Does the Food Lobby Really Care about Freedom of Choice? Fuhgeddaboutit!Joe Fassler // OnEarth Blog
November 14, 2012
This fall, two very different efforts to make our food supply safer and healthier met with two very different responses from the people who actually make our food.
In New York City, opponents of a proposed ban on large sodas (i.e., soda companies and corn growers) argued loudly that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was stifling consumer choice, saying people should be able to make up their own minds about whether they want to buy soft drinks the size of their heads.Read the entire story »
Union Busting by Profiting From Non-Profit May Breach IRSMark Drajem and Brian Wingfield // Bloomberg Businessweek
November 2, 2012
When Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) was trying to fend off a union organizing drive at its largest meat- processing plant, it hired public relations executive Rick Berman. They discussed “preparing the nuclear strike,” according to e-mail records. Soon after, a non-profit called the Center for Union Facts began running television ads slamming the “union bosses” who were trying to organize Smithfield’s plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. That was no coincidence: Berman also runs the center.Read the entire story »
USA Today Ad Slams HSUS for Supporting Michael Vick as America’s Newest Dog OwnerThe Associated Press
October 26, 2012
A full-page ad from HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, appears in today’s USA Today, criticizing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President Wayne Pacelle for supporting convicted dogfighting felon Michael Vick’s ownership of a new dog. Pacelle was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claiming Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” The ad condemns HSUS for supporting the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback’s newfound dog ownership, and asks what is Pacelle thinking.Read the entire story »
Conservative PAC raises questions about unions’ political spendingHannah Hoffman // Statesman Journal
September 20, 2012
A right-leaning political action committee headed by Washington D.C. lobbyist Rick Berman bought full page ads today in the New York Times and USA Today (owned by the Statesman Journal’s parent company) that accused unions of spending large amounts money on political campaigns without their members’ approval.Read the entire story »
Chicago Tribune Refuses to Print Anti-Teachers Union AdDaniel Halper // The Weekly Standard
September 14, 2012
The Chicago Tribune has refused to print an anti-teachers union ad, according to the Center for Union Facts, the group whose ad was rejected by the paper. The Tribune rejected the ad by saying it had "racial undertones."
"The ad pictures the famous photograph of George Wallace standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama, refusing to admit black students into the school on the first day the University was integrated," the Center for Union Facts says in an email. "The headline reads, 'Someone New is Standing in the School House Door.'"Read the entire story »
Devices that help prevent drunk driving could save youJan Withers // Charlotte Observer
July 18, 2012
Sarah Longwell, in her July 11 piece on behalf of the American Beverage Institute (“Big Brother’s effort to stop drunk driving could strand you”), represented the view of the extreme minority wing of the alcohol industry. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed when the federal highway bill passed, resulting in provisions that will save lives in the short term and set us on the path to eliminating drunk driving.Read the entire story »
Unions can help improve economyRick Moyle // The Gazette
July 13, 2012
I am responding to the June 24 guest column, titled “Improve the economy through labor reform,” and written by Rick Berman. One simply needs to Google Mr. Berman to find out that he is a hired gun who uses front groups to defend his corporate clients against public interest.
Berman writes about the Employee Rights Act, and the reasons why he supports it. Most of what is written in the article is not even an issue in unions, but Berman would like you to believe so.Read the entire story »
Economic research supports raising the minimum wageRoss Eisenbrey // The Hill
July 11, 2012
Michael Saltsman has trouble with his facts from the very first sentence of his op-ed on the minimum wage. Saltsman asserts that President Obama made a campaign pledge to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and that four members of Congress have "introduced bills to make this promise a reality." In fact, President Obama argued for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 last year, and there is only one bill in the House that would set a similar figure: H.R. 5727 (and it would raise it to $9.80 by 2014, not $9.50). Sen.Read the entire story »
Alcohol-sensing technology could become standard in all carsLarry Copeland // USA Today
July 2, 2012
The long-term transportation funding bill just approved by Congress includes funds for researching alcohol-detection technology that could eventually be standard equipment in all new cars.
That funding — $5 million over two years — should have been stripped from the bill because it "uses American taxpayer dollars to fund something they're not going to want in their cars," said a group representing the restaurant industry.Read the entire story »
Letter to the Editor: Society defends effortsKim Alboum, HSUS // The Dispatch
June 26, 2012
Editor: Rick Berman is a front man for anonymous corporations that have a stake in the status quo mistreatment of animals (letter, June 21). There is no ploy Berman won't attempt in order to keep raking in money from his shadowy paymasters including peddling the idea that calling something a poll has credibility. Remember when the cigarette companies came up with bogus "research" about the safety of tobacco? Berman cut his teeth as a front man for tobacco back then.Read the entire story »
HSUS fights all animal cruetlyJulia Breaux // Shreveport Times
June 19, 2012
The so-called Humane Society for Shelter Pets is the latest front group created by public relations operative Rick Berman — it is not a legitimate animal welfare charity. While the Humane Society for Shelter Pets may sound innocuous, the group's primary purpose is to undermine the work of The Humane Society of the United States, which was named by peer organizations in 2011 as the most effective animal protection organization in the nation, and to divide animal organizations against each other.Read the entire story »
DC soda-lobby effort falls ‘flat’S.A. Miller // New York Post
June 8, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign to ban big drinks ignited a soda war in the nation’s capital yesterday.
