Friday, January 07, 2005

Center for WHOSE freedom?

The online edition of the American Prospect has a nice expose of Richard Berman, the shrillest food industry lobbyist in Washington. The website for Berman's "nonprofit" group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, keeps a fairly long list of "key players" in the food-related public interest groups. (I am mildly surprised that Rodney Leonard, who founded the Community Nutrition Institute more than 30 years ago now, is not on the list. Richard, is there a nomination procedure?). I put "nonprofit" in quotation marks, because the most fascinating parts of the expose describe the Center's financing:
So, to recap: Berman the Defender of Consumers runs a nonprofit that collects donations from industries served by Berman the Corporate Lobbyist -- and also pays lucrative fees to Berman the Corporate Lobbyist for his services. If you managed to follow that, you'll probably agree that Berman has pulled off a pretty impressive piece of lobbying jujitsu -- one that says an awful lot about how things really function at the nexus of government policy, big corporations, and the media.

Other good sources cited in the American Prospect article include PR Watch, which has posted a list of the Center for Consumer Freedom's financial backers, and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which is pursuing legal action against the Center and has posted relevant documents online.

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