Checks and Balances Project History

Our founder, former television reporter Andrew Schenkel, started the Checks & Balances Project (C&BP) to help address the decline of the media’s investigative reporting capacity. His vision was to create a watchdog that focuses on the overlap between energy, sustainability, and policy.

Andrew’s vision and efforts attracted support from friends and colleagues in the media and communications sectors. A conversation here, some document drafting, and video editing there. Over the next year, he developed his idea into a 21st century watchdog platform.

In January 2011, the Checks and Balances Project was officially launched.

Several months later, C&BP attracted support from the New Venture Fund and the involvement of issue advocate Matt Garrington, who was looking to put his program and campaign experience to work on Western energy and public lands issues. Matt worked with the Project until February 2013.

In June 2011, Gabe Elsner joined Andrew and Matt. With a long history of clean energy activism, Gabe had seen C&BP in action in his capacity as a social media associate at Tigercomm, a cleantech PR firm that works on behalf of C&BP.

Gabe wanted to play a hands-on role helping C&BP investigate the fossil fuel-funded disinformation infrastructure that was working to support the fossil fuel lobby. Gabe’s work captured the interest of the media and of people who formed Renew American Prosperity, a 501(c)(4), to raise funds for C&BP and efforts like it.

Andrew Schenkel left C&BP in 2012 to start his own environmental communications business. His departure created the opening for Gabe to become director. After two years with C&BP, Gabe realized the need for more capacity to debunk misinformation by fossil fuel-backed front groups and to promote the positive benefits of clean energy. He left C&BP to found the Energy & Policy Institute, a pro-clean energy think tank.

C&BP continues to work to get to the bottom of how and why decisions that affect the public are influenced by those who seek to hold the U.S. back for selfish reasons. Renew American Prosperity supports our efforts to shine a light on the fossil fuel lobby’s influence and propaganda. With their help, C&BP will continue to use the most powerful check available on concentrations of power – public scrutiny.

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