Public Notice

Public Notice

Background

Public Notice was a right-wing public policy think tank and polling company tied to the Koch network of libertarian groups. Public Notice was launched in February 2010 by Gretchen Hamel, a former spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration, to combat what it saw as over-spending in Washington.1Zachary Roth. “Former Bush Admin. Spox Launches Non-Profit To Combat ‘Over-Spending’,” TPM, March 3, 2010. Archived September 3, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Ov3LJ

According to an archived website page, Public Notice described itself as an “independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.”2About,” Public Notice. Archived December 17, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/6V3vw 

An archived FAQ page from the website claimed that the group was a non-partisan, independent organization that “criticized both parties for engaging in irresponsible spending,” and aimed to hold both Republicans and Democrats accountable.3Frequently Asked Questions,” Public Notice. Archived December 19, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NZT2j

In 2014, Public Notice was reportedly absorbed by another Koch network funding conduit called Freedom Partners — a Koch network vehicle for funding conservative political efforts.4Chris Moody. “The Koch’s ‘secret bank’ takes another step out of the shadows,” Yahoo! News, April 10, 2014. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qfSUw Reasons included the Kochs’ unsuccessful efforts to prevent the re-election of President Barack Obama, as well as a perceived over-reliance on external consultancies overseen by Sean Noble, according to Politico.5Projects,” Public Notice. Archived July 24, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/KeHoq 6How the Koch network rivals the GOP,” Politico, December 30, 2015. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Cg5eF

In May 2019, a Koch organization named “Stand Together” announced that Freedom Partners would cease to exist and that “all of our efforts to improve education, business, communities, and government policy,” which had been rebranded under the name the “Seminar Network,” would go forward using the Stand Together brand. The Washington Post also reported that as part of a re-organization of the Koch network in 2019, all of the political and policy advocacy activities of Freedom Partners would be shifted under the umbrella of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.7James Hohmann. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities,The Washington Post, May 20, 2019. Archived June 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/3a2Ma

Note that Public Notice appears to be a separate organization from the similarly-titled Public Notice Resource Center, a group established in 2003 by American Court and Commercial Newspapers, Inc. (ACCN).8About,” Public Notice Resource Center. Archived August 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NlFUC

Public Notice Campaigns

Public Notice was known for its campaigns against government spending, including a project called “Bankrupting America,” which appeared to go dormant after the Obama era. 9Bankrupting America homepage. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ajeFL

Public Notice was responsible for creating the “Kronies” series of short animated films satirizing the influence of big companies on government policy. Yahoo News reported that Public Notice worked with Generation Opportunity, a now-defunct Koch-funded youth group, to produce the series.10Chris Moody. “The Koch’s ‘secret bank’ takes another step out of the shadows,” Yahoo! News, April 10, 2014. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qfSUw

Incorporation History and Successor Organizations

Public Notice was the public business name of an entity called the SGC4 Trust, according to 2012 reporting by OpenSecrets. The reporters found that the sole trustee of SGC4 Trust was Gretchen Hamel.11Viveca Novak, Robert Maguire, and Russ Choma. “Exclusive: Nonprofit Funneled Money to Kochs’ Voter Database Effort, Other Conservative Groups,” OpenSecrets.org, December 21, 2012. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NrDhW The final filed tax return for SGC4 Trust in 2015 noted the dissolution of the group.

In 2016, an organization named “Public Notice Research and Education Fund” (PNREF) – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the EIN 27-3197768 – was apparently renamed “Stand Together, Inc,” which was launched as a “philanthropic community” and rebranding of The Seminar Network.

According to an archived version of PNREF‘s now-defunct website – publicnoticelearn.org – “Public Notice Research and Educational Fund (PNREF) was a 501(c)(3) organization and a sister project of Public Notice.”12About,” Public Notice Research and Education Fund, Archived January 23, 2015. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/4W5b1

Stand Together’s 2016 federal tax filing noted that “the corporation changed its name from ‘Public Notice Research and Education Fund, Inc.’ to ‘Stand Together, Inc.’” in that year.

Stance on Climate Change

Public Notice made no known public statements on climate.

Funding

In a 2010 interview, founder Gretchen Hamel refused to disclose the details of Public Notice’s funding sources, saying:13Zachary Roth. “Former Bush Admin. Spox Launches Non-Profit To Combat ‘Over-Spending’,” TPM, March 3, 2010. Archived September 3, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Ov3LJ

“We will not be disclosing our donors. We want to protect the anonymity of our donors.”

ThinkProgress revealed that Hamel attended a Koch network strategy meeting in Colorado in 2010.14The Kochtopus Media Network,” Greenpeace. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Mxr4S

Reporting by Pacific Standard in 2014 found that ” POFN, the disregarded entity of a non-profit called Public Notice…brought in more than 75 percent of its parent’s $6 million in revenue from May 2011 through April 2012. POFN’s manager—whoever that may be—would control how that money was spent, non-profit experts said.”15WHO CONTROLS THE KOCH BROTHERS’ SHADY POLITICAL NETWORK?“ Pacific Standard, March 19, 2014. Archived August 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YJ0aO

The organization also received funding through the Koch-backed Center to Protect Patient Rights, according to OpenSecrets.16Viveca Novak, Robert Maguire, and Russ Choma. “Exclusive: Nonprofit Funneled Money to Kochs’ Voter Database Effort, Other Conservative Groups,” OpenSecrets.org, December 21, 2012. Archived July 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NrDhW

The following information is based on a combination of archived funding data retrieved from the Conservative Transparency project combined with original IRS Form 990 research by DeSmog. View the attached spreadsheet for additional information on Public Notice’s funding by year (.xlsx).

