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There are industry front groups and then there are industry front groups. The vast network of groups run by right-wing public relations guru Rick Berman definitely falls into the category of "whoa, now that's a front group," as the New York Times' Eric Lipton reveals. Take the Employment Policies Institute, which exists to pump out studies "proving" that raising the minimum wage is bad:
... the dividing line between the institute and Mr. Berman’s firm was difficult to discern during two visits last week to the eighth-floor office at 1090 Vermont Avenue, a building near the White House that is the headquarters for both.

The sign at the entrance is for Berman and Company, as the Employment Policies Institute has no employees of its own. Mr. Berman’s for-profit advertising firm, instead, “bills” the nonprofit institute for the services his employees provide to the institute. This arrangement effectively means that the nonprofit is a moneymaking venture for Mr. Berman, whose advertising firm was paid $1.1 million by the institute in 2012, according to its tax returns, or 44 percent of its total budget, with most of the rest of the money used to buy advertisements.

The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) was founded in 1991, coincidentally just five years after the founding of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which was founded "broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers." The keep-the-minimum-wage-low EPI is funded in part by the restaurant industry, and it's far from Berman's only industry front group:
For example, an academic study published by researchers at the University of Southern California concluded that soda had higher concentrations of high-fructose corn syrup than advertised. Mr. Berman’s team, hired by the corn refining industry to defend its sweeteners, mobilized staff at his Center for Consumer Freedom to challenge the results.

“If the results contradict U.S.C., we can publish them,” said an email sent to Mr. Berman and other staff in October 2010 from a Berman employee at the time, referring to the University of Southern California report. The exchange became public recently as a result of a lawsuit between the sugar and corn refining industries. “If for any reason the results confirm U.S.C., we can just bury the data.” Mr. Berman said that the employee who wrote that email no longer worked for the firm and that such practices were not allowed at the institute.

Yeah, right. If by "such practices" you mean "being found out." According to SourceWatch, the Center for Consumer Freedom shares the offices of Berman's public relations firm along with Berman's EPI and and the American Beverage Institute, which works to keep legal blood alcohol limits for drivers from being lowered. Those are just a few of Berman's front groups, and they're all about as reliable as Berman's intentions are pure.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:10 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sounds like a money laundering venture to me. (6+ / 0-)
    This arrangement effectively means that the nonprofit is a moneymaking venture for Mr. Berman
  •  The problem with this "Information Age"... (5+ / 0-) that it still closely follows human nature: for every good thing that the human race does for itself, there's always some predatory bastard that comes along and tries to screw it up for everyone else.

    Tools of the contemporary transnational corporations can thank the legacy of Reagan's redaction of the Fairness Doctrine in broadcast media for setting the pace for this new "Age of Disinformation".

    Unfortunately nobody has created a way to electronically discern between fact and BS yet... probably because it would mean a violent drop in the revenue of about 90% of corporations and the immediate extinction of the republican party.

  •  The minimum wages of sin! (7+ / 0-)

    I don't get paid to lie, I do it for the lifestyle. Leave us poor, hardworking, non-profiting capitalists alooooone.

    Just the other day, while I was flying to the Caymans on the non-profit corporate jet to do some research and attend a tax-avoidance seminar, I mused about how much profit I was not making. I called my accountant and directed him to immediately donate $1 million to said non-profit whilst I texted my marketing department to prepare a million-dollar campaign promoting the value of non-profits for the non-profit fundraiser in Aspen I will attend next week.

    "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

    by Bill Section 147 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:36:39 AM PST

    •  And, while you were laying on the beach, (4+ / 0-)

      Enjoying the sun, I hope that you finally realized that paying people more to work, just simply discouraged them from leaving home and the security of their on-again, off-again unemployment checks that might or might not be in the mail - depending on whether the government workers would be able to deliver the mail!


      My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

      by NM Ray on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:56:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The cabana boys prove your point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NM Ray, JerryNA

        Unencumbered by any wage protections or safety net they were real hustlers. In fact they almost worked as hard as I.

        I was engaged in several conversations throughout the day and my servers had only one shift change in that 11 hour period. Then I was surprised to note, after my dinner meeting, those same boys were still working when we resumed our business roundtables by the pool. Needless to say I was exhausted from my 20 hour workday...but not as exhausted as those cabana boys.

        I think this goes to show starting my day with a 3-hour spa and gym training session was not a boondoggle and I was right to keep that time on the clock. A fit, free and healthy mind is a boon to my clients. Why I could dance circles around boys half my age, and did just that while I entertained clients till retiring at 2:00 a.m.

        Lest you be concerned I slowed down a bit and only worked 18 hours a day the rest of the weekend.

        "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

        by Bill Section 147 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:24:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  isn't this the same sleaze bag berman (8+ / 0-)

    that rachel maddow has so successfully bagged on repeatedly?  didn't he appear on her show and get what was left of his ass handed to him when she was finished?  why yes, yes it is. the more he is in the public eye, the better for us because under the radar, the man is a one guy wrecking machine for the right wing and business.  

