InfluenceWatch Podcast

The podcast where we go beneath the surface to reveal the web of connected influence, money, and motivation driving the news.

About the show

The podcast where we go beneath the surface to reveal the web of connected influence, money, and motivation driving the news, sourced primarily from our website, the Capital Research Center's online encyclopedia of the donors, non-profits, and influencers driving politics.

You can watch the video version of the podcast at:

InfluenceWatch Podcast on social media


  • Episode 148: From Zuckerberg to Election Officials, Financing the 2020 Elections

    December 11th, 2020  |  19 mins 32 secs

    As states finalize their results or find the ballots they misplaced or lost the sticky notes for—looking at you, New York Twenty Two—the debate over election procedures shifts from the concluded 2020 elections to protecting election integrity for the future. And while much heat and light—arguably too much of the former—has focused on voting machine manufacturers, less light has shone on the influencers that exploited the COVID pandemic to fundamentally alter how elections were conducted, often without due consideration of consequences. Joining me today is Capital Research Center president Scott Walter to discuss one of those influencers—the Center for Technology and Civic Life.

  • Episode 147: RIP Dr. Walter Williams (with guest Veronique de Rugy)

    December 5th, 2020  |  17 mins 2 secs
    capitalism, conservative, economist, free-market, george mason university, left, liberal, libertarian, mercatus center, progressive, right, rush limbaugh, thomas sowell, walter williams

    In this episode: Last week, free-market economics lost one of its greatest evangelists: George Mason University professor, occasional Rush Limbaugh Program substitute host, book author, syndicated columnist, and Capital Research Center Advisory Board member Dr. Walter Williams. Joining us to reflect on Williams’s life and legacy is one of his colleagues, Mercatus Center scholar and columnist Veronique de Rugy.

  • Episode 146: Unions Want Coercive Power...

    November 20th, 2020  |  19 mins 38 secs
    ab5, california, conservative, contracting, culture, democratic, federal, georgia, law, left, legislation, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, right, right-to-work, society

    In this episode: As all eyes are turned toward Georgia’s two Senate runoff races, we discuss proposed legislation that both the Democratic challengers in Georgia support, and that has serious implications for right-to-work laws nationally if the Senate flips from red to blue. The legislation is called the Pro Act, and it’s an expanded federal version of the controversial AB5 legislation in California that has upended independent contracting in that state.

  • Episode 145: Roadblocks to an Aggressive Left-wing Agenda (with guest Steve Malanga)

    November 13th, 2020  |  26 mins 34 secs
    2020, american, ballot measures, california, census, colorado, conservative, culture, left, liberal, libertarian, new york post, politics, presidential election, progressive, prop 15, property tax, redistricting, right, society, taxes, voters

    In this episode: While the provisional results of the 2020 presidential election are disappointing to many conservatives, American voters threw roadblocks and cautions to an aggressive progressive agenda in even some of the bluest states. Illinois voters rejected a “progressive”—read, higher—income tax; California voters defeated the union-backed plan to override the commercial property tax limitations in Proposition 15 that we discussed a few weeks ago and rejected a measure to overturn the state’s ban on racial preferences; Colorado voters cut their state income taxes; and state legislative voters handed stinging defeats to Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a well-financed effort led by the Obama Administration’s attorney general that sought to secure Democratic state and Congressional power for the next decade by winning crucial state legislatures and gaining control of district-drawing after the 2020 Census. Joining us to discuss the ballot measures and broader down-ballot ramifications of the 2020 elections is Steve Malanga, George M. Yeager Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

  • Episode 144: Decoding Antifa (with guest Mark Hemingway)

    November 6th, 2020  |  18 mins 39 secs
    antifa, conservative, culture, extremist, ideology, left, liberal, libertarian, oregon, politics, portland, progressive, protest, radical, real clear investigations, right, society, violence

    In this episode: “Keep Portland Weird”—that is a common slogan for Oregon’s largest city. But the rest of the country would rather at least one particular weirdness stay in Portland: Antifa, the radical-left extremist faction that has spent most of the summer and fall rioting there. But what is Antifa? Is it an idea, an ideology, or a conventionally understood group? Joining us to explore this question is writer Mark Hemingway, a third-generation Oregonian who conducted an in-depth analysis of Antifa for Real Clear Investigations.

