Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

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Franklin Center for Public and Government Integrity
Formation 2009
Type Non Profit
Purpose Investigative journalism
Coordinates 38°48′22″N 77°03′12″W / 38.8061°N 77.0533°W / 38.8061; -77.0533Coordinates: 38°48′22″N 77°03′12″W / 38.8061°N 77.0533°W / 38.8061; -77.0533
Key people

Jason Stverak, President

William Swaim, Managing Editor

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is a conservative[1][2][3] online news organization in the United States that publishes news and commentary from a free market, limited government perspective on state and local governance and politics.[4][5]

According to the organization’s mission statement, the Franklin Center was founded "to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of a nationwide network of nonprofit reporters."[6]

Jason Stverak serves as the organization's president.[7][8]


The Franklin Center was founded in 2009 with an initial sponsorship grant from the Sam Adams Alliance.[9] The organization was originally based in Bismarck, North Dakota and is currently headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.[10]


In 2011, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, conservative donor advised funds, granted US$6.3 million donation to the Franklin Center.[11] The grant was 95% of the Franklin Center’s revenue that year and was the second-largest grant made by Donors Trust that year. In that year Donors Trust distributed $86 million, which according to the group’s website were private gifts used for “funding sensitive or controversial issues.” Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, said this "pass-through" arrangement obscured the identities of the original donors.[12]

News bureaus and affiliates[edit]

In September 2009, the Franklin Center launched, a network of state-based journalists who investigate and report on state and local government. covers news that involves "public officials, public programs and the taxpayer money that supports them." The network includes affiliates in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.[13][14]

New technology[edit]

The Franklin Center advocates for “transparency in government.”[citation needed] The organization states its belief this can be accomplished through use of new technology, often referred to as “new media.”[citation needed] Franklin Center believes it is important for journalists to become fluent in new media, so the organization offers training to individuals and organizations interested in learning new media techniques.[15][16][citation needed]

Reporter training and education[edit]

The Franklin Center provides training for investigative reporters, state-based news organizations, public-policy institutions, and watchdog groups.[17]

2012 presidential candidate series[edit]

On May 10, 2011, Franklin Center journalist Lynn Campbell of was named moderator for the 2012 Presidential Candidate Series.[18]

Watchdog Wire[edit]

In early 2012, the Franklin Center created a platform for citizen journalism under a banner called Watchdog Wire.[19] The Watchdog Wire website states that the it “exists to train citizens just like you to be citizen journalists and provide a place to feature your work. By covering stories in your local community that are otherwise ignored by the establishment media, you can make a difference! We partner with you to provide the training, the platform and the coaching you need to be government watchdogs in your own cities and states.”[20][21]

In June 2013, Watchdog Wire published a one-year anniversary article citing the success citizen journalists have had under their guise. The organization cited and referenced articles that uncovered behavior that resulted in the firing of five campaign workers and numerous government employees, including a Florida school teacher that forced her students to sign a pledge to "Vote for Obama."[22]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In November 2010, Franklin Center reporters at and Illinois Statehouse News were honored by the National Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors.[23] editor and publisher Len Lazarick won the first place Cappie award for coverage in the online news category.”[24] The judges also gave Lazarick a third place award in the category "Online: In-depth." Journalist Kevin Lee of Illinois Statehouse News won the Online In-depth Reporting Award for his investigation into the General Assembly Scholarship Program in Illinois.[24]

The Franklin Center's Maryland affiliate, Maryland Reporter, has won awards from the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and from CapitolBeat, the national Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. In 2012, Maryland Reporter was named Maryland's best political website by Baltimore Magazine. Maryland Reporter was also named one of the best state-based political blogs in the nation by the Washington Post.[25][26][27]

In August 2011, was awarded a $50,000 grant by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to provide "in-depth coverage of Maryland state government and politics and to expand capacity by giving those who plan on entering journalism as a career real-world experience in investigative reporting supervised by veteran journalists."[28]

The Society of Professional Journalists has presented awards to reporters for CapitolBeatOK,, and New Jersey Watchdog.[29][30][31] New Jersey Watchdog has also won two New York Press Club awards.[32]

Breitbart Awards[edit]

In June 2012 the Franklin Center teamed up with the Heritage Foundation to host the first annual Breitbart Awards dinner.[33] The awards honored the life and work of the late Andrew Breitbart who "pioneered a new media revolution that transformed journalism and the political landscape."[34] The 2012 award winners included Washington Examiner journalist Philip Klein, Citizen Journalist Andrew Marcus, and the Ace of Spades blog.[35] Syndicated columnist and Fox News Channel contributor Michelle Malkin took home the honors in 2013.[36]

CPAC 2013[edit]

At Conservative Political Action Conference 2013, Erik Telford of the Franklin Center served on a panel discussing "Current trends in technology."[37] During the two-day conference the Franklin Center ran a promotion using an over-sized costume of Ben Franklin meeting and greeting conference participants.[38] Individuals who had their picture taken with the mascot and tweeted the photo received free drink tickets.[38]

