ALEC Goes After the Center for Media and Democracy

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent a message to hundreds of legislators and corporations across the country attacking the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), the creator of Among other things ALEC claimed, "CMD is an attack-dog, not a watch-dog."

The error-filled missive, which was intended to buck up the ALEC faithful as more and more corporations flee the organization, has us here at CMD pondering the old adage, "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they want to attack you and then you win."

ALEC Attempts to Spin Legislators about Corporate Exodus

ALEC Exposed - A project of CMALEC's August 13 message claimed that CMD "continue[s] to spread half-truths and lies" about ALEC in order to "weaken [ALEC's] resolve" and "create the false impression that companies are departing from ALEC."

As CMD has reported, 38 corporations, four non-profit organizations, and 70 state legislators have distanced themselves from ALEC by either dropping their funding or their membership or both. These major corporations include General Motors, Walgreens, Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, MillerCoors, John Deere, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart,, Procter & Gamble, Mars, Wendy's, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola.

We reported on six new departures, including Sprint and GE, just days ago. In every instance, CMD relied on a formal communication from the firm, a statement, letter, email, or conversation with staff.

Yet ALEC is attempting to make hay over whether some of the corporations that have said they are no longer funding ALEC are funders through paying membership dues and pay-to-play fees or whether they were funders of ALEC through sponsoring its meetings. Such distinctions among funders that have stopped funding ALEC are, to quote Shakespeare, "much ado about nothing."

Amgen: ALEC claims in its note to legislators that "Amgen is not severing ties with ALEC .... Amgen has informed us that it is letting its membership with us expire after this year." CMD reported on August 8th that Amgen had "dropped" is membership with ALEC. CMD's article attached the letter Amgen's assistant secretary and associate general counsel, Andrea A. Robinson, sent to Timothy Smith of Walden Asset Management which said, "After careful consideration, we have determined not to renew our membership in ALEC when our current membership expires this year." So Amgen is on the record dropping its membership after sustained pressure by community groups and shareholders.

As for ALEC's attempt to spin Amgen's public statement in August, the company's letter of departure speaks for itself.

Louis Dreyfus: ALEC claims, "Louis Dreyfus never had a membership in ALEC to drop.... ALEC has partnered with Louis Dreyfus in past programs and has counted Louis Dreyfus as a sponsor of past annual meetings." After a conversation with a spokesperson at the company, CMD originally mentioned, in a July 30th article about the 46 firms that had disappeared from ALEC's annual meeting brochure, that it looked as though Louis Dreyfus was no longer a member of ALEC. Later, in announcing the departure of the firm from ALEC's circle of sponsors, we clarified, "Louis Dreyfus confirmed to CMD that it had decided not to fund ALEC this year." CMD's website lists Louis Dreyfus as a "Vice Chairman" level sponsor of the 2011 ALEC Annual Conference (in 2010, this level of sponsorship equated to $25,000).

The bottom-line is that Louis Dreyfus chose not to fund ALEC's annual meeting this year after sponsoring "past annual meetings."

And, despite ALEC's spin, neither Amgen nor Louis Dreyfus ever contacted CMD to request a correction about their decisions not to fund ALEC. However, some corporations have contacted CMD: firms anxious to distance themselves from ALEC and asking CMD to remove documented references to their past funding of ALEC, requests which were declined.

ALEC Uses Edelman PR and Media Attack Dogs to Try to Discredit ALEC Critics

Edelman's Madrid office (Source: Edelman)In May 2012, PRWeek reported that ALEC had hired the notorious global PR firm Edelman. Edelman is the firm of choice for big tobacco, big oil, and big pharma, all key sponsors of ALEC. ALEC also held a special meeting asking right-wing bloggers, such as the Breitbart operation, for help in "a very aggressive campaign to really spread the word about what we actually do," as CMD has reported.

An "aggressive campaign" is clearly underway.

ALEC's recent note claims that CMD's "top investigative reporter" has a "lengthy criminal background." It links to a attack-piece published by a newly created entity called The Washington Free Beacon (WFB), the online publication of the self-proclaimed "conservative advocacy group" the Center for American Freedom.

