When many people think of LittleSis, they think of two words: power research.
Research on corporate power is at the core of LittleSis’s day-to-day work. We pride ourselves on our long record of hard-hitting and impactful research that connects the dots between powerful people and corporations. Our digging and power mapping – on Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Tech, and much more – helps uncover and make transparent the powerful networks of billionaires and corporations whose antics drive so much of the injustice in our society. As our partners tell us over and over again, this work is indispensable to their organizing efforts – whether they're trying to halt a new fossil fuel power plant, hold a private equity billionaire to account, or ramp up the pressure on a big landlord.
Our research department consists of two main programs: State Power Mapping – which is dedicated to supporting organizers and campaigns taking on corporate power at state and local levels – and Climate – which researches the fossil fuel industry and its financiers in support of climate justice and energy democracy. On top of that, we also respond to a range of other urgent research requesters and “movement moments.” During 2022, we saw how our power research – from reports to blog posts, from memos to maps – provided crucial support for and strategic leverage to organizers on the ground.
We published an in-depth investigation uncovered the massive lobbying and astroturf efforts by fossil fuel companies and utilities in New York State to undermine the state’s historic climate legislation and the body tasked to implement that legislation, the Climate Action Council. The report was covered in multiple media outlets throughout the state, was promoted by elected officials, and was widely circulated and used by numerous climate organizations.
We’ve grown into a new role as the power research wing of a new statewide coalition dedicated to fighting corporate power in Pennsylvania. In this capacity we’ve worked closely with partners to conduct new research into the state’s power structure, from a profile of PA’s top billionaire, to research on the fracking industry’s political influence in western PA, to a broad scan of corporate power in the state, and much more. Stay tuned for much more from PA in 2023!
We’ve continued our work that digs into the financing of the fossil fuel industry and climate catastrophe. Earlier this year we released two major reports with our longtime partner ACRE that showed the deep ties of two of the world’s biggest asset managers - Vanguard and Fidelity - to the fossil fuel industry and to environmental and climate injustice. We’ve also continued our work on the insurance industry’s climate conflicts - especially Liberty Mutual’sclose ties to the fossil fuel industry.
We collaborated with New York Focus on an investigation into the use of limited liability companies (LLCs) to anonymously pour money into state and local elections in New York, resulting in the state board of elections enforcing the requirement to disclose the owners of LLCs used to fund campaigns for the first time since the disclosure law was passed in 2019. This disclosure has created a huge new data set shedding light on how wealthy interests – especially real estate investors – channel money into New York elections.
We co-authored a report on the ways that energy utility DTE Energy harms Michigan’s environment, people, and political process in partnership with We the People Michigan and Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition in support of their campaign to oppose DTE’s proposed $388 million rate hike. Our partners’ organizing led the Michigan Public Service Commission to reduce the rate hike by 90%, saving ratepayers $357.5 million, and to reject DTE’s proposals to hamper renewable energy by reducing the price it pays for solar energy and raising fees on solar panel owners.
We published a report with partners at ACRE, Media Justice, and the Surveillance, Tech, and Immigration Policing Project revealing how the Department of Homeland Security has supercharged surveillance and policing in our cities, driving huge profits for tech companies like Microsoft, LexisNexis, ShotSpotter, Palantir, and Motorola Solutions. “DHS Open for Business” shows how these technology companies profit from militaristic policing and surveillance that targets and especially harms Muslim communities and immigrant and communities of color in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to our major releases, we also run the Eyes on the Ties news site, which covered everything from the profiteers behind the weapon that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the corporate backers of the controversial Cop City development in Atlanta in 2022. This is just a sample of some of our most impactful research from the past year, and we’re excited to continue this work in the year ahead. If you want to support LittleSis’s efforts to research, map, and dig into corporate power in 2023 and beyond, please consider becoming a LittleSustainer!