Power Mapping Corporations & Other Organizations:

What We’re Looking for and Where to Find it

Once you’ve identified your power research target, there is a lot of information you can find about it! The graphic below shows different categories of information you might want to know about a powerful corporation or other organization. Depending on the context for your research, some of this information might be more important and relevant than others. Use your instincts and talk to other activists you’re working with to prioritize what information to look for. This guide is meant to be a starting place. For additional training on the tools mentioned here, sign up to get notifications about our monthly training webinars.

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Note: The next several pages cover what kinds of information you’ll want to find when focusing on a corporation or other organization. See the previous section for what kinds of information you’ll want to find when focusing on an individual.

Getting Started

When you’re getting started, you’ll want to do some preliminary background research on the organization. Some places to get started:

Remember: When in doubt, Google it! Google is a very powerful tool. Most of the information we talk about below can be found through intentional and creative googling. Here’s our guide to googling:

Basics:

Operator How to use it
site: If you include “site:” in your query, Google will restrict your search results to the site or domain you specify. You can also specify a domain with or without a period, such as .gov.
So, if you wanted to find mentions of a person on government websites you could search Name + site:gov (example search: “john smith” site:evilcorp.com will search for John Smith’s name, but only on evilcorp.com)
inurl: Use “inurl:” to get search results from sites with a particular word in their web address. Very useful for finding board members (example search: “john smith” inurl:board is a good technique for finding companies or non-profits where John Smith sits on the board)
intitle: Similar to “inurl:”, “intitle:” will return results with the search term in the page’s title.
filetype: If you include “filetype:suffix” (e.g. pdf, docx, xlsx) in your search, Google will restrict the results to files of the type that you specify. This is great for finding Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files
More operators googleguide.com/usingadvancedoperators.html

The information you want to find about the corporation/organization

1. Leadership

Who are the key executives and staff? Who is on the board of directors? What other corporations/organizations are represented on the board?

See our guide to researching powerful individuals to help guide your power mapping of individuals leading the organization.

Where to find it: The SEC’s EDGAR database, non-profit tax returns on GuideStar.com, news articles, the company’s website, the company’s profile on Yahoo Finance

Publicly traded companies

Publicly traded companies are required to file various reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC oversees a public database called EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval) where you can access these reports. To find biographies of a publicly traded company’s directors, go here and search for the company by name or using their stock ticker symbol in the “fast search” box. Then, look for the most recent DEF 14A form (otherwise known as a “definitive proxy statement.”) The proxy statement includes directors’ biographies. For example, see this GEO Group proxy statement and click “Proposal 1: Election of Directors” in the Table of Contents to see biographies of private prison company GEO Group’s directors.

SEC forms and what they contain

Form 10K

Form DEF 14a

Form 8K - Current report statement on any event of shareholder interest May include - acquisitions, changes to stock, rebranding, credit agreements, etc.

Exhibit 10.1 - Credit agreements with banks

Schedule 13D and 13G - Declaration of beneficial ownership

13D/A - Long form that must be filled by active investors who own more than 5% of a company and any investor who owns more than 20% of a company. Active investors are investors who are looking to change or influence control of the corporation in some way.

13G/A - Short form for passive investors and institutional investors who own between 5% and 20% of the company. Passive investors are not seeking to exert control over a company.

Much of this info comes from Good Jobs First’s wonderful resource “Dirt Diggers Guide to Strategic Corporate Research.” For more detailed information on searching EDGAR, see their guide.

Non-profit organizations

For non-profit organizations, board members and highest-compensated executives can be found on their annual tax returns, public documents called Form 990s that are filed with the IRS. Form 990s can be found on a number of free and subscription-based websites, including GuideStar.com.

Board members and executives can be found in Part VII Section A of an organization’s 990.

2. Investors & Creditors

If you’re investigating a corporation, who are its investors? Who are its creditors?

Investors

Where to find it: The SEC’s EDGAR database, Yahoo! Finance, Whale Wisdom, Google

For public companies, there are several different ways to identify investors. EDGAR provides us with some of this information (see section 1 for more detailed instructions on accessing EDGAR). A public company’s DEF 14A lists any individual or institutional investor that owns 5% or more of the company’s shares. It also includes the number of shares controlled by each director and each member of top management.

