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Featured Work

Kochs' Grassroots Leadership Academy Training Astroturf Army

David Koch
Image: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
With no clear favorite in the 2016 U.S. presidential primary race--following Gov. Scott Walker's early exit and Trump's march toward the nomination--the Koch brothers have turned their attention (and opened their wallets) to races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state governorships.

But with the Kochs having already spent at least $400 million of $889 million committed to the 2016 election cycle, according to news reports, where is that money being spent?

An under-covered arm of the Koch political operations is a likely recipient of some of that cash and it's called Americans for Prosperity's "Grassroots Leadership Academy." Read the rest of this item here.


Is the EPA Being Pressured on Atrazine?

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The Environmental Protection Agency released a very troubling preliminary risk assessment that the routine use of the chemical atrazine is likely harming animals and our ecosystems.

Atrazine is manufactured and distributed by Syngenta, a foreign global chemical company, that markets the product in the U.S. to limit plants that may compete with commodity crops or would be considered weeds on golf courses.

The EPA memo that was released was hand-signed by six scientists in the U.S. government's Environmental Risk Branch of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division. The 500+ page study was subject to peer review by twelve other scientists. Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC Appoints New Chair To Climate Denial Task Force

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has named a new corporate chair for its task force that works to oppose action to tackle climate change: Jennifer Jura of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

NRECA is a powerful trade association that represents more than 900 independent electric utilities. Its annual spending lobbying Congress regularly exceeds $2 million each year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This has included lobbying in support of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. It's Political Action Committee gives nearly $3 million per electoral cycle, with the majority going to Republicans. Read the rest of this item here.


ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals

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On December 23, ED publicly issued a statement called "A Commitment to Transparency: Learning More about the Charter School Program."

That statement noted that it had spent more than $1.6 billion funding more than 2,600 charter schools that were "operational" in the last full school year and that it had funded 430 charters that had "subsequently closed," along with 699 "prospective schools."

However, ED released data for only the operational charter schools and did not list the 1,129 charters that either closed or had not yet opened since 2006. So, in January, CMD requested records about those other charters.

In April, ED denied CMD's request saying it had searched and found no records about the closed or not-opened charters that had received federal taxpayer monies, despite the specific numbers it used in its release. Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC's 2016 Agenda Moving in the States: A Snapshot

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In states across the country, concerned citizens are asking state and local policymakers to raise the minimum wage, enact workplace reforms including earned sick days and the right to organize, stop the privatization of public schools, and help mitigate climate change. Opposition to these initiatives is fierce and growing and often nationally-driven and coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Working in tandem with deep-pocketed corporations, trade associations, conservative groups and mega-donors--including operatives of the Koch brothers--ALEC is driving an agenda you should know about. As legislators and lobbyists fly to Pittsburgh for ALEC's Spring Task Force Summit May 6, the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org, has the lowdown on ALEC bills moving in states this year. Read the rest of this item here.

U.S. Chamber Works Behind the Scenes to Gut Whistleblower Protections

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Efforts to gut the federal False Claims Act backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce got a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday. The federal push builds on previous back-door Chamber efforts through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to discourage states from pursuing fraud claims.

The False Claims Act (FCA) allows the government to recover from businesses that defraud government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and protects whistleblowers who report suspected fraud on government contracts. According to the Department of Justice, cases brought under the FCA resulted in the recovery of $42 billion from 1987-2013, making it an important legal tool for deterring fraud and protecting public funds. Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

A Reality Check for "Charter School Week"

One could be forgiven for thinking "National Charter School Week" already happened.

For education observers in the U.S., every week seems like Charter School Week. As billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, the Koch brothers, and others put millions of dollars per year into a "reform" movement that undermines and supplants truly public education, the government diverts more and more of taxpayer money to charters and other variations of "choice." Read the rest of this item here.


KIPP's Efforts to Keep the Public in the Dark while Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies

Charter schools are big business, even when they are run by "non-profits" that pay no taxes on the revenue they receive from public taxes or other sources.

Take KIPP, which describes itself as a "national network of public schools." Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC Spring Task Force Summit Agenda in Pittsburgh 2016

Ironies abound in the 2016 agenda for the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators at luxury hotels to vote side-by-side on "model bills" that then pop up in states across the country. Read the rest of this item here.