    •  The very same. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      art ah zen, JerryNA

      He's pushing high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, all kinds of nastiness on the American consumer, and he gets to hide all his donors.

      But he himself is very upfront and doesn't shy from the camera. He's even interviewed with Ms. Maddow.

      "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

      by raptavio on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:50:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's the same Rick Berman (5+ / 0-)

      who was disowned by his own son, a musician and cofounder of the band Silver Jews (which at one point also counted Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus among its members):

      You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.

      An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical mother*** son of a bitch. (sorry grandma).

      You can read about him here:

      ... A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

      He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We've been "estranged" for over three years.

      Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

      He is a union buster.

      When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

      I went off to hide in art and academia.

      I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the meantime my Dad started a very very bad company called Berman and Company.

      He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.

      He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.

      His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

      He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

      The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the English language.

      Though vicious he is a doltish thinker, and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

      As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda, grew almost too much. My heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

  •  Lowering DWI limits is controversial? (0+ / 0-)

    In Europe, there are no jurisdictions that tolerate higher than 0.8%BAC, and many that tolerate much less.  (The dynamics are similar to here: when I was in France they were considering lowering the absolute DWI limit to 0.5%, and the wine industry was in an uproar.)  Japan, Scandanavia, and Eastern Europe are holy terrors about enforcement.  If you cause an accident in Germany it's a prison sentence even if your BAC is within legal limits.

  •  How is Berman's relationship with the "nonprofit" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333, JerryNA

    not tax fraud?  Tax lawyers, what do you say?

    "Get over it...and get out of the way." -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY)

    by mspicata on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:50:13 AM PST

  •  The Cheney Playbook. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, TKO333, travelerxxx, JerryNA
    “Once you have the study, you can point it to it to prove your case — even if you paid to get it written,” said one lobbyist, who asked not to be named because his clients rely on him to use this technique.
  •  sounds (1+ / 0-)

    Kinda sounds like Big Pharma--pay scientists to do studies that reach conclusions they want--deep 6 the bad ones.  Also, probably true for Rasmussen polling--school superintendents--military leaders--etc.  Everyone has a desire--a need--to appear correct.  The cigarette industry was a leader in scientific bullshit--today we have the energy industry denying global warming.  Science for hire is not new--we are a very misinformed public.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:06:28 AM PST

    •  Don't throw away the good with the bad. (0+ / 0-)

      We have safe medicine because of drug studies. Lower cancer death rates due to a combination of better screening and better treatment. Honorable military service members. Decent hard-working teachers get promoted to lead school districts. Not all science is for hire, not even at Big Pharma (where I do not work) and not all leaders should have their ethics questioned. I hope this is not where melvynny was going, and I will assume not.

      •  maybe (0+ / 0-)

        We have lower cancer rates because we "treat" all prostate cancers--even those where wait and see is the European way--which gets better results, but skews "cure" rates America's way.  The military covers up its mistakes--check out Vietnam and Afghanistan.  School superintendents often cheat--check out Michele Rhee in DC and also, Atlanta's "success."

        Ethics is more often not rewarded monetarily--and is therefore never mentioned in the study of capitalism.  What is discussed is the legality of an act--not its ethics.

        Actions speak louder than petitions.

        by melvynny on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:47:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nice Work If You Can Get It (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's possible to make a nice living just spoon feeding wealthy patrons soothing ideas, even if the idea are essentially crackpot schemes.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:08:51 AM PST

  •  fight fire with fire with CLEC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333, JerryNA

    Politicians are for sale, we, in the U.S. have the best money can buy.

    So far only large corporations have been buying them in exchange for favorable legislation.

    It would be easy for 200 million poor people to come up with a 200 million dollar "War Chest" and walk up capitol steps and buy some politicians in the same way the corporate people do.

    Money talks to the lawmaker and more money is cool in their eyes. The human people simply need to outbid the corporate people.

    This may sound cynical, but it is the way things actually work in the legislative halls. You got the money you got their ear.

    If ALEC the American legislative exchange council can do it why not CLEC a citizens legislative exchange council.

    There is no reason 200 million air breathing disenfranchised Americans cannot form a coalition, began a mass marketing of ideas in the media and just like ALEC approach the lawmakers with legislation favorable to their interests after the media blitz has worked its magic all over the nation.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:14:26 AM PST

    •  This plan is devious enough... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... that it just might work!

      Now if we could somehow manage to keep that usual and customary 1% of them from ripping off the rest, we'd have something.

