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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

CMD Files IRS Complaint Against Wisconsin Club for Growth

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The Center for Media and Democracy has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that the Wisconsin Club for Growth lied to the IRS in 2011 and 2012, violated its tax-exempt status by operating as a political committee, and operated primarily for the private partisan benefit of the Republican Party, rather than for any sort of “social welfare.”

The problem of politically-active “dark money” nonprofits abusing the tax code is growing, but never before has such extensive evidence of a tax-exempt group’s internal communications about its explicit and extensive role in elections been made publicly available. Newly-public documents contradict WICFG's assertions to the IRS that it operated primarily to advance social welfare and engaged in zero political activity.

Read the rest of this item here.


WSJ Stumbles in Latest Attack on Campaign Finance Law

by Brendan Fischer

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The Wall Street Journal editorial board's crusade against the enforcement of Wisconsin's campaign finance laws has gone off the rails.

The editorial board's latest installment in its multi-part series attacking Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal investigation -- where a bipartisan group of prosecutors are looking into possible coordination between Governor Scott Walker's campaign and dark money groups -- conjures up the notion that "coordination" is a newly-constructed liberal plot "to criminalize campaign spending."

"The new liberal target is “coordination” between politicians and independent groups," the Journal warns. "This is dangerous stuff."

Read the rest of this item here.


Privatization Fail: The Troubled History of Maximus Inc.

by Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Based in Virginia but with offices all over the world, Maximus Inc. rakes in more than $1 billion a year from U.S. states and governments outsourcing social service and administrative functions. Wisconsin and the privatizing giant have a long and very troubled history, but breaking up, it seems, is hard to do.

Between 1997 and 2001, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development awarded Maximus three contracts to administer the newly created Wisconsin Works (W-2) program for $107 million. Read the rest of this item here.


Big Money Bankrolls Opposition to Movement to Overturn Citizens United

by Jessica Mason

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An historic vote in the U.S. Senate earlier this year to amend the constitution to reverse Citizens United and stem the flood of money into our elections – expected to top $1 billion this election cycle – has the Koch brothers spooked.

If passed by Congress and approved by two-thirds of the states, the amendment could put a brake on outside spending from groups like the Koch brothers' political network, which spent over $400 million on the 2012 elections and is reportedly planning to drop another $300 million on the 2014 midterms.

Amending the constitution to get money out of politics has overwhelming public support, and the Kochs and other big money interests are trying hard to twist the narrative.

Read the rest of this item here.


Tricky Treats: Halloween Candy Options

by Rebekah Wilce

(Image: Sean Freese, Flickr)
As you stock up on candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters and prepare to inspect your children's candy haul, do you know where those treats were made, and by whom? Many candy brands are considered all-American favorites, but are they made in America?

All of the most popular Halloween candy brands in the United States are made by either Mars or Hershey, according to USA Today. Two of the 20 most popular products were made by Nestlé.

Read the rest of this item here.


Corbett Outsources Legal Counsel to Campaign Contributors

by Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett
image by Hunter Kahn
Pennsylvania’s Office of General Counsel “serves as the Governor’s in-house legal counsel,” providing the executive branch with “expert, responsive and cost-effective legal services … for the benefit of the public.” In addition to the 498 attorneys employed by the state, the handling of legal business is frequently outsourced to outside counsel. Last year, the total bill for private law firms – footed by the taxpayers – amounted to a whopping $32.7 million in 2013 and $100 million over three years, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Outside counsel, it has been pointed out, is an insider’s game. A comparison between the firms used as outside counsel last year and their contributions to Corbett’s gubernatorial campaign of 2010 makes for interesting reading. Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Spending for ALEC Member Tillis Breaks All Records in NC Senate Race

by Rebekah Wilce

The Kochs are spending big to advance the career of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) leader Thom Tillis.

The Koch brothers' new Super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund (FPAF) -- launched this summer -- has announced a huge new seven-figure ad buy attacking Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). The ad buy makes the North Carolina Senate race between Hagan and Republican state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis all-time number one in outside spending, at $55.7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Read the rest of this item here.


White Hat’s Magic Trick: Transforming Public Schools into Private Assets

by Jessica Mason and Mary Bottari

There’s a lot of money at stake in Ohio charter schools, which as a group will receive almost $900 million in 2014. Charters get about $7,200 per student in taxpayer funding, compared to about $3,500 per student in traditional public schools.

