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.
Mary Bottari, a researcher with the watchdog on money and politics, the Center for Media and Democracy, said Wisconsin should be seen as a cautionary tale for the nation. “Billionaires give huge amounts to aid politicians but because they gave it to a third-party group the public would never know.”
Do a Google search of American Legislative Exchange Council and education, and a name that keeps coming up is Brendan Fischer, who wrote a number of articles about ALEC while with the Center for Media and Democracy.
The Center for Media and Democracy has been tracking the movement. Arn Pearson, an analyst for the center, describes the campaign for a constitutional convention as “a very live threat.”
“If between the groups they get to 34 states,” he says, “there is really nothing preventing them from aggregating those calls even if they’re not identical, and pushing for a convention.”