GroupSnoop.org is a project launched in October 2011 by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) to critique reporting by sites like the Center for Media and Democracy's SourceWatch (this site) and GreenPeace's ExxonSecrets.org. Both SourceWatch and ExxonSecrets have tracked funding by oil companies like Exxon for public relations and disinformation campaigns, such as Exxon's funding of climate denial. Both have noted that NCPPR, which advances climate denial claims, has also received funding from Exxon.
GroupSnoop is the latest effort by NCPPR to smear groups working in the public interest to connect the dots between corporations like Exxon and so-called experts, think tanks, and other ways such companies attempt to affect public opinion and public policy.
NCPPR has a controversial history of suspect activities, as documented below.
Controversies regarding the NCPPR
"Fright Mail" Firm
NCPPR has been criticized for bombarding senior citizens with "fright mail." According to an article by Diane Walsh of the San Francisco Examiner, NCPPR contracts out its mailing of repetitive and frightening letters to the right-wing direct mail mill, Response Dynamics Inc.. NCPPR's leader Amy Moritz Ridenour admitted to an investigative reporter that "her organization sent donors up to a dozen major pitches a month. The appeals are sent on four different letterheads. She said anyone receiving more than a dozen solicitations in a month probably was on mailing lists the National Center has "rented" from other organizations, which she said were outside her control."
According to comments on Guidestar, adult children of senior citizens targeted by NCPPR are not happy with the group's tactics. One commentor asserted "Amy R. is the Queen of Scare Mail. My father receives 5-15 letters from them per day under four different names (maybe more I hadn't realized the association). He started giving to them in 2009 and gave them thousands of dollars little by little. When I found out he was spending all his money, I started tracking his junk mail and putting him on a charity budget." That commentor added that: "In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are... Children of the elderly who find out what they are doing" and "They are Parasites feeding off the elderly!" Another commentor in 2010 urged fellow citizens to "Be VERY careful before giving money to this organization. You will be swamped by mail and they do not honor requests to be removed from mailing lists." Yet another commentor stated "the National Center for Public Policy Research has several 'projects' such as The National Retirement Security Task Force, etc. These projects simply acquire the names of older people and mail them requests for donations. These requests are sent with letters intended to scare the recipient into donating. Often these requests are sent via Certified Mail in the hope that the recipient will think the contents more important." NCPPR was cited by three other anonymous commentors for praise for supposedly shedding light on government corruption.
Distributing Millions in Charitable Donations as Directed by Jack Abramoff
According to a U.S. Senate investigation of the financial dealings and influence peddling of disgraced right-wing lobbyist Jack Abramoff, NCPPR's Amy Ridenour directed money received from tribes and others, at Abramoff's direction, and distributed it to other "charities," again at his direction.. Specifically, Ridenhour admitted that in 2002 she received a one million dollar gift from the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who had been paying Abramoff to help secure its casino business, and also received $1.5 million from Abramoff's law firm, Greenburg Traurig. At Abramoff's direction, she gave $700,000 of this money to one of Jack Abramoff's "charities" called the "Capitol Athletic Foundation" (CAF).  CAF reportedly used money it received from a variety of sources not to help inner city kids but to fund luxury golf trips for Members of Congress, like Bob Ney, and to buy sniper scopes and camouflage for West Bank settlers in Israel, among other things. Ridenour also directed $1.275 million to another Abramoff entity called "Kaygold, LLC," whose address was listed as her board member, Abramoff's. Ridenour testified that she thought Kaygold was controlled by Abramoff's colleague Michael "Sean" Scanlon, Congressman Tom DeLay's former communications director, who later pleaded guilty to the criminal charge of conspiracy to bribe public officials. She also gave $500,000 to Scanlon's "Capital Campaign Strategies."  Abramoff was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy, and he resigned from the board of NCPPR. Ridenour was not charged with a crime for distributing tax-deductible donations NCPPR's received to entities controlled by Abramoff and his associates.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Media Transparency National Center for Public Policy Research, Inc., accessed May 2005.
- Diana Walsh The Fear Merchants,San Francisco Examiner, February 8, 1998, p. A1.
- Bill Berkowitz, The National Center for Public Policy Research: Tom DeLay's Right Arm, Media Transparency, May 2, 2005.
- James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt, Senate Report: Five Nonprofit Groups Sold Clout to Abramoff Washington Post, October 12, 2006.
- Press release, Black Activists Call on Obama to Condemn Race-Baiting Tactics in Health Care Debate, National Center for Public Policy Research/Project 21, August 7, 2009.
National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Court NE
Washington DC 20002
Phone: (202) 543-4110
Fax: (202) 543-5975
- Diane Walsh, The Fear Merchants: 'Fright mail' fund-raisers targeting elderly with scare tactics?, San Francisco Examiner, February 8, 1998
- Guidestar.org, available at http://www2.guidestar.org/organizations/52-1226614/national-center-public-policy-research.aspx
- U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, "Gimme Five--Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters," (hereinafter U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates), pp. 299-305 (June 22, 2006) (pdf uploaded and available here; See also More Details on Abramoff's relationship with Ridenhour and NCPPR, available here)
- U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305.
- U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305
- Committee on Indian Affairs, 109th Congress, Second Session U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305, June 22, 2006