On paper, Ohio’s charter schools are operated by non-profit organizations whose governing boards hire management companies to operate the schools. The boards are supposed to have a strong oversight role and have the power to fire charter operators if they don’t measure up.

Read the rest of this item here.


Governor Brownback Outsourced Child Support Services to Donor

by Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson

When he was elected in 2010, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback began to slash core government services and privatize the rest. His austerity politics resulted in the state being downgraded by S&P in August 2014, and his privatization initiatives have also drawn criticism, causing one leading Republican to state, “I had hoped that it wouldn’t be as extreme as it’s been … what we didn’t know was that Sam would use this state as crash test dummies for his own fiscal experiments.”

Kids receiving child support payments from absent parents would be among Brownback’s first crash test dummies. Read the rest of this item here.


LePage Supports Pumping Public Water for Private Gain

by Mary Bottari and Jonas Perrson

Around the world, private firms have been given “carte blanche rights to mine local groundwater supplies at the expense of local populations, say experts.” In 1997, Swiss food giant Nestlé signed a contract with the privately- owned water services provider in Fryeburg, Maine, to buy freshwater in bulk for its Poland Spring brand of bottled water. Fearing that large-scale commercial water exploitation would lead to groundwater depletion and the Saco River drying up, the town of Fryeburg enacted a Land Use Ordinance that required that any company pumping more than 10,000 gallons of water a day get approval from the planning board. With a constant stream of litigation and appeals, however, Fryeburg Water Co. was able to buy time while continuing its moneymaking sideline business without interruption. Read the rest of this item here.


MO ALEC Leader Says Right to Work Is Solution to Ferguson

by Brendan Fischer The protests that erupted in the wake of 18 year old Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in August have many causes, ranging from longstanding tensions between the largely African-American community and a largely white police force, systematic targeting of people of color fueled in part by revenue-driven law enforcement practices, residential segregation, and disparities in racial power arising from under-representation in local government thanks in part to Ferguson's unusual elections calendar.

Yet a leader of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Missouri, House Speaker Tim Jones, says he has the solution to unrest in Ferguson: bust the unions. Read the rest of this item here.


Inmates Die in Droves After Governor Rick Scott Outsources Prison Healthcare

by Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson

Between 2008 and 2013, Corizon Health – the country’s largest prison health care provider – was sued 660 times for malpractice. But Governor Rick Scott’s administration failed to take note of this history when it awarded Corizon a $1.2 billion contract in 2011.

Now an investigation by The Palm Beach Post reveals that Florida inmates have been dying in droves since the state privatized prison health care. Read the rest of this item here.


Governor Snyder Stands Behind Prison Privatization, Even After Maggots and Murder for Hire

by Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari

Ideological slogans often trump facts when it comes to the outsourcing of public services. When independent studies are commissioned, the conclusions are often disregarded. In some cases, however, there seems to be solid research supporting the cost-efficiency of privatization. Such was the case in Michigan – at least at first glance.

Read the rest of this item here.


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Editors' Pick

New Report!

Power Players Behind the Corporate Takeover of Pennsylvania Schools

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In 2007, Philly rolled out the red carpet for state legislators and lobbyists attending the annual “State and Nation” policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Pennsylvania legislators appropriated a whopping $50,000 of taxpayer money to help pay for the event, including $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops.

The event apparently had a lasting impact as the ALEC agenda has continued to roll though the hallways of the state capitol in Harrisburg in the years since. After Governor Corbett took office in 2010, ALEC bill after ALEC bill was introduced and signed into law. To accomplish this feat a well-orchestrated cast of characters -- including politicians, state “think tanks” and advocacy organizations -- are singing from the same hymnal, and being bankrolled by the same interests. Behind the scenes, we find charter school magnates, ideological interests and deep-pocketed investors pumping millions into campaign coffers while playing the education “market” like a game of poker.

With this report the Center for Media and Democracy puts a spotlight on some of the power players behind Corbett’s dramatic moves to reshape state education policy for the benefit of corporate interests. A surprising number of these groups are reportedly under investigation by federal officials or have been charged with wrongdoing.

Read the full report at ALEC Exposed.


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:

The Kochs' Anti-Civil Rights Roots

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

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 Video

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back

Outsourcing America, Privatization Bites Back


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