In the last month, Popular Information exposed the hypocrisy of Match and other corporations that claimed to support abortion rights while making large donations to an anti-abortion Republican committee (prompting coverage in The Guardian, Vox, and the New York Times (twice) and ultimately forcing Match to swear off future donations to the group), took you behind the scenes of Wells Fargo's corporate PAC (using internal documents obtained from a company source), and documented the right-wing smear campaign against a doctor who helped a 10-year-old rape victim (a story that went viral on Twitter).
Today, however, I want to hear from you. What's on your mind? What topics would you like Popular Information to take on in the weeks ahead?
You can leave your thoughts in the discussion thread linked below, starting now. I’ll be dropping by later today to answer as many of your questions as I can.
Why are Democrats so poor at messaging? Pick some simple, easy to remember, winning messages and repeat them over and over, like the Republicans do so well. Also, push to the front smart, charismatic candidates to lead the way, to create excitement for the messaging.
A series on the concept of regulatory capture, meaning how industries buy off regulators through lobbying, donations, and sending former execs into the ranks. No topic is more timely than climate change.
There is one target you should most urgently continue to investigate, ferret out, expose, and hopefully disable: Joe Manchin. Look at his enablers, sponsors, companies, partners, PACs, bankers, financial dealings, taxes, cronies, shady deals, and anything that could crush that vermin.
ASSAULT-WEAPON SUPPLY CHAIN: Expose the supply chain for weapons & ammo sold to civilians.
What manufacturers choose to sell these products to the civilian market? What retailers choose to sell them to civilian customers?
Who is choosing to earn a living this way?
How 'bout an online public shaming gallery that displays the NAMES & FACES of individuals who are enabling the massacre of civilians?
1/ US citizen here living in UK for 30+ years. The UK Foreign office is considering issuing travel advisories for UK citizens who are pregnant and visiting states that have restrictive abortion laws as they may not receive good medical care if they require emergency medical care.
2/ I work in financial services and when banks make loans/arrange finance to companies/organisations they consider various risk types, one of which is country risk. Surely USA banks should start to consider risks of lending to companies investing in businesses in states with restrictive voting laws, restrictive abortion laws, etc as they run a higher risk of recruitment failure and are supporting states that are denying basic human rights. This should impact municipal bonds as well for cities in restrictive states.
With a plethora of monumental issues at hand, I believe we need to focus on our democracy in the short term. If we lose our democracy, if we don’t hold leaders accountable, then we lose our leverage needed to solve most of the other problems.
How much wealth have politicians accumulated since joining office?
Many moderate Democrats seem to be focused on maintaining the status quo, focusing more on fundraising rather than working to solve problems. Many Republicans are also guilty of prioritizing their own accumulation of wealth; it just feels more disingenuous hearing politicians like Nancy Pelosi speak about wealth inequality in this country while she vocally opposed stock trading bans for members of Congress.
We need to figure out a way to change the incentives for our elected officials. It's too easy for them to profit. Their goals should be improving society.
A woman’s right over her own body, and the corruption of the church needs attention daily…. They are / have been funding the forced birth policy.
Yet the public discussion is still not combining the issue of one particular religion being forced on everybody else in a supposedly free United States
Is there a definitive book on the Democratic Party’s accomplishments post WWII? If not, can you write about them and compile resources to make one? Thanks.
Since WWII Democratic priorities have been very popular and Republican not so much which is why they resort to culture war distractions. I feel as though the Democratic Party needs to beat the drum harder on what the party has stood for in comparison to GOP.
More investigation into the Catholic Church’s use of funds to push their anti abortion agenda. This money starts at the parish level and filters upward and outward. Most parishioners do not understand how their individual giving filters into the political agenda at the top. The Catholic Church should be losing their tax exemption status.
I'd love to see a "deep dive" on the Justice Department. Why is it seemingly so reluctant to act against the political leaders of the 1/6 coup attempt?
I think congress needs to be held responsible for their votes. We need tough questions ask on their thought process and why especially Republicans can't stand up to their leadership and do what's right for all Americans. Buying congressmen is one thing but we need to make them say out loud that they do not believe everyone is equal under the law.
Since inflation is the single GOP issue for this year's midterms, you may want to highlight how corporations may be inflating prices also to support GOP wins - and how inflation really started back in Trump time, if you do your math right.
