A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

About Us

 

Our Mission

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

 

Our Funding

Prior to fiscal 2010, we were supported entirely by three sources: funds from the APPC’s own resources (specifically an endowment created in 1993 by the Annenberg Foundation at the direction of the late Walter Annenberg, and a 1995 grant by the Annenberg Foundation to fund APPC’s Washington, D.C., base); additional funds from the Annenberg Foundation; and grants from the Flora Family Foundation. We do not seek and have never accepted, directly or indirectly, any funds from corporations, unions, partisan organizations or advocacy groups.

In 2010, we began accepting donations from individual members of the public for the first time, responding to many unsolicited offers of support from our subscribers. We launched our first public appeal for donations in April 2010.

At that time we also decided to disclose our finances in greater detail, so that our readers may judge for themselves whether or not any of those individual donations could influence us.

Our policy is to disclose the identity of any individual donor giving $1,000 or more. We also disclose the total amount, average amount and number of individual donations under $1,000.

Note: In addition to the sums reported here, FactCheck.org receives in-kind support from the Annenberg Public Policy Center including office space, utilities and technical support from APPC staff. We do not attempt to assign a dollar value to these in-kind services, which are funded from the APPC’s own resources.

Financial Disclosure:

Fiscal Year 2012, Second Quarter
(3 months ending December 31, 2011)

Annenberg Foundation: $168,203

Individual donors: $83,827

During this three-month period, we received a total of 1,774 gifts from individual donors, the largest of which was $2,500. The average individual donation was $47.20, and half of our individual donations during this period were $25 or less.

The individual donors included these who gave $1,000 or more:

Howard and Penny Burt Family Fund: $2,500
Thomas Ferguson, Nolanville, Texas: $1,000
David Joerg, New York, NY: $1,000

Fiscal Year 2012, First Quarter
(3 months ending September 30, 2011)

Annenberg Foundation: $228,935

Individual donors: $8,104

During this three-month period, we received a total of 178 gifts from individual donors, the largest of which was $500. The average individual donation was $45.53, and half of our individual donations during this period were $25 or less.

Fiscal Year 2011
(12 months ending June 30, 2011)

Annenberg Foundation: $612,125

Carnegie Corporation of New York: $100,000

Rajkumar Anketell, Hackensack, N.J.: $5,000

Allen Stenger, Alamogordo, N.M.: $1,000

Individual donations of less than $1,000 each: $49,018.59

Non-corporate employer matching (Pew Charitable Trusts): $1,000

During this 12-month period, we received a total of 942 gifts from individual donors, the largest of which was $5,000. The average individual donation was $59.40. Half of our individual donations were $25 or less.

Fiscal Year 2010
(12 months ending June 30, 2010)

Annenberg Foundation: $806,542

Flora Family Foundation: $99,093

Individual donors: $11,498

During this period, we received a total of 281 gifts from individual donors, the largest of which was $500. The average individual donation was $40.92.

 

Our Staff

Brooks Jackson
Director, FactCheck.org

Brooks Jackson is a journalist who has covered Washington and national politics since 1970, reporting in turn for the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and CNN. He joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in 2003 and launched FactCheck.org in December of that year.

At CNN, he pioneered the “adwatch” and “factcheck” form of stories debunking false and misleading political statements, starting with the presidential election of 1992. His investigative reporting for the AP and the Journal won several national awards. He is the author of three books: “Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process” (Knopf, 1988); “Broken Promise: Why the Federal Election Commission Failed” (Twentieth Century Fund, 1990); and “unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation” with Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Random House, 2007).

Eugene Kiely
Deputy Director, FactCheck.org

Eugene Kiely is a journalist who has covered government and politics for more than 20 years. Prior to joining FactCheck.org, Kiely was a Washington assignment editor at USA TODAY, leading a team of reporters who focused on Congress, politics and government accountability. Previously, he worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, starting as a statehouse reporter in Trenton, N.J., and rising to become the Pennsylvania state editor. At the Inquirer, Kiely coordinated coverage of the Amish schoolhouse shooting, honored with a 2007 Sigma Delta Chi award for breaking news. He also worked at The Record in Hackensack, N.J., where he served as the statehouse bureau chief in Trenton. He was the editor of “Open for Business,” a series on then-Gov. Christie Whitman’s environmental policies that won the 1996 John Oakes award. Kiely studied at Livingston College at Rutgers University, majoring in journalism and English.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center

Dr. Kathleen Jamieson, Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, has written extensively on the press, politics and presidential campaigns. Her research into deceptive political TV ads produced techniques that are now in common use in TV “adwatch” stories. Among the many books she has authored are: “Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy” (Oxford University Press, 1992) and “Everything You Think You Know About Politics…and Why You’re Wrong” (Basic Books, 2000).

