Franklin News Foundation

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The Franklin News Foundation (FNF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media company based in Chicago, Illinois. According to FNF's website, the organization's mission is "to hold government accountable through objective, balanced, citizen-focused public journalism with a taxpayer sensibility."[1] As of March 2024, FNF operates the Center Square (formally known as, Franklin Media Group, the Illinois Radio Network, Chalkboard News, and America's Talking Network.[2]

Originally known as the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the organization was established in 2009 with the help of the conservative Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. The Franklin Center operated a network of state-specific online news operations that covered state and local government, many of which appeared under the banner.[3] Thirty outlets were established within the center's first year, and by the following year, operations were occurring in forty one states.[4] In 2019, the Franklin Center was renamed the Franklin News Foundation, and became the Center Square.[5][6]

From inception, the FNF and its affiliates have been accused of inaccurate reporting and manufactured controversy. Laura McGann, then an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, wrote in a 2010 Washington Monthly piece that the Franklin Center sites' reporting was "thin and missing important context, which occasionally leads to gross distortions."[5] Similarly, Gene Gibbons wrote in a 2010 Nieman Report that "at the forefront of an effort to blur the distinction between statehouse reporting and political advocacy is the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity."[7]

News and Controversies

Rebranding to The Center Square

The Center Square website launched in mid-May 2019 as a self-purported “non-profit, non-partisan, non-political, no-nonsense organization.”, Franklin's news website, began redirecting to "" in May of 2019. Chris Krug was announced as the publisher of the site and president of the Franklin News Network, which according to a Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) investigation is a "new mask" in an "effort to replace local journalism with right-wing reporting."[5]

CMD found that articles published in the first few weeks following the Center Square name change "[gave] no indication that it [would] operate any differently from its previous iterations." A CMD survey of recent stories included "a write up of a fellow SPN group’s report critiquing 'unfunded retirement obligations,' a summary of FreedomWorks’ — a group described as one of the 'big-money funders and free-market advocacy organizations' — recent actions, and transcription of Wisconsin Republican talking points."[5]

Bradley Foundation Support of Wisconsin Watchdog

A 2017 investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) uncovered that the Bradley Foundation provided crucial funding to Wisconsin Watchdog, a Franklin Center outlet, as the center struggled financially. Exposed by CMD found that the number of state offices dwindled to just five by 2016, and that "employees fled the sinking ship when a single mystery funder withdrew support."[8]

Internal documents from Bradley Foundation staff revealed the foundation's opinion that the Franklin Center was "unable to resist the offer of $10M annually from one source," and that the "organization grew beyond its capacity to manage itself."[9] Staff of the Bradley Foundation also wrote in 2016 that "when that funder shifted priorities and the fecklessness of the administration became evident, the organization began to collapse."[9] Despite their apprehension regarding the ability of Franklin Center's CEO Nicole Neily to rebuild the organization, internal documents indicate that the foundation viewed Wisconsin Watchdog as "so effective, and such a valuable partner in the state's conservative infrastructure, [that] staff believes it is worthwhile to support the local office."[9] According to CMD, the Bradley Foundation gave $545,500 to the Franklin Center between 2010 and 2015 to support this "valuable partner."[8]

Franklin Center Called Out for Blocking Action on Climate Change

In July of 2016, nineteen U.S. Senators delivered a series of speeches denouncing climate change denial from 32 organizations with links to fossil-fuel interests, including the Franklin Center.[10] Sen. Whitehouse (RI-D), who led the effort to expose "the web of denial," said in his remarks that the purpose was to,

"shine a little light on the web of climate denial and spotlight the bad actors in the web, who are polluting our American discourse with phony climate denial. This web of denial, formed over decades, has been built and provisioned by the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, by ExxonMobil, by Peabody coal, and by other fossil fuel interests. It is a grim shadow over our democracy in that it includes an electioneering effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change. . . . [I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.”[10]

Conflict of Interest in Wisconsin "John Doe" Campaign Finance Investigation

The Franklin Center's Wisconsin Reporter website published over a dozen articles in 2013 that aggressively attacked Wisconsin's "John Doe" probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin's 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Their series, "Wisconsin's Secret War," cited "unnamed sources to reveal that Wisconsin Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and the Republican Governors Association had received subpoenas," and also "described details about 'after-hours visits to homes and offices' and prosecutors' 'demands for phone, email and other records.'"[11] Ultimately, the Wisconsin Reporter recast the John Doe investigation as "an abuse of prosecutorial powers" with "the apparent goal of bringing down Gov. Scott Walker."

However, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported in December 2013 that the Wisconsin Reporter may have had a conflict of interest, as the Franklin Center had "close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe."[11] According to CMD, the Franklin Center's Director of Special Projects and Executive Assistant to the President were associated with groups receiving funding from the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which was the most prominent name associated with the investigation at the time. Eric O'Keefe, the director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth during the investigation, was also the CEO and chairman of the Sam Adams Alliance, which launched and funded the Franklin Center in 2009. CMD notes that the Wisconsin Reporter failed to disclose these potential conflicts of interest as it ran the "Wisconsin's Secret War" series.[11]

Silence on Pay-to-Play Allegations Highlights Conflicts of Interest

John Menard, owner of the Menard's chain of hardware stores, gave $1.5 million in previously unknown contributions to the Wisconsin Club for Growth during the 2012 Wisconsin recall election, according to reporting by investigative journalist Michael Isikoff published in March 2015. Isikoff wrote that the contributions "seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company." Over the following two years, Menard's received $1.8 million in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which Walker chairs, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources "sharply scaled back enforcement actions" under Walker.[12] The story made national headlines, including coverage by The New York Times, MSNBC, and U.S. News & World Report the day following its publication.[13]

Wisconsin Reporter, which had previously defended O'Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth against allegations of improper coordination with Walker and his campaign, made no mention of the pay-to-play allegations in the days following Isikoff's story and the subsequent national news coverage, according to Media Matters. "Their silence on the story highlights the conflicts of interest that surround the outlet's reporting on Walker and the 'John Doe' investigations," Media Matters wrote.[13]

Franklin's "Commercial Fundraiser," ClearWord Communications

Gene Gibbons wrote in June 2010, "The Franklin Center is headquartered in Bismarck, ND, but its mailing address is a law office in Stafford, Texas, and its fundraising agent is a Bristow, VA firm that also raises funds for the Republican Party and the Heritage Foundation."[14] That agent is ClearWord Communications Group, Inc., a "donor strategies firm" or "commercial fundraiser" that also raises funds for:[15][16]

Accusations of Inaccuracy & Manufactured News

In August 2010, the West Virginia Watchdog blog published a claim made by an unnamed source that Democratic Governor Joe Manchin's office had been subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation. The piece also alleged that the subpoenas asked for the contracts and records of businesses that had done work at the governor’s mansion. "The target may be Manchin himself, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous," the original story said. The governor’s office responded saying that “Neither subpoena was directed to Governor Manchin or the Governor’s Office.... No individual in the Governor’s Office was served with a subpoena.... The State has not been informed that Governor Manchin or any other state employee is under investigation.” The West Virginia Watchdog updated its site with these statements then reported that their "source was ultimately wrong about the purpose of the subpoenas."[17]

In February of 2010, the Wisconsin Reporter sponsored a questionable poll asserting that 71% of Wisconsin residents thought Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal to cut the collective bargaining rights of most of the state's public sector workers was "fair."[18] Although the suspiciously high percentage was questionable on its face, several local and national news outlets cited the poll without investigation into the poll's source including MSNBC.[19][20]

Data from the poll of 500 likely voters was managed by Pulse Opinion Research, owned by Scott Rasmussen, a trustee of the Property and Environment Research Center, which has ties to the Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil.[21] The Rasmussen Poll also released a poll that "showed 48% of American voters supported Walker, while just 38% supported the unions,” said Evan McMorris-Santoro writing for TPMuckracking. “That poll was criticized for asking leading questions that seemed to point respondents toward opposing the unions.”[22]

Phantom Congressional Districts Report

In 2009, the New Mexico Watchdog reported that, based on data from, millions of dollars were spent in non-existent congressional districts in the state. The story garnered attention in the press, and was even featured in a Colbert Report segment called "Know your Made-up District." The Franklin Center subsequently released a national report that said $6.4 billion in stimulus money had been spent in hundreds of “phantom” congressional districts. There was truth to the New Mexico Watchdog report, but it turned out, as reported by the Associated Press, that the culprit was an error-ridden government database. The funds were actually distributed to the right recipients but errors such as zip codes entered incorrectly accounted for the "phantom districts" rather than, as the report suggested, had been unaccounted for or misused.[14]

