Weed the Astroturf


[Editor’s note:  Also see politics-journalism relationships at http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/Politjournincest.php]

By the sound of it, you might guess that the Save Our Species Alliance was a non-profit group working to protect biodiversity by saving species at risk of extinction. Sadly, think again.

The group was set up by Steve Quarles, who previously worked for the American Forest and Paper Association, the largest trade group for the forest products industry. His Save Our Species group was actually dedicated to gutting the Endangered Species Act by lobbying Congress and running a media campaign targeted at the general public.

Luckily, exposing phony grassroots groups, also know as “astroturf,” will soon become easier if an important provision in the Senate’s lobbying reform bill remains intact. The provision would require groups that spend more than $25,000 on grassroots lobbying campaigns within a 3-month period to disclose how they are spending the money and
where it comes from.

The measure DOES NOT in any way restrict lobbying activities by individuals or groups. Also, it mainly targets large and for-profit lobbying firms, and would not apply to most small non-profits.

Please call your Senator and voice your support for more sunlight on grassroots lobbying. To find your Senators’ phone number call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or click here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Here is a sample script, or feel free to come up with your own:

Hello. I am calling to urge Senator ________ to support measures in S. 1 that would require better grassroots lobbying disclosure. I want to know who is funding large grassroots campaigns that try to sway voters and legislators on pending legislation. Please reject any amendments that threaten this important provision and other weakening amendments to the lobbying and ethics reform bill. Thank you.

Your voices are being heard! Thank you to everyone who has called their Representatives and Senators about creating an independent Office of Public Integrity (click here to make that call: http://www.cleanupwashington.org/action/page.cfm?pageid=120). These calls will make a huge difference, as the new Congress is
setting its agenda for the spring.

On grassroots lobbying, the Senate has begun debating its potentially weak reform bill this week, so the best way to reach them during this hectic time in Congress is to pick up the phone.

Keep up the momentum!

Daniel De Bonis
Online Organizer
Public Citizen’s Congress Watch

P.S. Read our full report, Organizing Astroturf, and learn about 11 other examples of special interests pushing their agendas through phony grassroots groups:

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