Checks & Balances Project founder, former television reporter Andrew Schenkel, started C&BP after a chance conversation at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Tigercomm President Mike Casey. Their idea: Address the decline of the media’s investigative reporting capacity and the growth of the influence peddling industry through an online watchdog effort. Hold government officials and lobbyists accountable on energy, sustainability, and public policy.
In June 2011, Gabe Elsner joined Andrew. 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, which was working on behalf of C&BP. The project began aggressively investigating the fossil fuel-funded disinformation infrastructure by ALEC, TransCanada, and API. The work captured the interest not only from media outlets, but also several 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 vision and success continues to this date.
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 website.
Former NYSE and NASDQ spokesman Scott Peterson took over as executive director of C&BP in 2014. He has focused on investigating:
- the efforts of powerful state utilities to influence their respective regulators on public utility commissions and stymie the growth of clean energy;
- the influence of the tar sands lobby on the U.S. State Department’s consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline; and
- the infiltration of fossil-fuel industry industry representatives into mainstream think tanks and university centers.
C&BP is largely underwritten by Renew American Prosperity, a 501(c)(4), but also receives funding from clean energy philanthropies and donors. C&BP receives strategic support from Tigercomm LLC, an Arlington, Virginia, based cleantech public relations firm.