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Welcome to SourceWatch!

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes this wiki, SourceWatch.

Please check out our sister sites, PRWatch and ALECexposed, to read our original reporting and see our award-winning investigations.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director

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Featured Work

Edelman Makes a Climate Change Pledge, But Forgets About ALEC

by Nick Surgey

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Edelman, the world's largest PR company, synonymous with astroturf-style front groups and dirty tricks, has announced that it will no longer work for groups that deny climate change. The PR firm represents many of the world's most polluting companies, and numerous front groups for polluters, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has so far refused to say whether it will be continuing to work for ALEC, despite that group’s high-profile work to block action on climate change.

The announcement from Edelman came following a survey of PR firms by the Climate Investigations Center, run by former Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies, and the Guardian. Firms were asked about their work with climate denial groups and most pledged to avoid such clients. Edelman mishandled its initial response, accidentally copying Davies in on an internal email saying no response was necessary, then followed that up by stonewalling the newspaper, telling the Guardian that Edelman "takes on clients on a case-by-case basis." This eventually led to the firing of the head of Edelman U.S., Mark Hass.

Read the rest of this item here.


DOJ: Due to 9/11 Moms and Kids Are National Security Threat

by Brendan Fischer

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Migrant mothers and their young children detained at the border are being denied an opportunity to be released on bond, because of 9/11.

Department of Justice prosectors are citing a 2003 ruling from former Attorney General John Ashcroft to deny bond to undocumented immigrant mothers and children -- many of whom have valid asylum claims -- held at a remote detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico that advocates say is ill-equipped to care for children.

In that 2003 ruling, titled "Matter of D-J," Ashcroft cited national security concerns in reversing a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision granting bond to a Haitian immigrant. George W. Bush's Attorney General wrote that releasing the immigrant on bond could encourage additional migration, and that “in light of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there is increased necessity in preventing undocumented aliens from entering the country without the screening of the immigration inspections process.”

Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC Annual Conference: New Bills, New Spin-Offs, Same Corporate Backers

by Jessica Mason

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The American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," met in Dallas on July 30 for its annual meeting. ALEC brings together state legislators and corporate lobbyists to vote on "model" legislation behind closed doors, before those bills are introduced in state houses across the country, stripped of their ALEC origins. As the Kansas City Star has noted, what happens at ALEC meetings "provides a preview for the next state sessions" in legislatures around the country.

What was on tap at ALEC this year? New bad bills, dirty energy, a new lobby shop, and the launch of a spin-off group targeting local governments.

Read the rest of this item here.


Decision Halting Walker Criminal Probe "Completely Unmoored"

by Brendan Fischer

Judge Rudolph Randa
A slew of election law experts and Wisconsin's elections board have filed briefs with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sharply critiquing federal Judge Rudolph Randa’s decision halting Wisconsin's criminal campaign finance probe, describing the ruling as “erroneous,” and as “completely unmoored" from U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

On May 6, Judge Randa -- a George Bush appointee who is on the board of advisors to the Milwaukee Federalist Society -- halted the "John Doe" investigation into alleged illegal coordination between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and outside political groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) during the 2011-2012 recall elections. WiCFG spent $9.1 million during the recalls on electoral “issue ads” that stopped short of expressly telling viewers how to vote, and funneled millions more to other groups that also ran issue ads.

Read the rest of this item here.


How ALEC Fronts for Fossil Fuels

by Nick Surgey

image by Richard Borge
Even as the Environmental Protection Agency finally attempts to limit carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants, it is meeting resistance at the state level, thanks to a secretive campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

This reporter has obtained a number of internal documents from ALEC that provide a rare glimpse into how this corporate-funded lobbying group is attempting to derail the draft federal pollution standards.

ALEC is funded by many of the largest fossil fuel and utility companies in the United States, the very companies that have played such a destructive role with our environment. Read the rest of this item here.


Tax dodger Running for Governor in Illinois

by Ruth Coniff

frameNY Gov. Chris Christie and Bruce Rauner
If you are not in the Chicago media market, you might not know much about Bruce Rauner, the Mitt Romney-like candidate for governor in Illinois, who is running ahead in the polls against Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

If Rauner wins, Illinois will have a lot more in common with its neighbor, Wisconsin. Politically, Rauner resembles union-basher and school privatizer Scott Walker. Only Rauner is much, much richer.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, Rauner talked about his career at GTCR, the Chicago-based private equity firm he founded.

“I made a ton of money, made a lot of money,” he told Sun Times reporter Natasha Korecki. Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Winning with People Power, KXL and Beyond

by Guest Contributor: Dave Saldana, Keystone PipeLIES Exposed

Even as the Environmental Protection Agency finally attempts to limit carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants, it is meeting resistance at the state level, thanks to a secretive campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

This reporter has obtained a number of internal documents from ALEC that provide a rare glimpse into how this corporate-funded lobbying group is attempting to derail the draft federal pollution standards.

ALEC is funded by many of the largest fossil fuel and utility companies in the United States, the very companies that have played such a destructive role with our environment. Read the rest of this item here.


Republican Hijinks Defeats Dark Money in Milwaukee Sheriff Race

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

Sheriff David Clarke effectively won his reelection for Milwaukee County Sheriff yesterday, holding back a challenge in the Democratic primary with what appears to be a great deal of help from Republicans.