Lori Robertson
Managing Editor, FactCheck.org

Lori Robertson is a journalist who covered the media for nine years as an editor and writer for American Journalism Review, a bimonthly media watchdog magazine. At AJR, she won the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism and an honorable mention in the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award. Previously, she was the administrative director of the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families, a resource center for journalists covering at-risk kids. She has written for various publications as a freelancer and is a 1993 graduate of Duquesne University with a B.A. in advertising.

Robert Farley
Deputy Managing Editor, FactCheck.org

A journalist for more than 23 years, Robert Farley was most recently a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times for more than 13 years. In early 2008, Farley joined PolitiFact.com, a political fact-checking website created by the St. Petersburg Times, and he was part of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Previously, he worked a stint on the St. Petersburg Times’ investigative team and won a 2008 Casey Medal for stories about the dramatic rise in antipsychotic drugs prescribed to children. In 2006, Farley won a first place award for general feature writing from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors for a story about a former girlfriend of rock icon Jim Morrison. Farley has also worked as a reporter at several newspapers in Pennsylvania, including the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Intelligencer in Doylestown and the Ambler Gazette.

Ben Finley
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org

Ben Finley has been a journalist since 2003. He spent more than eight years at the Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pa., where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Finley interned at Knight Ridder newspapers’ Washington bureau and attended the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism. He graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism.

D’Angelo Gore
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org

D’Angelo Gore earned his B.A. in journalism at Temple University and joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in October 2007. He previously interned with the Philadelphia Daily News as a copy editor and fact-checker and served as a contributing writer for the Washington Informer covering local news in Washington, D.C.

Ellen Iwamoto
Researcher, FactCheck.org

Ellen Iwamoto is a journalist who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer for 21 years as a copy editor on the regional and national/foreign copy desks. Previously, she spent five years as a news editor and copy editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. She also works as a freelance editor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Kansas.

Aous Abbas
Website Developer, Annenberg Public Policy Center

Aous Abbas earned his bachelor’s degree in information science and technology from Temple University and joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in August 2006. He previously worked in the Computer Services Office at Temple’s Fox School of Business as a senior consultant.

 

Jen McCleary
Graphics Designer, Annenberg Public Policy Center

Jen McCleary joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in June 2006 after six years in academic publishing as a production supervisor and in-house journal cover designer. She earned a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from Tyler School of Art of Temple University (1999), a certificate in print design from the University of the Arts (2005) and an M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania (2008).

 

Undergraduate Fellows, University of Pennsylvania

Scott Blackburn
Political Science
Class of 2012

Dave Bloom
Political Science
Class of 2012

Lalita Clozel
Economics and Philosophy
Class of 2013

Michael Morse
Political Science
Class of 2013

Wendy Zhao
Business
Class of 2014

 

Past Contributors

Viveca Novak
Deputy Director, FactCheck.org (June 2006 – January 2011)

Viveca Novak is a journalist who covered politics and government in Washington for more than 20 years, reporting in turn for Common Cause Magazine, National Journal, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. At Time she was a co-winner of Harvard University’s Goldsmith Prize as well as the Clarion Award for investigative reporting into the campaign finance scandals of President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. She is co-author of “Inside the Wire” about the Guantanamo Bay detention center (Penguin Press, 2005). She holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and an M.S.L. from Yale Law School. She left FactCheck.org at the end of January 2011.

Jess Henig
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org (May 2007 – January 2011)

Jessica Henig earned her B.A. in history of science from Smith College and her M.A. in English from the University of Maryland. While at Maryland, she taught digital literature and rhetorical writing. Prior to joining the Annenberg Public Policy Center in May 2007, she worked for the National Academies Press. She has also worked for the National Institutes of Health and as a freelance researcher and editor. She left FactCheck.org in January, 2011 to become a news writer for Grist.org.

Justin Bank
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org (October 2005 – April 2010)

Justin Bank earned both his B.A in political science and public communication and his M.A in applied politics at American University. He joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in October 2005 with various experiences across the public affairs spectrum. He has worked in the newsroom at the New York Post, assisted the director of communications for the AFL-CIO-affiliated seniors advocacy group the Alliance for Retired Americans, and worked for a boutique public relations firm specializing in health care policy. Justin left FactCheck in April 2010 to work for the Washington Post.

