Category Archives: astroturfing

Things Don’t Go Better With Koch

You know what I always say: nothing screams “small government” like a national corporate astroturf group getting your state legislature to crush a municipal transit project.

This won’t mean anything to anyone outside of Nashville, but the Amp has been a hotly debated, very controversial bus project proposed for our city, which sorely needs to improve its craptacular mass transit. I have some good friends in the “Stop-Amp” crowd and some good friends in the “Amp-Yes!” crowd and I’ve been on the fence until now.

The best argument the Stop-Amp folks had was that while the project is a good idea, the route was all wrong. But they pretty much ditched that argument when they got the state Senate to basically ban all mass transit projects in the city. How’s that small government workin’ for ya, folks? The fact that the major funder behind this nonsense is the awful Lee Beaman, who owns several major car dealerships in the city, might strike one as rather self-serving, as well.

So now we have the Kochs stinking up our capitol, and be careful who you align yourselves with, folks. Because having turned the state of Wisconsin into what Charlie Pierce calls “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries,” it looks like Tennessee is next:

AFP pushes for low taxes, less government spending, more accountability and better schools, Ogles said. The Amp wasn’t the only excitement last week for the group, which has three employees but plans to double its staff soon.

AFP hailed a Senate committee’s passage of school voucher legislation, though it wasn’t as broad as the proposal the organization lobbied for, and the General Assembly’s approval of a measure requiring Gov. Bill Haslam to get legislative approval before expanding TennCare.

Not bad for an outfit that got started here just nine months ago with a budget that Ogles calls “sizable” but won’t disclose. Ogles, one of two registered lobbyists on the staff, said Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee doesn’t endorse or contribute to political campaigns. But he said it saw a political gold mine — and a national launching pad — in Republican-dominated Tennessee.

“With supermajorities in both houses,” he said, “Tennessee is a great state to pass model legislation that can be leveraged in other states.”

Umm … how about some accountability by revealing your budget and donors? No? Gee, I wonder why not.

Is Tennessee ready to be a Mid-South subsidiary of Koch Industries? It’s worked so well for Wisconsin, which has continued to bleed jobs since the Kochs installed Scott Walker in the governor’s office.


Filed under astroturfing, Lee Beaman, Nashville, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Astroturfing The Country Music Vote

As a former member of the Music Row Democrats, I found this story about Twang That Vote very odd. If ever there was a group that said one thing while doing another, this is it.

First of all, I have no problem with anyone trying to engage music fans, getting more people registered to vote, etc. Great idea, we all need to be involved. And this is admirable:

First on the agenda? Ridding people of the idea that country fans are all white, male Republicans.

Yes, that’s what we in Nashville have been saying since forever. But, dudes?

Hamel says “doing it through music is obviously great,” and he’s already gotten support from such artists as the Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban, Charlie Daniels and Eric Paslay, plus someone who perfectly straddles the world of country and Congress: Ayla Brown, the daughter of Sen. Scott Brown.

Oh, those guys. Right, they’ll certainly dispel those stereotypes. /sarcasm. This thing reads like a freaking press release. And please: Ayla Brown has zip to do with country music. She tried out for American Idol in 2006, getting the ax before making it to the top 12 singing Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion songs. I mean, seriously? “Perfectly straddles”? Give me a break.

And then there’s this:

In order to earn the support of such artists, Hamel said he had to assure them of one thing: There would be no Dixie Chicks moment.

“We’re not going to walk them into a punch. … They’re so risk-averse after the whole Dixie Chicks thing,” Hamel said, referring to the 2003 controversy when the group’s lead singer, Natalie Maines, said she was “ashamed” of President George W. Bush.

“We made a commitment to them and our corporate partners that we’re not going to get involved in compromising their brands as artists or their brands as corporations. We’re just going to talk straight about the importance of voting and civic duty and leave the rest to other people.”

Charlie Daniels, risk-averse? He can’t keep his fat yap shut attacking President Obama! He’s called him a socialist, an elitist, possibly a Muslim, and a failure. Post SCOTUS-healthcare ruling he Tweeted:

“No American right is safe now. Obama has just become a king.”

