Behind the scenes, a scourge of dark money is thwarting policies that most Americans agree on, from securing the ability to take paid leave if your kid or parent gets really sick to having courts that are actually fair tribunals that provide real justice.

It is no secret that billionaires like Charles Koch are pouring money into elections, media outlets, and special interest groups to wield undue influence over our democracy. As the tide of dark money flooding our democratic institutions rises, it is more important than ever to shine a light on those who leverage their vast wealth to underwrite a reactionary agenda to remake America. 

In recent years, reactionary groups like the Independent Women’s Forum, Concerned Women for America, and Women for America First have gained increased influence and power. This came into sharp focus after January 6th, with three of the nine groups that organized the rally that culminated in a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol were dark money groups ostensibly founded by or for women. Other Trump-apologist groups, like the so-called “Independent” Women’s Forum (IWF) and leaders of the “Independent” Women’s Voice (IWV) have acted in ways that have normalized the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. They have also touted far-right politicians known for extreme claims, like Reps. Lauren Bobert and Marjorie Taylor Green. 

Some of these groups have acted in ways that undermine the interests of most American women, such as by demanding the reopening of the economy without key public safety measures, opposing federal funding for child care and paid family and medical leave for all, denying the existence of a gender pay gap, or urging courts to use religious claims of statutory corporations to strike down access to reproductive care of real women. Those are outlier views dressed up to look as though they are mainstream, though they are not.

IWF, for example, has used the specter of “men in women’s locker rooms” to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment and protections for trans Americans. Others, like Women for America First have erroneously claimed that Black Lives Matter and antifascist movements -- which have been overwhelmingly peaceful -- pose existential threats to suburban families, which are implied to be white, via racist dog whistles. Using women’s voices to give cover to regressive policies that disproportionately harm other women in particular and people in general is not progress. 

Our investigations have contributed to national conversations about who is truly behind “tea party’-styled regression and what can be done to reverse it. Our research into the Koch network, dark money distorting our courts, attacks on the U.S Postal Service, and corporate funders behind climate change denial, and IWF, among other topics, have appeared in major media outlets such as the Guardian, Washington Post and New York Times.

At True North Research, we still believe the truth matters and that telling stories that touch people’s hearts or open their eyes can make a real difference. We are an investigative watchdog founded by Lisa Graves that works to expose efforts to erode the core principles of our nation: that all people are created equal, that our republic was created to promote the general welfare of “We, the people,” and that our nation can be a bright beacon for liberty, equality, and ingenuity in the world.

We appreciate the interest of readers like you who are devoted to helping to expose the rightwing threats to our democracy and who yearn to make our world a better place.

The True North Team

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exposing the bad gals, bad guys, and anti-heroes distorting our democracy


Lisa Graves

She is an award-winning investigative researcher, leads True North Research, + is one of the foremost experts on how special interests distort democracy. She served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Chief Counsel for noms for the SJC, + more.

Evan Vorpahl

Researcher with True North Research.

Julia Peck

Julia is a linguist by training and a research fellow at True North Research. She recently worked at the University of Cambridge developing multilingual curricula to teach cultural literacy to schoolchildren.

Ansev Demirhan

Ansev Demirhan is a research fellow at True North Research. She is trained as an intersectional feminist historian. Ansev received her Ph.D. in history from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2020.

Alyssa Bowen

Alyssa is Managing Editor and Senior Researcher with True North Research. She is a contributor for Truthout and has bylines in The Nation, Rewire, and Ms. Magazine.