Archive for the ‘InfoSources’ Category

Introducing Subsidy Tracker

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Over the past decade, the National Institute on Money in State Politics has built its Follow the Money database into an impressive resource for showing the influence of large corporations on state electoral campaigns. I have long wanted to create a comparable tool to track the flow of money in roughly the opposite direction: economic development subsidy awards from states to big business.

I am happy to announce that my colleagues and I at Good Jobs First have just introduced such a resource. Subsidy Tracker is the first national search engine for determining where a company has gotten economic development subsidies around the country. The database stitches together information from scores of different disclosure sources, many of them obscure reports and webpages. The subsidy programs covered include corporate income tax credits, property tax abatements, enterprise zone tax breaks, cash grants, reimbursement of worker training costs, and others.

In its initial form, the database contains information on more than 43,000 subsidy awards from 124 subsidy programs in 27 states; the number will soon jump to more than 64,000 in 34 states and will continue growing.

Here are some ways Subsidy Tracker can be used:

  • To find companies that have received subsidies in many places. Currently, for instance, Wal-Mart shows up 69 times, trailed by Target at 45.
  • To find companies that have gotten some very large individual subsidies. General Electric received a tax credit worth up to $115 million in Ohio in 2009.
  • To find bad actors that have received subsidies. Super-polluter and climate denier Exxon shows up 23 times in Louisiana alone. The anti-union T-Mobile shows up eight times so far. Wall Street villain Goldman Sachs has received more than $124 million in tax credits and grants in Utah and New Jersey.
  • To find good actors that have received subsidies. Flambeau River Papers, included on the American Rights at Work 2010 list of employers that “practice labor-management cooperation while creating pioneering solutions to the environmental challenges of the 21st century” shows up in Subsidy Tracker as having received a grant of $249,000 from Wisconsin in 2008.
  • To find companies that have received subsidies in states where they have made substantial campaign contributions. Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, which according to Follow the Money made more than $546,000 in campaign contributions in Illinois since 2003 (including those of its executives and employees), has received more than $87 million in enterprise zone tax credits in the state during the same period.
  • To find companies that profess extreme laissez-faire views and then take subsidies. Koch Industries, whose owners bankroll the Tea Party movement, received two tax credits worth a total of more than $10 million from Oklahoma in the past year.

I’m sure researchers, journalists and others will think of many more ways to use the database. Each entry in Subsidy Tracker contains a link back to the original online source (except a limited number of cases in which the data we obtained is not posted on the web). Search results can be downloaded to a spreadsheet. For more on the data and how the site works, see the User Guide.

Good Jobs First introduced Subsidy Tracker along with two other resources: a report called Show Us the Subsidies, which evaluates the subsidy disclosure practices of the 50 states and the District of Columbia; and Accountable USA, a set of pages that review each state’s subsidy policies, describe large and controversial subsidy deals and provide other provocative information.

We hope all these tools help shine a light on the many excessive and ineffective subsidies that are going to large companies at a time when states and localities can ill afford the loss of what is estimated at $60 billion a year in public revenue.

Subsidy Tracker is a work in progress. In this first phase, we have focused on data sources that we discovered in preparing Show Us the Subsidies and Accountable USA. In the months ahead, we plan to go deeper by using freedom of information requests to obtain data not currently disclosed in any form.

I hope that Dirt Diggers Digest readers will find Subsidy Tracker to be a useful tool in your research. I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Resources

Subsidy Tracker main page

Subsidy Tracker User Guide

Inventory of data sources currently in Subsidy Tracker

Table of online disclosure links for major subsidy programs (not all data yet in Subsidy Tracker)

Accountable USA main page

Index of companies whose subsidy deals are profiled in Accountable USA

Show Us the Subsidies report and state appendices

Good Jobs First case studies of companies and industries that are major subsidy recipients

Exposing the Executive Pay of Beltway Bandits

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

ARRA logoThe recipient reporting system mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to inform the public on how federal stimulus spending is creating jobs. The just-released first phase of that system still has a considerable number of bugs to work out with regard to its job numbers, but it also represents a new step forward in making the operations of federal contractors more transparent.

