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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

Hotel Industry Spins Wage Hikes as Extreme while CEOs Rake in Millions

by Mary Bottari and Jody Knauss

200
Hotels are making a killing.

Occupancy rates are exceeding pre-recession highs, and are expected to reach record levels in 2016. Profits per room are up over 11 percent this April compared to April 2014 and the average daily rate for a room is almost 13 percent higher than it was a year ago. Executive salaries have skyrocketed.

But the little-known trade association representing this robust $163 billion dollar industry is a major force fighting behind the scenes on Capitol Hill and in statehouses and courtrooms across the country to keep workers wages low.

On Wednesday, April 15, the same day that hundreds of thousands of working people in over 200 cities are expected to participate in the largest-ever mobilization of underpaid workers, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) which represents the 1.8 million-employee U.S. lodging industry will join forces with the National Restaurant Association to ask Congress to block a federal minimum wage increase, shrink the number of workers eligible for employer-provided health care insurance, and challenge the National Labor Relations Board ruling protecting the rights of franchise workers.

Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker’s Supreme Court Coup

by Mary Bottari

200
Scott Walker unseated his sharpest opponent last night. But you won’t learn that from much of the media coverage.

The fact that Walker and his big money allies tricked Wisconsin voters into stripping Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of her title was not considered a story by the 100 or so national reporters now assigned to cover Walker’s run for the White House. And the fact that the GOP slipped the law change onto the ballot just as the John Doe criminal probe of Walker and his big money allies came before the court, was not worth mentioning in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Read the rest of this item here.


WMC Spends $600,000 to Demote Chief Justice as Criminal Probe of Walker Campaign Looms

by Mary Bottari

WMC-Crowned Capitol200px.jpg
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Wisconsin's premier lobby for corporate tax breaks and low wage jobs, has unleashed a $600,000 ad blitz to strip Wisconsin's independent Chief Justice of her title just as the court prepares to take up the "John Doe" criminal probe of Scott Walker and the special interest groups that defended him against recall in 2012.

WMC's spending in the recall campaigns is one of key issues in the case. The case will be be considered in secret without oral arguments by Wisconsin's Supreme Court whose conservative majority was elected by WMC.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Read the rest of this item here.


The ALEC-Backed War on Local Democracy

by Mary Bottari and by Brendan Fischer

200
After the town of Denton, Texas passed a ballot initiative banning fracking in November 2014, the oil and gas industry reacted with outrage and swiftly filed suit. Politicians in the state capitol responded with a fusillade of bills to preempt local authority over public health and safety and to subject local ballot initiatives to pre-approval by the state attorney general. There was even a bill to end local home rule altogether.

The tiny town of Denton was not alone. From New Jersey to Oregon, on topics as diverse as minimum wage, paid sick leave, community broadband, e-cigarettes, and GMOs, state politicians are stepping up their efforts to destroy a bedrock principle of U.S. governance--the right of municipal and county authorities to legally and appropriately enact and strengthen laws that reflect local needs and priorities.

Read the rest of this item here.


Pearson, ETS, Houghton Mifflin, and McGraw-Hill Lobby Big and Profit Bigger from School Tests

by Jonas Persson

200
School testing corporations have spent at least $20 million on lobbying along with wining and dining or even hiring policymakers in pursuit of big revenues from federal and state testing mandates under "No Child Left Behind" measures and the Common Core curriculum, according to a new analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

The expanded testing has fueled a testing boom worth nearly $2 billion annually, giving the main corporations getting the testing contracts a huge return on investment for their lobbying while generating a growing backlash from parents across the country.

Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC, NFIB Push Prevailing Wage Repeal

by Jody Knauss

200
As unions and working people battle "right-to-work" legislation in several states, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and allies have opened another flank in their war on good jobs. Targeted this time are state prevailing wage laws, which require public construction projects to support local wage standards instead of undercutting them. Studies have repeatedly found that prevailing wage laws do not harm taxpayers but are effective in providing something increasingly rare in regional labor markets, upward pressure on wages.

Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

BP Dumps ALEC; Tally at 102

by Mary Bottari

BP announced that it was cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial corporate bill mill. It is the third major fossil fuel company to sever ties with ALEC, after Occidental Petroleum in 2014. ExxonMobil remains on the ALEC private sector board.

BP (formerly known as "British Petroleum") is a global oil, gas, and chemical company headquartered in London. It is responsible for the largest environmental disaster ever in the United States: the April 20, 2010, blowout of its Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. BP still faces some $13.7 billion dollars in civil liability in the case.

Read the rest of this item here.


Voter ID Will Take Effect in Wisconsin--Here's What that Means

by Brendan Fischer

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to strike down Wisconsin's Republican-backed voter ID restriction, paving the way for the law to take effect in upcoming elections.

The ruling is regarded as a victory for Governor Scott Walker, who championed the law in Wisconsin and has boasted about the state's voting restrictions as he makes the case for a presidential run. Walker defended voter ID during the 2014 gubernatorial race, declaring that "it doesn't matter" if there is only one incident of voter fraud in each election, even though as many as 300,000 Wisconsinites don't have the forms of ID required under the law. Read the rest of this item here.


Walker Budget Sneaks Major Policy Changes Past Education Agency

by Jonas Persson

Scott Walker is traveling the country portraying himself as a straight shooter. "We said what we're gonna do, and we did it!" he told CPAC delegates in DC last month. But here in Wisconsin he has earned a reputation for governing by sneak attack and "bombshell," as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the governor's track record of springing major policy changes on the public, stakeholders, and even legislators.

