Press Releases

Franklin Center President Erik Telford Comments on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Date: January 11, 2016
Contact: Kevin Glass
kevin.glass@franklincenterhq.org

With oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association today, the U.S. Supreme Court has an opportunity to strike a blow for freedom and set a new precedent upholding the First Amendment rights of public sector workers across the country.

At the core of the case is the question of whether public employee unions can require workers to pay a collective bargaining “agency fee” as a condition of employment. Rebecca Friedrichs and the teachers arguing against their union believe they should not be forced to support their union’s collective bargaining that they disagree with or that may even prove detrimental to them.

As Robert Alt and a number of other experts have pointed out, a decision in favor of the plaintiffs would not lead to the end of unions as we know it, nor would it create a “free-rider” problem, as some union advocates claim. It would simply allow Ms. Friedrichs – and many other public workers just like her – to go to work with a clear conscience.

Even though the precedent set by Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Education stands in the way of these California teachers, it need not be a final deterrent. America is constantly in the process of correcting past abuses of freedom and moving toward a more fair and just society. This case is ultimately about protecting the rights of a dissenting minority. No worker should compelled to pay membership dues or fees to a labor union that advocates for positions he or she disagrees with.

It doesn’t matter whether those positions are explicitly political or more subtly out of alignment with one’s principles and worldview. The court has already affirmed the right to opt out of paying union dues or fees that fund official political activity. It’s time to admit that, in the case of public sector unions, collective bargaining is in and of itself a political activity. We pay our public servants to work hard for the common good, and they have a right to speak freely with their money just like any other citizen.

 

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Texas Watchdog buys news radio spots to highlight the special interests behind the $8.8 billion bond proposals on the November ballot

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

For immediate release:
October 29, 2015

Contact:
Kevin Glass
Kevin.Glass@franklincenterhq.org

Says Texas has the second largest local debt burden in the country

Alexandria, VA – Today, Watchdog.org is running featured news reports in key Texas radio markets to highlight the web of special interest groups behind the bond measure on the November ballot. Texas officials claim that increased spending proposals are necessary for the public schooling system, but Watchdog reports reveal tax dollars are possibly being spent on low-grade construction companies that are helping promote the bond proposal.

Click here to listen to the Watchdog news report and learn more about the truth behind Texas’s $8.8 billion bond measure.

The featured news report is based off an investigative series by Watchdog.org reporter Jon Cassidy and will be heard in Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, Odessa, San Angelo, San Antonio, Shreveport, Tyler, Waco, and Wichita Falls Thursday, October 29th and Friday, October 30th.

“Texas voters deserve to know who is behind a campaign for a “yes” vote on an $8.8 billion bond measure on this year’s ballot,” said Erik Telford, the President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the non-profit organization producingWatchdog.org. “It’s important that Texans be informed about how their tax dollars are being spent. They need to know the facts, and we’re here to help.”

Watchdog.org publishes breaking investigative news in states across the country, including aflagship bureau in Texas. Watchdog.org’s mission is to hold federal, state and local government accountable by exposing waste, fraud and abuse.

 

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Texas Watchdog buys news radio spots to highlight University of Texas admissions scandal

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

For immediate release:
October 1, 2015
Contact:
Kevin Glass
Kevin.Glass@franklincenterhq.org

Alexandria, VA – Today, Watchdog.org is running featured news reports in key Texas radio markets to highlight the University of Texas’s recent scandal involving corrupt admissions practices that allowed 2,000 underqualified applicants into the school. The report claims former President Bill Powers “for years offered a secret express lane into UT for the children of the rich and powerful.”

Click here to listen to the Watchdog news report and learn more about the UT admissions scandal.

The featured news report is based off an investigative series by Watchdog.org reporter Jon Cassidy who broke the story last year, and will be heard in Abilene, Austin, Killeen, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Wichita Falls Thursday, October 1st and Friday, October 2nd.

“This very disappointing corruption within the University of Texas admissions process must be brought into the light of day,” said Erik Telford, the President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the non-profit organization producing Watchdog.org. “It’s important that Texans be informed about how their tax dollars are being spent. Jon Cassidy and our team of Watchdog reporters will continue the important job of ensuring that public officials are held accountable for their actions.”

Watchdog.org produces important, breaking investigative news in states across the country, including a flagship bureau in Texas. Watchdog.org’s mission is to hold state and local governments accountable by exposing waste, fraud and abuse.

 

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The Franklin Center Names John Bicknell Executive Editor of Watchdog.Org

Monday, September 21st, 2015

“His experience and knowledge of the media industry will be a valuable resource as we continue to expand our coverage in critical states and on key policy matters.”

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Veteran editor and journalist John Bicknell will join The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity as Executive Editor of the Center’s Watchdog.org publication. Under the leadership of Vice President of Journalism Will Swaim, Bicknell will work closely with Watchdog’s extensive network of investigative journalists and develop relationships with other media outlets.

