Anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-MADD, and anti-environmental flack Richard Berman is at it again, launching "Green Decoys," an attack on conservation groups like Trout Unlimited and the Izaak Walton League.
It's a campaign that 49er's political director Jason George might love, but the rest of progressive labor should shun, given Berman's long anti-labor record. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has the skinny about the BCI strategic research and communications consultant at Berman Exposed:
Richard Berman is the longtime president of the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying and consulting firm, Berman & Company, Inc. ("BCI") which specializes in strategic research and communications. Throughout the years Berman has been a stalwart supporter of business and industry over consumer, safety and environmental groups. Berman has fought unions, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PETA and other watchdog groups in their efforts to raise awareness about obesity, the dangers of smoking, mad cow disease, drunk driving, the minimum wage and other causes. He has been described in the press as a "notorious D.C. lobbyist."
Berman founded and runs four tax-exempt front groups and a number of linked projects, focusing on food, tobacco, alcoholic beverages and labor. He is well-paid by the represented industries to serve as the executive director of all four organizations. Berman then uses his own lobbying and public relations firm to do work for the organizations, thereby channeling between 49% and 79% of all donations made to the groups into his own pocket.
These organizations include:
The Center for Consumer Freedom ("CCF", formerly Guest Choice Network, "GCN"), which attacks anyone who criticizes smoking, fast food or alcohol;
The Employment Policies Institute ("EPI") which opposes increasing the minimum wage and promotes the specious concept that an increased minimum wage would drive the poor and uneducated out of the job market;
The American Beverage Institute ("ABI") which fights laws designed to curb drunk driving;
The Center for Union Facts ("CUF") which promotes disparaging information about unions;
Bowling Proprietors Association of America, which lists the same word-for-word issues as the ABI on their lobbying disclosure forms; and
First Jobs Institute, which promotes personal finance advice to young people from a pro-business perspective.
Green Decoys was launched yesterday, according to the Mallard of Discontent blog's post,A Little Thursday Morning Bats**t Crazy.... The report is being channeled via threads on hunting forums like Old Gobbler and posts by anti-environmentalist writers like Activist Angler.
New to the list of fronts: Green Decoys
Several of the groups named in the "Green Decoys" report don't have a significant presence in Minnesota, so Bluestem will look only at the attacks on the two organizations that do: Izaak Walton League and Trout Unlimited.
Berman's report singles out a Minnesota foundation for funding the IWLA:
The Minnesota-based Bush Foundation (unrelated to either former President) gave $525,000 to IWLA between 2003 and 2009 for clean-air and wind-power campaigns in the Midwest.
The Bush Foundation's website outlines the group's mission:
The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, the Foundation encourages individuals and organizations to think bigger and think differently about what is possible in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area.
Oh, scary. With everyone from CD7 Republican challenger Torrey Westrom to those dirty hippies at Xcel supporting wind energy, that's pretty radical. You can check out the Bush Foundation's Governance and Transparency here and the group's Financials here. Bluestem recently posted about the group's support for the Winter Greens Producer Association.
And Trout Unlimited? Green Decoys notes:
Trout Unlimited (TU) was founded in the 1950s as an association of fly fishermen committed to preserving America’s trout streams and replenishing the trout population for fishing. In recent years, however, TU seems to have hooked a great source of income: the radical environmentalist movement, launching tangential campaigns against energy production and opposing the Keystone XL natural gas pipeline.
Here in Minnesota, Minnesota Trout Unlimited worked to protect trout streams from frac sand mining because it is a fact universally acknowledged that trout need clean water. The state of Minnesota invested millions to preserve and rehabilitate southeastern Minnesota trout streams, and Trout Unlimited's response sought to protect that investment.
An amendment to prohibit sand mining within a mile of trout streams was dropped, Star Tribune staff writer Tony Kennedy reported in Compromise frac sand deal nixes effort to put trout stream areas off limits to mining but a DNR permit was mandated for companies working near trout streams:
“I’m not thrilled with it, but it’s a good start. It’s progress,” said John Lenczewski, executive director of Minnesota Trout Unlimited.
Under the compromise, any company proposing to dig within a mile of a trout stream within the Paleozoic Plateau would need a special DNR permit. Site-specific studies of hydrogeological impacts also would be required, and the agency will have new power to limit where and how deep a mine can go.
“It’s a clear win in protecting trout streams,” Schmit said.
Mallard of Discontent: Who's Funding "Green Decoys"?
Journalist Chad Love, the blogger at The Mallard of Discontent, thought that he might look at Berman's funding, since Green Decoys is harsh on the groups it scrutinizes. He writes in A Little Thursday Morning Bats**t Crazy...:
Here's an e-mail that I - and I'm sure a lot of other people - received this morning. I've got firewood to cut today so I'm not going to spend a lot (actually, any) of my time and energy railing against these fucking morons, or refuting the excrement they're spewing, or pondering what their true motives are, except to say that rarely have I ever received anything in my inbox so fundamentally dumb or so fantastically false on so many levels. I've been solicited with Nigerian 419 scams and penile pump advertisements more believable than "The Center For Consumer Freedom", which by the way, neither I nor I'm sure any of you had never heard of before this morning.
Short version? This is a blatantly transparent and cynical stunt from a shadowy, obscure group of far, far fringe-right tinfoil hat wingnuts who, like virtually all of these alleged foundations, are bankrolled by the industries, corporations and entities who have a vested monetary and political interest in furthering the agendas these bought-and-paid-for, dog-and-pony dipshits are peddling; agendas that are almost always completely at odds with the interests of the rest of us. It's that goddamned simple, folks. Groups like this are nothing more than bullshit fronts for those who are threatened by accountability, truth, and due democratic process.
. . .Maybe the Center For Consumer Freedom has bravely blown the lid on these groups and their insidious plot for, uh....whatever the fuck evil plans they're trying to achieve? That "far left agenda" isn't too clearly spelled out now, is it? Is it clean water? Clean air? Huntable wildlife, fishable fish, habitable habitat? Wilderness areas? A precious few unspoiled public places for us to enjoy? Must be! Tree-hugging, anti-free market, patchouli-reeking creeping Socialism, all of it!
Love, who has " won awards from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, the International Regional Magazine Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation," clearly isn't a shy man with his opinions.
And he checks out Berman's definition of full disclosure:
From their website... (bold mine)
Who funds you guys? How about some “full disclosure”?
The Center for Consumer Freedom is supported by restaurants, food companies and thousands of individual consumers. From farm to fork, from urban to rural, our friends and supporters include businesses, their employees, and their customers.The Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. We file regular statements with the Internal Revenue Service, which are open to public inspection.Many of the companies and individuals who support the Center financially have indicated that they want anonymity as contributors. They are reasonably apprehensive about privacy and safety in light of the violence and other forms of aggression some activists have adopted as a “game plan” to impose their views, so we respect their wishes.
That may be the most interesting interpretation of "full disclosure" I've ever seen. . . .
Bluestem generals uses Minnesota Nice language, but as a former resident of the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, our editor appreciates the Lovely prose style.
Photo: Richard Berman, who gets paid to hate what most of Bluestem's readership loves. Via Salon, Corporate America’s new scam: Industry P.R. firm poses as think tank!
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