In that piece, recent college grad CJ Ciaramella focuses on Beau Hodai, a freelance reporter who has written for the Center for Media and Democracy, In These Times, Prison Legal News, Extra! (a publication of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), and the investigative news publication he founded, DBA Press.

Beau has been researching and reporting on ALEC since late 2009. His reporting has detailed the relationship between ALEC and private prison contractors in the dissemination of bills based on Arizona's SB 1070. And he has identified ALEC as one of the key forces behind attempts to destroy public employee unions and privatize public services.

Notably, the WFB attack job does not find any material errors in any of Beau's extensively documented reports on ALEC, but focuses on misdemeanor court records. It dwells on the fact that his legal first name is Mohamad. Beau has been nicknamed "Beau" since birth. (It is worth noting that "CJ" is not Ciaramella's legal first name but the nickname he uses instead of "Carl.")

Beau recently stirred the pot with a special report detailing corruption in the Ohio General Assembly based on public records that raise questions as to whether the state's elected officials in ALEC are complying with Ohio's ethics laws regarding gifts.

Interestingly enough, Beau learned that exactly one week following the publication of the Ohio ALEC corruption story, a private investigation firm requested court records concerning a past arrest. Allegations from those same court records emerged as the centerpiece of the WFB attack article.

The Washington Free Beacon's "Aerial Hunting Operation"

WFB's Matthew Continetti (who previously was an opinion editor at the right-wing Weekly Standard, where he remains a contributing editor) outlined the WFB's strategy as part of its recent launch:

"What would happen if the media wolf pack suddenly had to worry about an aerial hunting operation? You are about to find out. The Washington Free Beacon is here to enter the arena of combat journalism. [...] At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them."

And this is the team ALEC is using to attempt to discredit CMD as an "attack-dog"?

This is not the first such piece to come out of WFB. In the past few months, Ciaramella has written three pieces personally attacking reporters and activists working to expose ALEC. In addition to the piece on Beau, he published a similar attack on Color of Change staffer Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte, as well as The Nation reporter Lee Fang. Fang has also written for Think Progress (the blog of the Center for American Progress) and Republic Report, and he has reported critically on ALEC over the past year. Color of Change has been instrumental in the call for ALEC corporate members to sever ties with the organization.

The latest piece also takes a shot at George Soros by attempting to link Beau to the philanthropist through PRWatch. But CMD openly discloses on its website that the past grant it received from the Open Society Institute was focused on homeland security, not ALEC. Notably, neither the WFB nor CAF disclose to the public which corporations, organizations, or individuals bankroll their operations or smear campaigns.

The People Behind the "Center for American Freedom"

WFB is a creature of the Center for American Freedom (CAF), which was incorporated in Washington, D.C., on August 18, 2011, as a not-for-profit corporation. According to District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) records, CAF has two active trade names: "Free Bacon" [sic] and "Washington Free Beacon," both of which were formally effected in March 2012.

DCRA records list the names of two founding CAF "governors," Michael Goldfarb and Aaron Harison.

Harison, currently CAF's president, previously served as director of communications for the Republican National Committee (RNC). Harison is joined at CAF by former RNC acting director of communications, and current CAF research director, Tim Killeen.

Harison is also the former executive director of Keep America Safe, an operation co-founded in 2009 by Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney. William Kristol, the founder and editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard, is a founding board member of Keep America Safe. Kristol is currently listed as a board member of CAF, and is the former executive director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neocon "think tank" that had strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute.

Michael Goldfarb, CAF's chairman, has reportedly worked as an advisor to Keep America Safe and the militaristic Emergency Committee for Israel. (Kristol is also a board member for the Emergency Committee for Israel). Goldfarb is also listed as a contributing editor to Weekly Standard.

In addition, Goldfarb is a partner in the lobby/PR firm, Orion Strategies LLC. Not surprisingly, given Goldfarb and Kristol's warmongering predilections, Orion has lobbied on issues of arms sales and foreign relations for very special interests like defense contractors and foreign governments.