GreenTech Automotive investigation[edit]

The Franklin Center published a series of articles that raised questions about GreenTech Automotive and its presumed Chairman, Terry McAuliffe. The investigation exposed the company’s reliance on a controversial fundraising program, EB-5, that has been criticized for its lax oversight and subject to abuse.[39] The investigation also revealed that McAuliffe’s public projections, starting back in 2010, of how many cars would be built and jobs created had not come to fruition.[40] In April 2013, it was revealed that McAuliffe had left the green energy car-maker in December of the previous year.[41]

Green Tech Automotive filed a defamation lawsuit against Franklin Center on April 8, 2013 in a Mississippi court.[42] Franklin Center described the suit as “intimidation” and pledged to continue investigating GTA and McAuliffe.[43][44] In June of 2014 Green Tech's case was thrown out by the presiding judge. [45]


  1. ^ Peters, Justin. "‘Serious, point-of-view journalism’?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  2. ^ McDuffee, Allen (May 21, 2012). "Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center team up for Breitbart awards". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Sirota, David (August 1, 2014). "Chris Christie Wins Lawsuit to Exempt Himself From New Jersey's Open Records Laws". International Business Times. 
  4. ^ McBride, Kelly; Rosensteil, Tom (2013-07-30). The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century. Congressional Quarterly Press. p. 130. ISBN 1483320952. 
  5. ^ Enda, Jodi (2014-07-15). "At the statehouse, ideological press tries to fill a void in news coverage". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Mission". Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Stverak, Jason (2013-01-28). "Presenting the Case for School Choice". Roll Call. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Government-free* nonprofit journalism, asterisk included
  9. ^ Kosterlitz, Julie (December 12, 2009). National Journal  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity IRS Form 990". GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (February 15, 2013). "Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives". The Guardian. Retrieved February 16, 2013. Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise 
  12. ^ Abowd, Paul. "Koch-funded charity passes money to free-market think tanks in states". NBC News. Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  13. ^ States
  14. ^ PA Independent Welcomed Into State Press Association
  15. ^ "Franklin Center Mission page". Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Franklin Center FAQ page". Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Franklin Center aims investigative reporters at states". Washington Examiner. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "IOWA CAPITAL DIGEST". Quad City Times. 5-10-2011. Retrieved 11 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  19. ^ Citizen Training. "Watchdog Wire". Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  20. ^ "Watchdog Wire Website". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  21. ^ "Watchdog Wire bets that citizen journalists can investigate, too". Ebyline. Retrieved 2013-01-11. 
  22. ^ "A Grand Experiment in Journalism". Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  23. ^ "Congrats to our 2010 Cappie Winners". Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Cappie Awards". November 16, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Baltimore magazine names best political website". Baltimore Post-Examiner. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Cassie, Ron. "2013 Best of Baltimore: News". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Cillizza, Chris (3-12-2013). "The Fix’s best state based political blogs — extended edition!". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  28. ^ "Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation announces $1.6 million in awards". Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "The City Sentinel wins honors from Society of Professional Journalists; Community publication wins second in Best Newspaper category". City Sentinel. 5-1-2011. Retrieved 12 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  30. ^ "Star-Bulletin staff earns 30 SPJ journalism awards". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  31. ^ "Winner, 2013 NJSPJ Excellence in Journalism". NJSPJ. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Caruso, Debra (2014-05-13). "Winners Announced in 2014 New York Press Club Awards for Journalism". New York Press Club. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Byers, Dyland (2012-06-06). "Heritage, Franklin to host Breitbart Awards". Politico. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  34. ^ Franklin Center President Jason Stverak Announces 2013 Breitbart Award
  35. ^ Lee, Tony (6-10-2012). "Inaugural Breitbart Award Winners Honored". Breitbart. Retrieved 11 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  36. ^ Michelle Malkin Wins 2013 Breitbart Award for Excellence in Journalism
  37. ^ "CPAC 2013 Schedule". CPAC 2013 Schedule (Wall Street Journal). Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  38. ^ a b "ABC News Live CPAC update". 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  39. ^ "Judge dismisses GreenTech suit in win for First Amendment: Examiner Editorial". Washington Examiner. 2014-07-29. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  40. ^ Sherfinski, David (8-11-2013). "McAuliffe’s overstated production levels for GreenTech mar business-savvy image". Washington Times. Retrieved 12 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  41. ^ "Terry McAuliffe left car firm in December". 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  42. ^ Fredrick Kunkle (2013-04-12). "Car company founded by McAuliffe files $85 million suit over Web site articles". Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  43. ^ Stverak, Jason (2013-04-14). "We won't be intimidated". Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  44. ^ Jason Stverak Blaze Interview
  45. ^

External links[edit]