ALEC, the Koch Led CABAL & “The Amicus Project” – Fed Court Interference

A VLTP Special Report – by Bob Sloan, re-posted from Daily Kos.

This is a lengthy but highly important article.  We cut it down and took out sections we intend to include in subsequent Exposé’s on ALEC and in so doing realized that the single issue of ALEC’s interference in our judiciary still requires a two part segment.  This first part will deal with theALEC Amicus Project – the “front door” access to judges.  Part two will introduce readers to the “back door” access used to attempt to ensure the cabal receives favorable outcomes in important cases.  This link shows just a few of the cases ALEC informs they have filed amicus briefs in.

Let us provide that the use of amicus briefs is not in itself problematic and many lawyers, businesses and organizations have genuine need to use amicus briefing as a way of voicing their positions on important matters.  ALEC and the cabal have exploited this provision unashamedly to advance an agenda important to their members and corporate interests.  For this reason, it is important that you see just how this has been done and the results of their interference.

For you to fully comprehend and understand; each initiative of ALEC, what the cabal is, the members and how they work collectively behind curtains to first disenfranchise and ultimately to control all three branches of our government and through them – us – It is important to provide all the information possible regarding each piece of this complex operation. For that reason – grab your favorite beverage, lean back and prepare to enter the dark underside of ALEC’s influence upon our judiciary…all the way to the SCOTUS.

Our last exposé informed you of ALEC’s secret memberships; lifetime, subscription and “Full” (which allows foreign officials to hold ALEC memberships).  While this is nefarious in and of itself, when considered in conjunction with ALEC’s (until now) hidden interference with our judicial system, the situation is much worse.

Below the fold you will be introduced to an entirely new function of the ALEC/Koch cabal that has been long hidden from view.  The below screen capture introduces you to the ALEC “Amicus Project”.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term or purpose of “Amicus briefing” it is the manner in which those with keen interests in the outcome of a state or federal court case or issue, can present an argument to the court on behalf of the Plaintiff, Respondent or the issue(s) to be determined.  These are referred to more commonly as “friend of the Court” briefs.

Amicus Project header capture


A few years ago ALEC developed an initiative allowing them to advance their ideological agenda of “Jeffersonian principles, free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty” straight into the ears of state and federal judges – including the SCOTUS – in key cases involving education, gun rights, Telecom issues, 1st Amendment rights, takings laws (eminent domain), environment and federal regulations.  Already having huge influence within state and federal legislatures and executive branches, this project would allow ALEC and the cabal a way to extend that influence to the judicial branch – state and federal.

Though our three branches of government are crafted to be separate and co-equal departments, serving to balance the three and provide safeguards or “checks” against abuse or usurpation of power by each of the other branches – ALEC and the cabal have found a way around those safeguards.

ALEC propagates a wide range of “model legislation” that seeks to make it more difficult for people to hold corporations accountable in court; gut the rights and protections of workers and consumers; encumber health care reform; privatize and weaken the public education system; provide business tax cuts and corporate welfare; privatize and cut public services; erode regulations and environmental laws; create unnecessary voter ID requirements; endorse Citizens United; diminish campaign finance reform; and permit greater corporate influence in elections.  This diary explains how ALEC is able to advance their agenda – through influence used to secure favorable judicial decisions from our state and federal courts.

In reality this two-part Exposé is the best example of the “cabal.” ALEC and their corporate and legislative members, “alumni” and lobbyists working collectively and using funding from the Koch brothers to exert control.  They actually are a cabal as you will begin to realize at the end of the Exposé series.  You will see the way in which they coordinate, work together and pursue issues collectively to present a unified voice and support for each other as they pursue their agenda(s) in both the Legislative and Judicial branches of our democratic system.

As ALEC began to understand how intensely we were researching and pursuing them last year following the Cincy Protest in April, they worked to scrub their site clean, removing links to anything they considered even remotely incriminating or that could be used to expose their activities to the masses.  In this manner they hoped to throw researchers and analysts off the scent.  Thankfully we grabbed hundreds of pages from their site and those we missed we quickly retrieved from the WayBack Archive.

One of the links ALEC eliminated was any reference to what they termed the “Amicus Project.”  There are still traces of their participation in this program created and used as a means of attempting to influence courts by the filing of Amicus (or “friend of the court”) briefs, but this ALEC Project itself is now hidden from sight.