While these ties may explain some of the content on the WFB, what does any of this have to do with its efforts to defend ALEC by attacking the corporate bill mill's critics?

According to Politico, right-wing financiers Charles and David Koch also employ the services of Orion Strategies and, as CMD has documented, Koch Industries and/or the Koch family fortune have helped fund ALEC and numerous ALEC private sector members that help operationalize the brothers' ideological and financial agenda. There is no indication that the Kochs asked WFB to jump to the defense of ALEC. However, the right wing has been howling that the press and progressive groups have been too persuasive in exposing ALEC and in making the case about how ALEC helps make the corporate wish list into law through its members and operations.

CMD Wins Awards for ALEC Exposed and Investigative Breakthroughs

In the letter to its members, ALEC also attempted to impugn CMD as a "highly partisan, fringe organization." The charge brings to mind pots and kettles. When CMD surveyed ALEC's political leadership in July 2011, it documented that 103 of the 104 legislators serving on ALEC's Board of Directors or holding the post of co-chair on its task forces or of a state were Republicans. It's difficult to imagine a more lopsided partisan make-up of a body of elected officials than that, other than in groups that are expressly described by their party label, such as the Republican Governors Association.

CMD is a non-partisan watchdog group that has taken heat for being highly critical of President Obama's financial policies and the Democrats' campaign financing practices. We have filed briefs challenging the Obama administration, including its detention powers under the recent National Defense Authorization Act, and have been critical of Democrats and Republicans who push the agenda of their corporate benefactors in dozens of areas.

CMD has been honored to receive several journalism awards for its work to expose ALEC: the "Sidney Award" for Investigative Journalism, along with The Nation magazine, in September 2011; the "Izzy Award" for outstanding achievement in independent media, along with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who covered the uprising in Egypt from the ground; and most recently, the "Professional Freedom and Responsibility award" from the Cultural and Critical Studies Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication -- an honor that has previously been awarded to Bill Moyers, Molly Ivins, I.F. "Izzy" Stone, Noam Chomsky, Studs Terkel, and Bob McChesney. Earlier this year, CMD also recieved one of the Milwaukee Press Club's 2011 "Excellence in Journalism" awards for its investigative work.

ALEC Ups the Ante But the Odds Are on More Defections and Inquiries

While ALEC is fighting CMD with misleading missives to its members and media smears, it is still shedding corporate board members, funders, and sponsors. And it is still getting hammered in the press for its extreme agenda and its corrupting influence, for the fact that corporate lobbyists vote as equals with elected officials on templates to change the law, and its repeated claims it does not lobby despite proof to the contrary. ALEC has also received continued scrutiny for its corporate-funded scholarships. CMD has learned at least one state has had trouble maintaining corporate donors to cover the usual trips for legislators to attend ALEC events.

As calls for investigation of ALEC's lobbying activities and financing practices mount (with three complaints now filed before the IRS and other ethics investigations at the state level), it will take more than Edelman PR and "combat journalism" to rescue ALEC from the trouble it is in.

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is President of the Board of the Center for Media and Democracy and President of True North Research. She is a well-known researcher, writer, and public speaker. Her research and analysis have been cited by every major paper in the country and featured in critically acclaimed books and documentaries, including Ava Du Vernay’s award-winning film, “The 13th,” Bill Moyers’s “United States of ALEC,” and Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”



"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they want to attack you and then you win." When they fall to the pressure, the people of this nation have to remove all political obligation to Pledges gagging the voices of our elected officails. This should allow Bi-partisanship to re-introduce itself to our legislative system. It would be slow going, perceived political hatred is a difficult thing to see past, especialy when the spin machine is turning up the volume. Keep up the good work CMD! Peace

Great work ... this dog is earning its keep! When you have to resort to silly semantics & futile attempts at digging up dirt to defend yourself, you know you are in trouble.

