Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The crocigator

When last we saw Richard Berman it was in connection with his astroturf (i.e., bogus grass-roots) group called the Center for Consumer Freedom, which describes itself as a "nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting consumer choices and promoting common sense." Then it was in connection with a full page ad attacking the notion that obesity was a problem. It turned out that obesity was a problem for Berman's paymasters, however, the restaurant industry, who slopped $1.1 million into scumbag Berman's lap. Berman had already won his spurs with his American Beverage Institute (fighting restrictions on alcohol use) and the Employment Policies Institute Foundation (fighting minimum wage). Oh, did I mention the tobacco industry?

Now this low life is back with his most recent creation, the Center for Union Facts.
Page through a recent copy of the New York Times or Washington Post, and you're likely to find quite a few articles on the unethical goings-on of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But the great irony is that those articles are often sandwiched between misleading ads funded by an even more brazenly corrupt lobbyist who has evaded the law for decades.

One of these full-page ads proffers something called "the new union label." The graphic features a "closed" sign hanging over a padlocked fence. "Brought to you by the union 'leaders' who helped bankrupt steel, auto, and airline companies." In the bottom right corner is the website "UnionFacts.com," with the slogan, "The facts they don't want you to know."

If you missed the quarter-million-dollar ad campaign, perhaps you caught the giant, inflatable dinosaur installed outside AFL-CIO headquarters, with picketers sporting signs: "AFL-CIO: Colossal Fossil," "Smart Union Leaders: Extinct?" and "Labor Leaders: Dis-organized." (Onnesha Roychoudhuri in AlterNet)
CCF and the new Center for Union Facts are bogus non-profits, but the IRS looks the other way.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS about CCF's nonprofit status, laying out the damning facts (For starters: CCF has no employees -- aside from Berman -- and makes payments to the for-profit Berman & Co.) CREW received no response. With the advent of the new nonprofit front "Center for Union Facts," CREW has again filed a complaint. As long as Berman's centers are afforded nonprofit 510 (c)(3) status, they are considered "charities" that "don't have to report their contributors to the Federal Election Commission, the IRS or any federal agency."
So Berman's back, a 62 year old cross between Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff. He is like the mythical crocigator, an animal with the head of a crocodile on one end and the head of an alligator on the other. With this anatomy it has no way to eliminate its own waste.

Which explains a lot.

[Guest post by Revere of Effect Measure]