On an individual level, keep investigating the support base of GOP candidates of this fall's key open races. Later also on the fallout from radical policies enacted by FL Governor DeSantis, who will very likely be the GOP candidate in 2024.
Also, please look into the totally unfair press coverage given by the mainstream media - not just the far right - to the Biden administration. POTUS and cabinet members are hardly mentioned despite being extremely active and successful. Why are Biden and Secretary Austin hardly ever mentioned when talking/writing about the war in Ukraine? Why is every achievement - from unemployment figures to NATO to a finally stronger dollar - turned into a list of cons and POSSIBLE negative effects? Why do press conferences at the WH no longer make the news when every word uttered by Sarah Sanders and McEnany used to make headlines? I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Wow! As I’m typing this, the comment count is rising so fast I can’t keep up! Many of the suggestions already made are on my mind, too, and I’ll offer my $.02.
First, have you considered adding a master post in your newsletter that outlines your core reporting and links to those pieces? You may have several new subscribers and connecting them with that content might be useful.
Second, there are 36 governor elections this year and 8 have no incumbent. Consider picking one of those states and dissecting the primary candidates’ funding, advertising and so forth as a series from now through the logical end. My personal favorite is Maryland because of the primary results (and my residency). Third, consider something similar for a senate seat.
Thank you for regularly asking this question and for the impact you’re making.
I don't want you to forget about Jenny Thomas and the horrendous conflict of interest displayed by Judge Thomas.
I would like to know more about Companies that profit off of prison labor.
It would be interesting to dive into health care organizations, insurance and hospital systems that come out with boiler plate commentary about supporting their patients in context of reproductive rights and yet themselves restrict their own services and do not provide full reproductive care. An example is a hospital I worked at, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, that had made recent PR boilerplate commentary in support of patients. However, many years ago they eliminated their GYN first trimester elective services, thus limiting full available care and allowing it to be further limited to places like planned parenthood. The reasons for limiting that care is important to know. The rumor when I was there was a spouse of a hospital executive didn’t want these services provided. It further ostracizes and isolates places like planned parenthood as the only available resources to provide full spectrum standard of care medicine. Popular Info could be a great investigative source to try to follow donations from and to hospital systems to see if this effects local hospital policy and resource allocations like this and to address this hypocrisy.
James Schmakel, MD
Emergency Medicine Physician
Assuming the SS deleting all those J6 texts is a massive coverup, my question is, just how catastrophically bad would those texts have to have been for them to decide we could never see them? Are we ever going to know? Are heads going to roll? To me, this seems an historically huge deal. A national scandal, or am I overreacting?
Expose campaign contributions to the Republican party at the State level in states that will swing control of the House and prolong control of the senate.
Very concerned about people burning out on the insurrection reports and not recognizing the danger to our country being taken over by folks worse than Republicans.
The Council for National Policy’s role in undermining our democracy by disguising the interconnection of most of the right wing groups that are responsible for the reactionary SCOTUS and Ginni Thomas. Details are reported in SHADOW NETWORK by Anne Nelson. There is a strong sense of urgency to getting these connections out there!
Having just read Bill Browder's "Freezing Order" I'd like to know more about money laundering and the Republican connection. I've heard that South Dakota has new banking laws that could make money laundering easier. Are there other places where money is encouraging people to accommodate to crime?
Please look into , how the Secret Service got sold out.
Senate seats are up for grabs in November. Dems have the chance to make some gains…OH and PA to name but a couple.
Howza ‘bout pounding Repub candidates with questions (revealing their positions—which will be contrary to Dem opposition), on very important issues wherein they are out-of-step with Reality, most voters, and the long-term survival of our Planet, and Republic, (Election integrity, climate change, women’s right to choose (and how Repubs/surrogates lie about those advocating choice seeking abortion right up until time of birth), and, enabling/pooh-poohing (in all its forms) the J6 Insurrection/Insurrectionists?
Appreciate your work.
Thank you Judd, This maybe redundant, but the insurance industry (in this narrow case, Petplan) being part owner to numerous-presumably 'not-too-biased' publications, some of whose bread & butter is to publish schmaltzy animal stories (The DODO, NY Magazine, Huffington Post, among others), seems like a wide spread problem.
In this case:
It deals only with the veterinary industry, but that something like this isn't happening everywhere else in the insurance industry seems unthinkable....