Recipient & Donor201120122013Grand Total
Public Notice$8,041,693$7,136,250$8,810,000$23,987,943
Center to Protect Patient Rights (American Encore)$711,000  $711,000
Freedom Partners $5,466,250$8,810,000$14,276,250
TC4 Trust$7,330,693$1,670,000 $9,000,693
Public Notice Research and Education Fund$1,494,000$2,475,000 $3,969,000
Chase Foundation of Virginia$50,000$100,000 $150,000
DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative $500,000 $500,000
DonorsTrust$1,244,000$1,875,000 $3,119,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$200,000  $200,000
Grand Total$9,535,693$9,611,250$8,810,000$27,956,943

SGC4 Trust/Public Notice IRS Form 990 Filings

Public Notice Research and Education Fund (later Stand Together, Inc.) IRS Form 990 Filings

Key People

The following data was collected from publicly available IRS Form 990 filings by the SGC4 Trust. Note that a “$0” in compensation denotes that an individual was listed in that year, but did not report any compensation.

Name201120122013201420152016Grand TotalDescription
Chris Perrin $154,373$197,301$194,785$17,572 $564,031Chief Operating Officer
Corrine Hoare $109,886    $109,886Outreach Director
Gretchen Hamel$89,749$212,499$270,428$248,298$6,404 $827,378Trustee/Executive Director
Harry Brooks  $105,859   $105,859Policy Director
James Landry   $153,488  $153,488Director of Communications
Joseph Mansour   $119,175  $119,175Digital Directort
Josh Fisher    $0$0$0Trustee/Treasurer
Kathryn Pomeroy $135,002    $135,002Communications Director
Marc Short   $0$0$0$0Trustee
Grand Total$89,749$611,760$573,588$715,746$23,976$0$2,014,819 

Gretchen Hamel

Public Notice’s executive director was Republican political operative Gretchen Hamel. According to a now-deleted “About” section on the Public Notice website, before joining Public Notice, Hamel was founder and partner of the PR firm Endeavour Global Strategies. The page also noted that during the Bush administration, Hamel served as deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs, and was a “lead player in crafting and conducting the longest-running White House public relations campaign promoting pending free trade agreements.”17About,” Public Notice. Archived December 17, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/6V3vw

The page stated that Hamel had “worked with the editorial boards of all the nation’s leading daily newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and with specialty entertainment and news programs such as Oprah, Lou Dobbs Tonight and 60 Minutes.”18About,” Public Notice. Archived December 17, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/6V3vw

In November 2014, Hamel resigned her position as campaign spokesperson for a Koch-backed Republican politician, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, after being arrested for drunk driving.19MacKenzie Elmer. “Joni Ernst spokeswoman resigned after OWI arrest,” Des Moines Register, November 6, 2014. Archived August 4, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YJ0aO

Actions

March 30, 2011

Public Notice released the results of a poll, conducted on its behalf by the Tarrance Group, regarding public opinion about environmental regulations. Public Notice stated that according to its findings, “support is low for more environmental regulations on businesses.”

Some additional excerpts below:20Poll reveals: Americans believe small businesses and the American worker will feel the impact of new regulations,” Public Notice, March 30, 2011. Archived December 14, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/WyENV

“The American worker is also seen as receiving a hit from more regulation, with 59% agreeing that ‘additional federal regulation on businesses put the average American worker at risk of job loss.’ Also, a majority (56%) agree that ‘additional environmental regulation has a negative impact on local communities through tax increases and job loss.’”21Poll reveals: Americans believe small businesses and the American worker will feel the impact of new regulations,” Public Notice, March 30, 2011. Archived December 14, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/WyENV

“There is a perceived impact on jobs from increased regulation, as three quarters (75%) agree that ‘if regulations make it too expensive to keep jobs in America, businesses will continue to move overseas where there are much lower labor and environmental standards.’ Also, a majority (53%) agree that “additional environmental regulation makes American companies less competitive than foreign companies.”22Poll reveals: Americans believe small businesses and the American worker will feel the impact of new regulations,” Public Notice, March 30, 2011. Archived December 14, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/WyENV

Public Notice apparently did not provide the full results of the poll, or reveal how the questions were worded.

The poll’s results were cited in an article by climate change denier Marlo Lewis, published by the Cooler Heads Coalition website one day after the poll’s release.23Marlo Lewis. “Is the Public Clamoring for More EPA Regulation?Global Warming.org, March 31, 2011. Archived August 26, 2011. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/l3vpE

Contact & Address

IRS Form 990 filings by SGC4 Trust, the group that did business as Public Notice, listed the following address:

2200 Wilson Blvd, STE 102-533
Arlington, VA 22201
Ph: (571) 290-7655

Social Media

Other Resources

Resources

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