Yahoo! Finance aggregates stock ownership info as well. To find it, go to a company’s Yahoo! Finance profile and click the “Holders” tab. See the GEO group’s holders tab here.

Institutional investment managers such as hedge funds also have to file a form called a 13-F with the SEC that discloses their investment holdings quarterly. The site Whalewisdom.com lets you easily search this filings by investment manager or company.

You can also use EDGAR to search for a company’s 13-D or 13-G forms, which disclose when a party purchases more than 5% of a company’s stock.

Creditors

Where to find it: The SEC’s EDGAR database

Publicly traded corporations are reliant on loans and lines of credit from large banks to finance their operations. These credit transactions are reported in periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which can be found in the EDGAR database. Companies are required to file a report any time there is an event that may be important to their shareholders. These reports cover all kinds of significant events for companies and consist of a Form 8-K disclosing which type of event has occurred and at least one Exhibit giving more detail.

To find companies’ credit agreements with banks, you want to find 8-K’s with Exhibit 10.1 attached to them. (Here’s an example from Energy Transfer Partners).

3. Political Donations

What politicians is the organization’s leadership contributing money to? Does the organization have a political action committee (PAC)? Does the organization and its leadership contribute to federal, state, and local elections?

Where to find it: Opensecrets.org, The Federal Election Commission (FEC) database, the FEC’s beta version of their new database (which is easier to navigate), Followthemoney.org, your local campaign finance database.

You’ll have to use different databases depending on what kind of political donations you are investigating. For federal level donations, use opensecrets.org and the FEC’s database. For state level donations, use followthemoney.org or your state’s campaign finance database (which you can usually find by googling “your state” and “campaign finance search.”) For municipal level donations, use your city or county’s campaign finance database.

Most of these search engines have guides on how to use them on their websites. Also see the Dirt Diggers Guide to campaign contributions.

4. Recipients

Does the corporation have a foundation or philanthropic arm? If so, what think tanks, foundations, or other non-profits are they contributing money to? What think tanks, foundations or other non-profits does the corporation’s leadership donate to? Do any of the corporation’s executives or board members have personal foundations?If so, where are they contributing money?

Where to find it: Guidestar.org, Citizenaudit.org, Inside Philanthropy

Guidestar.org and Citizenaudit.org let you search form 990s, the form that non-profit organizations have to submit to the IRS. The 990 includes the non-profit’s board members and grantees.

5. Memberships

What think tanks, trade groups, government councils, etc. is the organization part of?

Examples include a local Chamber of Commerce, The Partnership for New York City, and The Economic Club of Chicago.

Where to find it: Google, LittleSis

6. Services and transactions

What contracts does the organization have with clients, lobbyists, lawyers, etc.?

Where to find it: LittleSis, Google, News articles, EDGAR, GuideStar, CitizenAudit

Non-profit organizations have to disclose their five highest-paid contractors who received more than $100,000 from the organization. This information is located in Part VII Section B of their 990 form. Because of the relatively high threshold for disclosure, this will only turn up contractor information for larger non-profit organizations.

7. Lobbying

How much money does a company spend trying to influence policymakers? Which policymakers is the organization trying to influence? Who has the organization hired to lobby for it?

Where to find it: OpenSecrets, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, state lobbying databases

Companies are required to disclose who they hire to contact the government to advocate on specific laws or regulations. These lobbyists are often former government employees – Congresspeople, regulators, or other staffers – who have passed through the “revolving door” to leverage the contacts they made in their government positions for personal gain by the private sector.

This information is useful to know because it can help explain why a policymakers may have adopted certain positions. It can also reveal who the preferred influencers for a particular industry or corporation are and what level resources are being deployed to promote or kill a certain regulation or piece of legislation.