The Bros. K are the Fourth Reich. They are absolute Nazis. What happened in Germany may very well be happening here now due to their money and "think tanks." Although I despise them, I do not underestimate them. They have taken lessons from Hitler and Goebbels, and they are even more cunning and malignant. They will stop at nothing, and use their intelligence to further their agenda of global domination. Thank you Lisa Graves and The CMD for your vigilance, and your perseverance in exposing ALEC and the Kochs. We cannot close our eyes for even a minute as long as they are alive.

Wendell Phillips made this wonderful comment which still rings true: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty—power is ever stealing from the many to the few…. The hand entrusted with power becomes … the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity." Speech in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 1852

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the CMD, reporter Beau Hodai and others such as Lee Fang, there is some counterpoint to the din coming from the right wing noise machine. Obviously, if Edelman was able to connect to a group of propagandists with such facility, the reactionary echo chamber is far less spontaneous, more organized, than the public would even begin realize. The comparison to the despicable work of Hitler's Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, is indeed chilling, with the billionaire industrialist Kochs today reprising the role of I.G. Farben, Krupp Steel, Siemens, and Rupert Murdoch's empire acting as a contemporary voice for the right wing of the Republican party much as Nazi newspapers, The Attack and the People's Observer served that cause for the genocidal eugenicists. I'd recommend that readers go to and come to their own conclusions. Lastly, ALEC overwhelmingly is a Republican, corporatist organization. The few Democratic members it has enlisted are an expression of tokenism. Indeed, a fair percentage of them have changed parties including the likes of for-profit prison supporters Kansas state senator Chris Steineger and Louisiana Senator Noble Ellington. ALEC boasts that two of its five most recent chairs have been Democrats. This is a tokenism that mirrors the presence of minorities who are prominent in Republican National Conventions. One wag noted that there were more African-American speakers at the RNC convention in NYC in 2004 than there were accredited as delegates. Ellington and fellow turncoat John R. Smith were the top two Louisiana legislative recipients of Koch Industries and subsidiaries cash over the last decade. ALEC honored lame duck Noble as its outgoing national chair and former Louisiana state chair at its November 2011 conference in Scottsdale. It paid $2,150 to bring him and his current wife along. At that meeting, Beau Hodai was evicted in the middle of the night at the behest of ALEC by Westin hotel security and off-duty Phoenix police for being what the Free Beacon termed a "threat" to ALEC.

I think this is just another of the ultra-right-wing Koch brother’s methods to divide and conquer the public and keep us from paying attention to what they and their ilk are doing. I know it sounds way out there, but that's the way they work. On a progressive web site, my husband and I signed a petition requesting that companies not support or sell Koch products. We think it was your website, but it also could have been several other progressive sites. Shortly after that, we started getting emails from what appeared to be Koch companies with emails that showed all our personal information. Apparently it was meant to intimidate us. We also at that time started to get calls from a certain 800 number. I picked it up and there was silence. I told them to speak up or I would hang up. They didn't, so I hung up. I put the call on block, but the bastards are still able to get through and ring. They never leave a message. It appears that Bros. KKK may have hired (hacker) guns who are getting and spreading misinformation all over the place to spoof companies, and I believe phone numbers as well, to convince people to think that good companies are hassling people and just in general making a mess of everything. This is what they do. They can't win fairly so they mess everything up for all of us. While everyone is running around in circles, they are busy buying everything and everyone who will sell his/her soul to their agenda. Money buys a lot of politicians and agencies. We just wanted to let you know.