An exploration of the real estate industry. I heard, but this could be incorrect, that property owning real estate firms recieve tax breaks for unrented properties, thus they have no incentive to lower rents to affordable prices. Also, how many properties, in cities with housing shortages, are rented to foreigners for part time residences or owned by foreigners for investment.
Do a deep dive into all of the conflicting interests and financial investments of Joe Manchin that has motivated him to be a one-man wrecking ball for Biden’s agenda.
Also I just learned that some businesses are reorganizing as IRS - recognized churches ((or religious institutions with a collection of churches) and using this to avoid taxes, reduce scrutiny, and cover for political messaging. Can we blow up this obvious perversion of religious exemption?
First, I appreciate your excellent journalism. It is terrific to see bigger news outlets picking up your scoops. The world is a safer place for your work (and Heather Cox Richardson).
I am especially concerned about our lack of campaign finance reform. It undermines our democracy in so many ways and on so. many levels. We pretty much have the uber wealthy and corporations running congress and elections in a system of legalized corruption.
Thank you for listening, Ginger Woolridge, Annapolis
Judd, now would be a great time to do an expose on the private companies that service student loan payments. Occasionally there are news stories about the Sallie Mae CEO who had several mansions, Sofi, which bought naming rights to a major league sports stadium, Navient, which took it top brass on a Hawaiian vacation as a "reward" for meeting their financial goals. I'd love to see these bastards on the front page while it's been so hard to get Biden to keep his campaign promises regarding student loan debt cancellation. How much have these private companies spent retaining lobbyists and influence legislation? The student loan industry is a failed system (thanks partly to Biden himself who voted against bankruptcy rights for student loan borrowers as a senator). Over 50 million taxpayers have student loan debt that has grown exponentially to nearly $3 TRILLION because of the unique method of compounding interest (no other loan is allowed to do this), the egregious fees the companies are allowed to charge, and the intentional ignorance of the staff who have to deal on the phone with desperate borrowers. Now would be a perfect time to blow the cover off of this long running scandal, with some legislation coming up for a vote in both the house and the senate (especially my senators who are unwilling to come out publicly with their positions). Borrowers need meaningful relief, not another band aid that keeps borrowers in indentured servitude to these companies and the US government that allows this to keep going.
I think that protecting and strengthening our democracy is the top priority right now. There are many pressing issues but none can be addressed properly unless we stop the right wing extremism engulfing too high a percentage of the country.
Probably not up your alley, but it seems to me the Secret Service Text story may need to be focused on. First, because right now we are still relying on USSS protection of our leaders. And either USSS is filled with incompetents or people whose allegiance is not to the US or the Constitution and who cannot be trusted to protect the Prez&VP among others.
Popular Information reports about the dissonance of corporations supporting groups like the Republican AG Assoc. even as the corporations attempt to cushion their employees from the reactionary fallout of those groups' work have been wonderful. What about selecting 10 "progressive" corporations (maybe based on ESG ratings) and highlighting all the PACs to which they donate to highlight any dissonance between professed corporate policies and the causes/candidates the PACs support?
Have been reading comments which have veered into irrelevance regarding Manchin, Pelosi & Schumer, as there is nothing we can do about them right now. I would like to see Dems be more aggressive in exposing Republican evil doing and in touting everything Democrats have done and are doing to help the American people. What I am doing right now and all should be doing is concentrating on getting the vote out to defeat Republicans at all levels of government, not complaining/quibbling about Democrats. We can be more active, as well, in exposing corrupt politicians as we learn about them from this newsletter and elsewhere. I have learned that even wealthy Republican voters hate corruption and have voted out corrupt Republicans in local elections.
This is an invaluable column. I want to plug a book that offers Dems a wiser way of introducing themselves to the public at large: Dirt Road Revival, by Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward. Their door to door campaigns got Chloe elected first to the Maine State House, then the Maine State Senate, in 2018, and 2020, the first Democrat EVER to win in those districts.
