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Welcome to SourceWatch, a Collaborative Project of the Center for Media and Democracy!

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch, this collaborative resource for citizens and journalists looking for documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to influence public policy and public opinion. We believe in telling the truth about the most powerful interests in society—not just relating their self-serving press releases or letting real facts be bleached away by spin. With the help of volunteer editors, SourceWatch focuses on the for-profit corporations, non-profit corporate front groups, PR teams, and so-called "experts" trying to influence public opinion on behalf of global corporations and the government agencies they have captured. We also profile some of the individuals and groups shining a light on these PR campaigns and also feature clearinghouses for information about select "hot topics" (to your left). Please check out our other sites: PRWatch, BanksterUSA, and ALECexposed. —Lisa Graves, Executive Director
Please make a tax-deductible donation to keep this information online and strong by clicking this link to donate now.
To protect our site, we have also instituted a new registration procedure for editors.

Featured Work

In Massachusetts, Even the "People's Pledge" Can't Keep Out the Outside Money

by Will Dooling

Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown
The U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts is currently among the closest in the country, with the most recent polls showing a razor-thin lead by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, who hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown this November. The Massachusetts race is unique among national Senate races, as outside money is playing a significantly diminished role thanks to a pledge signed by both candidates that has helped keep outside spending on television, radio, and Internet ads in check.

Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Social Media Policy May Be Unlawful; Employers Still Have Broad Leeway to Limit Employee Speech

by Brendan Fischer

Koch Industries200px.jpg
The Koch Industries policy limiting employee speech on social media may be unlawful in light of recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, but employers still have broad leeway to impose their political views on workers and punish those who disagree.

On October 14, Mike Elk at In These Times reported on how Koch Industries sent a mailer to 45,000 employees of its Georgia-Pacific subsidiary urging them to vote for Mitt Romney and other Republicans, warning that if they don't, they "may suffer the consequences." At the same time, the Kochs were limiting employees' speech through a social media policy that threatened Georgia Pacific workers with disciplinary action or termination if their Facebook posts or tweets "reflect negatively" on the company's reputation or are "disparaging." The policy applies even to social media usage outside of working hours, and Elk reports that the policy has deterred some employees from speaking freely in their online posts. Read the rest of this item here.

On NFIB Conference Call, Romney Urges Employers to Tell Employees How to Vote, Just Like the Kochs

by Brendan Fischer

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested to business owners they tell their employees how to vote on a June conference call organized by the National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB), an organization the Center for Media and Democracy has recently exposed as a partisan lobbying group advancing big business interests.

The audio, obtained by Mike Elk at In These Times, shows Romney telling participants in the conference call to “pass… along to your employees” their opinions on the November presidential election:

"I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections."

Read the rest of this item here.

FEC Complaint Filed Against Rep. Paul Ryan Alleging Improper Use of Congressional Campaign Funds

by Brendan Fischer

WI Rep. Paul Ryan
Progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging U.S. Representative and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has improperly used his Congressional campaign funds to promote the GOP presidential ticket.

Rep. Ryan has purchased $2 million in ads from his Congressional campaign account, but none of the five ads specifically mention he is running for Congress. One Wisconsin Now alleges the ads promote Ryan's Vice-Presidential candidacy rather than his Congressional reelection.

Read the rest of this item here.

Meet a Few Other Presidential Candidates on the Ballot This Fall

by Harriet Rowan

Election ballot-200px.jpg
If you think the presidential debate last week was a little bit of a snooze fest you were not alone. What might jazz things up a bit? More candidates.

When Americans go to the polls on November 6 they might be surprised to see more than two names on the presidential ticket. In Wisconsin, for example, voters will be able to choose from seven candidates who are running for President. In a few key states, these candidates might garner enough votes to have an impact on the national election.

Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Four Takeaways on the VP Debate from Paul Ryan's Home State

by Brendan Fischer

The lively October 11 debate between Vice President Joe Biden and the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has been widely analyzed and fact-checked. But from the Wisconsin perspective, a few statements made by our fellow cheesehead brought to mind some idioms used widely in his home state.

If You Live In a Glass House, Don't Throw Stones

"Joe and I are from similar towns. He's from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I'm from Janesville, Wisconsin." Ryan then cited Scranton's ten percent unemployment rate, incorrectly suggesting it was indicative of national trends. "You know what it was the day [Obama and Biden] came in? 8.5 percent. That is happening all around America."

Read the rest of this item here.

For Obama, Upside of Lackluster Debate: Less Ammo for the Super PAC Firing Squad

by Brendan Fischer

President Barack Obama's uninspired performance at the first presidential debate has led to a drop in his poll ratings and a surge for GOP challenger Mitt Romney. But one benefit for the president from his mediocre debate showing is that it provided little fodder for attack ads from the Super PACs and "dark money" groups planning to spend tens of millions in the final weeks of the election. Read the rest of this item here.

Battle for Worker Rights Moves from WI to CA, Prop. 32 Spun as Campaign Finance Reform

by Mary Bottari

One spring day in Wisconsin last year, as a bustling crowd of Madison teachers got ready to march on the Capitol to protest Governor Scott Walker's bill to dismantle public sector unions, the march was led by an unusual team -- a group of African Americans wearing dark shades, snazzy berets, blue uniforms, and taps on their shoes. They were the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's drill team, all the way from California showing their support for Wisconsin's working families. The tradition dates back to the union's founding in the 1930s. Read the rest of this item here.