Beverage-industry lobbyist Rick Berman — the man behind the full-page newspaper ad depicting Bloomberg as a frumpy nanny — tried to infiltrate an anti-soda conference that featured city Health Commissioner Tom Farley.
But Berman was tossed out of the event.Read the entire story »
‘Consumer Freedom’ Org Attacks Big Soda Ban By Putting Bloomberg In A DressBriana Rognlin // Bliss Tree
June 6, 2012
The ads are emasculating, demeaning, and oversimplify the issue, but that’s not even our biggest beef: The real problem is that The Center for Consumer Freedom is basically a front for the food and restaurant industry—including organizations like the American Beverage Association, which receives direct funding from corporations like Coca Cola and Pepsi. Which says to us that the organization is a lot more about company freedoms than consumer freedoms.Read the entire story »
Ad zings ‘mothering’ mayorAnnie Karni // New York Post
June 4, 2012
It’s Nanny Bloomberg like you’ve never seen him before.
Hizzoner looked more like Mrs. Doubtfire than a titan of industry and government — gussied up in a frumpy lavender dress with ill-fitting shoulder pads, a matching scarf and a silver locket — in a Photoshopped, full-page ad in The New York Times yesterday.Read the entire story »
Mayor Bloomberg Defends Proposed Soft Drink Ban Despite Growing CriticismCBS News
June 4, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg fiercely defended his proposed ban on super-sized soft drinks on Sunday.
He told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin that, ”People understand we have to do something.”
In the face of growing ridicule and intense criticism the Mayor has defended his stance on sugary drinks.
“When airlines have a problem that most passengers can’t fit in the seats anymore when the statistics say 30 40 50 percent of our kids are obese they are going to be obese as adults they’re not going to live long they’re not going to have great lives,” he said.Read the entire story »
Wisconsin Recall Breaks Record Thanks To Outside CashPaul Abowd // The Huffington Post
June 4, 2012
Tuesday’s recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is the most expensive in Wisconsin history. More than $63.5 million has been spent by candidates and independent groups, the overwhelming majority underwritten by out-of-state sources.
The record spending total was made possible thanks to the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision — which had the effect of invalidating Wisconsin’s century-old ban on independent expenditures by corporations and unions — and a state law that allows unlimited contributions to the incumbent in recall elections.Read the entire story »
FAQ: Who is Richard Berman, and why he is attacking The HSUS?The Humane Society
May 31, 2012
Richard Berman is a corporate front-man, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and PR operative. Over the years, he has created a spider web of organizations whose aim is to attack established charities, nonprofits and public interest groups—from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Institute of Medicine to The Humane Society of the United States.Read the entire story »
SPECIAL REPORT: How Washington went soft on childhood obesityDuff Wilson and Janet Roberts // Reuters
April 27, 2012
In the political arena, one side is winning the war on child obesity.
The side with the fattest wallets.
After aggressive lobbying, Congress declared pizza a vegetable to protect it from a nutritional overhaul of the school lunch program this year. The White House kept silent last year as Congress killed a plan by four federal agencies to reduce sugar, salt and fat in food marketed to children.Read the entire story »
ANALYSIS: Health insurers try to fool Congress with fuzzy mathWendell Potter // iWatch News
April 16, 2012
Want to find out what Congress is about to vote on? Take a ride on the Washington subway.
If you’ve been on the Metro in recent days, you might have seen an ad designed to make you feel sorry for our poor health insurance companies. So sorry that you’ll call your congressman and demand he support a bill would gut an important part of the health care reform law: the provision requiring that insurers spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect from us on our actual health care.Read the entire story »
A sneaky effort to stop safe-driving technologyMelanie Sloan // The Grand Forks Herald
April 9, 2012
Sarah Longwell, who describes herself as “managing director” of something called the American Beverage Institute, conjured up quite a nightmare scenario on these pages on April 1, turning efforts to create a smart, sensible way to keep drunk drivers off the road into a bizarre vision of moms unable to pick up their children from soccer practice (“Safe driving’ technology targets social drinkers,” Page D3).Read the entire story »
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – New ‘animal welfare’ agency not what it seemsJanice Brown // Tails Magazine
April 9, 2012
In early December, I received an email introducing the Humane Society for Shelter Pets, a new non-profit animal welfare organization. The press release stated: “In these difficult economic times, pet shelters are feeling the shortfall in charitable giving. Many shelters already operate on tight budgets to provide needed hands-on care and don’t have the time or money to spread a ‘give local’ message.Read the entire story »
DUI's new enemy: robocarsLos Angeles Times
April 9, 2012
Skynet has not become self-aware, but it's hard to escape the feeling that we're heading for a "Terminator"-like future in which intelligent machines start wanting to run the show, what with cellphones that can talk to us and websites that can peg our entertainment preferences with eerie accuracy. So it should come as little surprise that someday our cars might exercise better judgment than we do.Read the entire story »
After the Party, a Car That Takes Away Your KeysJoseph B. White // The Wall Street Journal
April 4, 2012
Friends don't let friends drive drunk. In the future, your car could be that friend.
