When big tobacco, alcohol and other big money interests want to undermine their critics, advance their political agenda and keep wages low they hire supperlobbyist Rick Berman who runs a $10 million dollar a year lobbyist empire to do their dirty work. Rick Berman loves his job, and even refers to himself as "Dr. Evil", knowing full well that he's damaging the health, safety and welfare of America on behalf of his paying corporate clients.
Berman runs well-financed front organizations for big business such as the American Beverage Institute, which is a front for big alcohol, and fights against Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD), opposing laws against drunk driving through lobby or ad efforts. His Center For Consumer Freedom has attempted to counter health concerns about unsafe mercury levels in some fish, dangerous peticides and unhealthy fats in some foods on behalf of his paid corporate clients. Philip Morris tobacco helped to establish the CCF with at least $3 milion in funds paid to Berman.
Berman also runs three anti-worker and anti-labor union front organizations that try to suppress wages, workplace safety improvements and other improvements for working people including the Center For Union Facts (CUF), Employment Policies Institute (EPI) and the Employment Roundtable. Wizbang today is running a column ad for another Berman front organization, a self-proclaimed "blog" called LaborPains.org where two of Berman's employees appear to have written every post and no comments countering Berman's antiworker propaganda are allowed.
At least one of Berman's ads have been openly racist as well. One ad that quickly disappeared from last year featured a female African-American union employee who wanted to avoid work and claimed she could use her union "sick time" to neglect her duties on the job. This disgusting and openly racist ad played up to some of the worst of racist as well as anti-union stereotypes. After complaints this ad quickly disappeared from the airwaves.
Rick Berman is also closely linked to disgraced former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich. In an ethics scandal investigated by the House Ethics Committee it was discovered that Berman was solicited by Gingrich's GOPAC for a $25,000 donation to Kennesaw State College for Gingrich to teach a course involving economics and consumer propaganda from Berman, and Berman also aided Gingrich's GOPAC in soliciting big donors for cash as well. Berman also sent a thank you note to Gingrich for "help" that Gingrich offered Berman by allowing him a spot to testify before Congress on another of Berman's paid causes. Under Newt Gingrich's leadership the House was run like a big vending machine with such favors handed out to big donors and corporate clients like Berman, who acted as a front for the big money interests for his corporate clients, keeping their names out of the headlines.
There are some signs that Newt Gingrich might be preparing to run for president. If he does, then you can sure count on him using his network of big money donor friends like Rick Berman and turning the White House into the same sort of corrupt pay for favor entity as he did for Congress before he was forced to resign in disgrace. For Gingrich, having low friends in high places like superlobbyist Rick Berman sure helps.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!