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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

Coal and Oil Polluters Dominate ALEC Conference

by Nick Surgey and Connor Gibson of Greenpeace

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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

Hilton Anatole
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.


ALEC Offshoot Takes Aim at Local Government

by Brendan Fischer

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After forty years of pushing corporate-friendly policy in state legislatures, this week the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is launching its new project aimed at doing the same at the local level.

The director of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), Jon Russell, has been described as a "divisive" local government official, better known for pushing a national anti-immigrant agenda than for serving local interests and his constituents. ACCE's first meeting will coincide with ALEC's Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas this week.

Read the rest of this item here.


by Brendan Fischer

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On July 11, Elizabeth Taff was sick, vomiting -- and preparing sandwiches at Subway.

Taff asked to go home. Her supervisor refused, unless Taff found someone to cover her shift. He advised her to “just switch shirts” to hide the puke stains.

"I was touching everybody’s sandwiches," Taff said later.

"I’m like, ‘This ain’t right.’

Taff did not have access to paid sick days, so couldn’t leave work without losing pay or her job. And even though Taff worked through her illness on that day, she was fired after an ambulance took her to the hospital. Read the rest of this item here.


Utility Trade Group Funds ALEC Attack on Americans Using Solar

by Nick Surgey

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As the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meets in Dallas this week, the Center for Media and Democracy has uncovered new evidence that Edison Electric Institute (EEI) -- the trade association for the U.S. utility industry -- has been funding ALEC's legislative assault on solar energy.

Although ALEC recently proclaimed that it was being falsely portrayed as "anti-clean energy," these latest revelations confirm that ALEC continues to pursue a polluters' wish list, despite its PR pronouncements.

As documented by Suzanne Goldenberg and Ed Pilkington in The Guardian late last year, ALEC has been peddling legislation designed to increase costs for Americans who have invested in solar panels for their homes and businesses, which ALEC's rep attempted to label as "freeriders." Through ALEC's bill and campaign, the group has been pushing changes to state laws that would increase costs for homeowners with solar who sell excess energy back to the grid, known as "net metering."

Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC's Jeffersonian Project Pushes to Amend Constitution

by Jessica Mason

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The United States could be on the verge of calling its first constitutional convention since 1787, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," has been working behind the scenes to make it happen, including through its new lobbying arm, the Jeffersonian Project.

ALEC is urging state legislators to pass state resolutions calling for a constitutional convention in order to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

The campaign has attracted little media attention, but the pieces of legislation that could trigger a convention are moving forward much more quickly than many have anticipated. Although there are many unanswered legal questions about the constitutional convention strategy -- and fears on both the right and left of an out-of-control "runaway convention" -- if a balanced budget amendment were eventually enacted, it would cripple the federal government's ability to spend, likely forcing steep cuts in earned benefit programs such as Social Security and blocking Congress from responding to economic downturns or natural disasters.

Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Shocker! Koch Youth Group Backs Koch Politician Signing Koch-Approved ALEC Bill

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

Generation Opportunity (Gen Opp), a "nonpartisan" youth group funded by the Koch brothers "Freedom Partners" conduit, is backing one of the Koch's favorite politicians and thanking him for his support for a Koch-approved ALEC model bill.

The Arlington, Virginia, astroturf group recently asked Wisconsinites to sign a petition thanking Governor Scott Walker for signing "The CASE for Jobs Act." The tweets signal that the group is trying to capture names in Wisconsin perhaps for use in the election cycle. As CMD previously reported, the group has been spending big money in federal races for the U.S. Senate.

The tweets from @GenOppWI went viral on Twitter, but not for the reasons the group would have hoped. Rather, Wisconsinites reacted viscerally to the call to thank Wisconsin's governor for making progress on jobs. Read the rest of this item here.


WI GOP Endorses Basis for Walker Criminal Probe

by Brendan Fischer

For months, supporters of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have insisted the John Doe criminal probe into his 2012 campaign is "baseless," because the alleged coordination under investigation did not involve ads that expressly told viewers to elect Walker or vote against his opponent. As long as an ad doesn't include such express advocacy, Walker and his allies have claimed, it is beyond the reach of Wisconsin campaign finance law.

The Wisconsin Republican Party has just taken the opposite position.

Read the rest of this item here.


Kochs and Corps Have Bankrolled American Council on Science and Health

by Rebekah Wilce

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) poses as an independent science-based organization devoted to outing "junk science," but consumer advocates have called it "a consumer front organization for its business backers" that "glove[s] the hand that feeds it."

The majority of ACSH's funds have come from corporations and major foundations, but a new review of its funding sources by The Progressive Inc.'s Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals that some of the hands that feed the group that bashes people concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemicals used in factory farming, for example, are those of the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, through the Koch family fortune. Koch Industries profits from petroleum products like ammonia fertilizers and other agribusiness-related operations.

Read the rest of this item here.


Koch Political Universe Vaster than Previously Known

by Brendan Fischer and Nick Surgey

Newly-obtained documents show that the billionaire Koch brothers' political giving is much more expansive than has previously been known.