Even with this new information on the shortfalls of the site, the Franklin Center failed to set the record straight. In its 2010 Annual report, the center boasted it found that the "stimulus sent funds in the form of grants, loans and government contracts to support more than 200 projects in imaginary ZIP codes covering 38 states." It did not mention the errors in the database, but let the record stand as a story of government waste.[23][24]


As of May 2024, the Franklin News Foundation operates five projects: the Center Square, the Franklin Media Group, the Illinois Radio Network, Chalkboard News, and America's Talking Network.[2]

The Center Square

The Center Square, a rebrand of, is a "news" site with "taxpayer sensibility," according to FNF. Its stories are distributed through "a newswire service to legacy publishers and broadcasters,, and social media."[2] As of January 2020, the Center Square operates in the following 18 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.[2]

The Franklin Media Group

The Franklin Media Group purports to be a "full-service marketing agency that specializes in generating leads for businesses and professionals on a state and regional level."[2]

The Illinois Radio Network

FNF describes the Illinois Radio Network as "the preeminent news and information source for radio stations across the state."[2] The Illinois Radio Network has "74 affiliate radio stations and covers all 102 counties in Illinois."[2]

Chalkboard News

ChalkBoard News covers topics related to the American educational system. Focus areas include "curriculum; school funding; educational choice; the roles of parents, teachers, and administrators; the voice taxpayers have in their local schools; and the betterment of K-12 public education."[25]

America's Talking Network

America's Talking Network is a "podcast hub" that "focuses its efforts on identifying and developing high-quality podcasts and promoting this content as part of the platform."[2]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

Between 2010 and 2022, the Bradley Impact Fund and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation donated over $3.2 million in combined funding to FNF.

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at

Ties to the Koch Network

Between 2010 and 2022, FNF received nearly $35 million from DonorsTrust, Donors Capital Fund, and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. In addition, former Director of Development Matt Hauck was previously an Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.[26]

Koch Wiki

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 American Legislative Exchange Council

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was a "Vice-Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $25,000. The Franklin Center was one of about 60 companies and institutions represented in the conference exhibition hall.[27]

Former FNF board member and North Dakota Republican Representative Blair Thoreson chaired ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force[28] and penned an op-ed supporting ALEC in the face of criticism over its role in pushing "Stand Your Ground" and "Voter ID" legislation in April 2012.[29] Thoreson was not the only Franklin Center personnel member to publicly defend ALEC. As Media Matters reported, then Franklin Center President Jason Stverak and Vice President of Journalism Steven Greenhut published defenses of ALEC on Breitbart News and the Franklin Center's HQ page, respectively. [30][31][32] All three commentaries were posted in the days immediately after an ALEC staffer begged for help from Breitbart bloggers and the rest of the right-wing blogosphere at a Heritage Foundation "Bloggers Briefing" on April 17, 2012.[33]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Ties to the State Policy Network

The Franklin Center also has strong ties to a right-wing web of so-called "think tanks" pushing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s corporate-backed agenda in every statehouse in the country, the State Policy Network (SPN). According to an in-depth 2010 report by Gene Gibbons, "The State Policy Network-Sam Adams Alliance-Franklin Center troika is at least loosely associated with more than a dozen other conservative groups funding news websites in various states. These include the John Locke Foundation, which funds the monthly North Carolina newspaper Carolina Journal and a companion website,; the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, which funds the news website West Virginia Watchdog; the Commonwealth Foundation, which supports the Pennsylvania Independent (; and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which funds Michigan Capitol Confidential ("[14]

See SPN Ties to the Franklin Center for more.

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. As of June 2024, SPN's membership totals 167. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2022 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $152 million.[34] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[35]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[36]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[37]

Ties to Coalition for American Values

The Coalition for American Values (CAV) was a 501(c)(4) nonprofit whose only major activities were spending $400,080 on ads supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the final weeks of the 2012 recall elections. While CAV did not disclose its funders at the time, tax filings later revealed that almost all of its funding in 2012 came from the Koch-tied Center to Protect Patient Rights, run by Koch operative Sean Noble.[38]

CAV's lawyer, James D. Skyles, was previously General Counsel and Director of Operations at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.[39]