Bicknell has been a journalist for more than 30 years. He came to Washington in 1999 as an editor at Congressional Quarterly, where he led the production team for CQ Today and was a team editor for the publication. When CQ merged with Roll Call, he continued as national security editor, co-editor of the 2012 edition of “Politics in America” and eventually became editor of the opinion pages.

He went on to write a book on the presidential campaign of 1844 and became executive editor of FCW, a magazine and online publication covering the business of federal computing. He co-edited the 2016 edition of “The Almanac of American Politics,” and is an accomplished book reviewer.

“We are thrilled to have John as part of our team. His experience and knowledge of the media industry will be a valuable resource as we continue to expand our coverage in critical states and on key policy matters,” said Franklin Center President Erik Telford. “With over 30 years of experience in this industry, John knows the news, what’s important to readers and where to go to find the facts.”

Bicknell’s hiring is a continuation of The Franklin Center’s plan to expand beyond its 16 state bureaus, while growing staff in 5 key states: Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. These are states where Watchdog has already broken important stories on the Gold King Mine disaster and the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker. Along with growing its personnel, Watchdog.org has expanded its coverage to focus on key policy issues including education, energy, technology and regulation.

In addition to hiring Bicknell, Franklin Center has been dedicated to an evolution of growth of the journalism team with the recent addition of Kevin Glass, previously with Townhall.com, as Franklin Center’s Director of Policy and Outreach. In Texas, after spending over a decade with the Austin American-Statesman and 14 years with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mark Lisheron’s leadership in the Texas bureau has led the Watchdog investigative team to expose corrupt admissions practices at the University of Texas.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the journalists at Watchdog.org,” said Bicknell. “Many good stories get lost in today’s 24-hour news cycle, and real investigative journalism has fallen by the wayside in many places. I look forward to working with this talented, growing group of journalists to uncover the stories that make a difference at the local, state and national levels.”

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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

Franklin Center president Erik Telford comments on the King v. Burwell Supreme Court decision

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Date: June 25, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

Alexandria, VA — Earlier today, in 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it is legal for the Obama administration to award insurance subsidies in states with federally-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The court’s decision in King v. Burwell not only paves the way for the president to borrow and spend $849 billion in taxpayer money over the next decade to subsidize the insurance exchanges, but it also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing the Supreme Court to essentially rewrite the law under the pretense of interpreting it. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted this in his dissent, “Words no longer have meaning” if by exchange established by the State, the Affordable Care Act actually means exchanges established by the State or a Federal Government. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” Justice Scalia decries.

Obamacare does nothing to alleviate rising medical care costs or the high cost of health insurance, and it still leaves tens of millions of Americans uninsured while penalizing them for it. Millions of Americans, including more than 50 Franklin Center employees, have lost their employer provided health plans because of Obamacare, causing tremendous anxiety and unrest. Obamacare is and always was just a major handout to insurance companies. It is a very flawed piece of legislation that Congress should continue to fight to repeal, even in the wake of today’s unfortunate decision by the court in King v. Burwell.

Franklin Center president Erik Telford comments on Innovation Act

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Date: June 11, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

Alexandria, VA — The Innovation Act represents everything that’s wrong in American politics today. It’s discouraging and disappointing to see members of Congress capitulating to President Obama’s efforts to advance the interests of his Silicon Valley cronies, like Google and his other campaign donors, to push legislation that will severely undermine American innovation.  That is why voices across the ideological spectrum have spoken out against the attempts to rush passage of this so-called reform.   The solutions being proposed are like demolishing your house because your dishwasher is broken. To be sure, there are necessary reforms which can and should be made to target nefarious actors in the patent space. The Innovation Act, however, like the Senate’s PATENT Act, would irreparably weaken America’s patent system, discourage innovation, and wipe out entrepreneurs. We must protect property rights through policies that advance the interests of all American inventors, driving economic growth for our own country, not those of rivals like China.

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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

 

Franklin Center president Erik Telford comments on patent legislation

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Date: April 29, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

Alexandria, VA — The Senate patent legislation introduced today is nothing more than another crony kickback for Google, Obama’s second largest political donor, advancing the interests of China and rival economies at the expense American innovation. Google has lobbied the Obama Administration and Congress hard for legislation that weakens our patent system and pulls the rug out from under inventors, small business and innovation.  China would like nothing more than to see legislation pass that weakens U.S. patent protection and property rights so even more of American invented products can be ripped off.  Both the House and Senate legislation looks more like it was written at Google headquarters or in Beijing and will deliver a devastating blow to innovation and property rights.

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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

Franklin Center Names Erik Telford President

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

“The Franklin Center has enjoyed much success in recent years, but with Erik now taking charge of a great team, we are convinced that its best and most influential days lie ahead.”

