Democracy

Featured Participatory Project: Help Find the Superdelegates Whose Endorsement is "Wobbling"

The Superdelegate Transparency Project on Congresspedia is picking up steam as it looks more and more likely that the superdelegates will decide the Democratic presidential nominee. Our citizen journalist-generated list of superdelegates is being covered by everyone from the New York Times to CNN (video link).

But as the pressure on them picks up, many superdelegates are switching sides or hedging their bets. We need your help to figure out who these "wobbling" superdelegates are.

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Lavishing Doctors with Drug Money

Medicines Australia (MA), the peak drug industry lobby group, has unveiled details of how much its 42 member companies (and one non-member) spent in the last half of 2007 on each one of over 14,000 events that were designed to promote their drugs to doctors.

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Canada's Canned Conservative Calls

Antique radioIf you hear pro-Conservative Party callers to radio shows in Canada, their opinions "might not be as spontaneous as they sound," reports Alexander Panetta. "Some of those apparently ad-libbed musings are actually being choreographed at the Conservative Party of Canada's national headquarters.

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Lobbying Wine in a PR Bottle?

According to the Tennessee Ethics Commission's staff, a public relations firm that set up a front group that's encouraging people to contact legislators needs to register as a lobbyist. At issue is a proposal to allow Tennesseans to order wine over the Internet. The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Wholesalers, which opposes the bill, hired the prominent Nashville firm Seigenthaler Public Relations.

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No-Bid PR Contract Bugs California Officials

apple moth"State officials struggling to convince critics about the safety of aerial spraying to control an invasive moth awarded a $500,000 no-bid contract to a prominent public relations firm with ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger," reports Associated Press.

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Zimbabwe Casts About for PR Help

Appearing before a parliamentary committee inquiry into the lobbying industry, the head of Bell Pottinger, Peter Bingle, explained that the agency had been approached to represent the Zimbabwe regime headed by Robert Mugabe. "We will turn down clients. We had a call from Zimbabwe asking to advise Zimbabwe. We said thank you very much, but no. It would have been a fairly malign campaign if someone had run it," Bingle said.

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Citizen-Driven Superdelegate Transparency Project Provides Best Superdelegate Reporting - Anywhere

The motley crew of citizen journalists, activists, bloggers and transparency advocates that make up the Superdelegate Transparency Project (STP) have produced the best, most transparent and highly detailed reporting on the Democratic superdelegates - anywhere. Through collaborative research with nearly 300 citizen journalists, the folks at DemConWatch, LiteraryOutpost, the HuffPost's OffTheBus project, OpenLeft and CMD's Congresspedia have produced a tally that rivals or bests those of the major media outlets. The STP even breaks the numbers down by state and congressional district with ever-expanding bios of hundreds of superdelegates AND we now have a wicked-cool live-updating widget.

Ketchum Helps Russia with "Really Smart PR"

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow"Flush with foreign reserves from oil and natural gas sales, the Kremlin is pumping tens of millions of dollars into various forms of public diplomacy," reports Peter Finn. The Russian government "has hired the giant U.S. public relations firm Ketchum Inc. 'to help the government tell its story of economic growth and opportunity for its citizens,' said Randy DeCleene, an executive at the firm." As part of the PR push, "the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta is ... fund[ing] monthly supplements in newspapers in India, Britain, Bulgaria and the United States," including a paid supplement in the Washington Post. "Russiaprofile.org, a news and analysis site funded by [the government news agency] RIA Novosti" features "a range of opinions, including some quite hostile to the Kremlin." RIA Novosti also hosts an annual "Valdai Discussion Club," where "30 to 40 Russia experts and prominent journalists, mostly from the United States and Western Europe ... are wined and dined in the company of Russian policymakers and political analysts." The Hoover Institute's Michael McFaul (an adviser to Barack Obama's campaign) called the Valdai events, which featured sessions with then-President Vladimir Putin, "really smart PR." A previous Spin noted Russia's new think tank, the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.

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Anti-Taxation with Tobacco Representation

Smoking Burning MoneyR.J. Reynolds (RJR) may be funding a South Carolina anti-tax group to oppose a cigarette tax for health care. The Cover Carolina Collaborative, a group of health care organizations, is proposing that the state's tax be raised to $1.00 a pack, to help cover uninsured employees. South Carolina currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at seven cents a pack.

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