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We at DBA Press have noticed that it is getting harder and harder to get through a day without thinking about Charles and David Koch, the brothers from Wichita who built a multi-billion-dollar, multi-faceted, multi-national corporate empire from humble petrochemical roots– and who used the proceeds to buy their own Grand Old Party.
So, we compiled the most exhaustive library of Koch brothers documentation possible (from every single Koch Industries securities holdings report on record with the SEC to nearly every single tax return filed over at least the past five years for the many right-wing “think tanks” controlled by the Kochs) in the hopes of providing a resource for those of you who find yourselves asking the same question we’ve been asking ourselves: “who the hell are these Koch bastards?”
This archive contains well over 10,000 pages of documents gathered from the offices of ALEC public sector chairs and other ALEC member lawmakers in several states over the past several years (including thousands of pages of documents obtained in recent months).
Nearly all of the materials contained in the archive were obtained through public records requests submitted to the offices of these lawmakers. Such materials include: documents listing ALEC donor corporations, documents listing ALEC member lawmakers, pieces of ALEC ‘model legislation,’ ALEC ‘scholarship fund’ disbursements to lawmakers– and much more…
In October of 2010, DBA Press submitted the first of a long and as-yet-unended chain of public records requests to ALEC member lawmakers (most of these requests were submitted to the offices of state public sector chairs). While the strategies behind these requests have shifted somewhat over the years– some requests seeking drafting materials behind specific bills, some requests seeking all records pertaining to ALEC, some requests seeking all records pertaining to the state’s ALEC private sector chairs, some requests a permutation of all of the above– the intent has always been the same: to make public what ALEC and its members work so hard to keep private.
Such materials returned to DBA Press per these requests have included detailed records of state scholarship fund activity (records of donations and records of lawmaker disbursements), lists of donors to state-specific ALEC events, pieces of model legislation (and discussions surrounding such legislation), lists of legislative ALEC members– and an unending sea of think tank propaganda.
Former National Security Agency (NSA) analysts, and others, discuss the scope of the agency’s domestic telecommunications surveillance program in statements issued from September through November, 2012, in Jewel v. NSA, et al. (United States District Court of Northern California).
We’ll let the words of these informed individuals speak for themselves.
“I agree with Mr. [Thomas] Drake’s assessment that everything changed at the NSA after the attacks on September 11. The prior approach focused on complying with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The post September 11 approach was that the NSA could circumvent federal statutes and the Constitution as long as there was some visceral connection to looking for terrorists.”
— former NSA analyst J. Kirk Wiebe.
“The NSA has the ability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords and phrases in email. The NSA has the ability to do individualized or small scale searches for particular electronic communications in real time. It also has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers.”
— former NSA analysts J. Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake and William Binney.
This archive contains more than 1,000 pages of records obtained from the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pertaining to private prison operators, private prison lobbyists.
Key pieces of information contained in this records set include:
— ADC Director claimed knowledge of CCA’s role in driving prison privatization plan: on July 14, 2009 Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan wrote a letter to then-Brewer Chief of Staff Eileen Klein, stating that capitol staff, as well as Geo Group and Management and Training Company (MTC) lobbyists, had informed him that a massive private prison concession agreement for the operation of many of the state’s correctional facilities had been advanced by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and their chief lobbyist, Jaime Molera. The letter also details a heated exchange that had taken place between Ryan and CCA Vice President of State Partnership Relations Brad Regens when Ryan raised this issue with Regens.
— CCA lobbyists work with the Governor’s Office and Legislature to shape the state budget, award contract: records show that both CCA lobbyists Jaime Molera and Kathryn Senseman (wife of former Brewer Communications Director and CCA lobbyist Paul Senseman) were engaged with the Governor’s office and the Arizona Legislature in drafting budgetary language that resulted in the 2012 CCA contract award.
— CCA lobbyist handpicked Governor’s judicial appointee: records show that CCA lobbyist Jaime Molera essentially nominated Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods for appointment to the bench by the Governor. Woods, per Molera’s nomination, was subsequently appointed to the bench by Brewer in 2011. Woods’ law firm, Rusing and Lopez, PLLC (currently Rusing, Lopez and Lizardi), had worked closely with Molera and Molera’s lobby firm, Molera Alvarez Group, in a number of business ventures.
— Governor uses private email account to evade public records law: absent from this records set is any responsive record delivered to DBA Press from the possession of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer herself.
Even though the DBA Press public records request explicitly sought responsive records and communications from Brewer– including emails sent/received by the Governor while conducting state business through the use of private email addresses such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” (Brewer’s email address as given in campaign finance documents filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State, Division of Elections)– records delivered to DBA Press contain not one single, solitary record that originated with the Governor herself. This is worth noting, especially since Brewer’s longtime campaign manager and advisor, Chuck Coughlin (proprietor of high-powered Phoenix lobby firm HighGround Public Affairs Consultants) served as a CCA lobbyist from late January of 2010 through July 13, 2012.