Joe Miller
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org (April 2007 – December 2009)

Joe Miller earned his B.A. in philosophy from Hampden-Sydney College, his M.A. in philosophy from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Virginia. He joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in April 2007 after working as a writer with the Mack/Crounse Group. Previously he was an assistant professor of philosophy at the United States Military Academy and at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and a visiting fellow at the Callaghan Centre for Conflict Studies at the University of Wales at Swansea.

Emi Kolawole
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org (November 2005 – January 2009)

Emi Kolawole earned her B.A. in international relations and theater studies from Wellesley College and studied abroad at both the Panthéon-Sorbonne and the National Theater Institute. She joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in November 2005, after working as a news researcher at Congressional Quarterly on issues of defense, foreign policy, intelligence and homeland security. Previously, she was a production assistant at PBS’ “NOW With Bill Moyers,” and worked in the Washington area office of a defense contractor. Emi left FactCheck in January 2009 and later worked as an associate producer for “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.” She is now with the Washington Post.

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James Ficaro
Researcher, FactCheck.org (September 2005 – December 2006)

James Ficaro earned his B.B.A. in finance at the University of Texas in 2003. After finishing his undergraduate work, James moved to D.C. and received his masters in public policy from the George Mason University School of Public Policy in 2005. He joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in September 2005 with previous experience on Capitol Hill and as a professor in the communication department of George Mason University. James left FactCheck at the end of December 2006 to pursue a law degree.

Matthew Barge
Researcher, FactCheck.org (March – November 2005)

Matthew Barge earned his B.A. in government at Georgetown University. He joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in March 2005 with previous experience at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and as a volunteer for the Democratic presidential campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark. He has worked on several congressional campaigns and at a public opinion research firm in Washington, D.C. Matthew left FactCheck in November 2005 and later joined the staff of a national youth nonprofit organization in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Ernst
Staff Writer, FactCheck.org (June 2004 – October 2005)

Jennifer Ernst earned her B.A. in political science at American University in Washington, D.C. She joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center in June 2004 with previous experience in the office of U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, as well as the nonprofit sector. After working in the communications department of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, she spent time in Brussels, Belgium, working as a policy researcher for NGO Voice, a network of humanitarian aid organizations. Jennifer left FactCheck to accept a job as a nonpartisan legislative analyst with the Colorado state legislature in October 2005.

 

Undergraduate Fellows and Interns

Kelsey Ferguson
Undergraduate Fellow (May 2010-December 2010)
Communication and Public Service
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 20102

Joshua Goldman
Undergraduate Fellow (May 2010-December 2010)
History and Communication and Public Service
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2012

Lauren Hitt
Undergraduate Fellow (September 2010-May 2011)
Communication and Public Service
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2013

Annie Norbitz
Undergraduate Fellow (September 2010-December 2010)
Communications and Public Service
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2012

Lara Seligman
Undergraduate Fellow (June 2010-May 2011)
English
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2011

Melissa Siegel
Undergraduate Fellow (May 2010-May 2011)
Communication and Public Service
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2011

Andrew Karter
Intern, FactCheck.org (Summer, 2009)

He is originally from Washington, D.C., and is a communication and public service major at the University of Pennsylvania, class of 2010. He previously interned at both the Montgomery County, Maryland, district attorney’s office and “The Colbert Report,” and he was a research assistant for the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia.

Rachel Weisel
Research Intern (Summer, 2008)

Rachel is originally from St. Louis, Mo., and is a political science and communication and public service major at the University of Pennsylvania, class of 2010. She previously worked as a research assistant for the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia.

Stephen Simas
Research Intern (Spring/Summer, 2007)

Stephen earned his B.A. in political science at George Washington University in May 2007. He was the deputy field director of Sen. Lincoln Chafee’s 2006 reelection campaign and spent two years working in his Senate office.

Kevin Collins
Research Intern (Summer, 2005)

Kevin Collins was a political science major at the University of Pennsylvania. He was president of the Annenberg Undergraduate Political Communication Society and an editor of the associated research journal.

Jordan Grossman
Research Intern (Summer, 2005)

Jordan Grossman, of Potomac, Md., was a University of Pennsylvania student, class of 2008, majoring in American history and communication and public service. He was an editor of the Annenberg Undergraduate Political Communication Society research journal, PoliComm, and a member of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program.

Nathan Hake
Research Intern (Summer, 2005)

Nathan Hake of Jourdanton, Texas, was a University of Pennsylvania student, class of 2008, majoring in communication and public service. He was vice president of the University of Pennsylvania Democrats and has worked in several political campaigns.

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