CAV's federal PAC also paid money to a consulting firm run by John Connors, then Director of Special Operations leader at the Franklin Center and president of Citizens for a Strong America.[38][40] Additionally, as the Center for Media and Democracy reported, "[t]he 'treasurer' listed on Coalition for American Values' FEC filings and the contact on its filings with Wisconsin's election board is Brent Downs. In 2008, when Connors chaired the Marquette College Republicans, Downs was his treasurer. Both were both students at Marquette University at the same time, and Downs, like Connors, also chaired the Students for Prosperity chapter of David Koch's Americans for Prosperity at Marquette University." Connors' Citizens for a Strong America was entirely funded by Wisconsin Club for Growth and has been under investigation in the "John Doe" campaign finance investigation. The Franklin Center was founded in part by Koch operative Eric O'Keefe, head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth.[41]

Franklin Center-Funded and Affiliated Sites

Former "Watchdog Bureaus"

Former "Watchdog Partners"

As of May 2013:[42]

Former Statehouse "News Bureaus"

Formerly Listed as Hosting "Investigative Reporters"

Recipients of Franklin Center Funding

According to an in-depth report on the Franklin Center and related "news" websites by Gene Gibbons, "Len Lazarick, editor of the Maryland Reporter ( told a public radio interviewer he received $100,000 in start‐up funding from the Franklin Center. 'That interview got me in a little hot water with them,' he told me. 'They would just prefer that everything be as anonymous as possible. They really don't want us to talk about our business models very much.'"[14]

The Franklin Center is required by law to disclose the groups to which it gives money. Since 2009, the Franklin Center has funded the following groups:



  • Oregon Capital: $250,000






In 2013, a Franklin Center told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) that the source of the center's funding "is 100 percent anonymous."[49] Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of the IRS filings. Here are some of the known funders of the Franklin:

The Franklin Center accepted donations from Altria, the parent company of the makers of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, and other tobacco brands, in 2013 and 2014.[50]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $4,832,019
  • Total Expenses: $4,662,599
  • Net Assets: $535,648


  • Total Revenue: $3,339,789
  • Total Expenses: $3,487,208
  • Net Assets: $559,080


  • Total Revenue: $2,724,044
  • Total Expenses: $2,716,703
  • Net Assets: $819,490


  • Total Revenue: $2,298,543
  • Total Expenses: $2,034,659
  • Net Assets: $878,640


  • Total Revenue: $1,714,140
  • Total Expenses: $1,651,328
  • Net Assets: $680,417


  • Total Revenue: $1,377,091
  • Total Expenses: $1,668,152
  • Net Assets: $484,806


  • Total Revenue: $3,190,004
  • Total Expenses: $4,189,004
  • Net Assets: $783,385


  • Total Revenue: $8,816,029
  • Total Expenses: $7,057,535
  • Net Assets: $1,782,385


  • Total Revenue: $10,049,984
  • Total Expenses: $9,847,101
  • Net Assets: $23,891


  • Total Revenue: $8,118,913
  • Total Expenses: $8,678,265
  • Net Assets: -$178,992


  • Total Revenue: $11,625,189
  • Total Expenses: $11,773,324
  • Net Assets: $380,360


  • Total Revenue: $6,614,542
  • Total Expenses: $6,672,066
  • Net Assets: $473,964


  • Total Revenue: $3,775,771
  • Total Expenses: $3,942,844
  • Net Assets: $531,248


  • Total Revenue: $2,378,965
  • Total Expenses: $1,689,442
  • Net Assets: $690,913



As of March 2024:[59]

  • Chris Krug, President and Publisher
  • Dan McCaleb, Vice President of News and Content
  • Laurel Abraham, Vice President of Development and Marketing
  • Jerry Lyles, Vice President of Syndication and Distribution
  • Kate Guenther, Director of Design and Visual Marketing
  • Tom Gantert, Managing Editor
  • Cole Lauterbach, Managing Editor
  • Alan Wooten, Managing Editor
  • J.D. Davidson, Regional Editor
  • Brett Davis, Regional Editor
  • Derek Draplin, Regional Editor
  • David Mastio, Regional Editor
  • Sarah Roderick-Fitch, Regional Editor
  • Christen Smith, Regional editor
  • Steve Wilson, Regional Editor
  • Brendan Clarey, K-12 Editor with FNF/Chalkboard News
  • Kim Jarrett, Associate Editor
  • Shiloh Carozza, Engagement Editor
  • Jason Goch, IRN Sports Director
  • Brett Rowland, Investigative Reporter
  • Cameron Arcand, Staff Reporter
  • Kevin Bessler, Staff Reporter
  • Greg Bishop, Staff Reporter
  • Randy Bracht, Staff Reporter
  • Shirleen Guerra, Staff Reporter
  • Casey Harper, D.C. Bureau Reporter
  • Anthony Hennen, Staff Reporter
  • Carleen Johnson, Staff Reporter
  • TJ Martinell, Staff Reporter
  • Scott McClallen, Staff Reporter
  • Joe Mueller, Staff Reporter
  • Spencer Pauley, Staff Reporter
  • Catrina Petersen, Staff Reporter
  • Kenneth Schrupp, Staff Reporter
  • Jon Styf, Staff Reporter
  • Morgan Sweeney, Staff Reporter
  • Cole McNeely, General Manager - America's Talking
  • Eliana Kernodle, Assistant General Manager - America's Talking

