Invasion of the Franchise Snatchers

While "attending an open meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities," Bruce Kushnick saw "something odd. Three guys are standing in the back by the exit door and they keep shaking the hands of the speakers, most of whom testified that Verizon should get a new, statewide franchise." The three guys were Verizon employees, and many of the speakers were from groups that receive Verizon funding. Such telecom astroturf is spreading, warns Kushnick.


AT&T, Verizon Reach Out and Co-Opt Someone

Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick writes that "Astroturf and co-opted groups representing the deaf, disabled, black, low income and others" are "touting a plan to loosen cable franchise rules for the phone companies." He asks, "What do these groups" -- including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Consumers for Cable Choice, Video Access Alliance,


Pombo's Clear-Cut Path to the Revolving Door

"Former [U.S.] House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo has joined a lobbying and public relations firm that backed his attempts to rework the Endangered Species Act and open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil drilling," reports Josh Richman.


Turf Changes Favor Corporate "Grassroots" Lobbyists

"When Congress reeled in traditional lobbyists in January, it gave a boost to lobby firms and trade associations that specialize in swaying lawmakers by stirring public sentiment in their districts," writes Jessica Holzer. House and Senate bills "ban gifts and trips from lobbyists," but "lobbyists escaped having to disclose their grassroots activities when the Senate ...


Illinois Power Company Cash Lines "Consumer Group" Coffers

An apparent astroturf group calling for an end to an electricity rate freeze received $10 million for its programs from ComEd, the largest power company in Illinois. An administrative law judge with the Illinois Commerce Commission has ordered an investigation of financial ties between the company and the group Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity (CORE).



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