Not quite the same as saying you’re “ashamed President Bush is from Texas,” which is actually what Natalie Maines said, and as we all know is the worst thing you could possibly say about a president! Right? Of course, there won’t be any Dixie Chicks moments because It’s Always Okay When You’re A Republican.

So, no. I don’t expect any “Dixie Chicks” moments from a crowd of far-right Republicans pretending to Twang That Vote. I also don’t expect this to be anything other than what it obviously is: another piece of GOP astroturf. Here’s a bio on Max Hamel, he works for a Republican PR firm out of Virginia called Allied Public Affairs. His partner, Chris Ashby, has to be this guy, an election lawyer with a background in Republican campaigns. He’s supposedly one of the country’s top recount lawyers, and his firm does lots of work for lobbyists.

In other words, just another phony grassroots campaign designed to put some shine on the fading Republican brand. Good luck with that. Kids are pretty savvy today. Don’t think the Charlie Daniels vote is your target demographic, anyway.

It’s just all very puzzling. I’m okay with a conservative group reaching out to yet another demographic the Republican Party is driving away in droves: young people. But that’s so obviously not what this is. The whole “non-partisan” pretense is very weird, for one thing. And you aren’t going to reach young people with Charlie Daniels and Richard Sterban, who were last on the radio when I was in high school.

This has to be some kind of glossy PR campaign designed to attract corporate dollars (and provide cover to tour sponsors, promoters and venues scared of looking “too partisan”), because anyone with any connection to Nashville can smell the bullshit wafting a mile away.


Filed under 2012 presidential election, astroturfing, music and politics

The Tennessean Strikes Again

More corporate astroturfing from The Tennessean? I know, y’all are shocked!

Our local fishwrap ran a hit piece on electric vehicles today, using the National Center for Public Policy Research as its source. This group is another one of those right-wing think tanks funded by the usual suspects (Scaife, Olin and Bradley foundations, as well as Philip Morris and ExxonMobil). They have an anti-environmental agenda, and have been on the, um, “leading edge” of climate change denial since the ’90s. They’re pro-fracking, pro-drilling, and anti-endangered species. Their president is Amy Moritz Ridenour, who recently found her way over here to comment on my “There Is No Light Bulb Ban” post. Basically these are people who if they saw a butterfly floating by, they’d stomp on it.

I’d forgotten about Ridenour’s NCPPR connection (funny, since it was just a few days ago. D’oh!), but I remembered they were in the news for laundering Tom DeLay’s travel money. The organization set off big Jack Abramoff bells with me, as well. So I Google’d. Ah yes: Abramoff was a former board member and used this organization to distribute some of his Choctaw donations:

Another scholar whose Abramoff Fellowship has gone largely unquestioned is Amy Ridenour, who was and remains president of the right-wing National Center for Public Policy Research. Ridenour received some unwelcome attention last year when she testified before a Senate committee investigating Abramoff’s activities. The subject was a $1 million grant that Abramoff, a longtime friend of Ridenour’s who served on her board, funneled from his client, the Mississippi Choctaw Indian tribe, through NCPPR. Some of the money ended up in Abramoff’s pocket. Ridenour testified that she was unaware of the latter transaction. But why did she agree to let NCPPR be a front group for these contributions in the first place? And why did she similarly agree to put NCPPR’s imprimatur on a congressional junket that Abramoff led to Great Britain, one that famously included a stop at the St. Andrews golf course in Scotland? (Ridenour has said she didn’t know in advance about this side trip.)

Ah, well. That’s all water under the bridge. But you know, it’s a little odd that The Tennessean never even identified the NCPPR as a conservative group — something I believe the organization itself openly admits. Their website identifies them as a group

supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.

Isn’t that code for, “Hey we’re a conservative group supportive of the Republican Party!” You’d think The Tennessean would have mentioned their source’s partisan leanings. Sadly, no.

And as for Bonner Cohen, the “senior fellow” they quoted? Let’s ask SourceWatch:

Bonner Cohen headed EPA Watch, which received funding from Philip Morris. He purported to edit EPA Watch as an independent newsletter published and distributed by the non-profit American Policy Center, but in fact it was a publication of the APCO & Associates PR Group, originally owned by Philip Morris’s Washington legal firm, Arnold & Porter (ie A&P Co = APCO)

During this time he shared the work with Steve Milloy (“Junkman”), who was running the organization known as The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), which purported to be a grass-roots, sound-science organization, but which was originally a tobacco industry front (run also by APCO) pushing a “sound science” line.