Former Staff

  • John Spataro, Affiliate and Sales Manager
  • Tim Gruver, Staff Reporter
  • Delphine Luneau, Managing Editor
  • Nicholas Hahn III, Director of External Relations
  • Danielle Behler, Director of Development
  • Dave Lemery, East Regional Editor
  • David Jacobs, Staff Reporter
  • Brendan Hartsell, Business Operations Manager
  • Will Swaim, Senior Advisor and Contributing Editor
  • John Bicknell, Executive Editor of Watchdog
  • Bruce Parker, Managing Editor of Watchdog
  • Johnny Kampis, National Watchdog Reporter
  • Ashe Schow, Higher Education – Reporter
  • Kathy Hoekstra, Watchdog Regulations – Reporter
  • Matt Kittle, Wisconsin Watchdog – Bureau Chief and Reporter
  • James Wigderson, Wisconsin Watchdog – Reporter
  • William Patrick, Florida Watchdog – Reporter
  • Erin Clark, Florida Watchdog – Reporter
  • Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog – Reporter
  • Christian Britschgi, Arizona Watchdog – Reporter
  • Lou Varricchio, Vermont Watchdog – Bureau Chief and Reporter
  • Emma Lamberton, Vermont Watchdog – Reporter
  • Michael Bielawski, Vermont Watchdog – Reporter
  • Becky Wessels, Director of Operations
  • Kathleen Hampton, National Director of Donor Relations
  • John Courts, Development Operations and Research Manager
  • Laurel Patrick, Director of Communications and Media Outreach
  • Kevin Glass, Director of Outreach and Policy
  • Josh Kaib, Marketing and Communications Manager
  • Joseph Camardo, Social Media and Graphic Design Manager
  • Kristen Hawley, Digital Marketing Manager
  • Mary Ellen Beatty, Chief of Staff
  • Carter DeWitt, Vice President of Development
  • Steve Mullins, Chief Financial Officer
  • Nicole Neily, President
  • Erik Telford, President
  • Paul Olivett, Vice President of Investor Relations
  • Paul Alfonse, Outreach Coordinator
  • Breyana Franklin, Public Affairs Manager
  • Victor Nava, Staff Writer
  • Shana Davidson, Direct Marketing Manager
  • Matthew Hauck, Director of Development
  • Christina Pajak, Manager of Investor Relations
  • Megan Ritter, Grants Manager and Development Writer
  • Scott Kocen, Technology Adviser
  • Andrew Collins, Digital Media Manager
  • Jackie Moreau, Managing Editor, Watchdog Arena
  • John Trump, Content Editor
  • Arthur Kane, Colorado Watchdog and Oklahoma Watchdog – Reporter
  • Moriah Costa, Education Reporter
  • Rob Nikolewski, Energy Reporter
  • Ben Yount, Illinois Watchdog – Bureau Chief
  • Paul Brennan, Iowa Watchdog - Reporter
  • Tom Steward, Minnesota Watchdog – Reporter
  • Evan Grossman, National Reporter
  • Yaël Ossowski, National Reporter
  • Mary C. Tillotson, National Reporter
  • Tori Richards, National Reporter
  • Deena Winter, Nebraska Watchdog – Reporter
  • Mark Lagerkvist, New Jersey Watchdog – Reporter
  • Brigette Russell, New Mexico Watchdog – Reporter
  • Jason Hart, Ohio Watchdog – Reporter
  • Eric Boehm, Pennsylvania Independent – Managing Editor
  • Chris Butler, Tennessee Watchdog – Reporter
  • Kathryn Watson, Virginia Watchdog – Investigative Reporter
  • Gwen Beattie, Executive Vice President
  • Steven Greenhut, Vice President of Journalism
  • Raaki Garcia, Colorado Watchdog – Reporter
  • Sheena Dooley, Iowa Watchdog – Reporter
  • Kevin Mooney, National Reporter
  • Mark Lisheron, Texas Watchdog – Reporter
  • Lee Ann O’Neil, Texas Watchdog – Reporter and Content Editor
  • Lynette Wilhelm, Operations Assistant
  • Frank Keegan, National Watchdog Editor
  • Scott Reeder, National Statehouse Editor
  • James Skyles, General Counsel and Director of Operations
  • Meghan Tisinger, Director of Communications
  • Mary Massingale, Writing Coach and Content Editor
  • Elizabeth Hillgrove, Staff Writer and Special Projects
  • Jonathan Miltimore, National Reporter, Fiscal Issues
  • Bill McMorris, Staff Writer
  • Drew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News – Reporter
  • Stephan Burklin, Maine Watchdog – Editor
  • Brian R. Hook, Missouri Watchdog - Editor
  • Joe Jordan, Nebraska Watchdog – Editor
  • Andrew Griffin, Oklahoma Watchdog – Reporter
  • Paige Winfield Cunningham, Old Dominion Watchdog – Editor
  • Amanda Iacone, Virginia Statehouse News – Bureau Chief
  • Stephen Groves, Virginia Statehouse News – Reporter
  • Kevin Lee, Statehouse Reporter and Wisconsin Reporter
  • Jon Cassidy, Texas Watchdog – Reporter
  • Kenric Ward, Texas Watchdog – Reporter
  • Jason Schaumburg, Managing Editor
  • Jeremy Lott, Regional Editor
  • Bruce Walker, Regional Editor
  • Brent Addleman, Associate Editor
  • Tyler Arnold, Staff Reporter
  • Nyamekye Daniel, Staff Reporter
  • Andrew Hensel, Staff Reporter
  • Madison Hirneisen, Staff Reporter
  • RaeLynn Ricarte, Staff Reporter