The SCOTUS decision in the Affordable Care Act case, provides us with by far the best example of the individuals and organizations included in the cabal; how they work in a coordinated manner to increase their reach, influence, power and the volume of their voice in key legal determinations made by each of our state and federal courts.

In the Florida (NFIB) V. Sebilius case decided in June, there were many amicus briefs filed on both sides in the healthcare issues.  On behalf of the NFIB however (a member of ALEC), there were an extraordinary number of briefs filed in support that were filed by ALEC and the rest of their cabal supporting repeal of the ACA.  These were not simply unified briefs, with ALEC joining the Pacific Research Institute, the NFIB, Cato, etc…no, the cabal members filed individual briefs.  In addition ALEC members and alumni filed separate briefs; FORMER U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICIALS AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTSthat included former US AG’s, Ashcroft and Edwin Meese; BRIEF FOR AMICI CURIAE ECONOMISTS IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS REGARDING INDIVIDUAL MANDATE that included economist Art Laffer (ALEC Scholar) and over one hundred other “economists” from: George Mason University, Hillsdale College, American Action Forum, Ethics and Public Policy Center, RAND Corp.,Hudson Institute, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, Manhattan Institute, Mercatus Center, American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Cato Institute  Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and dozens of universities and colleges affiliated with ALEC and/or receiving funding from the Koch family foundations.


Also included in the list of ALEC alum/members filing briefs; AMICI CURIAE BRIEF OF THE AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW & JUSTICE, 119 MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS,that included ALEC’s second highest member of the U.S. House, Eric Cantor…and another by the Goldwater Institute; “AMICUS BRIEF ON BEHALF OF CITIZENS AND LEGISLATORS IN THE FOURTEEN HEALTH CARE FREEDOM STATES IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS” that included 100+ state and federal lawmakers, many which are ALEC members.  Speaker Boehner (ALEC’s highest ALUM in Congress) filed his own Amicus; “BRIEF OF SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER AS AMICUS CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS ON THE MINIMUM COVERAGE PROVISION ISSUE.”  Additionally, piling on, if you will, this brief; “BRIEF OF MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS ON THEMINIMUM COVERAGE PROVISION ISSUE” was filed with amici listed as:

“Amici Curiae United States Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, Kelly Ayotte, John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Daniel Coats, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, Michael Enzi, Chuck Grassley, Dean Heller, John Hoeven, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Ron Johnson, Jon Kyle, Mike Lee, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Marco Rubio, Richard Shelby, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, Patrick Toomey, David Vitter, and Roger Wicker are United States Senators serving in the One Hundred Twelfth Congress…”

and many listed are acknowledged ALEC alum/members.Other notable conservative groups or organizations affiliated with ALEC/Koch that also filed as amici in the ACA case include:
Mountain States Legal Foundation
Chamber of Commerce
Pacific Research Institute (Ties to ALEC)
Galen Institute (a partner organization to the Charles Koch Foundation)
Liberty Legal Foundation
Liberty University
American Civil Rights Union (affiliated with ALEC and funded by the Bradley Foundation).
Independence Institute (Koch Funded)
Institute for Justice (Ties to ALEC) (Funded jointly by Charles and David Koch)
Mountain States Legal Foundation (Funded by Coors’ Castle Rock Foundation, and ALEC member/supporter)
CATO INSTITUTE, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION,14 OTHER ORGANIZATIONS (all of these are funded or supported by Koch foundations. CEI is funded by donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. Past and present funders include the Scaife Foundations, Exxon Mobil, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Pfizer, and the Earhart Foundation).
Rutherford Institute (which just published an article in support of ALEC and opposing protesting their Annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah this month)
Senator Paul Rand
Washington Legal Foundation (funded by Koch foundations)
In addition to affiliation with ALEC and receiving funding from Koch and Bradley foundations,Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies provides interns to many of the institutes, foundations and organizations that filed the foregoing briefs.

The listing of briefs filed in the US Supreme Court in the Florida case, are matched by the briefs filed in the Virginia v. Sebilius case – by some of the same parties:
Washington Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation (citing ALEC’s “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act”).
Economic Scholars
American Center For Law and Justice and 49 Members of the US House
(Also citing ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act)
CATO Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute

Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, American Life League, Inc., Institute on the Constitution, the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Public Advocate of the United States, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Liberty Committee, Downsize DC Foundation,, and Policy Analysis Center – Gun owners opposing national healthcare…who would have thought that?
American Civil Rights Union
26 US States also filed in both cases (Florida and Virginia).  This is important when considering the costs of pursuing not only the litigation, but the Amicus filings and costs thereof.  Here is apartial list of the states filing amicus briefs in these cases:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona,
Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi,
Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Texas, Utah, and Washington.