Researchers working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are developing technology that could be built into a car's dashboard or controls to check a driver's blood-alcohol level and refuse to start if above the legal limit. The effort, which began in 2008, is officially known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS for short.Read the entire story »
Is Sugar Toxic? Dietary Science Goes MainstreamCameron English // Policy Mic
April 2, 2012
Sugar isn't healthy. That's a fact most people don't deny. But is the sweetener the worst thing in the American diet? According to a vocal minority of researchers, that's exactly the case. Led by University of California Endocrinologist Robert Lustig, these experts claim that sugar is the primary cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
What's more, the theory appears to be going mainstream. Major news outlets are giving the sugar-chronic disease link serious attention, and not in order to disprove it.Read the entire story »
Who's paying for the attacks on MADD?Melanie Sloan // The Hill
March 29, 2012
Who else but Richard Berman would argue we need to better protect drunk drivers? Sarah Longwell, the “managing director” of the American Beverage Institute (ABI) is credited with Today's MADD drives dangerous new policies, but Longwell’s real job is vice president at Berman’s public relations firm, Berman & Company, and ABI is just one of Berman’s many industry front groups.Read the entire story »
Who Is Trying to Destroy the Humane Society?Richard Schiffman // The Huffington Post
March 29, 2012
If you watched the Academy Awards ceremony last month, you may have noticed something out of character with the evening's festive atmosphere -- a 30-second spot attacking the Humane Society, America's largest animal protection organization. The commercial, broadcast on ABC and reminiscent of the negative campaign ads we've been seeing on TV lately, began with a flashing red light and throbbing alarm sound as the voiceover warned, "Attention: consumer protection alert."Read the entire story »
Fight brews over DUI technologyKathryn Wolfe // POLITICO
March 27, 2012
Safety advocates and alcohol interests are squaring off over legislation intended to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths through the use of devices that prevent drunken drivers from starting their cars.
Tucked into the Senate’s transportation bill is a provision that directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study “more widespread deployment of in-vehicle technology” that would prevent drunken driving.Read the entire story »
Driving ABI to DrinkJanie Lorber // Roll Call
March 22, 2012
The American Beverage Institute is against drunken driving. But buzzed driving? Well … that’s another story.
The trade association, which is one wee part of unregistered super lobbyist Richard Berman’s empire of corporate-backed nonprofits, is afraid that legislation aimed at encouraging the use of anti-drunken-driving technology will turn restaurant-goers into teetotalers.Read the entire story »
Union-buster joins Wisconsin recall fightJosh Eidelson // Salon
March 8, 2012
The Wisconsin recall ad wars have a new player: the Center for Union Facts, the well-heeled union-bashing outfit founded by food and beverage super-lobbyist Rick Berman. A CUF source says the self-described “union watchdog” is spending “just over a million dollars” in Wisconsin, and “may do more in the coming weeks.”Read the entire story »
The PR Man Behind the Oscar Night Anti-Humane Society SlamAdam Serwer // Mother Jones
February 28, 2012
Americans who endured Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony were treated to a surprisingly aggressive campaign-style ad attacking the Humane Society for supposedly spending less than one cent of every dollar it takes in on animal shelters. The ad opens with a blaring siren on one side of the screen and footage from a Humane Society TV spot on the other. "Consumer alert!" a voiceover declares.Read the entire story »
PETA and Humane Society attacked by reports – but are they real?Elizabeth Flock // The Washington Post
February 28, 2012
If you were watching the Oscars last night, you would have seen an ad that said only one percent of the money the Humane Society of the United States raises from the public goes to local, hands-on pet shelters. The ad was financed by a Web site called HumaneWatch.org. That ad comes on the heels of another controversial report for animal lovers last week, stating that PETA kills more than 95 percent of the pets in its charge at its Norfolk, Va., headquarters. The report came from a Web site called PetaKillsAnimals.com.
But are the reports genuine?Read the entire story »
Bare Minimum WageJohn Stoehr // The American Prospect
February 22, 2012
One of the most active in the propaganda industry has been the Employment Policies Institute, a so-called think-tank in Washington that serves as a front for Richard Berman & Co., a lobbying firm for major corporations in the fast-food, alcohol, and tobacco industries. The Employment Policies Institute studies essentially say: Raising the minimum wage hurts minimum-wage earners. We know, we know. That sounds counter-intuitive, but trust us. We're the experts.Read the entire story »
Drunk-Driving Interlock Sales May JumpAngela Greiling Keane // Bloomberg
February 21, 2012
The market for devices to prevent convicted drunk drivers from starting cars if they’ve had too much to drink may surge almost fivefold if the U.S. Congress passes a bill under debate this month.Read the entire story »
Berman turns his eye to battling big laborTim Devaney // The Washington Times
February 15, 2012
Rick Berman has a black baseball cap with the words “Dr. Evil” in his K Street office. His critics may find it a fitting nickname for the former corporate lobbyist, who has ties to the tobacco and alcohol industries. Labor leaders sent it to him in jest, but he embraces the label.