When asked why records delivered per DBA Press’ request contained nothing from Brewer herself, then-Brewer Communications Director Matt Benson stated that the Governor does not use a state-issued email account during the course of her business as the state’s top executive, and therefore none of the Governor’s email communications are open to public disclosure. The archive contains audio of Matt Benson explaining the Governor’s imagined immunity to public records law.
— And much, much more….
DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) release FBI records pertaining to Anonymous “hacktivist” group Lulzsec. The heavily redacted records were released to DBA/CMD by the FBI on December 6, 2013, in response to a DBA/CMD Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted on August 9, 2013.
Some of the more salient points of released records include:
– FBI records that discuss “hacktivist” informant activity also reference Backtrace Security, a group that purports to be a spinoff of Anonymous, and that purports to take an adversarial stance to the political activities of both Anonymous and Lulzsec.
As stated in FBI records:
“By way of background, BrackTrace Security is a hacker group that spun off of Anonymous because they disagree with the current direction that Anonymous has taken. BackTrace Security does not believe in the political hacktivism activities that Anonymous has claimed responsibility for lately. One of the goals of Backtrace Security is to put an end to the current incarnation of Anonymous. Backtrace Security has also attempted to identify members of Lulzsec and shut down their operations.
“[REDACTED] has agreed to work with the writer [REDACTED THROUGH REMAINDER OF PARAGRAPH].”
Archives by story:
(November 18, 2013) DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) release records obtained from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS I&A) pertaining to the operations of the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC). These records were recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request originally filed with DHS I&A in August, 2012.
Among other things, these records disclose DHS I&A/DSAC private sector intelligence sharing concerning Wikileaks (a journalistic outfit) and ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous; Booz Allen Hamilton work on behalf of DHS I&A/DSAC; and aspects of private sector involvement (corporations such as Merck & Co.) in the workings of the U.S. intelligence community. This article also discusses the involvement of career CIA officers in DHS I&A/DSAC.
(November 11, 2013) Records obtained by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) shed light on a technology, OpenMIND, utilized by law enforcement/counter-terrorism fusion center personnel in gathering and analyzing mass amounts of ‘open source intelligence’ derived from the online lives of Americans.
According to records obtained by DBA/CMD, this technology, employed by state/regional ‘homeland security’ ‘fusion centers,’ is able to access to password protected sites and is deliberately designed to hide both the presence of inquiring analysts, as well as their subjects of interest.
Furthermore, these technologies serve as vacuums that amass, store and collate vast amounts of data in order to monitor shifts in public opinion and predict the possible future actions of those being monitored.
(May, 2013) “Dissent or Terror” is the result of a year long investigation by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy.
The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how state/regional “fusion center” personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012. Personnel engaged in this activity at fusion centers include employees of municipal, county and federal counter terrorism/homeland security entities. Such entities include local police departments, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (including U.S. DHS components such as the Transportation Security Administration).
The report also examines how fusion centers and other counter terrorism entities that have emerged since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have worked to benefit numerous corporations engaged in public-private intelligence sharing partnerships.
While the report examines many instances of fusion center monitoring of Occupy Wall Street activists nationwide, the bulk of the report details how counter terrorism personnel engaged in the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC, commonly known as the “Arizona fusion center”) monitored and otherwise surveilled citizens active in Occupy Phoenix, and how this surveillance benefited a number of corporations and banks that were subjects of Occupy Phoenix protest activity.
(May, 2012.) “Quid pro Status Quo” details the apparent use of Ohio’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) legislative “scholarship fund” as a vehicle for unreported lobbyist gifts to Ohio lawmakers.
The report consists of two parts. The first part, “Legislative Service With a Smile,” examines an instance where the fund appears to have been used in the facilitation of a “quid pro quo” arrangement between a lobbyist and members of the Ohio General Assembly.
The second part, “Lessons from a Baseball Game,” examines apparent widespread criminal violations of Ohio legislative gifting law, related to a Time Warner Cable-sponsored baseball game party held in conjunction with an ALEC conference in April, 2011.
(January, 2012.) Arizona Representative Steve Farley announces the introduction of the “ALEC Accountability Act of 2012″ in the Arizona House of Representin.’ Among its provisions, the bill called for greater transparency in lawmaker reporting of ALEC “scholarship funds,” and greater disclosure of the source of those funds. This article also details the grid of ALEC-member lobby firms at work in Phoenix, the corporations they represent and the political campaigns they orchestrate.
(July, 2011.) An exhaustive DBA Press analysis of thousands of pages of documents obtained through public records requests over the past several months has revealed the source of many of these suddenly-wildly-popular bills [aimed at weakening public employee unions] to be ‘model legislation’ disseminated primarily through one entity.