The rules governing Recovery Act reporting include a requirement (FAR 52.204-11) that certain contractors disclose the amount of compensation paid to their five highest paid executives. These include companies that receive $25 million or more in federal governments as long as federal contracts account for 80 percent or more of their total revenue.

Publicly traded companies already report this information to the Securities and Exchange Commission in their proxy statements, which are made available to the public. The Recovery Act rule is unusual in that it extends executive compensation reporting to privately held firms, which typically keep such information to themselves.

In the new Recovery Act contract data, several hundred contractors provided compensation information, including many that apparently were not required to do so. As shown in the table below, 14 contractors reported compensation in excess of $1 million for their top executive (not including obvious glitches such as a modest-sized excavating company in Washington State that entered $986 million in the compensation column).

Half of the contractors are part of publicly traded companies, and their compensation amounts match what was previously disclosed by those companies. The rest are privately held, meaning that this may well be the first time the pay of their top executives has been officially disclosed.

The most interesting of these is the huge consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, which since fiscal year 2000 has been the recipient of more than $16 billion in federal contracts. It does business with many agencies, but it is especially close with the Pentagon. Last year it was the 22nd largest military contractor. The Recovery Act reports do not list executive names, but it likely that Booz Allen CEO Ralph W. Shrader was the one who was paid more than $8.4 million last year.

The Recovery Act does not include funding for military purposes, but it forces Pentagon contractors and other Beltway Bandits that happen to be privately held to reveal how richly they are rewarding their top executives with the help of taxpayer funds.

Top Compensation Amounts Reported by Recovery Act Federal Contractors

JOHNSON CONTROLS BUILDING AUTOMATION SYSTEMS LLC
$17,385,308

RAYTHEON TECHNICAL SERVICES COMPANY LLC
$15,056,151

BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON INC.
$8,457,003

BALL AEROSPACE & TECHNOLOGIES CORP.
$8,111,298

ENERGYSOLUTIONS FEDERAL SERVICES, INC.
$6,336,752

ADVANCED CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES LTD
$2,724,660

DANYA INTERNATIONAL INC.
$2,363,143

ROLLS-ROYCE NORTH AMERICAN TECHNOLOGIES INC.
$2,025,860

WEST VALLEY ENVIRONMENTAL SERV
$1,955,909

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH CORPORATION
$1,471,745

ORBITAL SCIENCES CORPORATION
$1,448,752

STG, INC.
$1,201,762

PARSONS INFRASTRUCTURE & TECHNOLOGY GROUP INC.
$1,128,070

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICAL CORPORATION
$1,016,426

Source: Analysis of the combined state spreadsheets provided at the Recipient Reported tab here.

Notes:

The figure for Johnson Controls Building Automation Systems is apparently the compensation of Stephen A. Roell, CEO of the parent company Johnson Controls Inc., which is publicly traded and thus already reported the compensation of its top officers through its SEC filings. The figure above is the same as that reported for Roell in the company’s latest proxy statement.

The figure for Raytheon Technical Services is the same as that reported for parent Raytheon’s CEO William H. Swanson in the company’s latest proxy statement.

Booz Allen is privately held. Its CEO is Ralph W. Shrader.

The figure for Ball Aerospace is the same as that reported for parent Ball Corporation’s CEO R. David Hoover in the company’s latest proxy statement.

The figure for EnergySolutions Federal Services Inc. is the same as that reported for parent EnergySolutions’ chief financial officer Philip O. Strawbridge in the company’s latest proxy statement.

Advanced Construction Techniques Ltd is privately held. Its president is James Cockburn.

Danya International Inc. is privately held. Its CEO is Jeffrey A. Hoffman.

The figure for Rolls-Royce North American is roughly the same (after currency conversion) as that reported for parent Rolls-Royce PLC chief executive Sir John Rose in the company’s annual report.

West Valley Environmental Services LLC describes itself as “a newly-formed company comprised of four companies – URS Washington Division, Jacobs Engineering Group, Environmental Chemical Corporation (ECC), and Parallax/Energy Solutions – with extensive experience conducting environmental cleanup at Department of Energy (DOE) sites across the United States.” Its compensation figure above is the same as that reported in the proxy statement of URS Corporation for URS Washington Division President Thomas H. Zarges.

