While the U.S. economy has been slowing, lobbyists have been making more than ever.
As gas and food prices rise, so does scrutiny of industry profits. But "food and energy companies have learned a lot since the 1970s about how to deal with public indignation," writes George Anders. In 1980, "Congress hit the energy industry with a windfall profits tax" that lasted until 1988.
The post-Abramoff lobbying disclosure reforms have started -- and so far, they're underwhelming. "Confusing shortcuts are already being mapped and loopholes mined," reports Jeanne Cummings.
On Sunday, the New York Times outed the Pentagon's "military analyst program," an extensive effort to cultivate retired military officers as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" spouting Bush administration talking points on Iraq and other hot-button issues. We've compiled a list of known participants, and started SourceWatch profiles on each. Can you help us uncover more about the Pentagon's pundits? What did they say, on what news programs?
Swiss auto racer Simona De Silvestro isn't only "the second woman in the 34-year history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to win a race with her victory in the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach." Believe it or not, there's another sponsor involved -- the U.S.
"Mywireless.org," a group that's "working hard to kill a cell phone reform bill at the Minnesota legislature," describes itself as "a non-profit consumer advocacy organization" formed to protect cell phone users' "freedom, value, security and mobility." But it's "staffed almost entirely by telecommunications industry executives, drawn mainly from the ranks of the
Clumsy maneuvering by Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn -- who met with Colombian officials about the U.S. - Colombia Free Trade Agreement while serving as the chief campaign strategist for trade deal opponent Hillary Clinton -- drew unwanted publicity to the controversial pact.
Colombia's $300,000 a year contract (pdf) with Burson-Marsteller stated the PR firm would "provide ongoing strategic communications counsel to the Ambassador and key Embassy officials"; develop "key messages, talking points and briefing materials"; give "advice and communications counsel to the Ambassador and Embassy staff"; and "co-ordinate media interviews and public events with relevant news media in Washington D.C. on behalf of the Embassy."
Colombia ended the contract after Penn described his meeting as "an error in judgment." But the country isn't hurting for lobbying power in Washington, D.C. -- especially among Democrats.