Ironically, as these bills have been batted around as the fulfillment of GOP promises to cut excessive government spending, ‘pork barrel’ handouts and backroom dealings, the group which has advanced much of this legislation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is comprised of corporations (often with vested interests in privatization), special interest ‘think tanks,’ and member lawmakers (overwhelmingly Republican). As such, ALEC may be the ultimate portal for special interests to the “back rooms” of state government.
Documents archived for this story include ALEC model legislation, ALEC lawmaker scholarship fund disbursement records, as well as other materials obtained from the offices of ALEC state chairs in Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida.
And much, much more…..
This article also contains audio of interviews conducted with ALEC personnel, lawmakers and lobbyists.
(June, 2011.) As previously reported by DBA Press (“Legacy of Corruption,” February, 2011), the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been quietly investigating the circumstances which led to the appropriation and construction of Florida’s largest private prison, Blackwater River Correctional Facility (Blackwater CF), operated by Florida-based private prison operator, Geo Group. Subpoenas issued by federal investigators in recent weeks indicate that a grand jury empaneled in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida is moving forward with the investigation.
(April, 2011.) An exhaustive analysis of prison phone contracts nationwide has revealed that with only limited exceptions, telephone service providers offer lucrative kickbacks (politely termed “commissions”) to state contracting agencies – amounting on average to 42% of gross revenues from prisoners’ phone calls – in order to obtain exclusive, monopolistic contracts for prison phone services.
These contracts are priced not only to unjustly enrich the telephone companies by charging much higher rates than those paid by the general public, but are further inflated to cover the commission payments, which suck over $152 million per year out of the pockets of prisoners’ families – who are the overwhelming recipients of prison phone calls. Averaging a 42% kickback nationwide, this indicates that the phone market in state prison systems is worth more than an estimated $362 million annually in gross revenue.
In a research task never before accomplished, Prison Legal News, using public records laws, secured prison phone contract information from all 50 states (compiled in 2008-2009 and representing data from 2007-2008).
(March, 2011.) On December 21, 2010, just days before recessing for the holidays, the U.S. Senate confirmed Stacia Hylton as director of the U.S. Marshals Service in spite of opposition by a coalition of human rights, citizens’ advocacy and criminal justice-related organizations that argued she had a conflict of interest based on her close connections with private prison firms.
Hylton, a former Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals with a lengthy career in law enforcement, was employed from June 2004 to February 2010 as the Federal Detention Trustee. Following her retirement she was nominated by President Obama to head the Marshals Service, which handles security for federal courthouses, apprehends federal fugitives and oversees the detention of federal prisoners awaiting trial or immigration proceedings.
On October 25, 2010, after retiring as Federal Detention Trustee, Hylton quickly accepted a consulting job with GEO Group through her Virginia-based company, Hylton Kirk & Associates LLC, of which she is the president and sole owner. In her financial disclosure statements, Hylton reported income of $112,500 for “consulting services for detention matters, federal relations, and acquisitions and mergers.” GEO Group was the only company listed in her disclosure statements in connection with such consulting services.
(February, 2011.) Freshman U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, as former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (R-Miami, 2006-2008)—as well as other state GOP lawmakers and party contributors– are currently the likely subjects of multiple wide-ranging state and federal investigations conducted by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) into improper use of credit cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida, as well as tax evasion and improper budgetary appropriations.
One such set of appropriations/legislative actions reportedly being investigated by federal authorities are those which led to the development of the state’s largest private prison, the Blackwater River Correctional Facility (CF), which opened its gates for operation in November. The prison was designed and is operated by Florida-based Geo Group, the nation’s second largest private prison operator.
This story tracks the activities of both Geo Group and Rubio economic consultant Donna Arduin through private prison development in Florida under Governor Charlie Crist and in California under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger– as well as some strange appearances with some strange bedfellows.
(January, 2011.) Details the conditions of Ohio’s “supermax” facility, Ohio State Prison Youngstown (OSP), which have driven members of the “Lucasville Five”– all sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the 1993 Lucasville prison uprising/standoff/riot– to launch a hunger strike so that they may enjoy the same living conditions as other prisoners on Ohio’s death row.
This story and documents archived discuss, in large part, the background of the Lucasville standoff and the subsequent convictions and ongoing legal battles of the “Five:” Siddique Abdullah Hasan (formerly Carlos Sanders), Keith Lamar (Bomani Shakur), Jason Robb, George Skatzes and Namir Mateen (formerly James Were).
(December, 2009.) A story which tracks the history of Corplan Corrections and Innovative Government Strategies, a consortium of private prison developers and bond underwriters responsible for selling the small town of Hardin, Montana, on the idea of building what has proven to be a useless $27 million concrete box laced with razor wire.
Source materials archived include: court documents related to the consortium’s dealings in Texas; bond documents and feasibility studies related to the development of Corplan private prisons; as well as documents detailing the involvement of Califonia-based conman Michael Hilton and his American Private Police Force in the Hardin jail fiasco– and much more…