It would be redundant to list the names of those parties who filed amicus briefs to the original district courts in Florida and Virginia…I think the foregoing adequately demonstrates the huge movement to overturn the ACA law.But how about other key issues involving: 2nd Amendment, Education, Tort Reform, 1st Amendment, Telecommunication, Environmental and Imminent Domain?   Asbestos “reform” legislation?  We find this pattern involving the same organizations, institutes and foundations…including ALEC.

Tobacco litigation before the SCOTUS in 2006 against ALEC member Phillip Morris (now Altria): Philip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams, Personal Representative of the Estate of Jesse D. Williams, Deceased, case No. 05-1256 (from Oregon, 2006 on punitive damages award).

This landmark case was filed March 30, 2006 and on May 1 the Chamber of Commerce filed the initial Amicus brief.  By July the American Tort Reform Association, CATO Institute, Washington Legal Foundation, National Association of Manufacturers and the Pacific Legal Foundation had joined the Chamber as amici along with RJ Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco Co (Reynolds and Lorillard both involved with ALEC on Tobacco Tort Reform legislation going back to 1995).  That same month the Chamber and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed their second amicus briefs.  The case was decided in favor of the cabal, reversed and remanded in a 5-4 decision.

On Union dues used for political activities (involving ?Paycheck Protection) one of ALEC‘s model Acts – was challenged in Washington State.first Amendment: GUY DAVENPORT, ET AL. v. WASHINGTON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Nos. 05-1589 & 05-1657:

Amici included;
Mackinac Center
CATO Institute, Center for Individual Freedom and the Reason Foundation
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation
Institute for Justice
Mountain States Legal Foundation
Pacific Research Institute

This was so unusual in such a case that the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation published an article on the number of Amicus briefs filed  (35 altogether).

There are literally dozens upon dozens of similarly important cases involving the same CABAL.  Hundreds of Amicus briefs are filed at both the state and federal levels in support of ALEC model legislation when it is challenged.  It doesn’t have to be ALEC model legislation under a challenge, just something important to business or corporate members of ALEC.

2nd Amendment (gun rights),

McDonald v. City of Chicago, SCOTUS 08-1521 (decided 6/2010.  Amici included:

American Legislative Exchange Council
Rutherford Institute
Heartland Institute
CATO  and Pacific Legal Foundation
891 State Legislators
Institute for Justice
Goldwater Institute
Eagle Forum
States of Texas, Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
Family Research Counsel, et al.

Healthcare (First Amendment free speech):

Sorrell V. IMS (SCOTUS).  So many briefs filed between the district court and SCOTUS decision, I can’t include all of them here…suffice to say ALEC, CATO, CoC, Pacific Legal Foundation, Tommy Thompson, REED ELSEVIER, New England Legal Foundation and dozens of commercial healthcare agencies, organizations and associations listed at the foregoing link.

A key issue that has been vigorously pursued and protected is ALEC’s model legislation – “Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act“.  In 2009 ALEC registered two lobbyists in NDto make presentations to the state assembly in an attempt to get passage of this legislation.  They also sent the same “lobbyist” Mark Behrens (attorney Shook Hardy and Bacon) to state legislatures to lobby for passage of this legislation.

In a case in WA State, in 2008 an attorney arguing against an amicus brief filed in the case by Mark Behrens and Victor Schwartz (SHB lobby group and ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Adviser and Chairman, respectively) spoke out about Behrens and Schwartz.  He identified both as having represented many other clients, writing research papers  and representing the American Tort Reform Association – yet appearing in the WA. case as an “Amicus” without advising the court as to their vested interest in the litigation on behalf of their clients and ALEC.

In a Texas Supreme Court case, where ALEC member and Shook, Hardy and Bacon client, Crown Cork and Seal Company, Inc. were defending a suit, SHB not only represented Crown Cork…they also represented Amici including; the Texas Civil Justice League, the Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business (legal foundation) and the National Association of Manufacturers.  SHB top counsel and ALEC Civil Justice TF Dir and advisor, Victor Schwartz and Mark Behrens argued the case for Crown Cork and Seal.

In 2007 Schwartz and SHB filed similar amicus briefs in a CA. asbestos case in the state supreme court (Watts Regulator Co.). Amici included; Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for Litigation Justice, American Tort Reform Association, NFIB legal foundation.