I also want to flag an issue that's not yet been well-handled. How to respond to the climate challenge. More than 85% of US energy comes from fossil fuels. We use the energy our gadgets require, right? The only way to change the kinds of energy we use is to change out the gadgets that use them. My wife and I got our Annapolis home completely off fossil fuels by replacing a dying gas furnace with a geothermal heat pump. And we replaced a gas stove with an electric induction stovetop and electric oven. Our hot water heater was electric from the start. The journey to a clean energy future is, in principle, quite simple. Whenever a gas-burning appliance wears out, bring in an electric powered alternative. Multiply that by tens of millions of homes and business establishments and we see the size and importance of a capital equipment replacement approach to ending our reliance on fossil fuels. Ignore this issue and we'll not make a dent in the climate challenge. It's really up to us, in our homes, our businesses, and our communities, to change gears and get moving on this front.
Climate change: I'd like to know more about how corporations are stonewalling climate legislation. And how the private sector needs to step up in mitigation efforts.
Could there be a group-sourced, constantly updated, wiki-like, independent, investigative, international list (names, titles, faces, etc) of the INDIVIDUALS throughout the world who are arguably the most personally responsible for the mass deaths caused by climate change? What is it, like 50,000 people globally, maybe only 5,000 who are actively the most responsible?
I deeply appreciate your work in terms of naming names and calling out various companies and politicians in the US -- but I think what you do needs to be magnified by about 1,000x, and internationalized, which will need the help of many others around the world.
In the meantime, I'm so, so tired of the corporate media blaming end users, faceless consumers ("carbon footprint"), "voters" (hi NYTimes!), for the world's ills, which everyone who reads your newsletter knows is BS. These are top-down problems, driven by vast wealth and power, and it's time to identify and hold accountable the individuals who are most responsible. Obviously our governments and legal systems aren't and won't be doing the job.
Investigate what is going to happen to health care costs in places where women now have to be nearly dead before they can have a life-threatening pregnancy ended or a dead fetus removed from their uterus. This will affect the bottom line for employers who provide health insurance to their workers, as well as Medicaid and other programs. What will happen? Will companies stop hiring women of reproductive age since it will now cost more to insure them? Will there be a mass exodus of OB-GYNs, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, midwives and ultrasound technicians to states where they can continue (for now) to work unimpeded? Where are the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in all this? What about the women subjected to unnecessary suffering and potentially permanent health complications, if they survive? What recourse will they have?
We are in world war III and it is climate change. The USA has the highest per capita generation of CO2. The emergency is global and affects every one of us. It affects us now, not in the future. Who is effectively finding solutions. How can we help this effort? Who is impeding?
Because the fake news and non partisan posing right wing extremists groups weren't enough to destroy our democracy, Trumps past finance chair Todd Ricketts just launched Freespoke a search engine free of liberal bias. Yup guess whatcha top story is? Hunter Biden
Why are we only trying to limit the burning of fossil fuels, when we aren't generating the cheap green electricity that will be needed to replace it? Windmills and solar panels are thirty per cent effective! Where are the new atomic plants, and why don't the oil companies want us to ask?
The tax free status of churches
While I often blame Fox, all the non Fox networks framed the Supreme Court EPA decision as a blow to Biden, not a blow to the environment. You need to continue to hold networks and others accountable both for what they fail to report and for how they report what they do. In this case MSNBC and others were as misleading as Fox and because so many consider them more reliable, they are more dangerous.
Suggest more coverage of Catholic church ( as well as rest of tax-exempt American Christianity religious organizations) lobbying for Anti-women healthcare legislation.
Dems really do need to work on their message. And someone needs to lock Manchin in the Senate cloak room and leave his negative @$$ there. He's as bad as Moscow Mitch. we need to go on offence against the Fascist 5 on the Supreme Court and Carrot Caligula's little magats. We need the ERA, a modernized electrical grid and more unions and labor support. Income inequality is higher now than it was right before the stock market crash in '29. that needs to be addressed and remedied - now!!
What can regular people do to make a difference outside of voting (which everyone should do for all elections local and state and vote down ballot) and donating to good organization?
Thank you, Judd! Go get 'em!
If the Electoral College was removed the possibility of corruption, at least in the electoral arena, collapses on itself... yes it may be hard to abolish it but at least try and expose its flaws over and over. We no longer gather votes via Pony Express
Keep up the superb work!! You are on the right track to save the nation!
In the 2020 NRA IRS Filing 990, there are multiple footnotes (p.46/47) regarding excess benefits provided to its executives, with the NRA asserting that it expects to receive reimbursement. Have they been received? Follow up on that and other issues regarding the NRA. Thanks for your good work.