Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. We look beyond public records and disclosures to reveal the hidden networks and conflicts of interest that drive systemic corruption.
Sludge reports on the ways industries launder their agendas through independent groups, the power maps of corporate networks that extend deep into government, how concentrated economic powers dictate public policy, and more. We scour traditional lobbying disclosures and campaign contributions, but our primary focus is all the ways that money influences politics that don’t fit established patterns and often don’t have to be disclosed.
As special interests try to hide their lobbying, Sludge is committed to exposing them.
Sludge never takes money from advertisers, interest groups, or corporations, so we are solely focused on providing information that our members value. Because we don’t rely on advertisements for revenue we never produce “clickbait” to pay our bills and we never shy away from topics that challenge powerful interests.
Sludge members contribute $5/month to receive the special Sludge Report email newsletter or $9/month for behind-the-scenes access to our team of reporters. Sludge’s reporters host members-only Q&A sessions to dig in deeper on stories, answer questions about process, and get to know our members and what areas of research they care about.
Site Memberships and Accounts
Members who donate to support our independent journalism can always control their own accounts directly—they can cancel or change their donation amount or delete their account (reader FAQ on Pico, our site account registration system).
To access your Sludge account, visit the Donation page and click the link at upper-right or the very bottom, “Already a donor? Log in here.” Enter your email in the field, click the magic link sent to your account from sender Sludge, and then you’ll be logged-in to your account on Sludge to adjust anytime. Contact us with any questions, email: email@example.com, or DM us on Twitter, and we can offer user support by telephone, text chat, or video chat as well. We’re available to help make this easy, and we really appreciate our reader support.
Sludge is paywall free—all our site articles are free to read online without requiring e-mail registration or payment. Our site has a few types of pop-up windows that ask visitors to join our free email list or make a donation to support our work. (The only Members-only content is the Sludge Report, which we send in full as a special email newsletter, as a perk to donating Members. We run a preview of it on the site.)
Our site PayPal email is: readsludge at gmail … dot com, and is connected to the button below. You’ll be redirected to PayPal’s site to login with your email address and your PayPal password—then enter an amount, choose whether you’d like it to be recurring, and press donate. We’ll add recurring donations of $5/month or more, or the equivalent one-time donation to keep us going through the 2020 election year, to our special SLUDGE REPORT member newsletter list.
The Sludge team
David Moore – Previously, Executive Director of the non-profit Participatory Politics Foundation. PPF created OpenCongress, the most visited non-profit site for tracking bills and money in the U.S. Congress. Later projects included AskThem and NYC Councilmatic. David is based in NYC. (@ppolitics)
Donald Shaw – Journalist who focuses on special interests’ efforts to influence politicians and shape public policy. He has been a reporter at MapLight, where he exposed correlations between campaign contributions and votes, and at OpenCongress. Donald is based in Western Massachusetts. (@donnydonny)
Previous Sludge reporter, March 2018—Dec. 2019:
Alex Kotch – Investigative journalist and money-in-politics expert. Alex started out with the Institute for Southern Studies (N.C.), freelanced in NYC with reporting in VICE.com, The Nation, and Exposed by CMD. He was most recently was part of the award-winning investigative team at International Business Times. (@alexkotch)
Previous Sludge reporters, from March into November 2018
Jay Cassano – Investigative journalist focused on government secrecy. Jay began his career as a foreign correspondent in Turkey and was previously on staff at Fast Company and the award-winning investigative team at International Business Times. He was also the first journalist-in-residence at Data & Society Research Institute. (@jcassano)
Josefa Velasquez – Journalist who focuses on the nexus of campaign contributions, politics and legislative proposals. She previously worked at Politico New York focusing on politics and health care, the Associated Press and the New York Law Journal. Josefa is based in Albany, New York. (@J_Velasquez)
Sludge Funding & Donor Information
From January 2018 through March 2019, Sludge was supported by grants from the Civil Media Company and Civil Foundation. From April 2019 to April 2020, Sludge operated as an independent newsroom with the majority of its funding coming from small-donor member support. In addition to small-dollar donations from Sludge readers, since April 2020 Sludge has also been supported by our founders’ previous 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Participatory Politics Foundation. Sludge held a successful Kickstarter in March-April 2019 and reached halfway to goal in an IndieGoGo in October 2019. Sludge has received gifts between $1,000 and $5,000 from four family foundations to support our independent journalism in 2019 and 2020.
Sludge Climate Desk – Thank-You
Sludge warmly thanks our Kickstarter supporters Megan Rooney, Rebecca Abts Wright, Kate A. Shaw, Ilo Milstein, and a valued guest from North Carolina for their donations towards our Climate Desk. Stay tuned for more reporting on the fossil fuel industry in September 2019!