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.
Founded in 2018, Sludge launched as part of the First Fleet of newsrooms on Civil, a journalism platform that uses cryptoeconomics to guard against low-quality content and censorship. Once the platform is fully launched, Sludge will be accountable to holders of the Civil token, who will use internal governance mechanisms to affirm the integrity and commitment to journalistic standards of Sludge and other newsrooms on the protocol, according to the guidelines in the Civil Constitution. In addition, every article published by Sludge will be permanently published on the Ethereum blockchain.
Besides an initial investment from the Civil Media Company, Sludge is exclusively funded by our readers and members. We never take 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 (or $9/month with the added perk of a Sludge coffee mug) and receive exclusive access to member forums and 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.
The Sludge team
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)
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 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)