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, publisher of Watchdog.org, has named Erik Telford as president, following a vote of the board of directors. Telford joined the organization in 2011, having previously served as Senior Vice President. Erik is a leading digital strategist, and has been recognized as a “Rising Star in American Politics” by Campaigns & Elections, as well as one of the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics” by Politics Online. A native of Connecticut, he holds a B.A. in Political Science and American Studies and an M.A. in Political Management, both from The George Washington University.

The Franklin Center was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state and local government. In addition to operating the Watchdog.org network of state-based investigative and political reporters, the organization provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of allied reporters and affiliate news operations.

“We are proud to announce that Erik Telford is the new president of the Franklin Center,” said Franklin Center Chairman of the Board John Miller. “Under his leadership, the Franklin Center and its Watchdog.org websites will strive to keep citizens informed about their state and local governments at a time when the mainstream media continues to abandon its coverage. The Franklin Center has enjoyed much success in recent years, but with Erik now taking charge of a great team, we are convinced that its best and most influential days lie ahead.”

Jack Fowler, Publisher of National Review and Franklin Center board member, said, “Erik is one of the top exceptional young talents in the pro-freedom movement. He is skilled, honest, wise, diplomatic, has a vision, has a winning personality — all of which, when combined, make for a great leader. And that is what Franklin and Watchdog now have at its helm.  The board is excited to have this unique individual fulfill and expand Franklin’s important mission.”

Prior to joining the Franklin Center, Telford served as Director of Membership & Online Strategy at Americans for Prosperity, and is the founder of AFP Foundation’s RightOnline Conference, an event which brings together industry leaders in the fields of new media, information technology and advocacy communications.

“The Franklin Center’s mission to deliver political and investigative journalism in state capitals across the country has never been more important. I am honored and humbled that the board has given me the opportunity to lead this tremendous organization. I look forward to working with the board, the Franklin Center staff, and our Watchdog.org journalists to ensure that policymakers are held accountable to the voters, taxpayers, and citizens that they serve,” said Franklin Center President Telford.

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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

http://franklincenterhq.org/about/mission

Watchdog.org’s Virginia bureau takes home 7 statewide awards

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Date: April 20, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Watchdog.org’s Virginia bureau built upon last year’s successes to take home four first-place awards and three second-place awards in the Virginia Press Association’s 2014 News/Editorial and Advertising Contest.

Investigative reporter Kathryn Watson earned four first-place awards in the categories of in-depth or investigative reporting; education writing; health, science and environmental writing; and public safety writing. She also took home a second-place award for government writing.

Virginia bureau chief and national correspondent Kenric Ward earned two second-place awards in the categories of health, science and environmental writing; and in-depth or investigative reporting.

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition, but it’s even more of an honor to get to tell stories that matter,” said Watson. “Whether it’s the Navy veteran dad who can work again because of a story I wrote, or watching Congress end federal funding for automatic license plate readers after many stories like mine were published, it’s a privilege to tell meaningful stories that make a difference in people’s lives.”

Watson’s winter 2014 investigative series revealed serious flaws in accountability and auditing capabilities for welfare dollars in Virginia, and her stories on local police use of automatic license plate readers gained attention from coast to coast.

Ward’s reporting on a new gas pipeline coming to Virginia raised important questions about eminent domain and property rights, and his stories on duplicate voters in Virginia spurred other stories and editorials across the commonwealth.

“Watchdog’s in-depth and investigative reporting is flipping the narrative in Virginia. ‘News’ isn’t about propping up the political and bureaucratic status-quo, it’s about exposing the waste of tax dollars and the abuse of taxpayers,” said bureau chief Kenric Ward. “We’re pleased that the judges honored this distinction in bestowing these awards.”

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Erik Telford responds to the FCC’s Net Neutrality ruling

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

February 26, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

Alexandria, VA — I’m disappointed to hear about the FCC’s decision today to achieve so-called net neutrality by regulating the Internet as a Title II public utility. The FCC’s party line vote mirrors President Obama’s proposal, reflecting blatant partisanship and making eleventh hour revisions to gratify the wishes of special interest groups such as Google and Free Press. This type of policymaking fails to provide a comprehensive road map for the online space that aims for the best interests of both businesses and consumers. Rather than follow the spirit of the federal court ruling that made this decision necessary in the first place, it uses a back door through a Great Depression-era law to subvert the court’s ruling and bring the Internet under an unprecedented level of government control.

Under the guise of openness and fairness, this decision to subject the Internet to stifling new regulations and government scrutiny will result in greater costs for broadband consumers, harm investment, and hamper technological innovation. I hope the FCC will choose to release its entire plan to the public immediately. And I call on those who support a truly free Internet to continue advocating for the principles of liberty to be applied in the online space in order to ensure a better future for us all.

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