UPDATE, Wednesday April 3, 3:30 pm ET:
Thank You!!! We're thrilled to have reached our goal. We're looking forward to raking some serious muck around climate and Big Oil money in Congress.
We just reached our base goal, but now, our stretch goal is still going through this Friday night:
If we can reach $30,000, we'll be able to compile data on the stock holdings and financial investments of all 100 U.S. senators, completing our new data set on congressional investments.
We already have this data for the House of Representatives (it was the basis for our recent Reddit AMA), so reaching our stretch goal would mean that we would know about the investments and stock trades of every member of Congress. This data is difficult to compile (by design!), so having a complete data set will be invaluable reporters and watchdogs look up potential conflicts of interest for *all* of their members of Congress.
Please share over Twitter and Facebook and email, because folks still get the rewards as described here—56 hours left to get your "Green New Deal" posters and SLUDGE t-shirt!
And big thank you to everyone who pledged, we're excited to send you hard-hitting news articles. Thank you especially to all of our Sludge newsletter subscribers who chipped-in to support our investigative reporting. Get in touch anytime, we love hearing from you - david at readsludge dot com.
Update, March 20th: check out our new video, How (and Why) We're Covering Climate:
Click through to see our campaign video, made especially for this Kickstarter, with more of our personal stories and the impacts of our journalism around the fossil fuel industry.
Sludge is an independent, reader-funded investigative news publication on money in politics. We follow the money and report on how politicians are funded and how lobbyists push corporate agendas.
We plan to investigate the fossil fuel industry and expose its efforts to kill the Green New Deal, but we can't do it without your support.
If this Kickstarter is successful, we'll be able to start a climate desk on our national news website to uncover the massive influence of Big Oil money in Congress.
Congress' policy responses to climate change over the next few years will determine how the world adapts to the coming catastrophe. But environmental legislation is not as sexy as the Russia investigation or the 2020 Presidential race, so the fossil fuel industry's corruption of the process barely gets any attention.
Sludge wants to fix that with a relentless focus on oil industry money and lobbying so no politician can get away with selling us out without being exposed.
Sludge has been live for about eight months, publishing hundreds of original articles, and we’ve broken some major news stories—our reporting resulted in the chair of the new House climate committee divesting her fossil fuel holdings, Beto O’Rourke being removed by environmental groups from the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, and other members of Congress citing our reporting in ethics reforms.
Sludge has reported on the oil and gas investments of members of the House and Senate energy and climate committees, and the numbers are huge: up to $15.6 million in the House, up to $8.2 million in the Senate. We were the first site to document the fossil fuel investments of these members—exposing massive conflicts of interest as the senators and reps consider environmental bills.
We've had these major impacts, but there is tons more to uncover. It's urgent that we increase our investigative reporting on the oil industry and its attacks on the Green New Deal. We’re asking for your support to enhance our focus on climate policy.
In the important months ahead, as the Select Committee on Climate Crisis begins to make policy recommendations, there will be intense pressure on Congress from the fossil fuel industry and its armies of lobbyists to compromise—for policies that are far less serious than what scientists say are needed.
Sludge will help expose the money behind dangerous anti-climate influence, in the myriad ways it appears in Congress: through campaign contributions, but also lobbying, congressional investments, think tanks that accept Big Oil money, compromised academic studies, astroturf groups, the revolving door, dark money, and more.
Sludge has been entirely ad-free and independent since our launch in June of 2018. We’ve published hundreds of pieces of investigative journalism with no paywalls, free to read for everyone. Our reporting has been cited in major outlets such as The Guardian U.S., CNN, Financial Times, HuffPost, Politico, The Daily Beast, and dozens more. This is our first crowdfunding campaign.
We’re on our way to building a site Membership that will support our investigative journalism throughout the 2020 Presidential election year, but our generous startup grant from the Civil Foundation ends this month (!!), and we need funding to continue our policy journalism this year on climate—as well as on dark-money funding of hate speech, tech industry lobbying, and more conflicts of interest down in “the swamp."
Where will this money go?
Your contribution will go straight to the reporters who are digging through financial documents, interviewing sources, analyzing contributions data, and writing stories to expose corruption.
Sludge is a small and efficient team with hardly any overhead costs. Your donation will enable us to call out fossil fuel companies and help the public hold members of Congress accountable for climate policies.
- David Moore - @ppolitics - Co-founder of Sludge. Previously, Executive Director of a leading non-profit resource for tracking bills and money in Congress, OpenCongress.
- Donny Shaw - @donnydonny - Co-founder and Editor. Previously, OpenCongress Editor. Money-in-politics journalist and campaign finance researcher.
- Alex Kotch - @AlexKotch - Senior Investigative Reporter. Previously, part of a SABEW-award winning investigative unit at International Business Times for coverage of the 2017 tax bill. Work published in over 20 publications, including The Nation and VICE.
Some impacts from @Sludge's investigative reporting: inspiring an an official NYC resolution on humane immigration, causing divestments of stock holdings by members of Congress, prompting an ethics complaint with NY Board of Elections, advancing public accountability for funding of hate speech. Links in major news outlets. About us.
With your contribution to our Kickstarter, we’ll be able to report more stories when politicians are settling for anything less than strong environmental protections—and tell you who is funding their campaigns and what fossil fuel companies they are dependent on, so that you can raise the issue ahead of the 2020 elections.
Sludge's postcard and poster illustration—"A Green New Deal for the next generation"—was created for our Kickstarter by cartoonist Ron Regé, Jr., whose work has been in the New York Times Magazine and Popula. We'll be posting an artist's statement from Ron as a campaign update, on how he views the threat of climate catastrophe. The poster will be a 12x18 digital print from Radix Media, New York City's only worker-owned, union print shop.
Sludge's t-shirt reward will be screen-printed by hand by our Editor, Donny Shaw, from an original design. We're printing these tees just for this Kickstarter, so pledge to grab one (or more) today and support our Congressional watchdogging.
For fair coverage of the Green New Deal, the public needs focused and timely news about Big Oil’s lobbying influence—and with your support, Sludge will keep the fossil fuel industry in the spotlight where it belongs.
Thank you, and get in touch! We're easy to reach and eager to chat about our work covering climate policy.
Risks and challenges
Sludge is a new project still building a small-donor Membership base of readers for independent journalism. It is possible that later in 2019, after these Kickstarter rewards are fulfilled, Sludge will not yet have brought in enough small-donor Members to form a base of support for our investigative reporting.
In this case, later in 2019, Sludge would likely not be able to publish more original reports on money in politics and climate policy. We would then seek to preserve already-published articles for free online and archive them permanently on the Ethereum blockchain and/or InterPlanetary File Service. But we're aiming to keep muckraking through 2019, to the 2020 elections and beyond.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)