Front Groups

Wolves In Sheep's Clothing

"Some of the United States' best-heeled corporations and capitalists, seeking to elect a Republican Congress in November, have turned to a gambit pioneered nearly 70 years ago by rulers of the Soviet Union," Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly writes. "The underlying reason: Sheep's clothing is often needed for wolves to stalk their prey." With elections drawing near, industry-sponsored front groups are flooding the air waves with their anonymous messages. The drug company sponsored United Seniors Association spent more than $1 million to boost embattled Rep.


B-M's "Independent" Healthy Weight Task Force

"One of the things medical people really know about is clever advertising and one of the really clever tricks of the industry is duping the media into running advertising campaigns absolutely free of charge," writes Media Watch of Australia as it deconstructs the "Healthy Weight Task Force," a front group set up by the Burson-Marsteller PR firm in Australia to promote sales of Xenical diet pills.


Choice Words from Microsoft

The Initiative for Software Choice appears to be a front group for Microsoft, which is lobbying to stop governments from using open-source software. The governments of Peru and Canada are considering going to open source, which is cheaper (often free) and usually more secure and bug-free than proprietary software like Windows.


Tobacco Scams the Restaurant Industry

For years the tobacco industry has been using restaurant trade associations as front groups in its battle to keep Americans puffing. Now this strategy is documented on a new web site hosted by the University of California-San Franciso. "If Big Tobacco can't buy hospitality groups to serve as fronts, it sets up its own," the site states. Examples include the "California Business and Restaurant Alliance" and the ""Beverly Hills Restaurant Association" (created by a Tobacco Institute PR firm).


PhRMA Supports Seniors Who Support PhRMA

PR giant Weber Shandwick (WS) is helping the United Senior Association (USA), a 1.5 million member organization, with its PR needs. USA is backing the prescription drug bill that was passed by the House on June 28. O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports, "That bill is backed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which has made 'educational grants' to USA. PhRMA supports the House measure because it bans the government from setting prices for prescription drugs. It is against a more expansive drug plan that is being introduced in the Democrat-controlled Senate.


Loophole Lets Lobbyists Hide Clients' Identities

"Thanks to a loophole in the federal lobbying law, some companies and individuals - especially those pursuing controversial or potentially embarrassing causes - are using coalitions to conceal their identities," writes New York Times reporter Alison Mitchell. Examples of these "stealth coalitions" include the "Section 877 Coalition," which lobbied to help wealthy Americans evade taxes by giving up U.S. citizenship.



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