John C. Stauber, self-appointed guardian of public- interest groups, has launched PR Watch, a quarterly publication “dedicated to the populist ideal of reclaiming democratic debate and decision-making from the corporate flacks, hacks, lobbyists, and influence dealers.” The 12-page debut issue lays bare the espionage activities of local and national PR firms, usually in the context of the issue Stauber knows best: the debate over bovine growth hormone. The global firm of Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin (MBD) warrants the lead article for sending undercover flacks to activists’ meetings, posing as concerned citizens and writers for Z magazine. Among MBD’s spies was a 270-pound, military-coiffed man in his 50s named “Bud.” Another firm, Kaufman PR, is singled out for infiltrating a conference of anti-hormone farmers with so-called housewives armed with suspiciously technical counterarguments. The technique backfired, and Kaufman lost a million-dollar account. But Bonner & Associates’ method of linking “white hat” groups with corporate lobbying campaigns has proven successful, according to a William Greider exposé reprinted in the newsletter. The Madison, Wis.-based Stauber relies largely on internal documents and memos from PR firms; he solicits more of the same from “PR whistleblowers.” PR Watch costs $60 for four issues from 3318 Gregory St., Madison, WI 53711.