The phone calls we keep getting are actually from 202-394-3930, not an 800 number. We found a lot of information on that number from a website called The majority of people getting called are those who donated to a democratic candidate or to some progressive cause. It is pertinent to this article because on page 2 of 27 you will find a 'jamess' who wrote a comment on 9 Jul, 2011 about this same phone number. As it happens, this is the very same 'jamess' who writes for the 'DAILY KOS'. Here is the link to his comment and the articles he refers to. Note that in his second article he writes about 'The 'Team Themis' Plan' which appears to be in full operation right now by the (purportedly and we believe) bought U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We have all seen their recent commercials. A very telling bit of information from the 'DAILY KOS' and their Chamber of Commerce stories is this gem. "Corporate Information Reconnaissance Cell [ Slide Presentation ] (PDF) Team Themis Purpose: Develop a corporate information reconnaissance service to aid legal investigations through the open source collection of information on target groups and individuals that appear organized to extort specific concessions through online slander campaigns. Solution: Develop collection solutions for information on individuals and groups of interest -- Standardize and store information in common DB for structured analysis -- Analyze digital artifacts and social links within common visual framework -- Report correlated information in individual and organizational profiles [...]" Needless to say that pretty much puts it all together for us and shows HOW they are doing what they do and it certainly helps to explain the phone calls and emails. It's so obviously 'E-Vile'. To borrow from 'Marmion', a poem by Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive"

Koch Secret Memo Beware, little people, beware ... The only apparent power we have for fighting back, is the focusing power of the Magnifying Glass on their shadowy ways. Given the Koch Summit attendees "inroads" into the Traditional Media -- that focusing power, can be drowned out, any day of the week. And the forecast, calls for rain. "You want a Job, you better Vote their way." The Themis Advocacy has spoken. Ken Vogel, the reporter whom the Kochs threatened with arrest at their billionaires' confab in Rancho Mirage has reported in Politico in the past that the Kochs: " ...through their contributions, board positions and patronage of the leaders of outfits that have been prominently featured at their donor conferences, such as Americans for Prosperity and THEMIS, a fledgling voter micro-targeting initiative spearheaded by former Koch staffer Karl Crow..." THEMIS is the name of the "three high-tech goon firms that spied on Change to Win (of which the Teamsters are a member), SEIU, ChamberWatch and bloggers such as ThinkProgress. They've all criticized the Chamber's agenda of letting multi-national corporations send more U.S. jobs overseas and destablize working families by forcing down wages even as U.S. unemployment approaches 10 percent." What does Team Themis actually do? Well, emails made public by an activist group of computer hackers showed: "...the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton and Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt ... solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively CALLED TEAM THEMIS , to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and" So, in addition to Orion, and with TEAM THEMIS, the Kochs plan to spend $88 million on promoting their agenda of turning the United States into a banana republic by busting unions, empowering corporations and eliminating environmental regulation. Think Progress suggest Barr began assembling the "target folders," including pictures and personal information of the family members of staffers at the labour groups and anti-Chamber of Commerce groups. Isn't this what in other contexts, would be called an "Enemies List" ? Hello Big Brother ... Whatever the mission statement on the wall at Chamber headquarters says in addition to profits over people, the organization's main objective at the moment seems to be burying Americans deep in disinformation. Anything that stands even slightly in the way of that, as the executive order on transparency would do, is bound to be included in that disinformation campaign. Nothing is more inimical to the Chamber's long-term goals than allowing rank-and-file Americans know who is behind so many of the lies of its members. Like the ones about climate change that keep the nation scurrying headlong down a dead-end path. People, this is TEAM THEMIS: PURPOSE: Develop a corporate information reconnaissance service to aid legal investigations through the open source collection of information on target groups and individuals that appear organized to extort specific concessions through online slander campaigns. SOLUTION: Develop collection solutions for information on individuals and groups of interest SUCH AS THE FOLLOWING TACTICS -- Standardize and store information in common DB for structured analysis -- Analyze digital artifacts and social links within common visual framework -- Report correlated information in individual and organizational profiles Here are some of their tech strategies. Data Integration: Team Themis developers and engineers will leverage their extensive knowledge of Palantir's development and data integration environments to integrate all relevant data in one single, robust analytics layer. All of the data collected will be integrated seamlessly into the Palantir analysis framework to enhance link and artifact analysis. The platform's powerful approach to data integration will enable enterprises to unify data schemas, thus allowing analysts to depict and query otherwise disparate pieces of information in a secure and collaborative environment. Thanks to Palantir's sophisticated data integration capabilities, analysts within the CIRC will also be able to ingest both structured and unstructured data and perform real-time entity resolution against user-defined criteria on the fly, culminating with the fusion of multiple data sources and enrichment of single-source data feeds. Target Folders Develop in-depth target dossiers for key entities and groups; will include key biographic data, relationships, intentions, etc. "Wow! Forget about a Paper Trail -- Beware of your Digit Footprints, just waiting to be collated ... in a far off corporate war room" BTW Themis was the Titan goddess of divine law and order--the traditional rules of conduct first established by the gods. She was also a prophetic goddess who presided over the most ancient oracles, including Delphoi. In this role, she was the divine voice (themistes) who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality, such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance, conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the gods. In Greek, the word themis referred to divine law, those rules of conduct long established by custom. Unlike the word nomos, the term was not usually used to describe laws of human decree. It really bothers me how they have elected to DESECRATE THE GODDESS THEMIS by using her name, and perverting what she really stands for.