“I take that as a compliment that they’re so upset,” Mr. Berman said. “Consider the source. If the unions call you ‘Dr. Evil,’ you’re probably doing something right.”Read the entire story »
Opinion: Super Bowl Ad Offends Working PeopleRep. Dennis Kucinich // The Huffington Post
February 8, 2012
During this year's Super Bowl, many Americans were subjected to a biased piece of political advertising by D.C., corporate lobbyists that was offensive to working people. An anti-worker front group calling themselves the "Center for Union Facts" aired a distasteful and misleading ad promoting a piece of legislation called the "Employee Rights Act" which would, in reality, weaken longstanding law protecting the rights of workers to organize.Read the entire story »
A nonsense fact in a Super Bowl adGlenn Kessler // The Washington Post
February 7, 2012
A group that supports a bill in Congress that would require every unionized workplace to recertify their union every three years made this interesting claim in a TV ad that ran during the Super Bowl. The Center for Union Facts also asserted this fact in an advertisement that ran in The New York Times, featuring the dictatorial leadership of North Korea as apparent stand-ins for union leaders.Read the entire story »
Fight Over Union Rights Enters Super Bowl HuddleAlex M. Parker // US News & World Report
February 7, 2012
One political organization refrained from keeping their political message on the sidelines during this year's Super Bowl.
In addition to Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra's controversial campaign ad, some football watchers also saw the fight over union rights elevated to the national stage Sunday. A TV ad aired during the game blasted unions for spending their dues on political candidates, and pressed for the passage of the Employee Rights Act, a bill which would scale back union power across the country.Read the entire story »
MADD to Face Opposition from Restaurant Groups Over Mandatory Ignition Interlocks in Highway BillChris Gorin // MapLight
February 6, 2012
The Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled their version of a long-term surface transportation bill (HR 7) last week, which includes, among several contentious provisions, incentives for states to require convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks in their cars. Ignition interlocks are devices that test the blood-alcohol level of the driver to ensure it is below legal limits before starting their cars. The provision is expected to be in the Senate bill as well.Read the entire story »
A look at the Super Bowl ads with political agendasSamantha Wagner // The Houston Chronicle
February 6, 2012
Whether you were rooting for the Patriots or for the Giants, there’s one thing everyone can thank the Super Bowl gods for — the fact that our airwaves weren’t inundated with presidential candidates promoting their ideals. (Just corporations advertising the things that Americans can really rally around).
Still, scattered among the promotions for beer, cars, Doritos and not much else, were a few commercials with political agendas.Read the entire story »
Bill seeks to end sobriety checkpointsMatthew Spolar // The Concord Moniter
February 1, 2012
For different reasons, a bill doing away with sobriety checkpoints in New Hampshire has the backing of both constitutionally minded lawmakers and a D.C. trade group representing alcohol-serving restaurants.
House Bill 1452 would eliminate the sobriety checkpoints organized by local police departments to catch drunken drivers. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building.Read the entire story »
House transportation bill expected to go after drunken drivingPete Kasperowicz // The Hill
February 1, 2012
A bill to be introduced Tuesday that provides for the long-term reauthorization of federal transportation programs is also expected to include language that would offer states millions of dollars in incentives for imposing tough penalties on first-time drunken drivers.Read the entire story »
Restaurant Owners, MADD May Clash Over Transportation BillAmbreen Ali // Roll Call
February 1, 2012
A small provision in the upcoming transportation bill could fuel a big brawl between restaurant owners and opponents of drunken driving.
Both chambers are expected to introduce reauthorization bills this week with financial incentives for states to require that convicted drunken drivers use ignition interlocks — devices that require drivers to blow into a tube to test their blood-alcohol level.Read the entire story »
Center for Union Facts Steps Up $10 Million Ad Campaign Backing Broad Anti-Union BillJosh Eidelson // In These Times
January 25, 2012
This commercial, which aired during one of this month’s presidential debates, is one of four in a new campaign from the anti-union Center for Union Facts. CUF pledged last month to spend $10 million on the campaign, which promotes a new “Employee Rights Act” introduced in Congress by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott.Read the entire story »
Animal welfare groups united in their causeWayne Pacelle // Columbia Daily Tribune
January 12, 2012
Washington lobbyist Rick Berman is well known as a front man for smearing the reputations of public interest groups (“Humane Society, shelter group at odds,” Dec. 22). His latest target is The Humane Society of the United States because we are the greatest threat to animal abusers and his industry paymasters. Berman and his so-called “Humane Society for Shelter Pets” falsely try to define animal welfare work as just one narrow category of writing checks to local pet shelters, which do important work and take in 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats each year.Read the entire story »
Humane Society targeted by pro-shelter campaignSteve Karnowski // The Associated Press
December 19, 2011
The Humane Society of the United States says it's under attack by a new group that's trying to starve it of funding by urging donors to send money to local animal shelters instead.