Milloy clearly wrote a number of the articles published in EPA Watch, and Cohen eventually became listed as President of TASSC when it moved from being a vehicle just for defense of the tobacco industry, to having a wider agenda, opposing government attempts to regulate a number of polluting industries for the benefit of public health.

A Philip Morris document states that EPA Watch was an “asset” established to assist Philip Morris achieve a broader impact than just on the issue of second-hand smoke. Another Philip Morris document argues the need to “develop a plan for EPA Watch / Bonner Cohen as expert on EPA matters, i.e. regular syndicated radio features on EPA activities.”

Oh, so in other words, another corporate astroturfer. Yeah, we figured as much.

The only thing that would make this more perfect is if The Tennessean got Bonner Cohen to write a “Tennessee Voices” column.

Hey, Tennessean: you still suck. But don’t worry, you’re apparently in good company.


Filed under astroturfing, electric car, media manipulation, right wing, The Tennessean

Rick Berman Fools The Tennessean For 3rd Time

Oh, Tennessean. Your gullibility would be laughable were it not so very appalling. Seriously, what does this say about your reputation that a D.C. lobbyist has managed to fool you not once, not twice, but three times in one six month period? Somewhere on K street a corporate lobbyist is laughing his ass off at you.

On Thursday I posted a blog item about D.C. corporate lobbyist/professional astroturfer Rick Berman and his staff of sock puppets, namely David Martosko.

On Friday, The Tennessean runs a “Tennessee Voices” column by, you guessed it, David Martosko, attacking the HSUS. Yes that would be the same HSUS that just filed an ethics complaint against Martosko’s employer Rick Berman. Timing is everything, isn’t it?

The Tennessean of course identified Martosko as:

…director of research at the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit watchdog group that deals with activities of tax-exempt activist groups.

Hah! I think I’ve already covered that ground but for those who haven’t been paying attention (ahem, Gannett employees!) that’s a bit of a stretch. It’s a more like an industry front group, funded by Cargill, Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, and others. From Wikipedia:

IRS records show that in 2007, the CCF paid more than $1.5 million to Berman and Company for “research, communications, and other services.”[25] Both the Center for Consumer Freedom and American Beverage Institute are managed by and share facilities with Berman and Company,[26] a public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Richard Berman and also associated with Center for Union Facts.

This is now the third time The Tennessean has fallen for Rick Berman’s propaganda game. Back in February they ran an anti-MADD Tennessee Voices column by “Sarah Longwell,” who fronts several of Rick Berman’s phony organizations, including the restaurant industry-funded American Beverage Institute.

But wait, there’s more. In December 2009, The Tennessean ran an anti-minimum wage op-ed by “Kristen Lopez Eastlick,” identified as “senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute.” Eastlick is a very busy lady:

Kristen Lopez Eastlick has been listed in many different capacities for nearly all of Berman & Company’s front groups. She has been cited as everything from director of policy analysis to chief administrative officer, and has been linked to the Center for Consumer Freedom, the American Beverage Institute, the Employment Policy Institute, the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, Activist Cash, and the Employee Freedom Action Committee. Eastlick is a frequent editorial writer and Berman spokesperson.

Okay, Tennessean. Will the third time be the charm or is there going to be a fourth incident before your Opinion page editors learn how to hit the Google?

And they say the internet killed the newspaper business. Yeah, right. Looks like a suicide to me.


Filed under astroturfing, media, Rick Berman, The Tennessean

Fighting Back Against Rick Berman

Well, looks like someone is finally firing back against D.C. lobbyist/professional corporate astroturfer Rick Berman:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The HSUS File Ethics Complaint Against Rick Berman

Groups allege American Beverage Institute violated N.Y. law

Two of the nation’s leading public interest charities — Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The Humane Society of the United States — formally asked the New York State Commission on Public Integrity on Tuesday to open an investigation into illegal lobbying by Washington lobbyist Rick Berman and one of his many corporate front groups, the American Beverage Institute.