Open Secrets: Search for the name of the organization you’re researching in the bar at the top of the screen. Click the “Organizations” tab Click on the name of the organization next to the “Lobbying Client” category This will take you to the organization’s lobbying profile. From here you can change the year you’re looking at with the drop-down menu below the bar chart. When you have the correct year selected, click through the tabs to view the firms and lobbyists hired, the issues the organization lobbied on, the agencies that they lobbied, the specific bills they lobbied on, and the disclosure reports the organization filed with the US Senate.

8. Child organizations, subsidiaries

Does the organization have notable subsidiaries?

Where to find it: Croctail, The SEC’s EDGAR database

Croctail is a search engine that helps you search subsidiaries of public and private companies.

Public companies have to provide a list of their subsidiaries in the 10-k they file with the SEC.

9. Recent tax breaks

Has the corporation gotten any recent tax breaks? Are they currently applying for other kinds of public subsidies?

Where to find it: Google, news searches, the Good Jobs First subsidy tracker

Other Tools and Research Guides

LittleSis.org, an “involuntary facebook of the 1%” that aggregates power research info all in one place

MuckRock, a tool for submitting Freedom of Information Act requests

Dirt Diggers Digest Guide to Strategic Corporate Research

Guide to Money in Politics

10 Free Design/Visualization Tools For Activists

Searching Google

How To Do Power Structure Research

Power Mapping Individuals:

What we’re looking for and where to find it

Once you’ve identified your power research target, there is a lot of information you can find about them! The graphic below shows different categories of information you might want to know about a powerful person.

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Use your instincts and talk to other activists you’re working with to prioritize what information to look for. This guide is meant to be a starting place. If you can’t find what you need or are interested in a deeper training on any of the tools mentioned here, click here to request a training from an experienced social justice researcher.

Getting Started

When you’re getting started, you’ll want to do some background reading on your person, the organizations or companies they are part of, and their role in your region or the organization you’re interested in. Some places to get started:

Remember: When in doubt, Google it! Google is a very powerful tool. Most of the information we talk about below can be found through intentional and creative googling. Here’s our guide to googling:

Basics:

Operator How to use it
site: If you include “site:” in your query, Google will restrict your search results to the site or domain you specify. You can also specify a domain with or without a period, such as .gov.
So, if you wanted to find mentions of a person on government websites you could search Name + site:gov (example search: “john smith” site:evilcorp.com will search for John Smith’s name, but only on evilcorp.com)
inurl: Use “inurl:” to get search results from sites with a particular word in their web address. Very useful for finding board members (example search: “john smith” inurl:board is a good technique for finding companies or non-profits where John Smith sits on the board)
intitle: Similar to “inurl:”, “intitle:” will return results with the search term in the page’s title.
filetype: If you include “filetype:suffix” (e.g. pdf, docx, xlsx) in your search, Google will restrict the results to files of the type that you specify. This is great for finding Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files
More operators googleguide.com/usingadvancedoperators.html

The information you want to find and where to find it:

1. Work positions

Where does the person currently work? Where did they used to work? What other corporate boards do they belong to now/have they belonged to in the past? Do they hold any other advisory or executive positions? For lawyers, lobbyists, and financiers: who are their clients?

(In the future we’ll talk more about investigating these people's’ actual companies, but for now just stick with identifying which companies and organizations they have relationships with).

Where to find it: Google, LittleSis, the official website of the person’s company or other organizations they are part of, LinkedIn, or he SEC’s EDGAR database.

When looking at Google search results, try to refer to legit sites, such as company biography pages or profiles and news articles from credible business and/or news sites (Forbes, Bloomberg, New York Times, etc.)

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) EDGAR database: Publicly traded companies are required to file detailed reports with the SEC. Two forms in particular - 10k and 14a - contain detailed information about a company’s financials and operations. * URL: http://www.sec.gov/search/search.htm * Form DEF 14a - details on leadership * See all top leadership: Executives and Board Members * Compensation, stock awards, etc. * Form 10K - full annual report * a detailed description of the company’s operations * a summary of the firm’s competitive and regulatory climate basic data on the company’s workforce, which may include information on the extent to which the workers are unionized and which unions represent them * an overview of the main legal proceedings in which the company is involved

2. Non-profit positions

Are they a board member of any non-profits? This might include trade groups (like the Chamber of Commerce or a local CEO roundtable), cultural institutions (like museums), or think tanks. What kinds of policies do the non-profits they are part of advocate for? Any super ring-wing orgs? Most of the think tanks and trade groups they are part of will forward policies that help corporations and the ultra wealthy to the detriment of everyone else.

