Sludge is an independent, nonprofit news outlet that produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. We report on the ways special interests launder their agendas, the power maps of corporate networks that extend deep into government, how concentrated economic powers shape public policy, and more.

Sludge is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in 2009. We are a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), a network of over 300 independent news organizations, and one of the founding members of The Brick House Cooperative, a media collective of publications across the world. Sludge also participates in the OptOut network of independent news outlets.

You can read about some of the news outlets and political advocacy organizations that have referenced our investigations here.

The Sludge team

David Moore – Executive director of the Participatory Politics Foundation. PPF created OpenCongress, the most-visited nonprofit site for tracking bills and campaign donations in the U.S. Congress. Later open-source projects included AskThem and NYC Councilmatic. David is based in Brooklyn, NY. (@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 included senior reporter Alex Kotch, from our launch in 2018 into 2020.


From January 2018 through March 2019, Sludge was supported by grants from the Civil Media Company and Civil Foundation. Since April 2019, Sludge has operated with the largest share of its funding coming from readers who make small, monthly donations, and from the NewsMatch drive of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).

Since April 2020, Sludge has been supported by our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Participatory Politics Foundation. Sludge held a successful Kickstarter in 2019 and raised money on IndieGoGo that same year. Sludge has received gifts of $5,000 and less from several family foundations.

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