Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and oversees the left-wing anti-science website SourceWatch. A political activist and lawyer by profession, Graves is a major proponent of the conspiracy theory that corporate money has corrupted the scientific community.
Ironically, she engages in her own conspiracy against science groups. According to Wikipedia sources, she got another attorney, Nathaniel Strauss, part of her ALEC Exposed conspiracy initiative, to persistently hack and manipulate the Wikipedia web page for groups like American Council on Science and Health, allowing no changes to be made that do not reflect the agenda of her organization.
Other Wikipedia editors have called him out because he attempts to use numerous aliases to bolster his bizarre claims but he persists.
Graves “Dark Money” Fairytale
Under Graves leadership, CMD has perpetuated the politically-biased narrative that big business is “spending millions of dollars to benefit narrow corporate interests … and they are trying to do this from the shadows.”In the context of science, Graves says corporations buy off prominent researchers in order to fight government regulation and preserve their profits.
Companies like Monsanto and Coca Cola, according to this paranoid story, pay industry-friendly researchers by secretly funneling “dark money” through “front groups” that are established to give corrupt scientists a veneer of independence.
Through her website SourceWatch, graves and an army of volunteers take aim at pro-science organizations like the American Council on Science and Health, a group of researchers and doctors who blow the whistle on anti-science activists. SourceWatch claims that ACSH “actively solicits funding from corporations on specific issues… that benefit from it taking positions favorable to those corporations.”
In rebuttal to this criticism, ACSH pointed out in 2016 that their scientists actually say what they want regardless of who funds their work, noting, for example, that their commentary on soda and health remained the same whether Coca Cola gave them money or not. The Council also explained that Graves and her minions rarely address the substance of ACSH’s work, because they lack the scientific expertise to do so.
Graves Takes Corporate Donations, but You Better Not
While graves has made a career out of attacking corporate influence on science, she usually fails to mention that CMD receives “dark money” donations that come almost exclusively from progressive political interests, well over a million dollars in 2014, for instance.
Graves never acknowledges where her funding comes from, however. To cite just one example, CMD received $520,000 in private donations in 2011 and 2012, split into two checks for $260,000 each. The money was delivered through a donor-advised fund, which corporations and donors use to keep their identities private.
CMD says conservative groups use these funds to “hijack state politics and government,” calling them “The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement.” The progressive magazine Mother Jones, itself the beneficiary of millions in secret corporate donations, has also hypocritically picked up CMD’s silly dark money narrative and criticized its conservative opponents for hiding the source of their funding.
Graves attempted to address this awkward double standard by claiming that “we literally don’t know the name of the man or woman who gave the funds,” implying that her funding is pure and anonymous, while her opponents know where their money comes from but choose to hide it. The reporter who broke the story about Graves hypocrisy rhetorically asked in reply, “We didn’t say it was bad to take anonymous money — it’s legal. But why is it bad when others do it but totally OK when Lisa Graves does it?”
Graves: Organic Industry Advisor
The conflicts of interest don’t stop at taking corporate money while damning others for doing the same. Graves also serves on the board of directors for U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an anti-biotech group that is fully financed by the organic industry. Coincidentally no doubt, writers employed by the Organic Consumers Association also contribute to SourceWatch, particularly the website’s article on Monsanto. Given its status as a major manufacturer of genetically modified seeds, Monsanto represents serious competition to the organic industry–and thus a threat to Graves corporate donors.