Where to find it:

3. Philanthropy

Do they have a personal foundation? If so, who else sits on the board with them? Where do they give grants to? Does the foundation give any money to organizations that support police or right-wing causes? Are they connected to a foundation? If so, where does that foundation give grants to? Does the foundation give any money to organizations that support police or right-wing causes? Does their company have a philanthropic foundation? If so, where does that foundation give grants to? Does the foundation give any money to organizations that support right-wing causes? Are they listed as major donors to area charities? (in event programs, annual reports, on websites, etc)?

Where to find it: Google, Insidephilanthropy.com can also be useful (especially for ultra-wealthy people), guidestar.com allows you to look at a philanthropic foundation’s tax disclosure and see who they are giving money to.

GuideStar: Financial reports for nonprofits and foundations (Create a FREE account to use)

4. Education

Where did they go to school? Are they on the Board of Trustees of any schools? Do they have any buildings named after them at area schools?

Where to find it: Google! Try doing a “site:” search on the websites of local schools. If they have given large donations to these schools, there will usually be a bulletin on the school website about it.

5. Political Contributions

Which politicians have they given money to on the city, state, and federal level?

Where to find it: In some instances, these people’s political contributions will have been reported in local or national news. There are also many tools to help you figure out political contributions at different levels.

Federal contributions:

Local contributions:

6. Memberships

Where are they hanging out? Is there a big social club in your region where a lot of business elites congregate?

Where to find it: Google!, The society pages of the local newspaper, word of mouth

7. Ties to the Trump administration

Did they give money to Trump’s campaign? Did they hold or attend a Trump fundraiser? Have they (or their company) made any statements about Trump either publicly or to their investors? Does their company stand to benefit from the Trump agenda? How? Are they part of any Trump related committees/commissions? Do they have ties with any of Trump’s cabinet or other members of his inner circle?

Where to find it: Google!, LittleSis, OpenSecrets, the FEC’s search engine

Here are some key Trump appointees and committees in LittleSis: Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum Donald Trump’s Economic Advisory Committee Trump Transition Team Trump Transition Team Finance Committee

8. Investments

What do they own? Tracking down information on a person’s investments can be challenging, but it is sometimes possible to find. When you’re trying to find someone’s investments, remember that board and employment relationships are often indicative of ownership.

Where to find it:

Mapping ties between your region and Trump’s corporate cronies

Who is benefitting from Trump’s election? What corporations are posed to benefit from his policies? Who is carrying out the violence dictated by his executive orders locally? Who are the elite in your city that will profit from the privatization of schools, cutting Obamacare, increased spending on the military, more detention centers, a wall, and oil pipelines?

Understanding the people, corporations, and institutions that are collaborating with Trump at the local level must inform the strategies and tactics we use to organize for power. As resistance to Trump’s corporate power grows, there is an increasing need to map his ties to various cities and institutions across the United States.

People are already starting to challenge the Trump agenda by challenging these networks of beneficiaries, collaborators, and enablers in their cities:

At LittleSis (“the opposite of big brother”), we do power research that focuses on investigating the 1%. We oversee a database called littlesis.org, where anyone can sign up to search and add information on the connections between powerful people, corporations, and institutions. This document is intended to help anyone begin to map their region’s ties to Trump to inform ongoing organizing and direct action.

Here are some examples of research on Trump’s ties to particular regions:

Below are key questions to ask when beginning to map Trump’s ties to your region and tools to help you answer them.

Getting started

The first step of this research is pretty obvious! Do a Google search for “Trump” and “[insert your city or region here].” This might turn up news articles on Trump’s major donors in your region who hosted fundraisers for his election campaign and/or who he is tapping for roles in his administration. You can also do a quick search in your local newspaper.