The race between Clarke, a favorite of the Tea Party and conservative talk show hosts, survived a primary challenge from Chris Moews, a city of Milwaukee police officer, in a race that saw a dramatic influx of phony “issue ad” spending in the final weeks. No Republicans are on the ballot for the general election, so Clarke's victory Tuesday almost guarantees that he will keep his position.

Read the rest of this item here.


Koch-Backed Small Business Front Group Added to ALEC Board

by Brendan Fischer

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a big business-funded group that claims to be the "nation's leading small business association," has joined the corporate board of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC." It marks perhaps the final step towards the NFIB abandoning any pretense of being a nonpartisan representative of small business owners.

The NFIB has long been an ALEC member, and this week joined the ALEC corporate governing board, which meets jointly with the ALEC legislative board and helps set the agenda and fundraise for the organization.

The announcement of the NFIB's board membership came the same day The New York Times revealed that the the health insurance lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), laundered $1.6 million through the NFIB's dark money advocacy arm in 2012 to attack Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas. This is on top of the $850,000 that the insurance group gave to NFIB the year before.

Read the rest of this item here.


Coal and Oil Polluters Dominate ALEC Conference

by Nick Surgey and Connor Gibson of Greenpeace

Who's pulling the strings at the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) conference in Dallas, Texas, this week?

According to material obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Greenpeace, Big Oil and King Coal are heavily represented at ALEC's 41st Annual Meeting. In ALEC task forces, lobbyists vote as equals with state legislators from across the U.S. on industry-friendly legislation, much of which has devastating impacts on our environment, and corporations underwrite parties and trainings where their lobbyists get unparalleled access to lawmakers from almost every state.

One-third of the official ALEC conference sponsors are dirty energy companies, their trade associations, and their political front groups.

The sessions on the ALEC agenda reflect the financial interests of these sponsors.

Read the rest of this item here.


Some ALEC Funders Flee, but Koch, Big Tobacco, and PhRMA Remain Loyalists

by Rebekah Wilce

At least 72 corporate funders have cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the wake of the scandal over its pushing "Stand Your Ground" bills and restrictive voter ID laws that make it harder for Americans to vote. Newly obtained documents indicate, however, that certain long-term ALEC funders such as Koch and the tobacco industry remain committed to ALEC as a tool to advance their legislative agendas.

The new documents show some of the major high-dollar donors to ALEC between 1995 and 2010, although the records are not complete.

Read the rest of this item here.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court Is Not Conservative

by Brendan Fischer

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decisions upholding Governor Scott Walker’s signature voter ID legislation depended on the votes of the four justices often described as “conservative.”

But the decisions were anything but conservative -- instead, they ran counter to conservative principles like federalism and judicial restraint.

The court’s two voter ID rulings – issued on the same day, in response to two separate challenges from the League of Women Voters and the NAACP -- reversed lower court decisions that had blocked the law as violative of the Wisconsin Constitution’s express protections for voting rights.

Typically, conservatives espouse a view that states possess authority independent of the federal branches of government, and that sources of state law reign supreme.

Read the rest of this item here.


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Editors' Pick

Walmart’s Spin on Workers and Manufacturing Exposed

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In response to the increasing media interest around the business practices of America's largest employer and retailer, the Center for Media and Democracy is launching a new web resource on Walmart that fact checks the company’s advertisements and statements. Using the model of AlecExposed.org, Walmart’s profile in SourceWatch details Walmart’s employee pay and policies, its PR on veterans, its lobbying and political contributions, environmental impact and its spin on domestic sourcing. The site also includes a section analyzing the impact that the company’s business practices on shoppers.

“Walmart likes to say it is committed to supporting families, communities, and our economy, but the facts often tell a different story,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director at the Center for Media and Democracy. “This new resource gives reporters and consumers the information they need to understand the true nature of Walmart’s business practices and the effect the company’s decisions have on U.S. manufacturing, workers, and other aspects of our economy.”

This new resource is being launched shortly before a manufacturing summit hosted by Walmart in Denver. The website includes information highlighting the company’s role in off-shoring and raises important questions about the company’s current manufacturing commitment.

Read the rest of this item here.
Visit the Walmart SourceWatch page for more!


Follow the Money! Wiki Resource

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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:

The Kochs' Anti-Civil Rights Roots: New Docs Expose Charles Koch's Ties to John Birch Society

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

Watch the Video!

Watch Lisa Graves talk about her new article, "The Koch Cartel: Their Reach, Their Reactionary Agenda and Their Record."

Read the article here.


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Go to FightingBobFest.org for more info!


Featured Video

The National Restaurant Association: Hard to Stomach

McDonald's, Olive Garden and Burger King are just some of the corporations ruining our economy with poverty wages and business practices that make employees go hungry and make customers sick. They belong to one of the most powerful lobbies in the country: the National Restaurant Association.


Take Action!

Tell Congress: Reject the NRA’s Wage-Crushing Agenda!

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The National Restaurant Association, the “Other NRA,” represents giant fast food chains like McDonald’s, Darden, and Taco Bell. NRA is a member of ALEC and a leader in the effort to stop minimum wage increases and paid sick leave ordinances.

Click here to tell Congress you can't stomach
what the NRA is dishing out!


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Praise for SourceWatch!

Here's what they're saying about SourceWatch:


"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

"A truly impressive project based on cutting edge web technology."
David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

"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.

"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 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.

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Disclaimer: SourceWatch is part of the Center for Media and Democracy—email the publisher of SourceWatch, CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via lisa AT prwatch.org. You can also contact our Editor, Friday Thorn, via friday_thorn AT prwatch.org.

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