Schwartz, Behrens and ALEC are also heavily involved in tort “reform” legislation/litigation.  As provided at SourceWatch’s ALEC Exposed site, ALEC has crafted dozens and dozens of tort reform and other legislation limiting liability of corporations.

In 2008, in a PA. Supreme Court case involving tort liability, SHB’s Schwartz and Behrens represented the defendant in; Bugosh v. I.U. North America, Inc., No.7 WAP. 2008.  Amicus were the usual suspects listed above in the asbestos litigation.

In 2010 in a Nevada Supreme Court case, TERESA BAHENA V. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Case No. 49207, Schwartz represented ALEC’s amici interest in this product liability case.  Other amici were; CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF

In cases where SHB and Schwartz and/or Behrens represent ALEC member corporations, he brings on the amicus briefs by the usual suspects.  In a Supreme court case in AL. three ALEC member pharmaceutical companies sued Alabama; Astrazeneca, Smithkline Beecham and Novartis V. Alabama, (2006) the amicus brief was filed by; National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.  The case involved state attorney generals hiring private attorneys to prosecute entire industries.

Whether the issues directly involve ALEC legislation or SHB, Schwartz or the usual amici, they are brought into key legislation in support of corporations who find themselves in liability trouble.  In re Bridgestone/Firestone N. Am. Tire, LLC et al., No. 02-0944, amicus brief filed (Tex. May 20, 2003) amici included; National Association of Manufacturers, the American Tort Reform Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

All the way back in 1997 ALEC SHB and the usual suspects were using amicus briefing to influence key tort reform decisions in state supreme court cases.  In State ex rel. Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers v. Sheward, 86 Ohio St.3d 451, 1999-Ohio-123 involving tort reform, amici included;
American Legislative Exchange Council
National Federation of Independent Businesses
Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc.
National Association of Manufactures
American Tort Reform Association

The Ohio case involved questions of constitutionality of legislation adopted and passed by the Ohio legislature that affected Realtor’s and others who claimed the legislation was unconstitutional.  SHB (Schwartz) represented the NFIB, the Tort Reform Association, NAM and the Product Liability Advisory Council (Behrens was co-counsel for the PLAC).  SHB ALEC and the others supported the position of the state arguing the legislation was constitutional. The state lost this one.

Is the pattern becoming clear? Is the appearance of unified support by cabal members in/on key issues apparent?

Finally we come to the historic Citizens United SCOTUS decision.  Dozens of Amicus briefs were filed in this case – which ALEC endorsed.

Amici supporting Citizens United include;

Foundation for Free Expression
CATO Institute
Center for Competitive Politics
Wyoming Liberty GroupGoldwater Institute
United States Chamber of Commerce
Institute for Justice
Pacific Legal Foundation
American Civil Rights Union
Senator Mitch McConnell
Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Center for Competitive Politics

The foregoing demonstrates how the ALEC/Koch cabal are able to use their vast influence to whisper in the ear of our state and federal judges…and the U.S.Supreme Court.  They do it quietly, without fanfare or the media reporting on these efforts to influence important judicial decisions.  Legislators who have the elected duty to pass legislation on behalf of their “constituents” have done their job once the legislation is passed and signed by the Governor (if state law) or the President (if federal law). It is then the duty of our state and federal judiciary to rule upon those passed laws once a challenge is brought before the court by citizens.

ALEC and the corporate members are unwilling to allow the courts to make factual and unbiased decisions in key cases – based upon the merits alone.  Instead they weigh in at every stage of litigation, filing a huge number of briefs in support of the position held by ALEC or their member corporations, legislators or the conservative ideology being advanced.  This practice presents the courts with the impression that there is a vast number of diverse parties supporting one side or the other of an issue.  In many cases the court adopts sections of the amicus filings in their final decisions, so these efforts do influence important opinions that once made, determine “controlling laws” (no pun intended).

If/when the President or his Executive administration attempt to weigh in on key cases, Congress cries foul, saying the Executive branch is unfairly trying to influence the Judicial branch…while those representing the cabal in the Legislative branch are doing precisely that.  From the foregoing we’ve established that it isn’t simply the corporations, foundations and institutes representing the cabal who use these briefs to influence the courts, many of the cases such as the ACA and Citizen’s United, have briefs filed by Congressional members (McConnell, Cantor, Boehner and others affiliated with ALEC).  In the ACA litigation, hundreds of conservative Republican members of Congress and state Assemblies filed briefs to overturn “Obamacare”.

