Over the past two decades, America's prison population quadrupled, creating a $50 billion corrections industry that houses two million inmates. "That's bigger than tobacco," notes American RadioWorks correspondent John Biewen.
The U.S. Interior Department's web site features a video prepared by the Patton Boggs lobbying group to promote exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Its distribution of the video violates a law forbidding federal agencies to engage in PR activities "designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress." The Interior Department is becoming "a cinema house for lobbyists," says Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey.
While formulating its national energy policy, the Bush administration's Energy Department met with 109 representatives of the energy industry and its trade associations from late January to May 17, 2001, but gave environmental groups less than 48 hours to review and comment on the policies.
"Ethiopia spent a whopping $5.6 million in lobbying fees/expenses at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand during the firm's recent six-month reporting period," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "For Ethiopia, VLBM&H provided advice on the peace treaty with Eritrea, and explored commercial opportunities for Ethiopian businesses in the U.S." During that period VLBM&H also represented India, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Mexico, China, Montenegro and Slovenia. "On the downside," O'Dwyer's writes, "VLBM&H was terminated by Yemen's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative has filed a seven-page complaint on March 18 with the State Ethics Commission about the hardball lobbying tactics employed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and its grassroots firm, Bonner & Assocs.," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The non-profit group is an advocate of universal healthcare and a backer of a Maryland bill that would lower the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid patients and the uninsured. PhRMA opposes the bill.
Fortune magazine recently spent six weeks investigating the Carlyle Group, the secretive investment firm with ties to the Bush administration that invests heavily in military contracting. Carlyle employs a raft of former government officials, including the Bush the senior as well as former Secretary of State Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci and former British Prime Minister John Major.
"Former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is lobbying for the Alliance for Energy & Economic Growth, which defines itself as a 'broad-based coalition of over 1,300 members that develop, deliver and consume energy from all sources,'" O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. "Her topic is the Alliance's Yucca Mountain Initiative. That's the plan to build a centralized national nuclear waste repository inside that Nevada mountain.
The release of President Bush's defense- and "homeland security"-heavy budget will generate plenty of work for PR agencies according to PR Week reporter Douglas Quenqua. "The trick in 2002, say public affairs and budget experts, will be to redefine your pet issue or product as a matter of homeland security," Quenqua writes.
Joshua Micah Marshall, a former Washington Editor of the American Prospect, has some good insider dirt on Washington politics. His "Talking Points" website examines "astroturf" organizing, "op-ed payola" and other schemes used to manipulate the media and elected officials.
In a new report, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council examine the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). "While ALEC purports to be a 'good-government' group operating in the public interest, its sole mission is to advance special-interest legislation across the nation on behalf of its corporate sponsors and funders," the report says. "The organization's behind-the-scenes advocacy has been surprisingly effective -- leading, according to ALEC material, to the enactment of more than 450 state laws during the 1999 and 2000 state legislative sessions.