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.
A couple of years back, the Center for Media and Democracy caught Berman on tape talking to an industry group: “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors,” he said. “There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”
In 2013, Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracy issued a report criticizing JMI on issues such as its anti-environmental policies and funding by the Kochs. From the report:
“Over the years, JMI has released several ‘studies’ and reports that deny global warming is happening, call for an end to clean energy programs, advocate for expanded offshore drilling despite the risks to Florida’s shores from deeper wells (like BP’s Deep Water Horizon), and push for corporate tax breaks, all of which would directly benefit the Koch brothers’ corporate and personal interests.”
The plan was drafted using models produced by the Buckeye Institute, according to the report. This institute is a right-wing advocacy group based in Ohio, according to Source Watch.
“It is a member of the $83 million-a-year State Policy Network (SPN),” according to Source Watch. “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.”
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.