The complaint alleges that Berman and ABI violated New York state’s lobbying law. The Lobbying Act requires every lobbyist who spends more than $5,000 on lobbying activities to register and report their activities to the Commission. The complaint alleges ABI violated the law by failing to register and report lobbying activities, including expenditures in excess of $70,000. ABI spent more than $70,000 to purchase and publish advertisements to influence and defeat pending legislation intended to make roadways safer by cracking down on recidivism by convicted DWI offenders.

ABI is run by Washington-based lobbyist Richard Berman, who oversees a network of tax-exempt organizations that serve private business interests by attacking advocacy organizations deemed a threat to the profitability of Berman’s alcohol, tobacco, agribusiness and fast-food clients.

I first got hip to Rick Berman during the healthcare reform debate when his astroturf group “Committee To Rethink Reform” started running ads in Tennessee.

Wonder if he registered as a lobbyist in Tennessee? I’m thinking … not. Might be something for some folks to look into.

Berman is a stealth lobbyist. His sock puppets blanket local media with op-eds, masquerading as experts at dummy “non-profit groups” given impressive names. Most media outlets appear to have been duped (including our own Gannett fishwrap). Berman employee David Martosko, tasked with targeting HSUS and PETA, has been making the rounds of ag publications like “” and The Modesto Bee, which all quote Martosko as a representative of “The Center for Consumer Freedom” (heck, Martosko has even given testimony to the U.S. Senate). Indeed, Martosko’s Twitter feed is a vertiable index of media gullibility.

None of these publications mention that the Center for Consumer Freedom is another one of Berman’s phony front groups and David Martosko is its chief sockpuppet.

It’s all so sleazy. Kinda makes you wonder: if the industries hiring Rick Berman had a leg to stand on, why resort to the subterfuge? Why the astroturfing and the sock puppetry?

According to Berman Exposed:

David Martosko has served as director of research for Berman & Company and its front group the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) since 2001. He is a frequent spokesperson and editorial writer for both organizations. He previously served as a senior research analyst for the Berman front group Guest Choice Network, which later rebranded as CCF. Frequently cited as a scientific and economic expert, Martosko received his graduate degree in opera from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in 1995.

When called on this blatant dishonesty back in 2006 Martosko responded:

David Martosko: “Welcome to Washignton. This is the way things tend to be done here.”



Filed under astroturfing, Rick Berman

Just Another Phony Rick Berman Astroturf Front Group


On a whim I did a Google news search for Berman & Co. employee David Martosko. Looks like the media is still getting pwned by Berman’s tricks. Martosko is now masquerading as some kind of beef and dairy industry expert in an effort to discredit the Humane Society of the United States.

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says the phony front group Center for Consumer Freedom was founded with money from Berman client Philip Morris.


The “Committee To Rethink Reform” is running TV ads in Tennessee full of scary lightning bolts and trillion-bazillion dollar figures pulled out of some Heritage Foundation flunky’s ass claiming we’ll all be doooooooomed if healthcare reform passes.

It’s typical fear propaganda, but they’re telling people to call Lincoln Davis so I thought I’d find out who this “Committee To Rethink Reform” is. Turns out it’s the same group that ran scary ads in the New York Times last December telling senior citizens that if healthcare reform passes, they’d have to walk 71 miles in the desert with a character out of Ben Hur snapping a whip in the air to get to the nearest doctor.

Well, something along those lines.

So who is the “Committee To Rethink Reform”? Apparently it’s another creation of conservative lobbyist/corporate flack Rick Berman. Remember him? He’s the guy dubbed “Dr. Evil” for setting up phony “non-profit” front groups to peddle corporate lies. Among his greatest hits: hiring actors at $30 an hour to pretend to be anti-debt “protestors,” and running full page ads in the New York Times linking the Humane Society to terrorists.

Berman & Co. uses the Rethink Reform campaign as one of its case studies on its company website. Berman never reveals where his funding comes from, but if I were to take a guess I’d be looking at AHIP and PhRMA for this campaign. Just a guess.

In 2009 CREW launched a website “ripping the cloak of secrecy” away from Rick Berman’s phony campaigns, called It’s pretty shocking what a sleazebag this guy is. Lies and deceptions are his stock in trade.