1. Who are the major Trump donors from my region?

Figuring out Trump’s major donors provides a good clue about who is forwarding his corporate agenda in your region. Throughout Trump’s campaign, many local newspapers reported on his biggest donors. You can do some simple searches for Trump donors in your local newspaper or business journal.

The Federal Elections Commission search engine can help you identify major Trump donors from your region. This search engine allows you to search campaign finance data by recipient and filter the contributors by city and state. There are numerous different fundraising committees affiliated with Donald Trump that wealthy donors contributed to. Some are campaign committees, some are PACs, and some are Super PACs (for more information on PACs, Super PACs, and campaign committees see here. These different types of fundraising vehicles allow ultra-wealthy individuals to contribute hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars to candidates.

Here is a list of the main fundraising committees and PACs associated with Donald Trump this election cycle. To identify major donors from your region, you will have to do two separate searches using the FEC’s search engine. We’ve set them up for you below:

First, go here. This search will allow you to identify donors to the Trump fundraising vehicles Donald J. Trump for President, Make America Number 1, Make America Great Again, Get our Jobs Back, and Trump Victory. Once you are on the page, click the plus sign next to “Contributor Information.” Select your state from the “State or Territory” drop-down menu. Then, click “amount” on the toolbar so the data is sorted by amount. You can also further filter results by city, employer, occupation, or name.

Next, go here. This search will allow you to identify donors to Great America PAC, Rebuilding America Now, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee. Repeat the steps above. Once you are on the page, click the plus sign next to “Contributor Information.” Select your state from the “State or Territory” drop-down menu. Then, click “amount” on the toolbar so the data is sorted by amount. You can also further filter results by city, employer, occupation, or name.

There are also many powerful people and corporations who did not contribute to Trump while he was running for President, but are donating large sums now that he has been elected. Two key current Trump fundraising vehicles include: * Trump for America, Trump’s transition fundraising committee. (See here for the complete donor list). * 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the fundraising committee for Trump’s inauguration. (See here for the complete donor list).

2. Do any of Trump’s advisors or appointees have ties to my region?

Trump has selected his appointees for positions such as Secretary of State, Defense, Education, and the Treasury. Many of these appointees and commission members, who are comprised of millionaires who are former financial and oil executives, might be from your region. Some of the corporations they represent might have a big presence in your region.

Here are some key Trump appointees and committees in LittleSis: Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum Donald Trump’s Economic Advisory Committee Trump Transition Team Trump Transition Team Finance Committee

3. Did people hold fundraisers for Trump in my area? Who chaired them? Who was my state’s Trump campaign chair?

Throughout Trump’s campaign, his allies hosted expensive fundraisers to raise money for him. To identify these people, Google “Trump,” “fundraiser,” and your city or state to see what’s been reported. When you find details about a past fundraiser in your area try to figure out who hosted and who attended (this will usually be in news articles reporting on the event). Many states also have people who were tapped as fundraising chairs. A complete state-by-state list of the Trump’s finance chairs is here.

4. Which local corporate brands have ties to Trump, are set to benefit from Trump’s policies, or have been supportive of Trump when talking to the media and investors?

Many corporations that didn’t support Trump during his campaign are changing their tune and looking for ways to collaborate with him. To identify these corporations in your region:

5. Does Trump own any businesses or properties in my region?

Trump owns properties across the country. Several sources have put together lists of his properties and businesses:

What Donald Trump Owns and Owes,” The New York Times

The Companies Donald Trump Owns,” Investopedia

You can also review Trump’s financial disclosure form to look for corporations and businesses that he may be invested in. This pdf of the form is searchable using CNTRL + F.

Support LittleSis can provide you

We want to support you in mapping your region’s ties to Trump! Please sign up here if you are interested in mapping Trump in your region. We will have regular calls and trainings for movement power mappers, as well as a way to share your findings, research tips and questions with each other.

In the coming weeks, we will release a second resource to help you identify what information might be helpful to find about the people and organizations tied to Trump once you identify them.

After I do my research, how can I take action with it?

Any other questions or ideas? Please contact [email protected]

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