Thanks again, Lisa Graves for your most illuminating article! It really galls me how these plutocrats have elected to DESECRATE THE GODDESS THEMIS by using her name for a spying, personal-information-data-gathering-big-brother- impersonator-secret-information corporation, and how they have PERVERTED what she really stands for. They now worship the goddess Ayn Rand- you know - the one who was in love with a serial killer. Instead of Team Themis, they should have selected the name Team Ayn Rand. If you look her up, here is some of the treasure trove you will find on goddess Rand, who is more like one of the Greek Furies, IMO: "Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights..." Ayn, I Got Mine, Go Frack Yourself, b!tch on wheels Rand! Orion is another famous Greek name. In Greek literature he first appears as a great hunter in Homer's epic the Odyssey, where Odysseus sees his shade in the underworld. Orion played several roles in ancient Greek culture. The story of the adventures of Orion, THE HUNTER, is the one which is most popular; he is also the personification of the constellation of the same name; he was honored as a hero, "in the Greek sense..." Now, we have the corporation, Orion Strategies, a lobbying firm in Washington run by Randy Scheunemann. whose main job is to feed its "framed-information" to journalists and to affect the way a story is spun in the media. It functions as a neoconservative "echo chamber", and it has on several occasions been involved in hyping and pushing wars. Again, here we have the creation of some plutocrats who have DESECRATED THE GREEK GOD ORION, by stealing the name of a pure and popular hero of Greek mythology, and calling their corporation "ORION." Need to know more nauseating information about Orion Strategies? Well, although it is very subversive and decadent, it is better to be depressingly informed than to be ignorant of these demons. Ken Silverstein writes: "Orion is run by Randy Scheunemann, a former advisor to Donald Rumsfeld who helped set up the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and was a leading advocate for the U.S. invasion in 2003. The committee in turn was created by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose other leaders included Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, founder and editor of the Weekly Standard. Scheunemann was John McCain’s foreign policy advisor during his 2008 presidential campaign, and later worked for Sarah Palin. In 2010, Orion hired Michael Goldfarb, a McCain presidential spokesman who previously worked for PNAC and who was a contributing editor at the Weekly Standard (and who even as a lobbyist continues to periodically write for the magazine). Lake is also an ardent conservative whose reporting championed the Iraq war. Orion seeks to create a media echo chamber on Georgia and Russia. Essentially it works like this: Tbilisi’s lobbyists generate contacts and information that they feed to sympathetic journalists. Orion frequently arranges interviews with Georgian officials and, not infrequently, stories centering on their charges magically appear soon afterward. Orion has wined and dined some reporters on its tab or picked up their travel expenses. There’s certainly nothing illegal about that but it’s worth noting that lobbyists are barred from maintaining these sorts of relationships with members of Congress because it so clearly presents, as we say in Washington, at least the appearance of impropriety." Orion is friendly to and works with government officials and politicians whom its reporter friends regularly cite (especially McCain). Orion also works very closely with experts and organizations cited by these reporters, like the Foreign Policy Initiative, whose board of directors includes William Kristol, Robert Kagan and other neocons from the PNAC and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.