Scientific Research Corporation is privately held. Its CEO is Michael Watt.

The figure for Orbital Sciences is the same as that reported by the company for CEO David W. Thompson in the company’s latest proxy statement.

STG Inc. is privately held. Its CEO is Simon S. Lee.

Parsons Infrastructure is a unit of privately held Parsons Corporation, whose CEO is Charles L. Harrington.

Environmental Chemical Corporation (which seems to prefer being called simply ECC) is privately held. Its CEO is Manjiv Vohra.

UPDATE: On October 30 Recovery.gov published a revision of the contractor data that fixed various formatting problems and added names to the executive compensation figures. For more details, see here.

Shades of Green

Friday, September 25th, 2009

NewsweekMichael Moore may be on all the talk shows these days touting his new film on the evils of capitalism, but elsewhere in the mainstream media the celebration of big business continues apace. Especially when it comes to the environment, we are meant to believe that large corporations are at the forefront of enlightened thinking.

This is the implicit message of the cover of the new issue of Newsweek, which is filled with leaves to promote its feature on “The Greenest Big Companies in America: An Exclusive Ranking.” The list itself, however, has more validity than the usual exercises of this sort, which tend to take much of corporate greenwash at face value.

The Newsweek rankings are based on what appear to be solid data from KLD Research & Analytics, producer of the reputable (but expensive) SOCRATES social investing database, along with Trucost and CorporateRegister.com. Each company in the S&P 500 is rated on its environmental impact, its environmental policies, and its reputation among corporate social responsibility professionals, academics and other environmental experts. The ratings even take in account a company’s “regulatory infractions, lawsuits and community impacts.”

Not surprisingly, those at the top of the list are high-tech companies—such as Hewlett-Packard (ranked No. 1), Dell (2), Intel (4), IBM (5) and Cisco Systems (12)—which have never had quite the same pollution problems as old-line industries and which in many cases have made themselves “cleaner” by outsourcing their production activities to overseas producers.  Dell, in particular, is on its way to becoming a hollow company by selling off its plants.

More interesting is that supposed sustainability pioneer Wal-Mart comes in at No. 59, behind old-line industrial companies such as United Technologies and Owens Corning. Whole Foods Market, purveyor of over-priced organic groceries, is a bit lower at 67. Oil giant Chevron, which urges the public to “join us” in its supposed commitment to energy efficiency, is ranked 371, not much better than long-time global warming denier ExxonMobil (395).

Since the Newsweek list covers the entirety of the S&P 500, we can also look at what is probably the most significant group: those at the very bottom. The harm that these companies—especially utilities such as American Electric Power and Southern Company with lots of fossil-fuel-fired power plants—do to the environment far outweighs any good done by those at the top of the list. Also among the laggards are agribusiness giants Monsanto (No. 485), Archer Daniels Midland (486), Bunge (493) and ConAgra Foods (497).

But special mention must be given to the absolute worst company of all: mining giant Peabody Energy. On a scale of 0 to 100, Peabody is awarded all of 1 point, presumably reflecting its single-minded dedication to climate-destroying coal and its support for groups fighting the climate bill now in Congress.

Newsweek deserves credit for undertaking a serious evaluation of corporate environmental performance. The web version even has a nice sidebar on green fakery. But the magazine could have easily turned the list upside down and headlined its feature “The Biggest Environmental Culprits of Corporate America.”

Shell’s Self-Serving “Humanitarian” Gesture

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

whaleOne of the advantages for a corporation in resolving a sensitive lawsuit out of court is that it can proclaim innocence and insist it is settling for other reasons. Royal Dutch Shell has done just that in a case brought in connection with the 1995 execution of author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists who campaigned against the oil company’s operations in the Ogoniland region of Nigeria.

