate the law, since it only involved so-called "issue ads" that stopped short of expressly saying "vote for" or "vote against" a candidate.

Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker, Ready to Vindicate America

With Rascal Flatts' cover of "Life is a Highway" blasting through the speakers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took to the stage at the Waukesha Expo center to the cheers of thousands of enthusiastic followers. Walker is hoping that faith, family, and his history of a "David and Goliath" battle with unions will pave his way to the White House.

It was hot in the parking lot as thousands waited in line to get into the Expo Center.

The Center for Media and Democracy spoke to a passel of Congressional interns who had come in from Illinois. Read the rest of this item here.


Congress Considers Expanding Charter Program Despite Millions Wasted on Closed Schools

UPDATE July 15th -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) invoked cloture on the ESEA bill, which contains provisions to expand the Charter Schools Program, and the final vote will be held. McConnell's move to bring matters to a close came as a surprise to the authors of the bill who had expected a more robust debate, and, as EdWeek reports, "especially squeezes Democrats who are still working on proposals to beef up accountability."

Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker Begins His 2016 Run for the White House

Scott Walker announced for president July 13. After standing for 25 primary and general elections in 25 years, Walker has now set his eyes on the White House. As he officially hits the campaign trail this week, he will tout himself as a “fresh face” and a bold reformer, a man who took on the big unions and revitalized Wisconsin’s economy, a straight shooter who says what he is going to do then does it.

From our bird’s eye view on the Wisconsin Capitol, we think all these claims deserve close scrutiny.

Read the rest of this item here.

Featured SourceWatch Article

SourceWatch.org 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:

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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.

References

  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

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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.


WageCrushers.org Tracks the Groups against Family-Supporting Jobs

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The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched WageCrushers.org, 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.

WageCrushers.org 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!

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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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