Astroturf

By Paul Goldberg on November 19, 2007

This screenshot from the "Protect Cancer Patients" website shows what it looked like before "The Cancer Letter" exposed its solicitation and publication of patient testimonials without proper scientific evidence to support them. The company has subsequently removed the testimonials.To mobilize elderly Americans in an effort to overturn the new Medicare coverage policy for erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs, which boost red blood cell production), Amgen Inc. appears to have borrowed a strategy from the purveyors of alternative medicine.

The company launched a "Protect Cancer Patients" website, where visitors were invited to submit testimonials about the healing powers of ESAs. Also, they could contact members of Congress, or review the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services coverage decision and the House and Senate resolutions to vacate it.

Though the Internet designation ".org" suggests that the site is operated by an advocacy group, the "privacy policy" section notes that "this site is owned and operated by Amgen Inc." and can be used for communications with the company.

On the home page, the site is described as "online headquarters of a national campaign to protect cancer patients on Medicare from a decision denying them ... coverage for needed medicines."

"Amgen's mission is to serve patients, which is why we openly support the Protect Cancer Patients website," Kelley Davenport, an Amgen spokesman, said in an email. "The site educates cancer patients on Medicare and their caregivers about a Medicare policy that impacts cancer patients, so that their voices and concerns are heard by government policymakers.

By Diane Farsetta on October 22, 2007

"According to the Americans for Prosperity Web site, some 28 Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature signed a 'no tax increase' pledge with the organization," along with two Democrats, writes Dave Zweifel. He blames pressure from no-tax groups on delays with Wisconsin's state budget, now more than three months overdue.

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By Bob Burton on October 18, 2007

The Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America (SUVOA) industry front group paid the PR firm Stratacomm $440,000 in the first half of 2007 to lobby the U.S. government. Stratacomm boasts a range of auto industry clients. Later this year, the U.S.

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By John Stauber on August 23, 2007

What's the difference between a slick pro-war front group exploiting Iraq veterans to pour gasoline on the fire in Iraq, and a grassroots group of Iraq veterans leading the battle at home to end Bush's war of occupation?

Watch these YouTube videos and decide for yourself.

By John Stauber on July 20, 2007

The pro-war front group Move America Forward has announced that it will caravan across the United States September 3 - 17 on a trip to DC to lobby for the war in Iraq.

By John Stauber on July 17, 2007

Vets for Freedom (VFF), the well-funded pro-war lobby group, is cranking-up its PR campaign on behalf of President Bush's war in Iraq with a news conference held July 17th in the US Capitol. A slate of pro-war Republican Senators including Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, along with former Democratic (now independent) Senator Joe Lieberman, all participated with Pete Hegseth and other VFF lobbyists.

In June 2006, I reported that:

Citizen journalists on SourceWatch have been investigating and exposing the many Republican connections and the partisan pro-war political agenda behind Vets for Freedom,

By Diane Farsetta on May 11, 2007

While "attending an open meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities," Bruce Kushnick saw "something odd. Three guys are standing in the back by the exit door and they keep shaking the hands of the speakers, most of whom testified that Verizon should get a new, statewide franchise." The three guys were Verizon employees, and many of the speakers were from groups that receive Verizon funding. Such telecom astroturf is spreading, warns Kushnick.

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