Press Releases

Watchdog Expands First Amendment Reporting with Ashe Schow

By
Friday, November 18th, 2016

National reporter and columnist Ashe Schow will join Watchdog.org as we expand our reporting team and continue our efforts to highlight important First Amendment matters across the country. Starting Monday, November 21st, Ashe will be our Campus Culture beat reporter, focusing on campus free speech and due process issues. Watchdog.org is a publication of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

“This continues to be an exciting time for Watchdog.org and we are thrilled to have Ashe join our team of experienced journalists,” said Franklin Center President Nicole Neily. “Her exceptional skills will be a critical part of our plans to expand Watchdog’s brand and impact at both the state and national level.”

Prior to joining Watchdog.org, Schow was a reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner, and serves as a senior political columnist for the New York Observer. She also previously worked as an editor and writer for the Heritage Foundation. In her role at Watchdog she will continue writing on such topics as safe spaces, free speech and PC culture on campus.

Media inquiries can be directed to [email protected]

Franklin Center President Nicole Neily Comments on Supreme Court Deadlock in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Date: March 29, 2016
Contact: Kevin Glass
[email protected]

We are disappointed with the deadlock announced by the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case this morning that will leave in place the status quo for public sector unions to continue to leach money out of non-union workers. Many observers of the Supreme Court thought this was a likely outcome now with a vacancy on the court, but this is an issue that should not be colored by partisanship or ideology.

Agency fees—the union fees at the heart of the matter that public sector unions can collect from everyone in their industry, unionized or not—are coercive and should be ruled as such. These coercive policies harm workers, taxpayers, parents, and students. Rebecca Friedrichs and the parents and students in California deserve justice.

Watchdog.org has more on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association here.

 

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Franklin Center Announces Nicole Kurokawa Neily As Incoming President.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

A message from Erik Telford:

I am pleased to announce that Nicole Neily has been selected as Franklin Center’s incoming president. She will begin on March 14th. Nicki is a talented leader with a highly respected reputation among our allies and supporters, a strong understanding of policy, media savvy, and a strong record of accomplishment throughout her career. These are traits that will serve her well as she leads Franklin Center to continued success.

Having had the opportunity to work directly with Nicki over the years, and watching her rise as a star in the think tank and non-profit world, I can say without hesitation that Franklin Center is in very capable hands.

Prior to joining the Franklin Center, Nicki served as senior vice president at Dezenhall Resources, a communications firm based in Washington D.C., where she worked with Fortune 500 companies and trade associations to help them counter threats from regulatory overreach, litigation, NGO attacks, and crony capitalism. She has also been executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, and has worked for the Winston Group and the Cato Institute.

We are an organization with an incredible pool of talent, a vital mission, and a record of tremendous success. Franklin’s future is one that I believe to be long and bright, and Nicki is somebody who can build on our past success in taking it to new heights. I look forward to continuing to work with her in my capacity as a board member. I’m certain that you’ll find her enjoyable to work with, and come to share my admiration for her.

Beyond her impressive resume and qualifications, Nicki has a strong appreciation and high level of excitement for the work that Franklin Center does. It was important to me that I find a successor who is not just qualified to do the job, but is passionate about doing it. Even before approaching her about this role, I observed that Nicki would light up when talking about us. It’s something that others noticed as well. When I ran into her husband at a meeting the other month, he noted it as something that shines through often in their conversations at home.

Nicki and her family are relocating to Austin, Texas – where Franklin’s flagship Watchdog news bureau is located — and she will begin work on March 14th.

Franklin Center President Erik Telford applauds passage of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Date: February 11, 2016
Contact: Kevin Glass
[email protected]org

The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act is a great step forward for Americans who have been in limbo on the issue for years. Internet access taxes would hinder all Americans’ ability to access what has become an amazing technology. Congress has been forced to re-up on a temporary tax moratorium every year since 1998, and the passage of a permanent ban on internet taxes is a great victory for everyone concerned about internet access. The measure, which passed 75-20 in the Senate, represents a broad bipartisan coalition in favor of keeping access barriers to the internet low. Internet taxes are regressive and fall on the most vulnerable Americans, and ensuring that internet access is tax-free will be vital for the economic development and opportunity for Americans everywhere.

 

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

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Date: January 11, 2016
Contact: Kevin Glass
[email protected]

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
[email protected]

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
[email protected]

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

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Date: April 20, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
[email protected]
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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