This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Public Notice is a right wing policy think tank run by Republican political operative Gretchen Hamel, a former GOP Congressional staffer and Republican spokesperson. According to the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, Public Notice was part of "a coalition of allied conservative groups active in the 2012 elections that together raised at least $407 million, backed by a donor network organized by the industrialists Charles and David Koch."
Public Notice operates the advertising project Bankrupting America, which promotes Republican-held ideological positions of cutting social programs without proposing budget enhancing measures like increasing taxes on the wealthy or cutting defense spending.
Hamel was a founder of the Alexandria, Virginia public relations firm Endeavour Global Strategies, which specializes in political messaging, the use of new media, and attempting to control news on behalf of clients. The other co-founders of Endeavour are former Bush Administrations staffers with expertise in social media. 
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
Public Notice is part of the Koch brothers' network that raised over $400 million in the 2012 election cycle. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that between 2009 and 2011, Public Notice received $8 million from the Koch-linked funding organizations Center to Protect Patient Rights and TC4 Trust. These funds were funneled through a subsidiary named POFN, LLC.
Public Notice president Gretchen Hamel was also listed on tax documents for TC4 Trust, which was a major funding source for politically active nonprofits before it closed in 2012. Hamel has also attended at least one Koch summit meeting.
Public Notice describes itself as "an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being."
Public Notice runs a project called Bankrupting America, which according to the Center for Responsive Politics "highlights government spending and regulation as the cause of the nation’s fiscal woes." The project includes YouTube videos on topics such as Detroit's bankruptcy, the debt ceiling, and bureaucracy.
In 2010, Public Notice spent at least $3 million on a national television ad on the subject of federal spending and the federal debt, titled "Stop Digging." Factcheck.org called the ad "mostly factual" but stated that "Where the ad goes wrong is its claim that spending "is not creating jobs," a false assertion echoed in several Republican campaign commercials." The ad began running September 7, 2010.
Other ad campaigns by Public Notice, as reported by ThinkProgress in July 2011, included "an undisclosed amount for online ads promoting a highly produced web series on the evils of government spending, a debt pledge that features pop singer Justin Bieber, and what is believed to be another multimillion dollar ad buy recently for a commercial, appearing like a PSA, that warns that government spending is akin to cocaine addiction," and a series of billboard and bus ads in Washington DC about government spending.
Public Notice does not list its staff or board on its website.
- Gretchen Hamel, President
- Chris Perrin, COO
- Karen Steward, Messaging Director. Steward is also Director of Research at Freedom Partners and has attended at least one Koch summit meeting.
- John Crowley, Deputy Creative Director
- Emily Laird, National Media Manager Laird has also been listed as a media contact for Concerned Veterans for America.
- Chandler Hudson, Digital Media Strategist
Public Notice refuses to disclose its donors, a characteristic of a front group. Its website also lists no staff, affiliates or sponsors. However, an investigation by the Center for Responsive Politics found that Public Notice received $8 million between 2009 and 2011 from TC4 Trust and the Center to Protect Patient Rights, both of which have ties to the Koch brothers.
According to tax filings, nearly all of Public Notice's spending is on "advertising and promotion," amounting to $2.7 million in 2012 and $1.1 million in 2011.
- Total Revenue: $2,686,096
- Total Expenses: $2,806,267
- Net Assets: $562,340
- Total Revenue: $1,821,984
- Total Expenses: $1,139,473
- Net Assets: $682,511
Public Notice files its taxes under the name "Public Notice Research and Education Fund, Inc." It lists as a related organization SG C4 Trust (DBA Public Notice), a 501(c)(4). SGC4 Trust in turn has listed POFN, LLC as a disregarded entity.
According to IRS filings:
1220 N Fillmore Street
Arlington, VA 22201
This is also listed as the address for Gretchen Hamel, SGC4 Trust, and POFN, LLC.
- Zachary Roth Former Bush Admin. Spox Launch Nonprofit to combat "Over Spending", TPMMuckraker, March 3, 2010.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Matea Gold, "The players in the Koch-backed $400 million political donor network," The Washington Post, January 5, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ Zachary Roth Former Bush Admin. Spox Launch Nonprofit to combat "Over Spending", TPMMuckraker, March 3, 2010
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Viveca Novak, Robert Maguire, and Russ Choma, "Exclusive: Nonprofit Funneled Money to Kochs’ Voter Database Effort, Other Conservative Groups," Center for Responsive Politics, December 21, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ Public Notice, Mission Statement, organizational website, accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ Factcheck.org, "Another Black Hole," October 6, 2010. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ Lee Fang, "How Shadowy Right-Wing Front Groups Engineered Our National Embrace Of Debt Reduction Over Job Creation," ThinkProgress, July 28, 2010. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Public Notice, 2012 IRS 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2013. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ Bankrupting America, "Radio: Bill LuMaye," accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ LinkedIn, John Crowley, personal profile, accessed June 17, 2014.
- ↑ LinkedIn, Emily Laird, personal profile, accessed June 17, 2014.
- ↑ Concerned Veterans for America, "Concerned Veterans for America and Madison Rising Announce Defend Freedom Summer Tour 2014", organizational press release, April 21, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- ↑ LinkedIn, Chandler Hudson, personal profile, accessed June 17, 2014.
- ↑ Gar Smith Bankrupting America: The Truth behind those Hole-in-the-ground Ads, the Berkeley Daily Planet, October 5, 2010
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Public Notice, 2011 IRS 990, organizational tax filing, November 14, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2014.