  • Episode 143: Alternatives to Unions' Coercive Power (with guest Vincent Vernuccio)

    October 31st, 2020  |  22 mins 6 secs
    1935, america, big labor, coercive law, conservative, culture, european unions, freedom, labor, law, left, liberal, libertarian, mackinac center, national labor relations act, progressive, right, sectoral bargaining, society, worker's rights

    In this episode: Since the enactment of the National Labor Relations act of 1935, American collective bargaining law in the private sector has relied on exclusive monopoly representation at the enterprise level. In layman’s terms, a single labor union forcing all employees in a designated portion of an employers’ work force to accept a single union negotiated contract. The unions and their allies have eyed a different approach, that of the social democracies of continental Europe, which practice so-called sectoral bargaining to set nationwide or region-wide contracts, while workplace representation is handled by union-influenced work councils. Joining us today to discuss the expansions of unions’ coercive power and possible alternatives to the current American or European coercive models, is Vincent Vernuccio, the Senior Fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

  • Episode 142: California Proposing a Major Tax Hike

    October 23rd, 2020  |  22 mins 11 secs
    california, conservative, culture, economy, law, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, prop 13, prop 15, right, ronald reagan, society, tax hike, taxes, voters, voting, woke

    In this episode: For over forty years, residential and commercial property taxes in the State of California have been limited by a law known as “Proposition 13,” passed by voters in response to skyrocketing tax bills from steadily increasing property-value assessments. But while California—which hasn’t had a Republican “trifecta” control of its government since Ronald Reagan was governor—was never the blood-red state of partisan Republican memory, changes in its dominant industries (less gritty defense manufacturing, more “woke” information technology), an exodos of its middle classes in response to skyrocketing housing costs, and international immigration patterns that select for the most socialist-leaning immigrants (compare the voting patterns of Hispanics in California with Hispanics in Florida), liberals see an opportunity to break the dead hand of Howard Jarvis with 2020 Proposition 15, a measure to repeal the limitations on commercial property tax. Joining us to discuss the ballot measure, the special interests behind it, and the possible effects the measure could have on California is Capital Research Center’s Research Specialist, Robert Stilson.

  • Episode 141: Big Money Politics (with guest Joe Schoffstall)

    October 16th, 2020  |  14 mins 51 secs
    2020, arabella, conservative, culture, dark money, dc, economics, funding, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, right, society, washington, writer

    In this episode: We talk about the Capital Research Center’s new report on Arabella Advisors, The Shadow Over America, which details a little-known $635 million “dark money” network and is a follow-on to our report from last year, Big Money in Dark Shadows, that initially charted the massive Arabella empire. Joining us today is the report’s author, CRC’s Hayden Ludwig, and another expert on Arabella and the activist Left in general, Joe Schoffstall, a writer for the Washington Free Beacon.

  • Episode 140: The Russia Collusion Archive (with guest Ken Braun)

    October 9th, 2020  |  27 mins 23 secs
    2016, conservative, election, fbi, hoax, investigation, journalism, justice department, left, liberal, libertarian, mass media, media, politics, progressive, right, robret mueller, russia, russia collusion, russiagate, society, trump

    In this episode: For two years former FBI Director Robert Mueller, acting as a Justice Department special prosecutor, conducted an investigation to determine if “individuals related to the Trump campaign are witting of or coordinating activities with the government of Russia related to the 2016 presidential election.” Despite breathless media speculation about the inevitable forthcoming proof of “Russian collusion,” none arrived. Joining us today is CRC’s Ken Braun, to discuss his work collecting and digging through the many key figures, breathless speculators, and clueless G-men for CRC’s Trump/Russia Hoax Archive. We will discuss background to the archive, some of the highlights of it, some of the highlights from it, and take-aways about the Russia investigation and what it tells us about federal law enforcement.

  • Episode 139: Illegal Ballot Harvesting (with guest John.Hinderaker)

    October 5th, 2020  |  19 mins 23 secs
    ballot harvesting, conservative, john hinderaker, left, liberal, libertarian, mail-in-voting, minnesota, populist, progressive, right, think tank

    In this episode: We are joined by John Hinderaker, Minnesotan and President of the Center of the American Experiment, a free market think tank holding the line against the state’s historic populist tendencies. We’ll discuss the Project Veritas allegations of illegal ballot harvesting Minnesota, ruminate on how true defunding the police has never been tried, and talk a little bit about Big Labor in the state.