Here I learned that Rick Berman’s employees pose as policy experts to get op-eds published in newspapers around the country:

Berman and Company’s public relations professionals, posing as policy experts, have landed pieces in the opinion pages of newspapers throughout the country. Unfortunately, most of these news outlets fail to sufficiently vet and identify these hired guns.

For example, David Martosko, a Berman employee, who is frequently cited as a scientific expert, received his graduate degree in opera from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University.

In Mr. Martosko’s efforts to discredit the National Cancer Institute’s findings on red meat consumption and increased mortality, he spearheaded a letter-writing campaign publishing his opinions in papers including the Sacramento Bee and the Athens Banner-Herald. Mr. Martosko was not identified as a Berman and Company employee, but rather as “Director of Research for the Center for Consumer Freedom.”

Tim Miller, another Berman hire, has also been identified in his letters and op-eds by his association to the company’s front groups. For example, Mr. Miller opined in response to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that his “organization,” the Center for Consumer Freedom, was in opposition to the Payday Loan Reform Act to counter “antiloan activist rhetoric” and went on to rehash the newest slogans from the Center’s latest payday loan ad campaign. In addition, Berman’s Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy is behind a pro-payday loan site masquerading as a ‘financial education’ site.

Mr, Miller’s real job is the director of communications for Berman and Company and his listed positions include a number of its affiliated front groups: the Center for Consumer Freedom, the Center for Union Facts, the Employment Policy Institute, the Employees Freedom Action Committee, the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, the American Beverage Institute, and Activist Cash. Mr. Miller has served as the communications coordinator for Sen. John McCain’s Iowa caucus campaign. Before that, he was the communications director for Jeff Lamberti’s failed 2006 congressional campaign in Iowa’s 3rd district, the political director for Bill Dix’s failed 2006 congressional campaign in Iowa’s 1st district, the field director for Jerry Kilgore’s failed 2005 campaign for Governor of Virginia, and as a travel aide for Bill Lee’s failed 2004 campaign for Governor of Delaware.

Well isn’t that special. Now that Rick Berman’s latest phony front group is targeting Lincoln Davis, I wonder how long before we read a Berman employee’s op-ed in the Tennessean?

You know, if you have to misrepresent who you are to such an outrageous degree, perhaps that should tell you something about your position. Just sayin’.

Anyway, just thought I’d let folks know who the “Committee To Rethink Reform” is. Just another phony front group spouting the corporate line. I know y’all are shocked.


Filed under astroturfing, Lincoln Davis, Rick Berman

>Climate Change Astroturf Group To Hold Nashville Forum

>Yesterday I blogged about the Consumer Energy Alliance, an astroturf organization connected to the oil industry-funded Institute for Energy Research.

Today I was forwarded an invite to a forum they’re hosting next Wednesday at the downtown Sheraton (as always, click on the pic to make it larger):

The CEA promises an “in depth discussion” on the impact of pending Federal climate change legislation. Since the CEA aren’t exactly honest brokers, presenting themselves as some kind of consumer organization when in fact they are part of the oil industry lobby, I think it’s safe to say they plan to spread a lot of half truths and misinformation.

Just a guess. I could be wrong!

They’ve been extremely aggressive in trying to get folks to attend this meeting, making lots of phone calls and personal visits to drum up attendance. In particular I hear they want public officials to attend, even (I hear) inviting Mayor Dean. So I thought we should all know what we’re getting into.

Their featured speaker is Tom Mullikin, whom they list as a “nationally recognized environmental attorney” and indeed his bio is impressive. What it doesn’t say is that Mr. Mullikin has made a name for himself speaking at Chamber of Commerce events around the country and spreading misinformation about climate change in the process.

To wit:

”I just try to lay out the facts.”

Those were the words of Tom Mullikin (lawyer and nationally known speaker) at a talk he gave sponsored by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce to a “crowded hall full of business and political leaders from across the state,” as printed in the Wichita Eagle. Mr. Mullikin went on to talk about how local efforts to curb the effects of coal plants on the environment are useless, listing “facts” about how man-made emissions only comprise 5.5 percent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that “Kansas homes, factories, cars, livestock and power plants… contribute just 0.013 percent of all greenhouse gases floating in the world’s atmosphere.”