Bad enough that corporations through ALEC are able to write and propose pro-corporate legislation…but once they succeed matters are made worse by their ability to then have the opportunity to use the same lawmakers to influence the court’s decisions on their behalf to ensure a favorable outcome.

Today this “Amicus Project” concept is being used throughout our court system by the cabal.  They use it successfully to secure such favorable opinions in; telecommunications, labor, union, education, environmental, insurance, healthcare and criminal justice cases – to name just a few of their initiatives.

We as “constituents”, “voters” and simply “citizens” have no representation to present our side of any issue or case.  Those who are elected and have the duty of such representation have been co-opted, their loyalty and pursuits dedicated to the corporations, foundations, institutions and organizations who can/will/are contributing to keeping them in office and power.  Those organizations who still have some form of voice to represent us; labor groups, unions and liberal groups…are under full attack from the entire cabal who are trying to silence even the last whispers of objection to their subversion of our democracy.

Recently ALEC has claimed that their operations and activities are no different than those of the National Counsel of State Legislators (NCSL).  This argument and/or claim is disingenuous at best.  Yes the NCSL has a provision for submitting Amicus briefs – to the SCOTUS.  Here is theirrule regarding such Amicus efforts:

“[E] The decision to name NCSL as an amicus curiae on briefs filed before the U.S. Supreme Court shall be by unanimous agreement of the NCSL President, the NCSL Immediate Past President, the NCSL President-Elect, the NCSL Vice President, the legislator Co-Chairs of the NCSL Standing Committees, the Legislator Co-Chairs of the Law and Criminal Justice Committee and legislator Co-Chairs of other standing committees that have jurisdiction over the question to be resolved by the amicus brief. In the event any person voting indicates a veto, the President may initiate a conference call to allow for discussion and to confirm each person’s vote.”

In other words, such a decision to weigh in on judicial matters, the NCSL limits such involvement to the Supreme Court, does not “partner” or coordinate with other “liberal” or “Progessive” organizations and they do not interfere at the state or federal level beneath the SCOTUS – and their participation in amicus briefing is usually limited to protecting the rights of voters and citizens, not corporate advancement.  The requirement that any amicus involvement requires the current and past presidents of the NCSL to sign on, is because the NCSL is truly bipartisan and leadership changes yearly from Republican to Democrat and back.  ALEC and the cabal they belong to present only the conservative ideologies and agenda in the briefs they file trying to influence judicial decisions.  Historically, their amicus involvement involves protecting the pro-corporate legislation they have been able to enact and to also protect corporate interests in key cases.  What you won’t find is a NCSL amicus filing in the ACA, Citizens United or other constitutional matters before SCOTUS or any of the lower federal courts.Issues pursued by the NCSL in amicus filings? Nuclear regulatory decisionsNCSL signed onto an amicus curiae brief filed by State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in the Supreme Court which argued that two Secret Service agents should be immune from a First Amendment retaliatory arrest lawsuit. In an Indianapolis case, NCSL signed onto an amicus curiae brief filed by State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in the Supreme Court which argued that the City of Indianapolis didn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause when it forgave the assessments of homeowners who paid for sewer improvements in multi-year installments but issued no refunds to homeowners who paid for the same improvements in a lump sum.  Joining that amicus were the International City/County Management Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors.

I urge readers to go out and do a search for both ALEC and the NCSL combined with amicus briefs filed.  You will quickly ascertain that there are vast differences in both ideology and purposes.  For ALEC and the cabal, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of these amicus briefs that have been filed at all levels of our judiciary.  Too damn many to list them all.  They are assisted in this by several law firms working month after month writing and presenting these briefs on behalf of the cabal.  Who pays for this representation? Filing fees and research?  Where in ALEC’s annual IRS 990 forms are they declaring the expenditures on such amicus activities?

As we’ve shown in this expose, they are a collective, working together; institutes, foundations, corporations, lawmakers, organizations all with an agenda of advancing the ultra-right minority conservative ideologies across all forms of our government and democracy.

Keep in mind they have a forty year head start….and this is the network they have built:
koch cabal chart.  Click on the link and see for yourself, the chart is interactive.

imageDownload (2)
is only one branch of the entire cabal led by the Koch brothers.

In the next segment we will inform you of the “back door” used by the cabal to further guarantee favorable outcomes from the judiciary – free trips, seminars and gifts to federal judges and select Supreme Court Justices.

Much more to come and all of it documented, vetted and fact checked.