As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Oinkers - Continued

So remember yesterday, when I basically said that Consumers Against Government Waste was essentially a GOP front group designed to sap trust in government by promoting Congressional waste and "runaway spending" without relating it to where the real runaway spending actually comes from?

Turns out that CAGW is actually a REAL GOP front group that makes a lot of its money through lobbying.

Two years ago, the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste launched a lobbying campaign about avocados.

The group, which enjoys a strong reputation in the nation's capital for keeping an independent eye on government spending, plunged into an obscure agricultural dispute. It issued press releases and prodded its members to support avocados from Mexico.

Tom Bellamore, whose California Avocado Commission was fighting the Mexican imports, was puzzled. "I don't think avocados have much to do with government waste," he said.

Indeed, Citizens Against Government Waste did not reveal what motivated the aggressive campaign: It had received about $100,000 from Mexican avocado growers.

That's just one of many instances in which CAGW has traded on its watchdog reputation by taking money from companies and trade associations and then conducted lobbying and public relations campaigns on their behalf - without revealing that money changed hands.

You can read on in this great investigative piece from the St. Petersburg Times, and the companion piece exploring CAGW's experience lobbying for Big Tobacco to the tune of $245,000. They also publish a lot of information in their Pig Book decrying federal grants for things like YMCAs without noting that they lobby for The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, whose members compete with YMCAs.

What's notable is that the exposé is in the St. Petersburg Times, a unique project owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school. In other words, not a corporate entity.

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