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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

Featured Work

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

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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.

Some pundits have attempted to disparage the film, even though it has several scenes that portray Thomas and his wife Ginny as quiet, sympathetic figures and not as the outspoken right-wing political activists that they were and are.

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.

DCI Group Subpoenaed in Expanding Exxon Climate Denial Investigation

Image: Adbar, CC BY-SA 3.0
DCI Group, a Washington DC public relations and lobbying firm, is the latest group subpoenaed in an expanding investigation by state attorneys general into the funding of climate change denial by ExxonMobil, according to court filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

ExxonMobil has now received separate subpoenas from both the New York and U.S. Virgin Islands U.S. Attorneys' Offices. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and DCI Group have also been subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands for records relating to their role in helping ExxonMobil with climate change denial. Read the rest of this item here.

Kochs' Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, Shell out to Rescue Ron Johnson

Senator Ron Johnson
Image: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, is scrambling to hold off Democratic challenger Russ Feingold in a race that will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. But for all his claims to "outsider" status, incumbent Johnson's campaign is being driven by millions in outside spending by industry front groups, national Republican PACs and right-wing dark money groups, including the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity.

With an empty seat at the U.S. Supreme Court and public pressure mounting to overturn the Court's Citizens United decision, which open the door to unlimited spending by nominally "independent" Super PACs and dark money nonprofits, the stakes could not be higher for the Kochs and their cronies who have worked for decades to undermine disclosure rules and limits on political spending. Read the rest of this item here.

The Dark Money Is on a Contested Convention and Paul Ryan

WI Speaker Paul Ryan
Image: Tony Alter, CC BY 2.0
With Donald Trump on the news every day declaring that the "rules are rigged" and speculation rampant that the GOP may see a contested convention, the Wisconsin GOP can be forgiven for getting all starry-eyed about the possibility that native son Speaker Paul Ryan might throw his hat into the ring.

After all Ryan is working on his own "parallel platform," says the New York Times; he is fundraising with major GOP donors, he is releasing videos that look a heck of a lot like campaign ads.

But Ryan dashed the hopes of many when he held a press conference at the RNC to declare: "Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination." Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC "Right to Work" Law Tossed Out in Wisconsin

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Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Faust struck down the state's private-sector "right-to-work" law late today.

In February 2015, Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature pushed through a private-sector right-to-work bill over the objections of thousands of workers and 450 Wisconsin construction firms who rallied against the bill. Workers in right to work states have significantly lower wages and fewer benefits. The battle over "right to work" and the future of Wisconsin's workforce was the subject of a New York Times magazine cover story. Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC Touted "Transparency" in Pushing for the Panama Free Trade Agreement

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An unprecedented leak of millions of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed how some of the world's most powerful figures hide their wealth from taxation and public scrutiny. But it also exposes the bankruptcy of the promises of transparency and better governance that helped corporate interest groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sell the American public on "free trade" with Panama.

The "Panama Papers" document how members of the global elite from Russian President Vladimir Putin, to multiple members of China's Politburo, to a FIFA ethics committee member have secreted billions of dollars—much of it likely acquired through corruption and questionable financial schemes. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

The Kochs Make News in Wisconsin as Voters Threaten to Turn Races Upside Down

On primary day in Wisconsin the voters were predicted to turn the political establishment upside down.

According to a Marquette University poll, Wisconsin voters were backing candidates who are not frontrunners in both parties—highly unusual behavior in Wisconsin. Read the rest of this item here.

WAR on Voters: Big Money Streams into WI Supreme Court Race with No Disclosure

Once again, the biggest spender in Wisconsin's Supreme Court race isn't one of the candidates. It's a little-know dark money group, which is keeping its funders secret from Wisconsinites. Plus, thanks to a recent law change, the supposedly "independent" group is now allowed to coordinate directly with its favored candidate without disclosing that coordination to the public.

The secret money group, Wisconsin Alliance for Reform (WAR), was registered by Lorri Pickens, a Koch network operative with ties to the largest-ever campaign finance violation in Wisconsin history. Read the rest of this item here.

Flint Is a Casualty in the Right Wing's War on Local Democracy

Chris Horner, a DC-based lawyer, climate change denier and Fox News regular, is also being paid as a "Regulatory Counsel" for the coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, according to bankruptcy filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Horner’s repeated filing of lawsuits against leading U.S. climate scientists has been described as "harassment." Read the rest of this item here.

Easter Rebellion: Three States Give Bernie Sanders Landslide Victories

The Sanders campaign came to Madison, Wisconsin with a wind at its back. Sanders swept Alaska, Washington State and Hawaii with huge margins, even though the political establishment in those states overwhelmingly supported his primary opponent Hillary Clinton. Call it an Easter Rebellion of sorts.

"We knew things were going to improve as we headed West," Sanders told a crowd topping 8,000 at the Madison Expo Center. Read the rest of this item here.

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."

Editors' Pick

CMD Exclusive: Why I Chose to Get Arrested in Defense of Our Democracy

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On April 18, I joined hundreds of fellow citizens who were arrested as part of a non-violent act of civil disobedience on the steps of our U.S. Capitol.

I stood with people of all ages and all walks of life as part of a growing movement to reclaim an America that guarantees the unimpeded right to vote for all and a government that works for the people instead of the powerful plutocrats.

I was there as someone who has worked for Clean Elections and ethical government for 20 years, and on behalf of my colleagues at the Center for Media and Democracy. Read the rest of this item here.

Colorado’s Not So Independent Oversight of Charter Schools

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A new review of documents provided to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch from the state of Colorado shows close relationships between the agency charged with administering public education and the growing charter school industry.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education approved a Charter School Program-State Education Agency (CSP-SEA) grant to the state of Colorado for $36,359,999. The federal government previously awarded the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) $45,982,596 in 2010.

The new grant approved in September 2015 is for a shorter period and thus amounts to increased federal funding for Colorado charters.

This increase comes at a time when traditional public schools are facing many budget challenges—due in part to continuing problems caused by the "TABOR" law, a controversial budget law peddled by the ALEC.

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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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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