This is not the first time I’ve heard these statements about percentages, and they are irrelevant. It is not the overall percentage of greenhouse gases represented by human activity that matters – what matters is how much the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, and 5.5% is a significant amount. Just think of blood alcohol levels, or a glass of water filled to the brim – one more drop will make it overflow.

The other glaring piece of misinformation provided by Mullikin is the idea that changes and efforts on a local scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is futile. This notion is not only totally incorrect, it is irresponsible, and Mr. Mullikin should be ashamed for touting such nonsense.

According to this writer, Mullikin even claims that because China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, there’s no point in Americans trying to reduce their carbon emissions. Which is the most twisted piece of logic I’ve ever heard.

Anyway, I suspect the CEA is hosting these events with the help of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the Nashville Chamber, which is separate from the U.S. Chamber, knew nothing about it). Call it a gut instinct.

The Chamber is a little red-faced these days when it comes to the climate change issue. There was yesterday’s faux-press conference prank, and there have been a steady stream of businesses and utilities dumping their membership over the Chamber’s opposition to federal climate change legislation (Mohawk Paper joined the mass exodus today.)

Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber was busted for hyper-inflating their membership. They seem now to concede that they represent 300,000, not 3 million, businesses, though no one seems to have let the Consumer Energy Alliance know: their bio for board member Bill Kovics, the U.S. Chamber’s VP of Energy, Technology & Regulatory affairs, still lists the higher membership number.

Anyway, it’s all very interesting and a little bit sleazy to me. You have an industry group pretending to be a consumer group holding a forum to spread misinformation about federal climate change legislation. They’ve been aggressive in trying to get public officials to attend, and I just want to say that if Mayor Dean or other public officials attend an anti-climate change event it would be a little embarassing, seeing as how Tennessee is trying to fashion itself as a regional leader in clean energy.

So, just a heads up, foks. But there IS a free lunch. I wonder if we can get some of downtown’s homeless through the door? I’d hate to see all that food go to waste.

1 Comment

Filed under astroturfing, climate change bill, Consumer Energy Alliance, Nashville

>Consumer Energy Alliance: Another Astroturf Front Group

>Via Kleinheider we learn of yet another fake “grassroots” organization targeting climate change legislation. This one calls itself the Consumer Energy Alliance and it is now running TV ads in Tennessee telling us scary things about low carbon fuel standards.

I asked the Great Gazoogle to tell me more about the Consumer Energy Alliance and it told me the only “consumers” allied with this professional astroturfing outfit are those duped into believing it’s not a cleverly disguised bunch of K-Street lobbyists for the oil industry.

But I did my own research. I followed the linky-links from the Consumer Energy Alliance’s website. The LCFS campaign website is “” I looked at their contact list and got this:

I did a check on the phone number and found it is the main number for the Institute For Energy Research. Chris Tucker, the press contact for SecureOurFuels (and Consumer Energy Alliance, as his e-mail address indicates), is also listed as the press contact for the IER.

And who is the IER? The IER board consists of the usual petroleum/energy industry suspects and American Enterprise Institute scoundrels. Folks like Preston Marshall, president of oil exploration company MarOpCo (of the creepy old bazillionaire-who-married-Anna-Nicole-Smith Marshalls).

And Wayne Gable, Managing Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries. Ah, it always comes back to Koch Industries, doesn’t it?

Gable is also president of the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation. According to Wikipedia the Lambe Foundation funds…. you guessed it … the Institute for Energy Research.

I have one question: what will happen when Koch Industries runs out of money?

Of course, you just need to look through the Consumer Energy Alliance’s publications list to see lots of pro-drilling titles and know these folks are fossil fuel industry shills.

Or, as Grist noted in 2006:

The Institute for Energy Research, incidentally, “articulates free-market positions that respect private property rights and promote efficient outcomes for energy consumers and producers.” Its director, Robert Bradley, wrote “Global Warming Concerns Are False Alarm” and “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’.” ….

So, to recap: We have the Consumer Energy Alliance running TV ads fighting a part of the climate change bill that encourages alternative energy use. The Consumer Energy Alliance is part of the Institute for Energy Research, which is a front group for the oil and gas industry.

Can we say we are surprised? Not me.