The society has long been a thorn in the side of some in agriculture with its undercover investigations and campaigns against animal cruelty. It claims the new group is the brainchild of conservative public relations executive Rick Berman, who spearheaded an earlier campaign against it, and that it's supported by big agricultural interests.Read the entire story »
What’s in a name? Beware of astroturfing.Jennifer Scarlett // The San Franciscio Chronicle
December 16, 2011
Too bad the season of giving has to coincide with the season of questionable charities, but I guess we’ll never be rid of unreformed Scrooges, poised to cash in. Generous animal lovers shouldn’t be fooled by one particular humbug who’s trying to undermine the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a champion for sweeping changes in animal conditions for almost 60 years.Read the entire story »
Rick Berman's Anti-Labor Front Group To Launch $10 Million Ad CampaignDave Jamieson // The Huffington Post
December 15, 2011
A D.C.-based front group representing corporate interests will be rolling out a $10 million national advertising campaign next week to promote legislation that would likely weaken unions.Read the entire story »
Tis the Season for Collaboration, Not CombatGary Weitzman // The Huffington Post
December 9, 2011
It's happened again. And just a little more than a few weeks before Christmas. A new non-profit organization called the Humane Society for Shelter Pets (HSSP) was formed by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).
The latter is run by Rick Berman, who has battled such "tyrannical" organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and who seems to have a personal vendetta against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He is using HSSP to create a veritable public coliseum over his claim that HSUS does not support shelters or shelter animals.Read the entire story »
More Deception from Con Man Richard BermanWayne Pacelle // The Humane Society
December 1, 2011
Rick Berman is the king of charity fraud. He sets up phony front groups to do the dirty work of bad actors in industry. He takes their money and then takes on their critics. He runs “charitable” organizations, like the Center for Consumer Freedom (which fights The HSUS), the American Beverage Institute (which fights Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and the Center for Union Facts (which attacks public employees and unions), yet his groups don’t feed one animal, shelter one homeless person, or provide any other tangible social service.Read the entire story »
Letter: Pacheco's $10 minimum wage bill is a worthy effortJeannette Wicks-Lim // Tauntun Daily Gazette
November 21, 2011
Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, demonstrates real concern for the well-being of Massachusetts workers by supporting a $10 state minimum wage.
Contrary to critics’ claims, we can expect this proposal to improve the quality of jobs without causing layoffs. This is because such a measure would have a very limited impact on businesses’ overall costs. The evidence shows that employers find ways to adjust that don’t require them to lay off workers, such as nearly imperceptible price increases. Lower turnover by better-paid workers further offsets any cost increase.Read the entire story »
From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empireDaniel Bice, Bill Glauber and Ben Poston // Milwaukee-Wisconsin Sentinal Journal
November 21, 2011
Less than a week after being elected governor, Scott Walker and his wife met privately with one of the most powerful philanthropic forces behind America's conservative movement.
It wasn't the Koch brothers - the bogeymen for the American left.
On Nov. 8, 2010, the Walkers broke bread at the upscale Bacchus restaurant in the Cudahy Tower with the board and senior staff of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.Read the entire story »
Congress Considers Increased Financing to Study Alcohol InterlocksChristine Negroni // The New York Times
November 4, 2011
Cars that prevent intoxicated drivers from operating them may be rolling a little closer to reality, if only legislatively.
The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association, noted the Senate’s approval this week of an appropriation, by a vote of 60 to 39, that would allot $5 million for further research into alcohol-detection devices known as interlocks.Read the entire story »
Humane Society faces smear from lobbyistBarbara Schmitz // The Columbia Daily Tribune
October 31, 2011
It’s no surprise that, in his Oct. 22 letter, millionaire lobbyist Rick Berman attacked The Humane Society of the United States. His so-called “Center for Consumer Freedom” is a front group for corporations trying to thwart animal welfare, environmental and other public interest reforms. It is not a consumer protection organization, and it has no social welfare mission.
CCF takes in boatloads of corporate cash, providing anonymity to companies and allowing them to get tax breaks through their “donations” to this phony nonprofit.Read the entire story »
Humane Society: We're targeted for the work we doKathleen Schatzmann // The Daily Record
October 28, 2011
Remember when those slick Washington P.R. operatives wanted us to believe that it’s OK to smoke?
Well, the same shady character who started out raking in big bucks from the tobacco companies is at it again. He’s out there trying to minimize the menace of drunks on our roads, he’s defending mad cow disease as a “low risk,” he’d have us believe that pregnant women shouldn’t worry about mercury in seafood and argues the case that organic food is bad for the environment.Read the entire story »
Bill mandating breath-testers for DUI offenders advancesJon Schmitz // Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 19, 2011
The Senate Transportation Committee today approved legislation requiring first-time DUI offenders to equip their vehicles with ignition interlock systems that test their breath for alcohol before allowing the car to be started.
Existing Pennsylvania law requires interlock systems only for repeat DUI offenders.Read the entire story »
All should help pay down debtRick Berman // Corpus Christi Caller Times
October 17, 2011
As President Obama said in a Rose Garden speech Sept. 19 about our nation's debt crisis, "it's only right that we ask everyone to pay their fair share."
