Bankrupting America

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Bankrupting America is a front group run by Republican spokesperson and political operative Gretchen Hamel, a founder of the public relations firm Endeavour Global Strategies. Bankrupting America is a project of the Republican public policy think tank Public Notice, calls itself "an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization" and an "education advocacy group," and insists it is not a "political group." Bankrupting America does not attack specific candidates, elected officials or political figures, but the group does parrot Republican campaign themes and attacks federal spending programs identified with Democrats.

The leader of Bankrupting America, Gretchen Hamel, says Bankrupting America "focuses on the causes of the country’s current economic downturn and the future implications of careless policy-making"[1], however Bankrupting America emphasizes cutting programs while ignoring, for example, the detrimental effects that Wall Street and extension of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy have ad on the American economy.


Bankrupting America runs ad campaigns that target federal spending, economic stimulus and debt issues.

As of October 6, 2010 the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimated that Public Notice, the parent group that operates Bankrupting America, had spent $3 million running a single TV ad called "Stop Digging.” The ad asked viewers to "hold Congress accountable" for "unsustainable" spending, and made a false claim that spending is "not creating jobs," a theme also heard in many Republican campaign ads. wrote that Bankrupting America's website:

contains an interactive "Spending Fail Map" of the U.S. listing supposedly wasteful stimulus projects, and a video spoof in which a woman with a microphone describes ridiculous-sounding spending projects and asks people on the street whether they are "real or fake." (Spoiler alert: They’re all real examples cited by Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona.) The website is bipartisan to this degree: It contains a page criticizing both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush for their "unfortunate similarities," saying they both "love to spend."[2]


Bankrupting America refuses to reveal its funders, which is one of the most common of a front group. Hamel refuses to disclose information about who gives to her organization, and will not even say whether or not the group accepts corporate funding. “We do not discuss our organization’s finances,” she said in a telephone interview with on October 5, 2010. The group says on its websites that it is organized as a Limited Liability Company with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, a status which, legally, leaves it free to accept corporate funds without disclosing its donors publicly.[3]


Hamel was an attendee at the Koch brothers' June, 2010 strategy meeting. [4]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources


Bankrupting America provides no street address or telephone number on their website. Contact is by email or webform only. (The lack of a fixed address or telephone number is also a characteristic of a front group.)


  2. Cash Attack 2010/Players Guide Public Notice/Bankrupting America, accessed August 30, 2011
  3. Cash Attack 2010/Players Guide Public Notice/Bankrupting America, accessed August 30, 2011
  4. Climate Guest blogger MEMO: Health insurance, banking, oil industries met with Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck to plot 2010 election, Climate Progress (blog), October 20, 2010