The NYTimes just ran “Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ – Richard Berman Energy Industry Talk Secretly Taped”. Rick Berman has long been the architect of “public charities” for any client willing to pay. Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF, EIN 26-0006579) evolved from his Guest Choice Network, but much of the tax-exempt “contribution” went to his own corporate PR firm.
Berman was paid well by Philip Morris (PM), which stays in business only by addicting people during vulnerable adolescent/young adult brain development, so they can be lifeshort customers. Berman has worked for companies that privatize the profits and socialize the costs. He attacked fine scientists like Steve Schneider (Stanford) and Stan Glantz (UCSF).
Following is a small sample from the instructive Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. Philip Morris was quite friendly to Berman, responding quickly with money, at least $600K + ($200K + $200K + $500K) + $350K + $300K = $2.15M
$21.5M in 4 years.
“We have been looking for a consultant who is both a hospitality industry insider as well as a legislatively astute individual . We believe we have found a worthy candidate who can help us to test these waters and ultimately succeed in achieving our goal.
Rick Berman …General Counsel to The American Beverage Institute (A.B.I). The ABI is an organization of restaurateurs and beverage industry leaders whose goal is to inform government officials and the public on issues involving adult beverages.The primary issue of the ABI is opposing the lowering of the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level.” (more praise for Berman)
“… I’m hopeful that your company will be able to make a contribution of $500,000 to help us continue our education program on behalf of the hospitality industry and the public consumer.”
“SUBJECT: The Guest Choice Network
We have given careful consideration to the attached proposal and would like to recommend that Philip Morris become a sponsor of this project (on behalf of The Accommodation Program) .
The goal of The Guest Choice Network is to educate members of the hospitality industry on all issues that affect their business. We believe in the general principals supporting the establishment of The Guest Choice Network, and would like to contribute to its development. The funds will be used to form alliances, educate, and to solicit other sponsors in the program. …
•$600,000 out of 1995 Accommodation Program budget”
Thank you for your proposal on establishing the Guest Choice Network. We at Philip Morris believe in the general principals supporting this concept and would like to contribute to its development. As such we pledge $600,000 …”
“So that the Guest Choice Network can capitalize on its initial success, I am once again seeking contriburions from Philip Morris and other corporations. I would like to solicit Philip Morris for a contribution in the amount of $300,000, …”
“…We are pleased to make a contribution in the amount of $200,000 …”
“… I hope we can rely on Philip Morris for an additional contribution in the range of $200,000 to $300,000 …”
1996.08.22 Elizabeth Culley (PM) to Berman (GCN) just 3 days later
“We are pleased to respond to your request for a contribution of $200,000 to continue support of the Guest Choice Communications Center.”
1996.10.28 Richard D. Berman, Anti-smoking: The outer limits, Washington Times.
Berman objected to a town banning smoking outdoors.
“Per your request, we are pleased to provide a contribution of $500,000 to continue support of The Guest Choice Network’s education programs. Best wishes for your continued success in 1997!”
1997.04.21 Berman “Sin taxes: Not just for smokers any more” Nation’s Restaurant News
“We are pleased to make a contribution in the amount of $350,000 …”
On Tuesday, October 21, 1997, we have organized a meeting with the senior management of our client companies. Each fall, this group of Vice Presidents, General Counsels, Chief Financial Officers and others responsible for the “hands on” government relations duties of their respective companies, come to Washington, D.C . to discuss the latest public policy decisions that affect our industry and to strategize for the coming year. …
I would like to invite you to join us as my guest…”
“It was a pleasure seeing you, and thank you for your update on The Guest Choice Network . Per your request, we are pleased to make a contribution in the amount of $350,000 …”
“”Scientists should consider stretching the truth” to get media attention and public
support, argued climatologist Stephen Schneider a few years ago . “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest .”*
This is a selective misquote of Schneider, followed by more misrepresentation.
A one-time apostle of the coming ice age who now worries about global warming, Schneider symbolizes the scaremongering that surrounds the question whether human activity is heating the planet, being debated in Kyoto, Japan . The climate may attract more than its share of Chicken Littles, but the sort of junk science promoted by Schneider infects other policy debates as well . Observed Glenn Hodges in the Washington Monthly: “Half the stuff that comes down the pike is agenda-driven, misleading, and often flat-out wrong. …”
“Even some professional journals knowingly offer scientific respectability for politically-inspired attacks . Dr. Stanton Glantz founded the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation and shows his bias when referring to tobacco companies as “the bastards.” But he gets published in peer-reviewed journals . In 1991 he released a report claiming that second-hand smoke increased the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. His results were uncritically reported, even though, as with the EPA smog study, epidemiology science suggests that these results are unsupported by good
Glantz is an eminent tobacco control researcher at a top school.
“We recently received your request for additional funding for The Guest Choice Network. Enclosed, please find a contribution in the amount of $300,000 …”
(letter to Berman & co for GCN … which were not really different.)
1998.11.20 Berman (Berman and Company) to Liz Culley (PM) and Barbara ??
2-page letter on tactics for avoiding smoking bans in restaurants
“We can’t afford for people to become convinced in their own mind that this “new reality” of broad-based smoking bans is inevitable . We have to create a credible aura of backlash against government dictating operational decisions in the restaurants.”
“Some thoughts regarding our conversation.”
Page of suggestions on ventilation and other tactics to avoid smoking bans. Other documents addressed this as well.
Is that enough to calibrate Berman?
UPDATE: 11/02/14: fix decimal point in typo