The head of a liberal activist group recently scrubbed its political transparency initiative’s website of all information about a secretive network of left-wing donors that supports the group.
The Center for Media and Democracy is one of 180 groups supported by the Democracy Alliance. However, visitors to CMD’s SourceWatch website—which claims to work "to increase public scrutiny and public awareness of the people and companies shaping public policy"—will not find any information about the Alliance.
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CMD executive director Lisa Graves deleted the entire SourceWatch page on the Democracy Alliance, according to edit logs on the website.
The logs show that CMD deputy director Mary Bottari deleted the page’s contents on September 24. Graves restored the page on October 16, then deleted it again 15 minutes later.
Graves said she removed the page to add new research on the group and to correct errors, and that a revised page is currently under review.
"What a libelous non-story you guys are trolling," she said in an email.
Graves did not say when the new page would go live. "We are not on your clock," she said.
The Democracy Alliance connects high-dollar liberal donors to groups that its staff strategically vets and endorses. It discloses nothing about its donors, supported groups, or internal operations.
Alliance-backed groups fall into two groups: a core network of 20 organizations, and a larger "progressive infrastructure" many times that size. CMD is among the latter.
According to Democracy Alliance president Rob Stein, the Alliance steered nearly $70 million to 153 groups last year. Due to its opacity, it is difficult to know exactly which organizations received direct Alliance support.
However, CMD has received support from groups listed as Democracy Alliance donors in internal documents made public this year, such as the Rockefeller Family Fund.
Other foundations listed on the group’s website as CMD supporters are run by Democracy Alliance donors, including George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
CMD does not disclose individual donors. Graves said that no Democracy Alliance partners give to the group in an individual capacity.