Verizon & IDI 'Rent' Gray Panthers to Attack WorldCom

"What seemed to be a groundswell of protest materialized last week when WorldCom Inc. lawyers arrived at federal court for a hearing on whether the company's agreement to pay a $500 million fine was sufficient punishment for its mammoth fraud. ... Outside the courthouse, a small group of demonstrators rallied" including the Gray Panthers. "The outpouring, though, was hardly spontaneous. Several of the opponents, including protest organizers and petitioners, had ties to Issue Dynamics Inc. (IDI), a Washington-based consulting firm whose clients include some of WorldCom's biggest competitors, such as the regional phone giant Verizon Communications Inc. ... Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe confirmed that IDI is working for the telephone company. 'We are happy to support groups that have similar views as ours, and [IDI] is bringing us together,' Rabe said. ... Rabe would not say how much Verizon is paying IDI. He said Verizon is not the only company contributing to a 'funding pool' on the WorldCom issue, but he declined to identify other participants."