Shell actually was even more brazenly self-serving than the typical company that says it is settling in order to put the case behind it. The Anglo-Dutch transnational insisted that its willingness to pay the plaintiffs US$15.5 million – $5 million of which will go into a trust fund for the Ogoni people – was a “humanitarian gesture.” It was unusual for Shell to allow the amount of the settlement to be disclosed, but it was apparently worth it to draw attention away from the lawsuit’s charges that the company collaborated with the repressive military regime that ruled Nigeria in the 1990s and that put Saro-Wiwa and the others to death after a sham trial. The suit  – brought in U.S. federal court under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Victim Protection Act and racketeering statutes – also accused Shell of being complicit in crimes against humanity, torture, inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest, wrongful death, assault and battery, and infliction of emotional distress.

It is understandable why the plaintiffs and their lawyers – led by the Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International – would feel a need to settle a case that had dragged on for 13 years and provide some financial assistance to the Ogoni community. Yet it is frustrating to see Shell trying to turn an outrage into an opportunity to burnish its image, even though other Ogoni claims are still pending.

The frustration is compounded by the fact that Shell continues to engage in dubious behavior in other parts of its global operations. For example, the company has a problematic relationship with another undemocratic government as part of its deep involvement in a massive oil and gas project in the Russian Far East. That offshore project, known as Sakhalin II, has been the subject of a great deal of controversy because it threatens the survival of one of the world’s most endangered species of whales – Western Pacific Grays (photo).

Groups such as Pacific Environment, collaborating with Russian activists who formed Sakhalin Environment Watch, have pressured Shell and its partners to adopt stronger environmental protections or abandon the project. Shell’s largest partner is Gazprom, a publicly traded gas monopoly that is controlled by the Russian government, which has used the company to advance Russian foreign policy goals vis-à-vis Eastern Europe by cutting off gas supplies at various times. Shell has acknowledged that it is interested in developing a new Sakhalin III project in collaboration with Gazprom.

Last year, there were reports that Shell had sought to influence the outcome of a purportedly independent environmental audit of Sakhalin II. Previously, Shell gained notoriety for overstating its proven petroleum reserves by 20 percent. The company ended up paying about $150 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle the charges. It did not try to depict that payment as a humanitarian gesture, but it is possible that one day Shell may have to put a positive spin on millions paid to settle claims stemming from the harms caused in Sakhalin.

Note: If you want to keep track of the far-flung operations of U.S.-based transnationals, check out a new tool called Croctail, which provides an easy way to search the names of domestic and foreign subsidiaries that publicly traded companies report in their 10-K filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Croctail is an extension of the Crocodyl wiki of critical corporate profiles sponsored by CorpWatch and other groups (full disclosure: I am a contributor and advisor to Crocodyl).

Transparent Intentions

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

In some of its first official acts, the Obama Administration has set the hearts of disclosure advocates atwitter at the prospect of a new era of open government. “For a long time now there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” said the new President. “Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

After issuing a memorandum on openness and an executive order repealing restrictive Bush Administration policies on the release of government records, including those relating to former presidents, Obama said: “Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”

Transparency will be an issue in some of the administration’s largest initiatives, especially the $800 billion or so that will be spent for economy recovery. The signs there look promising as well. The 258-page text of the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 posted last week by the House Appropriations Committee includes some impressive provisions on disclosure. The bill calls for the creation of a special website called Recovery.gov “to foster greater accountability and transparency in the use of funds made available in this Act” (Section 1226).

Aside from general material on the stimulus program, the site is supposed to include detailed data on all contracts awarded and grants issued. However, the bill does state that “proprietary data that is required to be kept confidential under applicable Federal or State law or regulation shall be redacted before posting” (Section 201). Given the restrictive practices in some jurisdictions, this will require some watching.

Another provision of the legislation would create an Accountability and Transparency Board chaired by the President’s Chief Performance Officer (a new position created by Obama). The main aim of the board would be to “prevent waste, fraud and abuse,” but it would also be charged with overseeing practices regarding the reporting of contract and grant information. (Sections 1221-1225). Finally, the bill would require reporting on “the number of jobs created or sustained by the Federal funds…including information on job sectors and pay levels” (Section 12001).