Wisconsin Prosecutors Appeal the Walker John Doe to the United States Supreme Court

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down the Scott Walker John Doe case in July 2015, with an unprecedented order blowing up Wisconsin campaign finance law, firing the Republican Special Prosecutor and ordering the destruction of all evidence, Wisconsin prosecutors had only one appeal--to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read the rest of this item here.


Confirmation: the Not-So Independent Women's Forum Was Born in Defense of Clarence Thomas and the Far Right

HBO's new film on demand, "Confirmation," revisits the painful battle over the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in spite of the testimony of Anita Hill that he sexually harassed her.

One of the harshest critics of the film is a group that calls itself the "Independent Women's Forum" (IWF).

IWF is hardly independent though, despite its name. Read the rest of this item here.


Exposed by CMD

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Local Influence in Two Maps

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In March of 2016, the Center for Media and Democracy exposed how a GOP polling firm is working with state chambers of commerce to defeat workplace reforms like increasing the minimum wage and paid sick leave, despite their own polling that shows that large majorities of state chamber members and CEOs are supportive of such measures.

That webinar was hosted by the Council of State Chambers (COSC), a little-known trade association deeply embedded in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce infrastructure that provides ostensibly-autonomous state chambers of commerce with U.S. Chamber policy directives.

So how far does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s policy network extend? Read the rest of this item here.


Koch Candidates? Where Is the Koch Machine Spending in 2016 So Far

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Recent articles in the national media, such as the piece in the National Review, suggest that Charles and David Koch are less interested and less involved in national politics in the 2016 election cycle than in previous years.

This latest PR effort comes despite the fact that $400 million of the $889 pledge by the Kochs through their "Freedom Partners" network has already been invested in the outcome of the 2016 elections, with more money to be spent. 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.

Excerpts from longer SourceWatch article:

Republican State Leadership Committee

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The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is a 527 group which surged onto the political scene in 2010 in an effort to elect right-wing politicians to state offices under the direction of former George W. Bush advisor Ed Gillespie, who is closely tied to Karl Rove. RSLC was a leader in 2010 redistricting efforts favorable to Republicans and received a massive infusion of cash from Rove's American Crossroads group. Politico has described RSLC as "one of the most influential outside players on the right."[1]

2015-2016 Election Cycle

As of March 2016, RSLC had received about $6 million in contributions and spent nearly $3 million during the 2016 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.[2]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the Republican State Leadership Committee here.

References

  1. Alexander Burns, "Exclusive: Powerhouse GOP group snared in money scheme," Politico, August 4, 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.
  2. Center for Responsive Politics, "Republican State Leadership Cmte", spending profile, Open Secrets database. Accessed March 28, 2016.


Editors' Pick

Hi-Tech Hyper-Partisan Gerrymandering on Trial in Wisconsin

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A case that advocates hope could go up to the U.S. Supreme Court and set a new standard against partisan gerrymandering is being heard in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin this week.

A group of Democratic Wisconsin voters are suing the State of Wisconsin, arguing that the legislative district maps drawn by GOP politicians in 2011 are so skewed and long-lasting that their voting rights were violated.

University of Chicago Law School Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulous charged that Wisconsin’s Republican party engaged in the "worst gerrymander of modern American history" in opening arguments today. Stephanopoulous asked the three judge federal panel to "intervene to safeguard the democratic process." Read the rest of this item here.


Voter Suppression Measures on Trial in Walker's Wisconsin

WI Governor Scott Walker
Image: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 4.0
The second day of a trial over a raft of measures implemented by Wisconsin's GOP to restrict voting rights in the state commenced Tuesday in Madison in federal court with the testimony of Dr. Barry C. Burden, UW-Madison Professor of Political Science and Director of the Elections Research Center. The case is being heard by U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson and is expected to last nine days.

Prof. Burden, an expert on American electoral politics and representation, was asked many questions on a report he wrote on the impact of the multiple changes on voting in Wisconsin. The report was completed in December of 2015, so data of the recent 2016 primary was not included. Read the rest of this item here.


Featured Video

Arizona's NBC 12 and CMD Expose ALEC's Corporate Influence on State Laws

Sunday Square Off, December 9, 2015
Phoenix Arizona's NBC affiliate KPNX hosted the Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves on the December 6 episode of "Sunday Square Off" to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) effort to push corporate backed model legislation in state legislatures.


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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.



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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.

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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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