Alex Kotch

Alex Kotch is a senior investigative reporter and editor at Sludge. Follow him on Twitter: @AlexKotch

Recent Articles

Meet the Oligarchs Funding Campaign to Kill Anti-Poverty Programs

Top funders behind a campaign against food stamps and Medicaid include some well-known rightwing political megadonors.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. Last December, an innocuously named nonprofit, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), wined and dined Republican politicians and White House staffers at a Walt Disney World resort, according to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity. The pitch: make it harder for poor Americans to access government programs meant to help them get on secure financial ground, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and Medicaid. The group has already achieved some victories, as states including Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia have imposed work requirements on SNAP recipients, sometimes using FGA model legislation. A nationwide version of work requirements proposed by the Trump administration is expected to kick hundreds of thousands of poor Americans off of SNAP . A Sludge...

ICE Contracts Are Booming. See Which Vendors Are in Your State.

Companies and other entities that make money from Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts are flush in 2019, thanks to President Trump's harsh immigration operation.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. On July 24, Senators Chuck Grassley and Richard Blumnethal sent a letter to the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asking for more information on its reported rampant use of solitary confinement. A joint investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Intercept , and NBC News unearthed more than 8,400 reports of immigrants being placed in solitary confinement from 2012 to early 2017. The Trump administration’s increasingly harsh immigration policies have amplified many other alleged abuses , including sexual assault , family trauma , and hate . On the heels of interactive reports on CBP vendors and 2018 ICE contractors , Sludge has now produced an up-to-date analysis of ICE vendors. From 2010 to July 29, 2019, more than 3,200 contractors received over $12.7 billion worth of ICE contracts. Some...

As Charles Koch Cultivates Anti-War Image, Koch Industries Profits from Defense Contracts

The right-wing billionaire has teamed up with unlikely ally George Soros on “military restraint,” but Koch Industries subsidiaries make millions by supplying the Navy with circuitry.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. Libertarian billionaire industrialist Charles Koch has gone to great lengths to paint himself as an anti-interventionist. He has funded foreign policy-focused think tanks and university centers such as the conflict-averse Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University and the Notre Dame International Security Center , which is directed by anti-NATO professor Michael Desch. Most recently, he teamed up with an extremely unlikely ally, liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, to found the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. The Charles Koch Foundation and Soros’ Open Society Foundations each contributed $500,000 to help found the Quincy Institute, which will open in September, along with $800,000 from other donors. “Political leaders have increasingly deployed the military in a costly, counterproductive, and...

Democratic Leaders Rake In Corporate Cash as "the Squad" Sticks With Small Donors

A Sludge analysis of new second-quarter campaign finance reports has found that the Democratic leaders in the House combined to take in nearly $1.2 million in contributions from corporate and trade association PACs.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. In late June, 95 House Democrats voted against a bipartisan bill, supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to fund President Donald Trump’s border enforcement operation with no strings attached. But in a friendly interview with opinion columnist Maureen Dowd after the vote, Pelosi singled out just four of them—a group of progressive women of color in her caucus who have become known as “the Squad.” “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she said , referring to “the Squad” of freshmen Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.” According to new second-quarter campaign finance reports, these four women’s...

Who Is Making Money From CBP in Your State?

U.S Customs and Border Protection has been detaining children in squalid conditions at the border. See which companies sell their goods and services to the agency and where they’re headquartered.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. The acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) resigned Tuesday after harrowing reports of squalid conditions at the agency’s overcrowded detention facilities near the border with Mexico. Hundreds of children have been denied showers, oral hygiene, even mattresses. Reports described one massively strained facility in Clint, Texas, where girls aged 10 to 15 were caring for a two-year-old boy who needed to be held and didn’t have a diaper. At that facility, there were reportedly 300 children in a single room. From 2010 to June 24, 2019, CBP paid $6.4 billion to 1,123 outside vendors for an array of goods and services including vehicles, food, furniture, housekeeping, video recording equipment, and leasing, according to Sludge ’s review of data from the Federal Procurement Data System. These payments have swiftly increased under...

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