In addition to the hundreds of millions flowing into politics by way of the Kochs' network of foundations and funding vehicles like Freedom Partners, David Koch writes millions of dollars in personal checks to political organizations every year, and funds from the Koch Industries corporate treasury are used to bankroll the right-wing infrastructure the Kochs have developed. Koch Industries, the company David runs with his brother Charles, is the second-largest privately-held company in the country.

Read the rest of this item here.


Water Rights March in Detroit

by Ruth Coniff

On Friday, July 18, thousands of people marched through downtown Detroit to call attention to a major public health crisis as the city shuts off the water for residents who are behind on their bills.

Chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight! Water is a human right!” and “Whose water? Our water!” about 5,000 Detroit residents and allies from across the country—including many who were in town for the annual Netroots Nation blogger conference—marched from the Cobo convention center to Hart Plaza near the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Old R&B tuned blared from a mobile sound truck hired by National Nurses United, as a large, multiracial crowd gathered, carrying signs that said “Water is a human right” “Turn on the Water” and “Tax Wall Street”. Read the rest of this item here.


U.S. Senator Welcomes Climate Deniers to Help GOP Capture Congress

by Lee Fang, The Nation Institute and Nick Surgey

If Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate this year, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a lawmaker famous for his belief that the entire body of climate science research is a "hoax," will take control of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees matters relating to pollution and environmental problems.

So it should be little surprise then that Inhofe made an appearance by video last week at the Heartland Institute, a think tank famous for peddling big business-friendly viewpoints on behalf of corporate sponsors, during a conference for climate change skeptics. The group, like Inhofe's political action committee, is funded through hefty donations from the oil and gas industry. Inhofe's speech came during the lunch session led by Christopher Monckton, a British pundit famous for his outlandish views, including the belief that AIDS patients should be "quarantined." Read the rest of this item here.


Editors' Pick

ALEC Agenda in Dallas

by Rebekah Wilce

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ALEC holds its 41st annual meeting in Dallas, Texas starting on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. At this largest of its three annual national conferences, state legislators from across the country will meet with corporate and special interest lobbyists behind closed doors to vote on "model" legislation to change state laws.

This year, ALEC has a new executive director, Lisa Britton Nelson, who is a former lobbyist for Visa and AOL Time Warner -- both of which have had ties to ALEC -- and also worked with Newt Gingrich and GOPAC. Several new companies also recently joined its "Private Enterprise Advisory Council": NetChoice, the National Federation of Independent Business, and K12 Inc.

Speakers at ALEC's annual meeting will include Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore, and Newt Gingrich.

Read the rest of this item here.


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:

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

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

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.


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.

Americans for Prosperity

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Americans for Prosperity:

Americans for Prosperity is a right-wing political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the owners of Koch Industries.[1] In the 2012 election cycle, it was a key component of the Kochs' $400 million political network, receiving large portions of its money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. AFP's budget, which comes from the Koch family foundations and other unknown sources, surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010 to $115 million in 2012. [2] According to the Center for Public Integrity, Americans for Prosperity "spent a staggering $122 million (in 2012) as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats," including $83 million on "communications, ads, and media."[3]

AFP's messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Kochs and the Kochs' other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create.

2012 Funding

According to their 2012 IRS 990 tax filing, Americans for Prosperity received $115 million in contributions and spent $122 million.[4] It reported spending $33.5 million on political activities to the IRS and reported spending $36.4 million on campaign activities to the Federal Election Commission. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington explained the disparity in that "AFP left off its tax return spending on electioneering communications as well as any political spending it did in state elections." [5] CREW also noted that 78% of AFP's donations were in amounts of $1 million or more, with the three largest donations being $26 million, $21 million, and $11.5 million. Donations from Koch-funded Freedom Partners accounted for "at least 28 percent of AFP’s money in 2012."[6]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Americans for Prosperity here (including source citations).

Web Resource on Outsourcing & Privatization

CMD Launches OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org to "Expose the Private Companies Behind the Corporate Takeover of Public Services"

by PRW Staff

  • The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public assets and services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.
Outsourcing America Exposed

CMD has unveiled corporate profiles of America’s most notorious corporations that are quietly working with state and local lawmakers to take over public services with little accountability, along with in-depth examinations of the CEOs personally profiting from this corporate coup.

Read the profiles on featured privatizers:

Read the rest of this press release here.


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!


ALEC News

Reporters' Guide to Rex Sinquefield and the Show-Me Institute

by Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer

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The Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Missouri released a new report on April 29 entitled, "Reporters' Guide to Rex Sinquefield and the Show-Me Institute," that should be an eye-opener for Missouri residents and national press.

"Sinquefield is one of the top right-wing political funders in the country, and the single top political spender in Missouri, where he has spent at least $31.5 million since 2006 seeking to reshape Missouri laws, legislators, and policies according to his own ideological mold," said co-author Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy/The Progressive. 

Read the full report here


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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.

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Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

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—Jeanne Cummings, 'New disclosure reports lack clarity," Politico.

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