But if we're going to take seriously the notion of defeating the debt, it's going to take more than rhetoric and we'll all have to chip in — some of us more than others. Salvaging our downgraded economy demands tough sacrifices from all of us instead of a scapegoated few.Read the entire story »
Longwell: The new ProhibitionSarah Longwell // The Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 13, 2011
Ken Burns' new documentary, "Prohibition," is a big hit for PBS — almost 4 million viewers tuned in last week to see America's premier documentarian tell the tale of a time when Americans had to know a secret knock just to get an after-work cocktail.
What viewers might not realize is that prohibitionists are alive and well today.Read the entire story »
Understanding the consequences of changes in the minimum wageMichael Saltsman // The Oregonian
October 11, 2011
When discussing public policy, it's typically easier for those who favor increased burdens on business to dismiss economic arguments to the contrary instead of tackling them head-on.
Back in 1996, when then-President Clinton was arguing for an increase to the federal minimum wage, his chief of staff laughed off complaints from business owners that rely on minimum wage labor: "We're talking about a lousy 90 cent increase," he guffawed.Read the entire story »
Educate yourself on what you’re really supportingRichard Berman // Nation's Restaurant News
September 27, 2011
Mario Batali, the famed ex-“Iron Chef” and restaurateur, has turned his coat and joined up with the radical environmental fringe. Batali now publicly endorses the Meatless Monday campaign and applies this philosophy to his restaurants.
What’s wrong with going meatless once a week? It sounds like eating in moderation. But the backers of the Meatless Monday campaign have a broader agenda behind the façade of health.Read the entire story »
Raising minimum wage won't lower povertyMichael Saltsman // CNN
September 16, 2011
The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that more Americans are living in poverty than ever before measured -- 46.2 million people.
This news was followed by a predictable response from advocacy groups like the National Employment Law Project which suggested that an increase in the minimum wage could help lift Americans out of poverty. And not only that; in a CNN.com op-ed, a policy analyst with the group said that an increase in the minimum wage could boost the economy and create 160,000 jobs.Read the entire story »
When a trend is not a trendMichael Saltsman // The Hill
September 15, 2011
Outrage is in the air over concerns that companies are hiring only those who currently have jobs. Apparently, the nation is littered with “Unemployed need not apply” signs hanging from storefronts.Read the entire story »
Sarah Longwell: Think of money that could be used to boost teachers salaries if there were no unions wasting valuable resourcesSarah Longwell // TCPalm.com
September 12, 2011
According to a new survey released by the testing organization ACT, three out of four students are not prepared for college. These students will have to take at least one remedial course in math, science, reading or English.
Another new survey, this one from Phi Delta Kappa International (an educators' association) and Gallup, shows that Americans know who to blame for this mess. It isn't teachers: Three out of four respondents have "trust and confidence in public school teachers."Read the entire story »
Another view: Group attacking MADD lacks credibilityHerald Times Reporter
September 6, 2011
At first glance, an emailed press release seemed unremarkable: another trade group trying to score a couple of points at the expense of an adversary.
But with a second glance, profound tackiness emerged. A group calling itself the American Beverage Institute was hammering at Mothers Against Drunk Driving for not getting as much mileage out of its fundraising efforts as other non-profit groups and for earning comparatively poor scores from two charity ratings organizations.Read the entire story »
Mad at MADDWilliam Saletan // Slate
August 29, 2011
Finally, somebody has the guts to take on Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"Mothers Against Drunk Driving Receives Another 'D' from Charity Rating Guide," shouts the Aug. 24 press release. It notes that the guide's publisher, the American Institute of Philanthropy, "says most highly efficient charities are able to spend 75 percent or more of total expenses on charitable programs. Yet, MADD has spent as little as 61 percent on programs."
Sixty-one percent versus 75 percent? That doesn't sound great, but it doesn't sound awful, either. So why the press release?Read the entire story »
Report: Majority of Congress with no education in businessMike Lillis // The Hill
August 24, 2011
Almost 80 percent of lawmakers have no academic background in business or economics, even as Congress grapples with deficits, unemployment and other economic issues of tremendous complexity, according to an independent analysis released Tuesday.
The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) found that only 8.4 percent of lawmakers majored in economics or a related field, while just 13.7 percent studied topics related to business or accounting.Read the entire story »
Berman to Industry: Play OffenseCSP
August 23, 2011
If it's already a bill, you're probably too late. Or, as conservative public affairs specialist Rick Berman cautioned at CSP's 2011 Outlook Leadership Conference, "legislation does not drive public opinion; public opinion drives legislation."
And liberal groups, he said, have been winning too many battles on issues such as obesity taxes and energy legislation not because the facts line up with their positions, but because they are staking positions early and putting industries on the defensive.Read the entire story »
The minimum-wage solutionMichael Saltsman // The Chicago Tribune
August 19, 2011
We need jobs.
With a 9 percent unemployment rate and anemic labor market growth, this is one goal on which there's bipartisan consensus. Unfortunately, there's little agreement on how to best accomplish this goal. And there are few issues on which the parties are more diametrically opposed than the minimum wage.Read the entire story »
Commentary: Conventional wisdom isn't always wiseRick Berman // Des Moines Register
August 17, 2011
In a time when seemingly every kind of food or drink has something bad associated with it, you’d think at least water would escape unscathed. But one doctor reported in the British Medical Journal this July that advice to drink 8 glasses of water per day is “nonsense.” And drinking too much water could actually be harmful.