  • Episode 138: The 2020 Dark Money Influencer They Won’t Tell You About

    September 25th, 2020  |  29 mins 50 secs
    big labor, conservative, culture, dark money, election, fox news, ginsburg, healthcare, justice, labor, left, liberal, libertarian, nonprofit, politics, progressive, project, right, society, supreme court, unions

    In this episode: We sit down to hash out some of the issues of the day as they relate to the research and work CRC is currently engaged in.

  • Episode 137: Shadow Over America (with guest Kevin Mooney)

    September 18th, 2020  |  13 mins 43 secs
    conservative, culture, dark money, funding, left, liberal, libertarian, nonprofit, philanthropy, politics, progressive, right, society

    In this episode: Hayden Ludwig, an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center fills in for Mike Watson. With us today is Kevin Mooney, a reporter for the Daily Signal and the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania. We’ll be discussing CRC’s new report, The Shadow Over America: Arabella Advisors’ $635 Million Empire, pulling back the curtain on a vast web of liberal “dark money” influencing the 2020 election—right here in Washington, DC.

  • Episode 136: Ford Foundation and The Radical Left (with guest Sloan Rachmuth!)

    September 11th, 2020  |  20 mins 36 secs
    blm, conservative, culture, ford, foundations, left, liberal, libertarian, progressive, protests, right, riots, society, violence

    In this episode: In recent weeks we have covered the actions of Big Philanthropy, and for most of the modern history of philanthropy there has been no bigger force than the Ford Foundation. Today, we are joined by Sloan Rachmuth, Executive Director of Pen and Shield Media, to discuss the foundation’s recent activities supporting the rise of the radical Left, the history of the Ford Foundation, and what ought to be done about Big Philanthropy.

  • Episode 135: Today's Woke-Progressive Infiltration (with guest Naomi Schaefer Riley!)

    September 4th, 2020  |  19 mins 12 secs
    activism, aei, bagman, business, capitalism, conservative, dark money, donor, donors, ford, foundations, funding, george floyd, influence, intent, iwf, left, left-wing, liberal, libertarian, major institutions, money, naomi schaefer riley, philanthropy, police, progressive, public policy, research, right, rockefeller

    In this episode: Since the initial demonstrations following the police-custody death of George Floyd, foundations have pledged over one billion dollars to support efforts to combat alleged “systemic racism.” In practice, that means more foundations have followed the path of the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts and abandoned the business-friendly pro-capitalist outlooks of their founding donors and adopted the socialist and woke-progressive outlooks of their current year managers. Joining us to discuss this consistently troubling development this week is Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. We discuss the recent turn toward left-progressive activism at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the broader problem of Big Philanthropy dishonoring donor intent, and what can be done about it.

  • Episode 134: Big Philanthropy and the Professional Left

    August 27th, 2020  |  27 mins 17 secs
    advocacy, conservative, culture, foundations, giving, jerry falwell, left, liberal, libertarian, logistics, nonprofit, philanthropy, politics, progressive, research, resources, right, society, steve banning, strategy

    In this episode: They say that in warfare, amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics. With that in mind, I’m joined by Mike Hartmann, Capital Research Center Senior Fellow and Director of CRC’s Center for Strategic Giving to talk advocacy logistics, specifically the multi-billion-dollar world of private foundations that sustains much of the Professional Left, the position of the Right in advocacy resources and the effects of the falls of Steve Bannon and Jerry Falwell on those resources, and what is to be done about the advantages Big Philanthropy gives the professional Left.

  • Episode 133: The MSNBC “Cheesecake” Republicans

    August 21st, 2020  |  27 mins 14 secs
    american, conservative, culture, democrat, democratic, left, liberal, libertarian, lincoln project, political parties, politics, progressive, republican, right, russia, russia hoax, russia investigation, society, state, super pac, trump

    This week I’m joined by my colleague Sarah Lee to discuss how recent developments in the investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators illustrates the problems with the administrative state, ask how American political parties might work to improve the quality of their nominees and what they stand to gain from doing so, and investigate the Lincoln Project, a Democratic SuperPAC with pretentions of being more than that.