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Filed under astroturfing, climate change bill, Consumer Energy Alliance, Energy Alliance

The Return Of Phil Parlock

It just wouldn’t be a right wing-v-left wing campaign without an appearance by serial victim Phil Parlock! The Washington Times, in a lame effort to defend the right wing’s attack on 11-year old Julia Hall, has brought up this incident from the 2004 campaign:

Just because the Obama administration has an 11-year old asking a question about right wing meanies, doesn’t mean friends of the left have patience for children of conservative activists either.  Remember this photo below?  This was taken in 2004 after conservative activist Phil Parlock and his three-year old daughter Sophia crossed paths with John Kerry supporting Union Democrats.

They grabbed the little girl’s sign and tore it up.

Uh, yeah. When trying to defend the indefensible “you did it first!” is not usually the best argument.

Except in this case, we didn’t do it first. As was well documented at the time, Phil Parlock was a notorious serial victim, who claimed to have lost dozens of signs at the hands of big, mean union thugs going all the way back to 1996 when he alleged he was knocked to the ground for displaying a “Remember Vince Foster” sign at a Clinton rally. Attaturk at Rising Hegemon dug into the memory and found this quote:

“It must have been a strict Democrat who did this,” Parlock said, feeling the red abrasions on his face. “Everyone with the exception of him was real peaceful about our protest.”

At the time of the 2004 incident, Attaturk also noticed a striking resemblance between the alleged sign-ripping “union thugs” and one of the Parlock sons.

So thank you, Washington Times, for reminding us of this incident. As astroturf campaigns dominate the nightly news and tea shouters screetch that they want their country back after just eight months of an Obama presidency, it’s nice that you have reminded us of how low the right wing will stoop to flog its eternal victimization.

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Filed under astroturfing, Phil Parlock, Washington Times

>More Lies, Damn Lies: Climate Change Edition


Via Proud Socialist in comments, Bonner is indeed a serial offender. More at Talking Points Memo.


Unbelievable. Unbelievable. They have no shame whatsoever:

As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote on an important piece of climate change legislation in June, the freshman congressman’s office received at least six letters from two Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the measure.

The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.

“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”

Isn’t there a fucking law against this?

Grist obtained copies of the climate change letters which I’ve linked to here and here.

There’s more:

The letters came from the Washington lobby firm Bonner & Associates, which offers “Strategic Grassroots / Grasstops support to help you win.” It hasn’t yet come to light who hired the firm to do this possibly illegal work. Another set of forged letters claimed to represent a local chapter of the NAACP.

Bonner & Associates is a notorious astroturf outfit. Look what they did when PhRMA hired them to scuttle Maryland legislation to lower prescription drug costs:

Donna J. Stanley, director of Associated Black Charities, was ready to mobilize for political battle after she received a fax marked “urgent” this week.

The fax told her she needed to sign an attached petition “today” to prevent 600,000 of Maryland’s poor and disabled from losing access to affordable prescription drugs. The fax, sent to dozens of community leaders, had the markings of a grass-roots effort, including grammatical errors and a handwritten cover letter.

But the appeal was actually generated by a sophisticated Washington lobbying firm trying to defeat several bills before the General Assembly supported by advocates for the poor.

In short, Bonner & Associates is a serial offender. They routinely forge letters, claiming to be from Hispanic and African American organizations or other advocacy groups, saying they oppose xyz legislation, and send them to members of Congress and others.

In short, they lie. They misrepresent, falsify, and lie.

I’m not a lobbyist nor do I know any, but I have a question: don’t you people have a code of ethics against this kind of behavior? No, I’m not kidding. Quit laughing. Seriously, if you don’t have a code of ethics, maybe you’d like Congress to develop one for you.

There has been a huge uproar about this, prompting Bonner to blame a temp. Right. In light of their history, let me be the first to call bullshit. Must be the same “overzealous staffer” who was responsible for all the GOP fuckups during the Bush administration.

I’d like to know who hired Bonner & Associates. This is lower than low. There is no bottom for these people, no “too low.” And Congressman Ed Markey says his Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming plans to launch an investigation into the affair.

I will just remind Bonner and whomever hired them that karma’s a bitch and she will make her displeasure known.

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