If these provisions survive in the legislation that passes Congress, they will make the recovery act vastly more transparent than the bailout program carried out by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in recent months. The need to bring some openness to the bailout was expressed by Timothy Geithner, Obama’s choice to succeed Paulson, during his confirmation hearing this week. Although most of the hearing was taken up with Geithner’s personal tax fiddles, the nominee declared that the Obama Administration intends to “fundamentally reform” the bailout program with “tough conditions to protect the taxpayer and the necessary transparency to allow the American people to see how and where their money is being spent and the results those investments are delivering.”

This is what watchdog groups have been demanding since the bailout first started. Last month, more than 75 organizations led by Open the Government.org and the National Taxpayers Union sent an open letter to Congress demanding bailout transparency. They are now planning to relaunch that effort.

So far, the Obama Administration is saying all the right things about transparency and accountability, but it has a monumental task before it to make truly open government a reality. We need to make sure it does not cut any corners.

Note: This piece has been crossposted on the Good Jobs First sister blog Clawback.

Eyes on the Ties

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Watch out, Big Brother—LittleSis is here. LittleSis is a new website that seeks to collect, assemble and analyze relationships among members of the corporate and political elites. Kevin Connor, a veteran researcher-campaigner for labor unions and community groups who co-founded the site, calls it “an involuntary Facebook for powerful people…It opens up elite networks for inspection.”

Like most ambitious web projects these days, LittleSis is based on “crowd sourcing”—the idea that you can depend on a large number of volunteers contributing small bits of information to create an effective information resource. The site welcomes all contributors but insists that any data posted be linked to a reputable online source. In a post on the site’s “Eyes on the Ties” blog, co-founder Matthew Skomarovsky said that references to Wikipedia, for example, would not be acceptable. The aim is to use primary source material as much possible.

While still in preliminary Beta form, LittleSis boasts that it has entries on more than 27,000 individuals. Searches can also be done on institutions, companies and other entities. Connor pointed me to the material on the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia (reached by putting the club’s name in the search box on the main page). The names of 211 members are listed. You can either click on a person’s name to see his (the club is all-male) other affiliations, or you can click on one of several tabs to see summary data such as which political candidates club members have contributed to and which universities they attended.

Funded by the Sunlight Foundation, LittleSis is programmed to highlight relationships, so that, for example, any data added to an individual’s entry mentioning an institution will automatically also post to the entry for the institution.

LittleSis is an exciting project that reinvigorates the tradition of power-elite research pursued in the pre-internet era by authors such as Gabriel Kolko and William Domhoff. It also builds on previous online efforts such as TheyRule. It could become an invaluable tool to help us understand the powers that be and pursue campaigns that make them less powerful.

Note: Connor tells me that the LittleSis team is willing to make presentations about the site to organizations (presumably those with lots of researchers will be high on his list) to explain how it works and to encourage people to contribute. Contact him here.

Taking the Sweat Out of University Logo Apparel

Monday, April 21st, 2008

If you will excuse a bit of parental pride, I would like to report that my son Thomas, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has been involved in a protest aimed at getting UNC to participate in a program that protects the rights of workers who sew university logo apparel. On Friday, students held a demonstration on campus, while a smaller group is in the fifth day of a sit-in at the building containing the office of Chancellor James Moeser, the target of the pressure campaign. Carolina Blue clothing is among the most popular “brands” of university apparel.

The UNC actions are part of the latest wave of recent campus actions in support of the Designated Supplier Program (DSP), an initiative of the Worker Rights Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops. Recent actions have taken place at schools such as Penn State University, the University of Montana, Appalachian State University and the University of Houston. While all the protests have been non-violent, more than 30 students were arrested last week at Penn State.

The DSP, launched in 2005, is an attempt to fight sweatshop conditions by getting universities to demand that licensee companies distributing their logo apparel make use of supplier factories that have been independently verified to pay a living wage and respect the right of workers to organize. Currently, more than 30 schools have signed on to DSP (including the entire University of California system), while officials at other institutions have resisted.