Board of Directors

As of March 2024:[60]

  • John Tillman, Chairman
  • Chris Krug, President
  • Jennifer Stefano, Executive Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation
  • Eric Sucharski, Attorney
  • Bradley Walton, President of Signature Advisors Group

Former Directors

Advisory Board

As of September 2013 (No advisory board posted as of May 2019):[62]

Contact Information

Franklin News Foundation
20 N Clark Street 2100
Chicago, Illinois 60602

EIN: 26-4066298
Phone: (312) 346-5700
LinkedIn: Franklin News Foundation

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings










Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. Franklin News Foundation, About, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2024.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Franklin News Foundation, Business Units of Operation, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2024.
  3. Encyclo, Franklin Center, Nieman Lab, accessed March 13, 2024.
  4. Daniel C. Vock, "How Political Donors Are Changing Statehouse News Reporting", Governing, October 24, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Scott Zimmerman, "Franklin's Right-Wing Rebrands as The Center Square", ExposedbyCMD, May 30, 2019.
  6. Chris Krug, "Op-Ed: Welcome to", The Center Square, May 14, 2019.
  7. Gene Gibbons, "Statehouse Beat Woes Portend Bad News for Good Government", Nieman Report, Winter 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 David Armiak and Mary Bottari, "Bradley Foundation Floated Wisconsin Watchdog While Franklin Center Floundered", ExposedbyCMD, May 25, 2017.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Bradley Foundation, Grant Proposal Record, Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, Bradley Foundation, August 16, 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Brendan Fischer, "Why Are the Franklin Center's 'Wisconsin Reporter' and '' Attacking the John Doe?",, Dec. 19, 2013.
  12. Michael Isikoff, ""Secret $1.5 Million Donation From Wisconsin Billionaire Uncovered in Scott Walker Dark-Money Probe"," Yahoo Politics, March 23, 2015.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Daniel Angster, "The Pay-To-Play Allegation Walker's Watchdog Isn't Defending", Media Matters, March 26, 2015.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Gene Gibbons, Ants at the Picnic: A Status Report on News Coverage of State Government, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy Discussion Paper Series, #D‐59, June 2010.
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