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.
"Just before the last presidential election, Bush campaign adviser Ralph Reed offered to help Enron Corp. deregulate the electricity industry by working his 'good friends' in Washington and by mobilizing religious leaders and pro-family groups for the cause. For a $380,000 fee, the conservative political strategist proposed a broad lobbying strategy that included using major campaign contributors, conservative talk shows and nonprofits to press Congress for favorable legislation.
"While the Bush administration was drafting its national energy policy, a leading lobbyist for Enron Corp. was plotting strategy to turn the plan into a political weapon against Democrats, according to a newly obtained memo," the Los Angeles Times writes. Washington-based lobbyist Edward Gillespie of Quinn Gillespie & Associates in a confidential April 2001 memo to energy companies and industry groups offered advise on how to paint a dour pictures of the Democrats and their energy policy.
"They called it 'the matrix,' " writes Washington Post reporter Joe Stevens, "a computer program that brought a scientific dimension to Enron's effort to seduce politicians and sway bureaucrats. With each proposed change in federal regulations, lobbyists punched details into a computer, allowing Enron economists in Houston to calculate just how much a rule change would cost.
"The Citizens for Liberty in Cuba is using Washington, D.C.-based Griesinger Assocs. to 'promote policies to aid in bringing democracy' to the island," reports O'Dwyer's PR Online.
Ralph Reed, the hard-ball political organizer and brilliant PR strategist behind the rise of the powerful Christian Coalition, went to work for Enron just as George Bush began his drive for the presidency.
A food industry website reports that lobbyist Rick Berman addressed Tuesday's annual meeting of the National Turkey Association. "What many of you don't understand is just how many different ways this industry is being attacked by groups. They are coming at you all from the animal rights side, as well as biotechnology, antibiotics hysteria, anti-corporate, labor and the factory farms angle. ...
"Afghanistan's Northern Alliance Junbish Party is using Philip S. Smith & Associates, Washington, D.C., to make sure it plays a leading role in the post-Taliban government," O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. "Smith is a former Asia policy advisor for the House Republican Research Committee and senior legislative assistant to Rep. Don Ritter (R-Pa). He reports to Gen. Rashid Dostum, a former Communist who switched sides and fought the Soviet Union after it invaded Afghanistan. Dostum is the former warlord who controlled the key Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, " Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi, is attempting a rehabilitation. Top U.S. and Libyan officials have held several unpublicized meetings in England and Switzerland in recent years to discuss improving ties. Public-relations campaigns and lobbying efforts on Libya's behalf are under way, funded in part by oil money and driven by a desire to cash in on future deals or resume business interrupted by sanctions. ... The four American oil companies that were forced by U.S. sanctions to suspend operations in Libya ... are eager to return to Libya.