Two years ago, Walker wielded his veto pen and struck a loophole from the the 2013-15 budget bill that could have inadvertently expanded the state's school voucher program. In last month's budget address, he instead announced that he would lift the cap entirely.

Read the rest of this item here.


Koch Brothers Should Return $157 Million in Government Subsidies

by Mary Bottari

The fossil fuel barons, Charles and David Koch, have long advocated for "economic freedom" and a smaller government. They have slammed "collectivism" and market distorting subsidies.

In 2012, Charles Koch decried corporate welfare and “crony capitalism” in the pages of the Wall Street Journal: “Far too many well-connected businesses are feeding at the federal trough. By addressing corporate welfare as well as other forms of welfare, we would add a whole new level of understanding to the notion of entitlement reform,” he wrote.

The Koch's “secret bank” Freedom Partners has spent hundreds of millions in elections in part to tackle “‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.”

Read the rest of this item here.


Senator Whitehouse Exposes ALEC Climate Change Denial

by Jamie Corey

This week, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), took to the Senate floor to call upon America to “wake up” to the damaging effects of climate change denial and the fossil fuel industry funding received by groups that promote it, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill mill that has been pushing a destructive agenda of climate change denial.

"ALEC is an organization, which works to undercut climate science and undermine climate progress at the state level, interfering in our state legislatures. ALEC has tried to roll back state renewable fuel standards and has handed out model state legislation to obstruct and tie up the President's Clean Power Plan," Whitehouse boldly stated on the Senate floor.

Read the rest of this item here.


Cookie-Cutter ALEC Right-to-Work Bills Pop in Multiple States

by Jody Knauss

This week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an anti-union right-to-work (RTW) bill into law. RTW laws require unions to provide the same representation and workplace services to all workers in a workplace but make contributing to the cost of that representation optional. They lead to smaller, weaker unions and lower worker wages and benefits.

The Center for Media and Democracy detailed the fact that the Wisconsin bill was taken almost word for word from the American Legislative Exchange Council "model" bill. (See CMD's side-by-side here.) And we reported on the Koch and Bradley Foundation funding behind the panoply of usual suspects that flew into the state to testify on behalf of the bill, including "experts" from the National Right to Work Committee, the Mackinac Center and the Heritage Foundation with assists from ALEC "scholar" Richard Vedder and State Policy Network "stink tanks" like the Wisconsin Public Research Institute. And let's not forget the $1 million in TV ads from the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group. Read the rest of this item here.


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Editors' Pick

Reporters Guide to the International Franchise Association

by PR Watch Admin

Image by Jenny Brown
and Labor Notes
Madison, WI—Backed by big corporate dollars from McDonald's and others, the International Franchise Association is using legal maneuvers and back room lobbying to try to undermine workers in the fast food industry.

A new resource, launched by the Center for Media and Democracy--publishers of SourceWatch.org, PRWatch.org and ALECexposed.org--provides little-known information about the IFA, its coalitions, and its front groups. Click here to see CMD's profile of the International Franchise Association and ten related pages in our Sourcewatch wiki.

The site is being launched as fast food workers in 200 cities and 35 countries go on strike for higher wages and better benefits.

Read the rest of this item here.


Reporters Guide to ALEC’s "Rich States, Poor States" Report

by PR Watch Admin

200
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is slated to roll out its annual "Rich States, Poor States" publication this week. The document, whose lead author is economist Arthur Laffer, is sold to the press as an objective, academic measure of state economic performance, but should instead be viewed as a lobbyist scorecard ranking states on the adoption of extreme ALEC policies that have little or nothing to do with good economic outcomes.

The ALEC entity that publishes the report, the Center for State Fiscal Reform, has received large grants from the Bradley Foundation, the Searle Foundation and the now-closed Claude M. Lambe Foundation, one of the Koch family foundations. These foundations are major funders of a national right-wing infrastructure that includes ALEC and the State Policy Network, 64 state-based think tanks that produce reports, talking points and more to advance ALEC’s agenda of tax breaks for corporations, steep budget cuts and attacks on unionized workers.

ALEC brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators to vote on "model" bills behind closed doors, which are then introduced by ALEC state legislators across the country. ALEC is almost entirely funded by industry, including Koch Industries, which has long served on the ALEC board, Altria (the former Phillip Morris) and Exxon Mobil. (See the full list of ALEC corporate members here.)

Read the rest of this item here.


CMD Issues Report on Latest Assault on Clean Election Laws

Five Years After Citizens United

A bipartisan effort to enforce Wisconsin’s longstanding laws governing coordination between campaigns and independent groups has been mislabeled a “partisan witch hunt” by a well-funded legal and media campaign, with the ultimate goal of undermining what remains of limits on big money in politics, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy.

“Anti-coordination laws have become more vital than ever before in the post-Citizens United world, where ‘independent’ political organizations are raising and spending unlimited funds for elections but keeping their donors a secret,” said Brendan Fischer, CMD General Counsel and the author of the report. “If a candidate can coordinate with these secretly-funded groups and establish shadow campaign committees, then the candidate contribution limits and disclosure requirements are rendered meaningless.”

And that, it seems, is precisely the goal.

Read the rest of this item here. Read the report here.


Follow the Money! Koch Wiki Resource

KochExposed.org200px.jpg
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.


Featured Video

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response




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Praise for SourceWatch!

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"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."
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"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.
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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."
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"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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