The closure of New Vision is by no means a fluke. A 2015 report by the liberal watchdog group The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) concluded that approximately 2,500 charter schools shut down across the US between 2001 and 2013, affecting 288,000 students, and noted that “the failure rate for charter schools is much higher than for traditional public schools.” As well, the report points out that school closures leave a lasting impact on students’ success rates and can contribute to higher rates of youth incarceration.
Attempts to get the real story were stymied by Hagedorn, who blocked the release of certain records by claiming they were subject to a “deliberative process privilege” that is not part of the state open records law. The group requesting the records, the Center for Media and Democracy, subsequently sued and Hagedorn served as counsel of record for the Governor, defending keeping the documents secret from May 2015 through his judicial appointment.
The F.M. Kirby Foundation, Jaquelin Hume Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Weiler Foundation, and William H. Donner Foundation have also given to the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation for American Immigration Reform, or both, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive nonprofit watchdog and advocacy organization. However, those donations were at much lower levels than the Colcom or Scaife foundations.
A discussion is underway in the Wisconsin state Legislature about merging the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) with the Legislative Council. These nonpartisan legislative agencies serve different functions. Legislative Council attorneys act as general counsel to the Legislature and provide procedural and substantive policy advice to legislative leadership, individual legislators, and committees. LRB attorneys draft all bills, resolutions, and amendments for introduction in the Legislature. The attorneys also draft legislation for the governor, executive branch agencies, the courts, and other legislative service agencies. The agencies have different confidentiality requirements under Wisconsin Statutes 13.91 and 13.92.
AFP isn’t the only Koch-linked group to spend money to influence the judiciary. The Center for Media and Democracy reports that Donors Trust, a donor-advised fund that wealthy conservatives including Koch use to score tax deductions and potentially anonymize their donations to nonprofits, has bankrolled right-wing groups such as the Judicial Crisis Network and its sister organization, the Judicial Education Project, which spent millions of dollars on ads supporting the Supreme Court confirmation of Neil Gorsuch. Donors Trust also funds the Federalist Society and, as Sludge recently reported, several Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups.
Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation: $25,000 (2011). The Bradley family is major donor to conservative think tanks and political networks. The foundation also funded political front groups of JCN contractor Rick Berman, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.
According to the Center for Media and Democracy, in January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments, with data came from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006. Gorgas ranked No. 7 on the list, with nearly 2.9 million pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.
If you plan to look into charter schools, ask about the school’s educational philosophy and find out who’s running it. For-profit charter schools can feel a little like the wild west. Between 2001 and 2013, more than 2,200 of these schools closed their doors. Some were shuttered in the middle of the school year, leaving students stranded, according to a report from The Center for Media and Democracy.(1)
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is listed as a creditor in Peabody’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy documents from 2016 published by the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy.
“Although the documents filed so far do not show the scale or precise dates of funding — they only list current creditors — they demonstrate for the first time that Peabody Energy has financial ties to a very large proportion of the network of groups promoting disinformation around climate change,” the center reported at the time, specifically noting that the Texas Public Policy Foundation had “direct financial ties to Peabody.”
The Guardian reports that Atlas received donations from British American Tobacco in 2015 and 2016, and Japan Tobacco International in 2016. According to PR Watch, tobacco giant Philip Morris contributed over $475,000 to Atlas in 1995 alone.