Alex Kotch

Alex Kotch is a North Carolina native, musician, research associate at the Institute for Southern Studies and Facing South. Follow him on Twitter: @AlexKotch

Recent Articles

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...

These Corporations and Public Charities Funded the State Abortion Bans

A Sludge investigation has uncovered the sources of millions of dollars behind advocacy efforts to pass a slew of state abortion bans this year.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. Conservative lawmakers in a number of states recently passed some of the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in history. In the first five months of 2019, legislatures in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio passed bans on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women don’t know they’re pregnant. Missouri approved an eight-week abortion ban, Arkansas and Utah passed 18-week bans, and Alabama enacted the harshest law so far this year, a near-total ban on abortions. Governors of these states signed the laws, but none are in effect, either because of legal challenges or future enactment dates. Reports show that these extreme efforts to ban abortion were inspired by the confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who opposes abortion. Despite his claim that he considers the 1973 Supreme Court...

McConnell’s Tobacco 21 Bill Exposes States to Big Tobacco’s Wishlist

McConnell has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tobacco industry, and some of his former staffers now lobby for tobacco giant Altria.

Seth Wenig/AP Photo
Seth Wenig/AP Photo A Juul electronic cigarette starter kit at a smoke shop in New York Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a so-called Tobacco 21 bill to raise the federal minimum age for buying tobacco products, including vaping products, from 18 to 21. The legislation does not include preemption of state regulations or other industry-friendly measures, but it requires states to take follow-up actions that could give the tobacco industry a chance to flex its lobbying muscle and enact its regulatory wishes in states across the country. Tucked into the bill is an update to a 1992 law, the Synar Amendment, that requires states to enact and enforce their own laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to people under the age of 18. The McConnell bill, which is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of...

Dems Overseeing Finance Industry Take Money from Group Supporting Racist Auto Lending

Alerted to the contributions, House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters tells Sludge she will better vet her campaign contributors.

Paul Sakuma/AP Photo Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article. Buying a car is a significant purchase for many Americans and should be a fair and transparent transaction, free of discrimination,” said House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters at a recent hearing on discrimination in the automobile loan and insurance industries . “Unfortunately, this is not the case for persons of color.” “I’m not sure where I start with this,” said Representative Joyce Beatty, who is chair of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion. Speaking about inaccuracies of a race identification method based on name and location, she said, “It works two ways because it could also not only hurt African Americans but benefit folks who might not be a minority that live in a minority neighborhood.” But earlier this year, Waters, Beatty, and six other Democratic...

Republicans Make Big Advances Thanks to Citizens United

The increase in corporate money in elections has favored one party over the other.

(Cartoon by DonkeyHotey via Flickr)
This article originally appeared on Facing South , a website published by the Institute for Southern Studies. It's been more than four years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , a ruling that expanded the ability of corporations and unions to influence politics. Now, with two election cycles completed, a series of studies have emerged to assess what impact it's had on our political system. One of the first and most thorough investigations into Citizens United 's effects on elections, published in July by professors at the University of Alberta and Emory University and a researcher at Competition Economics, concludes that the ruling has significantly benefited Republican candidates for state legislatures -- especially in North Carolina and Tennessee. Before the January 2010 Citizens United decision, corporations and labor unions were prohibited from making so-called independent expenditures for federal races --...