Pennsylvania Voter ID Ruling May Lead to Confusion at Polls

by Brendan Fischer

A Pennsylvania court has found that the state's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-inspired voter ID law would likely disenfranchise voters and partially blocked its enforcement for the November 2012 election. Ballots cast by voters who do not have ID will still be counted, but the state will still be able to ask for identification and run ads telling voters to obtain ID before election day, potentially leading to confusion at the polls. Read the rest of this item here.

60 Plus, a Dark Money Group, Peddles Partisan Spin at Campaign Stop in Madison

by Will Dooling

At a recent rally in Madison, Wisconsin, 60 Plus Association President Jim Martin had a lot to say about Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the dire threat liberals supposedly pose to Medicare, but he failed to answer basic questions from the crowd about the funding for his own organization.

60 Plus bills itself as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, and is currently criss-crossing America on its "Let's Do Better" healthcare bus tour, largely in protest of the 2010 federal health care bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the organization claims severely harmed Medicare. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured SourceWatch Article

NFIB's Legal Arm

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a lobbying group that calls itself "the voice of small business." However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses. NFIB is best known for its legal attack on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and for spearheading the opposition to President Clinton's health care reform package in 1993.

NFIB has a legal arm called the NFIB Small Business Legal Center (SBLC). The SBLC spearheads the NFIB's legal assault on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). It is one of its three 501(c)(3) foundation arms. Formed in January 1994 as the NFIB Legal Foundation, the litigation arm took years to get off the ground, possibly because of funding and turf issues.

See the SourceWatch article on NFIB's Legal Arm for more.

Editors' Pick of the Week

Two New Documentaries Spotlighting Wisconsin Screening in Madison to Benefit CMD

United-states of ALEC200px.jpg
The Center for Media and Democracy invites you to join us for a terrific evening, Wednesday, October 24th, at Madison's Barrymore Theatre. We are screening two recently released documentaries that put the spotlight on Wisconsin: “United States of ALEC” - the extended version of the report which first aired on public broadcasting stations nationwide, and “As Goes Janesville” - a documentary that catapults viewers to the front lines of America’s debate over the future of our middle class.

The double feature supports the investigative work of the non-profit, Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy, and its award-winning “ALEC Exposed” project.

We hope to see you there! Click here for ticket information and movie details.

Follow the $ in the Presidential Election

Obama Campaign Chases Big Checks while Decrying Citizens United and Unlimited Fundraising

by Brendan Fischer

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama rode into office in 2008 on a wave of small donations that some expected would change politics. The small-dollar strategy is still helping Obama fill his campaign accounts, but the electoral landscape has changed rapidly over the past four years and candidates' official campaigns are being overshadowed by unlimited spending from nominally "independent" groups funded by a handful of ultra-wealthy donors.

Read the rest of this item here.

Romney: an "Investment" for the 1%?

by Brendan Fischer

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
"People can invest what they want," billionaire industrialist David Koch recently told Politico.

Koch wasn't discussing the stock market or oil futures. He was talking money in politics: wealthy donors "investing" in elected officials, apparently with the expectation of getting a return. In total, donors like the Kochs, along with Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, and "outside" groups have pledged to raise a total of $1 billion this election to elect Republicans, particularly President Barack Obama's opponent Mitt Romney. Read the rest of this item here.

Follow the Money in Other Races

In Massachusetts, "People's Pledge" Can't Keep Outside Money Out

Close Ohio Race for U.S. Senate May Be Decided by Outside Money

60 Plus, a Dark Money Group, Peddles Partisan Spin at Campaign Stop in Madison

Outside Money Frames Candidates for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate Seat

ALEC Member "American Chemistry Council" Drops $649K on WI U.S. Senate Race

Take Action

Tell ALEC Corporations It's Time To Cut Ties!

Cut Ties to ALEC 200px.jpg
For the past year, the Center for Media and Democracy has worked to unmask the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through its award winning ALEC Exposed project. So far, 40 ALEC corporations, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, and more, have decided to listen to their customers and stop funding ALEC's extreme agenda.

Now, with one click, you can send a letter to the remaining ALEC corporate members or sponsors and tell them to do the same.

Click Here to Take Action!.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter, The Spin, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @PRwatch and @ALECexposed."

If you would like to help in other ways, please take a look at some of our earlier citizen journalism projects here.

Featured Video

Bill Moyers on ALEC

September 28, 2012: Moyers & Company presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership." But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

"United States of ALEC" is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and the Schumann Media Center, headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and public watchdogs including the Center for Media and Democracy, whose investigators are featured in the report.

Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC's self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as "a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests."

In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers -- each accomplished without the public ever knowing who's behind it.

"United States of ALEC" is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and the Schumann Media Center, headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and public watchdogs including the Center for Media and Democracy, whose investigators are featured in the report.

CMD Receives 2012 Izzy Award

Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College: The fourth annual Izzy Award was presented April 10, 2012, to independent journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous (Democracy Now correspondent, Nation Institute fellow) and to the Center for Media and Democracy, led by Lisa Graves. The award honored their work in 2011, during which Kouddous reported from Egypt on the Tahrir Square uprising and "unfinished revolution," and CMD exposed a secretive yet powerful corporate-front ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Previous Izzy Winner Amy Goodman took part in the ceremony, presenting the award to Sharif -- who flew to the event, with his father, from his current home in Cairo. Lisa was able to announce that major corporations had withdrawn from ALEC in the previous days (largely as a result of the controversy generated by CMD's "ALEC Exposed"). The ceremony took place in Ithaca College's Emerson Suites.

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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.
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 You can also contact our Editor, Friday Thorn, via friday_thorn AT

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