Lobbying

Front Group King Rick Berman Gets Blasted by his Son, David Berman

Rick BermanWashington, D.C. lobbying scourge Richard B. "Rick" Berman is facing steadily increasing pushback these days, and some of it is coming from a surprising source -- his own son, musician David Berman.

Berman has long been the front man through which corporations have aggressively attacked their opponents without leaving fingerprints. Known to his own friends and enemies alike as "Dr. Evil," Berman has perfected the art of setting up non-profit "charitable" groups to advance corporate interests. The groups have deceptively helpful-sounding names, like "Guest Choice Network," the "Employment Policies Institute" or the "Center for Consumer Freedom," but really serve as well-funded attack dogs for the tobacco, alcohol, chain restaurant, tanning and other industries. The groups' non-profit status makes their funding hard to trace, which has permitted Berman to operate in the shadows for decades while pocketing millions from unpopular industries for his work thwarting public interest legislation.

Coal Industry Front Group's Dirty Tactics

Front Groups - Appearances May Be Deceptive"Our goal is straightforward," wrote the head of the Center for Energy and Economic Development, now called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. "Persuade states that voluntary sequestration activities and technology investments are appropriate policies to address climate change concerns, while government mandatory controls are not." The 2004 memo (pdf), written to the head of Peabody Energy, also details the industry front group's efforts to "sow discord among the RGGI states," the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by ten U.S. states. That was done via front group-sponsored research that concluded the RGGI states would face "negative economic consequences" for reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while having "an infinitesimal affect on global GHG concentrations." On the federal level, the memo boasts, "We activated the Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) citizen army to call targeted U.S. Senators," in opposition to the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill.

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When Reform Meets Reality in Washington DC

On Day One, U.S. President Barack Obama signed two executive orders. One restored the presumption of disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, unless "forseeable harm" would result; made presidential records more accessible; and limited claims of executive privilege over information.

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"Small" Change in Bailout Language Preserves Executive Pay

When Congress drafted the $700 billion financial bailout bill, they intended to limit Wall Street executives' sky-high pay. To do this, they included a process for reviewing executive pay, recovering bonuses based on unrealized earnings, prohibiting "golden parachutes" and punishing firms that break the rules.

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