Apparel companies such as Nike, Champion (owned by Hanesbrands) and Russell Athletic (owned by Berkshire Hathaway) are among the big players in the $3 billion university logo market. Nike, the target of intensive protests during the 1990s over its use of sweatshop suppliers, has cleaned up its act, though the company itself has acknowledged that its suppliers do not always comply with its standards. Since monitoring its large number of plants—located in 36 countries—is impossible, the alternative is to direct business to a smaller group of factories known to treat their workers decently—hence, DSP. That way, students can ensure that the sweat in university apparel comes from wearers, not producers.

Note: The Worker Rights Consortium has an online database of factories around the world that produce university logo apparel.

“Green” Corporations Among the Toxic 100

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

The appearance of a new version of the Political Economy Research Institute’s Toxic 100 is a useful reminder that, for all their feel-good green ads, large corporations are still defiling the environment in a major way. This year’s list of the biggest corporate air polluters is led by DuPont and includes household names such as Dow Chemical, Eastman Kodak, General Electric and Exxon Mobil among the top ten. The companies are ranked by their “toxic score,” which the Institute calculates by multiplying the amount of toxic air releases reported to the EPA by the relative toxicity of the chemicals involved and the size of the population at risk of exposure.

What’s new this year is the inclusion of foreign corporations with facilities in the United States. There are three such listings in the top ten portion of the Toxic 100: Nissan Motor, Bayer Group and ArcelorMittal.

It’s interesting to see that foreign companies can be no less hypocritical than their U.S. counterparts when it comes to saying one thing about the environment and doing another. Nissan USA brags on its website about its Green Program, which uses as its catch phrase “seeking a symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature.” Bayer just announced it “will partner with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office in North America to help sponsor the 36th annual World Environment Day celebration.”

Even more awkward is the appearance on the list of steel giant ArcelorMittal. Just last month, it was one of a handful of corporate sponsors of the green jobs conference put on in Pittsburgh by the Blue Green Alliance, led by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. The conference program contained a full-page ad for the company saying: “At ArcelorMittal, Sustainability is one of the company’s core values.” Under the corporation’s name is the motto “Transforming tomorrow.” Perhaps ArcelorMittal should focus a bit more on transforming its air pollution problem today.

EMMA: Municipal Bond Documents Finally Being Made Accessible

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

For more than a decade, key corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission have been available to the public at no charge through the EDGAR website. This has been a boon for transparency and a godsend for researchers.

During the same period, those who wanted to access analogous documents on tax-exempt bonds filed with the lesser known Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) have had to use commercial services such as Munistatements and DPC Data that charge hefty subscription or pay-per-view fees.

Now that is beginning to change. This week MSRB introduced EMMA (short for Electronic Municipal Market Access), which is described as “an Internet-based disclosure portal.” The key document EMMA will disclose is the Official Statement (OS), a prospectus that issuing agencies publish with details on new municipal securities.

The OS is useful not only to municipal finance specialists and investors in tax-exempt bonds. Because certain types of municipal securities such as industrial revenue bonds provide funding for private-sector projects, many OS filings shine a light on ways in which public money is being used to subsidize for-profit ventures.

EMMA starts out this week on a pilot basis covering only advance refundings of outstanding securities. The site also provides real-time trade price data — an effort to end market insiders’ monopoly on price information. Fuller access to OS filings will begin after June 30, but it remains to be seen whether EMMA will have the full search capabilities of Munistatements and DPC.

Exposing Corporate Front Groups

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

The Center for Media and Democracy recently joined with Consumer Reports WebWatch to create a new site called Full Frontal Scrutiny, which “seeks to shine a light on front groups—organizations that state a particular agenda, while hiding or obscuring their identity, membership or sponsorship, or all three.”

Full Frontal Scrutiny is an extension of the work that the Center has long been doing to expose corporate manipulation of public opinion. That work has been widely disseminated through the PR Watch journal and website as well as the Sourcewatch wiki.

Consumer Reports WebWatch, which calls itself “the internet integrity division” of the venerable watchdog group Consumers Union, says its mission is to “provide unbiased and practical research on Web site publishing and business practices; help devise guidelines for credibility; expose practices that are a cause for consumer concern; and recognize good practices.”

In its initial posts, Full Frontal Scrutiny has dealt with perennial opinion manipulators such as Big Pharma, the tobacco industry and “clean” coal producers.