      I think that I might know where you got this idea. Following is an excerpt from Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant":

      And the only reason I'm
      Singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar
      situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a
      situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into
      The shrink wherever you are, just walk in say "Shrink: You can get
      Anything you want, at Alice's restaurant." And walk out.
      You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him.
      And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
      And three people do it, three, can you imagine? Three people walking in
      Singin a bar o' Alice's Restaurant and walking out, they may think it's an organization.
      And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said
      fifty people a day walking in singin' a bar o' Alice's Restaurant and walking out?
      Friends they may thinks it's a movement!
      I guess we need to start a Depression Class Movement.
    •  I had this idea a few years ago, but am barred (0+ / 0-)

      from doing so by my work. Too bad- paying off politicians seems to be the only way to get them to listen to you. Make CLEC a SuperPAC, publish donor lists and payoffs I mean "campaign contributions" (make everything transparent) and it just might work.

  •  talk radio is the main market driver for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JerryNA, travelerxxx

    it's primarily talk radio  ammo.

    this operation is one of many the RW stink tanks have used over the years to short circuit democracy and enable their idiot reps.

    this is the kind of crap that gets laundered/legitimized by talk radio all the time, without real time correction or challenge, to create that teabagosphere we're stuck with now.

    and there's no record of where and when or how many times it gets repeated.

    just creating and publishing this crap goes nowhere. there's little value for it in a real world but when you can  blast it out of 1200 radio stations as if it's true, it works. maybe the corporate staffs of an idiot republican rep can get him to repeat it but it needs spreading to be effective.

    it might be specific or general. if there's a national discussion to subvert, or the republicans need ammo to distract or outrage or scare their talk radio base, or they need to enable their reps in some obstruction, they create their own facts and blast it out.

    it gets sent to the local blowhards for which it is relevant, maybe all of them any time or for a specific local/state purpose, and they think it's true because it's their nature- they're idiots who love any chance to take shots at 'big gov regulation'/liberals/etc.

    only the unchallenged talk radio monopoly allows it to work so well for the right.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:22:16 AM PST

  •  I don't mind someone fighting the DUI insanity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Most of DUI enforcement is revenue driven, an is not about public safety.

    DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional, and a DUI should be an administrative offense, not a criminal matter.  With one in five Americans having a criminal record, we need less criminalization of normal (but stupid) behavior, not less.

    •  I guess you just answered my question... (0+ / 0-)

      ...which was who in the world would like weaker drunk driving laws.  Can you cite case law indicating checkpoints are unconstitutional or is that just your opinion?  Drunk driving kills a lot of innocent people.  Take the heaviest book you can find and throw it at the offenders as far as I'm concerned.

      •  Is it just your opinion that drunk driving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        kills a "lot" of people or do you have statistics to back it up?  Do ever more draconian laws make us safer, or are they putting more and more people into the "criminal" category where they do not really belong?

        The Scalia SC has said that checkpoints are legal because public safety, but as a free citizen I am allowed to disagree and have an opinion, thank you.

        I'm not saying that drunk driving is OK, but am advocating for a different approach.  What benefit does socieity get by criminalizing more and more things that are bad behavior and do not fit the definition of "crime" e.g. theft, murder, etc.  

        If a drunk driver kills someone, throw the book at them; they deserve jail time.   But if you are caught drunk driving and haven't injured anyone, it should be on your driving record only.  

        •  in 2009 (0+ / 0-)

          about 33,000 persons died in fatal car crashes.  Of these deaths, 10,000 involved BACs of .08 or more.

          About 2.5 million Americans died in 2009, over a million from heart disease and cancer.  The death rate from fatal car crashes involving alcohol is way less than 1% of the total.

          •  Sounds like you answered the other question. (0+ / 0-)

            Almost a third of fatal crashes were caused by alcohol.  Heart disease and cancer aren't crimes.  I don't want to wait for a death to throw the book at someone.  I'd rather prevent the deaths in the first place.

  •  Chris Hayes interview with Michael Saltsman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  A story about Michael Saltsman and the EPI (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA, cama2008

      in today's New York Times covers some of the "experts" for hire industry:
      It's worth clicking the link just to see the picture of Saltsman.  He looks like a naïve kid with a shit-eating grin.  I know, that kind of comment doesn't add anything of substance to the discussion, and we shouldn't judge people by their looks, but I don't intend it seriously, and the picture is good for a chuckle.  At least it was for me.  I wonder if the Times had to sort through dozens of photos to get that look, or if Saltsman always looks like that.

      We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

      by david78209 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:51:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rick Berman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JerryNA, travelerxxx

    wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Des Moines Register last April defending gestation crates for sows on behalf of the factory farm pork industry. It had the ironic title, "There's no appetite for misinformation." Of course, Berman's piece was full of misinformation.

  •  Eeeew. Just eeeeew. What an icky excuse for a (0+ / 0-)

    human being.

  •  A shill for Rick Berman's (0+ / 0-)

    Economic Policy Institute appears on MSNBC occasionally where Chris Hayes points out the misleading nature of his arguments (starting with name of his "Institute") every time.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

    by FrY10cK on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 03:53:26 AM PST

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