The lesson here isn’t that water is bad or that we shouldn’t drink it. Rather, it’s that the so-called experts on what we eat and drink can change their minds (and often do).Read the entire story »
Sloan: Shining Some Light on Berman’s Ulterior MotivesMelanie Sloan // Roll Call
August 15, 2011
The Great and Powerful Oz was really just an old man with theatrical flair, hiding behind a false persona. In much the same way, D.C. public relations Svengali Richard Berman has taken to these pages in disguise — as the executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom — in a dubious attempt to discredit my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
But Berman isn’t just any corporate shill. He becomes anyone you want him to be ... for the right price.Read the entire story »
The Daily Caller Hires Glee Club Conductor With Rap Sheet as New Executive EditorBetsy Rothstein // Fishbowl DC
August 3, 2011
David Martosko, senior strategist and director of research for the public affairs firm Berman and Company, will be the new Executive Editor of The Daily Caller. Megan Mulligan, who formerly held the position, resigned in May to move to Tunisia. Martosko begins his new job this week. As you’ll see below, he’s got the Social Media world covered as well as a few other things, like a rap sheet.Read the entire story »
Hounding the Humane Society of the U.S.The Los Angeles Times
August 2, 2011
The Humane Society of the United States is accustomed to criticism. As the country's largest, richest and most powerful animal welfare organization, it is a big target. Its successful 2008 campaign in California to pass Proposition 2, which outlawed battery cages for egg-laying hens, was fought hard by the egg industry, which protested that the new law would cripple egg farmers throughout the state.Read the entire story »
Ending unpaid internships hampers young careersRick Berman // The Detroit News
August 2, 2011
The career ladders of blue collar and white collar workers might reach differing heights, but unless you are well-connected, both require steps on a bottom rung.
Now a new assault on unpaid internships makes that first step less likely than ever. Last year, a Labor Department official announced that "there aren't going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid."Read the entire story »
BERMAN: Health-scare hocus-pocusRick Berman // Washington Times
August 2, 2011
May is National Cancer Research Month. Cancer is so widespread that it’s likely you know someone who has it. As a cure continues to elude our best scientific minds, public health advocates emphasize prevention as the best medicine.
This makes perfect sense, of course, but it’s an approach that’s easily abused. Some activists use the public’s fear of cancer as leverage to promote environmental, nutritional and behavioral agendas. And they often do it with limited (if any) scientific support.Read the entire story »
Minimum wage hikes hurt cost business and their employees more than just six centsRichard Berman // SunSentinel.com
August 2, 2011
Back in 1996, when President Clinton was pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage, his chief of staff went on TV and complained that "we're talking about a lousy 90 cent increase."
One can only imagine his response to criticisms of the six-cent minimum wage hike coming to Florida on June 1. It's just a lousy six cent increase! But let's figure out what those six cents represent to businesses.Read the entire story »
Lobbyist disguises true IDMelanie Sloan // phillyburbs.com
August 2, 2011
The Great and Powerful Oz was really a feeble old man hiding behind a false persona. In much the same way, Richard Berman took to these pages (re: Bait and Switch and Bankrupt, April 20) and pretended to be an expert on the debt. In reality, he's a hired gun Washington lobbyist.Read the entire story »
Bait-and-switch and bankruptRick Berman // phillyburbs.com
April 20, 2011
When a company advertises a great product at an unbelievably low price, then tries to sell you a higher-priced alternative because they never had the product in the first place, we call it "bait-and-switch." It's fraud, and it's illegal.
When the government proposes a law and sells it to the public with unrealistically low cost estimates - knowing full well that we the people will pick up the tab - we call it "business as usual." And while the costs are worse than commercial fraud, it's plenty legal.Read the entire story »
Chicago school bans some lunches brought from homeMonica Eng and Joel Hood // Chicago Tribune
April 12, 2011
Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.
"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.Read the entire story »
Chicago School Bans Bag Lunches to Get Kids to Eat Less Junk FoodMara Gay // AOL News
April 11, 2011
A push for healthier school lunches has led one Chicago school to ban students from bringing lunches from home altogether.
Students at Chicago's Little Village Academy are required to eat the lunch provided to them by the school -- a policy that has cooked up controversy among parents and educators amid a national debate about the best way to promote healthy eating for children.Read the entire story »
Alcohol detection devices could be option on new carsJayne O'Donnell // USA Today
March 29, 2011
Proposed federal funding for alcohol-detection devices could make them available as a new car option within 10 years, but some hope — and others fret — it will speed installation in every car.Read the entire story »
In the Bag: Why Disguised PR Shills Shouldn't Be Writing Tennessean Opinion PiecesMatt Pulle // Nashville Scene
February 11, 2011
Here's a memo to The Tennessean: If the author of one of your op-eds plans to cut out his column, clip it to a receipt and mail it to one of his Fortune 500 company clients — you may want to find a new contributor.
