Public Relations

NFIB and AHIP: Hidden influence-peddling in Washington

-- by Wendell Potter, The Center for Public Integrity

I was not among those who believed the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision would open the floodgates of corporate money to influence elections and public policy. While the decision enables corporations to call for the election or defeat of federal candidates, those expenditures have to be reported and few corporations will take the risk of losing customers by getting involved in politics so publicly.

Trade Group Offers Free Sewage Sludge "Compost" to Community Gardens in "Million Tomato Campaign" for Food Banks

Sludge tomato

Beautiful spring weather has gardeners outside seeding lettuce and transplanting tomatoes. Community gardens are ramping up for a growing season full of hot peppers and trailing squash vines. The sewage sludge "composting" industry wants in on the action. May 6 to May 12 has been declared "International Compost Awareness Week" by the sewage sludge industry trade group the U.S. Composting Council (USCC).

Conversation with "Fix the Debt," Help Count the Pinocchios

Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine worked together to publish a package in The Nation and a new online wiki resource on Pete Peterson and the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an entity we consider an "astroturf supergroup" with a huge budget working hard to create the fantasy that Americans care more about national debt and deficits than jobs and the economy. Fix the Debt is currently exploiting the "sequester" debate in Congress to encourage steep cuts to incredibly popular social programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Pete Peterson’s Chorus of Calamity

Peter G. PetersonFix the Debt financier Peter G. Peterson knows a thing or two about debt: he's an expert at creating it. Peterson founded the private equity firm Blackstone Group in 1985 with Stephen Schwarzman (who compared raising taxes to "when Hitler invaded Poland"). Private equity firms don't contribute much to the economy; they don't make cars or milk the cows. Too frequently, they buy firms to loot them. After a leveraged buyout, they can leave companies so loaded up with debt they are forced to immediately slash their workforce or employees' retirement security.

Peterson’s Puppet Populists

Kick the Can ManFix the Debt is the most hypocritical corporate PR campaign in decades, an ambitious attempt to convince the country that another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner and that urgent action is needed. Its strategy is pure astroturf: assemble power players in business and government under an activist banner, then take the message outside the Beltway and give it the appearance of grassroots activism by manufacturing an emergency to infuse a sense of imminent crisis.

California GMO Labeling Supporters Confront $41 Million Opposition and 13-Point Poll Slide

California Proposition 37 to label foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is up for a vote on Tuesday, November 6. It enjoyed broad popular support as of September, with a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll showing support by 61 percent of registered voters. But in the two weeks following that poll, support dropped to 48 percent, according to a poll done by Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and the California Business Roundtable.

The Trap Shoot Must Go On: Guess Who'll Be Shootin' with ALEC Members in Salt Lake? (The NRA and a Machine Gun Corp)

Madison, WI -- Three months after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a PR statement that it was eliminating its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which was previously led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the NRA announced that it would still be hosting its regular annual shooting event at ALEC's summer convention, in Salt Lake City on July 28. For the past several years, on the Saturday of ALEC's annual meeting, the NRA has regularly hosted an outing for ALEC legislators and lobbyists to go shooting together -- with complimentary guns and ammo plus plenty of food and drink (this time it is a barbeque).

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