In this week's Scene, we detail how Richard Berman, an infamous PR guru, manages to shill for his clients in the op-ed pages of The Tennessean.Read the entire story »
How a notorious PR puppetmaster infiltrated the Tennessean's op-ed pageMatt Pulle // Nashville Scene
February 10, 2011
Last month, The Tennessean ran a "Tennessee Voices" op-ed column stridently defending a grave public concern: the much-maligned plastic bag. The topic hadn't exactly topped Music City's agenda, but you can forgive author J. Justin Wilson for not knowing much about Nashville.Read the entire story »
Another anti-union attack, cocked and loadedLisa Gartner // The Washington Examiner
February 9, 2011
Last we heard from the Center for Union Facts, they were tacking up signs in the Farragut North station decrying the teachers' union for ruining children's educations. You could tell their educations, and lives, were ruined because the kids were doing things like holding their hands over their eyes.Read the entire story »
An unwarranted attack by an unworthy sham organizationWayne Pacelle // Macon Telegraph
January 30, 2011
A reckless attack piece by David Martosko paints a false and misleading picture about the work of The Humane Society of the United States. It’s no surprise because Martosko works for the Center for Consumer Freedom, a front group for corporations trying to thwart animal welfare, environmental and other public interest reforms masquerading as a legitimate non-profit organization.Read the entire story »
Industry has role to play in curbing addiction to foodMichael Prager // Houston Chronicle
January 25, 2011
Three years ago this month in Houston, at the first meeting of the Society of Food Addiction Professionals, Martin Lerner pithily framed one of the condition's problems: Its name.Read the entire story »
Counterpoint: Ulterior motives motivate critics of Humane SocietyWayne Pacelle // Springfield News-Leader
December 27, 2010
Counterpoint: The Humane Society of the United States spends millions cleaning up after animal abusers -- whether starving horses, hoarding instances or puppy mill operations gone awry. We help local governments and humane organizations just about whenever called. We've also given tens of thousands in grants to Missouri shelters this year alone. It was HSUS that pushed for crackdowns on puppy mills and cockfighting in the state, and we stake out mainstream positions on agriculture and hunting issues.Read the entire story »
Group shamelessly defends drivers who protest DUI checkpointsHarry Themal // The News Journal
December 27, 2010
One of the most reprehensible news releases to slither its way into my inbox came last week from flacks for the American Beverage Institute, an "association of restaurants committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages.
It urges "law enforcement agencies to reconsider holding sobriety checkpoints over Christmas and New Year's Eve" and instead "encourage police to employ roving patrols ... looking for erratic drivers."Read the entire story »
Living Wage Fight Heats Up As Business And Labor Interests Release Dueling ResearchChris Bragg // City Hall News
December 14, 2010
The business-vs-labor war over the living wage bill is getting uglier with the release of a report questioning the credentials of a group of 650 economists whose support for raising the city’s wage standards is being considered by the City Council.Read the entire story »
Corporate Front Group Accuses N.Y./N.J. Firefighters of ‘Mediocrity’Tula Connell // AFL-CIO Now Blog
October 22, 2010
Recent well-publicized efforts to smear public employees haven’t just come out of nowhere. They’re part of a well-orchestrated campaign brewed up by the reactionary likes of the Heritage Foundation in advance of this year’s midterm election.Read the entire story »
Ad campaign targets D.C. teachers unionLisa Gartner // The Washington Examiner
August 31, 2010
The Washington Teachers' Union is the target of an aggressive advertising campaign created by an organization founded by an anti-union lobbyist.Read the entire story »
Ca-Ching: Puppy Mill Sales Continue to RingMary Ann West // Huffington Post
July 23, 2010
The USDA is the government agency that regulates and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) Animal Care officers enforce the Animal Welfare Act with about as much bite to protect animals as the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, responsible for mine safety inspections or the oversight required with the approved drilling of that offshore well, Deepwater Horizon and we all know how well that is going.Read the entire story »
Editorializing for animal protection, agricultural progressWayne Pacelle // Baltimore Examiner
July 12, 2010
Two editorials in the past couple of days—both ringing calls for greater protection for animals—provide a study in contrasts. One, in The New York Times, celebrates change in agriculture, where the industry was part of the process of reform. The other, in the Raleigh News & Observer, reminds us that the industry can at times be obstinate and mean-spirited, ultimately not just hurting animals, but also its own standing and reputation.Read the entire story »
The Smear Becomes More ClearWayne Pacelle // The Humane Society of the United States
June 18, 2010
It hasn’t been a good PR week for multimillionaire PR flack Rick Berman. This past weekend, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune exposed his attack on The HSUS and included the voices of animal shelter leaders concerned that Berman’s smear campaign against The HSUS was harming their operations.Read the entire story »
Nonprofit Advocate Carves Out a For-Profit NicheStephanie Strom // New York Times
June 17, 2010
Speaking on behalf of the Center for Consumer Freedom, Richard B. Berman takes no prisoners.
The Humane Society of the United States is his latest target, and his attacks on the way the organization spends its money have recently appeared in catchy newspaper advertisements, on bus shelters around Washington and on a billboard in Times Square.Read the entire story »
Experts: Nothing Charitable About Berman's Front Groups
Charity Navigator, an independent authority on charitable giving, has issued donor advisories against five Berman front groups: