Tag: Lobbying

What’s Up With That Pervasive, “Too Much Big Government” Theme?

An example of pictorial anti-government propaganda. Corporations have applied the anti-big-government theme for decades to avoid government regulation.

This column was originally published August 26, 2012. It was revised on 12-30-2016 and again on 11-26-2018 to include some new graphics. It’s explains how Americans came to hate our own government, and is still as true as ever.

We hear it everywhere, all the time, like a mantra.

Candidates, TV pundits and political ads tell us we have “too much big government!” Candidates portray virtually any attempt to regulate or tax any industry as a government intrusion into our lives. Candidates are always for “less government.”

What’s up with this pervasive, anti-government theme? How and why did so many self-professed “patriotic,” flag-waving, red-blooded Americans start hating their own government?

“Government intrusion” is a powerful propaganda theme that has been around for a long time, and it’s an argument big businesses often use to subtly manipulate public opinion. As with so many other corporate-derived propaganda tools, the anti-government theme originated largely with the tobacco industry, which has relied on it for decades to get its way in public policy.

Sen. Ray Scott defends taking corporate PAC money

 

Colorado state Senator Ray Scott came out swinging in a blog posted four days ago defending himself against the hard-hitting new “Pay Scott” video posted online by his challenger, Chris Kennedy, that lists all the Corporate PAC money Scott takes.

Kennedy says he will not take any corporate PAC funds, “period.”

Scott justified his taking corporate PAC money by claiming that the PACs that fund him represent the “hard-working families of Mesa County.”

Ha!

Ray Scott relying on huge amounts of campaign financing from outside Mesa County

Ray Scott’s big smile might be because his campaign is being boosted by lots of money from big corporations based outside Mesa County.

A new campaign mailer arriving in people’s mailboxes takes digs at SD-7 candidate Dan Thurlow in an effort to boost Colorado Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa County) in the primary election this month.

The pro-Scott mailer was funded solely by a group called “Citizens for Cost Effective Government” (CFCEG), whose address is in an unspecified suite in the 56-story Republic Plaza building on 17th Street in downtown Denver. Citizens for Cost Effective Government’s funding comes from just two sources, neither of which are in Mesa County. $25,000 of their total $45,000 in funding comes from Extraction Oil and Gas Company, which — whoops! — just happens to share the same address on 17th Street as “Citizens for Cost Effective Government.”

The other $20,000 of CFCEG’s funding comes from the Colorado Apartment Association based in Denver’s Greenwood Village, not in Mesa County.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide, 2017

Following are AnneLandmanBlog’s recommendations on how to vote on this November’s Mesa County ballot (pdf). I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching the issues, listening to all the candidates, reading their websites, following the money spent on the ballot issues and researching both pro and con arguments on the tax measures. As a result, I have come to the following conclusions. A discussion of my thoughts on each vote follows the recommendations:

CBS/Washington Post: U.S. Congress complicit in advancing the U.S. opioid epidemic

Colorado House Rep. Scott Tipton. The bill that hobbled DEA’s pursuit of out-of-control opioid pharmaceutical distribution passed the House on a voice vote, so no record of individual votes was made.

A blockbuster CBS News/60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation reveals that after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracked down on big pharmaceutical distributors who were knowingly pumping millions of addictive opioid drugs into the black market in cities and towns across the country, the U.S. Congress passed a law to block DEA from freezing such highly suspicious drug shipments to keep them from getting to the streets.

A Solution to the Palisade Gas Station Sign Dilemma

You’ve seen these signs. They’re big and bright and everyone looks for them on I-70 when they need gas, food or a rest stop.

Palisade residents are gearing up to oppose a 60-foot tall, lit gas station sign that Golden Gate Petroleum, the owners of a proposed 11-pump gas station and convenience store to be built at the Exit 42 offramp in Palisade.

Current town code limits signs to 20 feet in height.  Golden Gate says people on I-70 won’t be able to see a 20 foot sign. The Palisade Town Council has already bent the rules and handed the company a variance to build a 60-foot sign, but they shouldn’t have caved so easily. Their town is really worth the fight.

Grand Junction’s Tax Day March Dominates Downtown on the Day Before Easter

While some stayed home dying Easter eggs Saturday, almost 300 western slope citizens turned out for the national Tax March to demand Donald Trump make his tax returns public. Marchers gathered at Grand Junction City Hall and listened to speeches before starting off on a figure 8-shaped route through downtown that took them along Main Street, Grand Avenue and by the Post Office, where they mailed post cards to Trump saying they want him to release his taxes.

On January 11, 2017, Trump dismissed the idea that voters were interested in his tax returns, claiming the only people who care about his tax returns are members of the media. But he was proved badly wrong when on April 15, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across across the country took to the streets to demand he make his taxes public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll (pdf) released on January 16,2017 showed 74% of Americans want to see Trump’s returns.

Mike Anton is Back, This Time Plugging an Events Center

Michael P. “I’m Your Worst Nightmare” Anton, author of the Grand Junction’s only negative campaign ad, and cheerleader for the chamber’s lies and political interference

Mike Anton is back, appearing on TV and speaking to groups around town, telling Grand Junction residents they should vote for an extra sales tax to build an events center downtown.

Do you remember Mike Anton?

No?

Well then let’s recap exactly who Mike Anton is, and what he has done over the last few years, so you will remember him:

Anton owns a business in town called EmTech. He sat on the board of directors of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in 2013, the year the chamber backed Rick Brainard for city council.

Remember how THAT turned out?

Why Average People Shouldn’t Listen to the Grand Junction Area Chamber

chamberIt’s election time again, and soon the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce will issue it’s “2016 Voter Guide” in an attempt to try and influence how people in Mesa County vote on ballot measures and local elected offices.

If you’re an average, hard-working working citizen in Mesa County, there is only one thing you need to know about the chamber’s voter guide: ignore it.

Why?

Because the chamber doesn’t represent Mesa County’s working population. It exists solely to promote the financial interests of the few Mesa County businesses who pay its dues, and nothing more. What’s more, most businesses oppose measures aimed at helping workers and their families, so the chamber reflexively opposes any ballot measures that would benefit the thousands of workers and residents who spend money locally and really keep this area humming.

Petitions Ask Legislators to Revert “McInnis Canyons” Back to “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area”

Revert McInnis Canyons back to Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area

 Mesa County Commissioner and former House Rep. Scott McInnis got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of a federal House Rule that specifically prohibits Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves. The name-change legislation was introduced and passed without input from Coloradans.

Citizens for a Better Grand Junction on July 2 submitted petitions containing hundreds of names to House Representative Scott Tipton and Senator Michael Bennet asking them to introduce legislation to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.”

The petitions cite many reasons for reverting the name: The 2004 change to “McInnis Canyons” was not sought by anyone in Colorado. Rather, legislation to change the name was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, and the only other sponsor was Rep. Richard Pombo of California. The bill was introduced and passed without input or discussion from Coloradans, and, even more egregiously, without any input from members of the committee who worked long and hard to make the area into a National Conservation Area. The name change also violated House Rule XXI, Clause 6 (pdf, at page 35), which specifically prohibits members of Congress from naming public works or lands after themselves. This rule was put in place to eliminate corruption and back-room deals involving stoking Congress members’ egos by naming public works after themselves.

Former House Rep. Scott McInnis

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, “Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians.”

The petition also cites how former Rep. McInnis’ reputation was tarnished in 2010 by charges that he plagiarized essays he was hired to write about water law for a nonprofit foundation. The scandal forced him to quit the race for Colorado governor, apologize to the public and refund the $300,000 the Hasan Foundation had paid him to write the essays. McInnis was further charged with plagiarizing a 1994 column he wrote for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News. McInnis admitted in both cases that he had relied upon others for materials rather than creating them himself. A congressman thus tainted is undeserving of having anything named after him, the signers say.

Moreover, renaming a national conservation area after a human being breaks with longstanding U.S. tradition. National conservations areas have never been named after people, but only after the geographic features they contain that make them significant.

“For all of these reasons,” the petition states, “we urge our current federal officials to revert McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area back to its original name, ‘Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.’ Doing so will right a wrong done to our state’s citizens without our knowledge, restore our state’s integrity and assure the conservation area’s name confers honors not just on one individual, but on the entire beautiful state of Colorado.”

13 Insane Republican Arguments Against Upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a National Park

LIES, LIES, LIES -Opponents to changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, "Friends of the Colorado National Monument," to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo's caption says it was taken at the entrance to the "Kapalua National Conservation Area." No such conservation area exists.

Mesa County Republicans who oppose changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, “Friends of the Colorado National Monument,” to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo’s caption says it was taken at the entrance to the “Kapalua National Conservation Area.” There is no such conservation area.

Name a simple, cost-free way to boost our area’s sagging local economy and put Grand Junction on a lot more tourist maps.

That’s right, it’s upgrading the Colorado National Monument to national park status.

The push to turn the Monument into a national park has won widespread support from a broad spectrum of the community, and for good reasons.

The Monument has all the natural features it needs to qualify as a national park, and making the change would clarify what tourists are looking for. Right now, tourists think the Colorado National Monument is a statue or a commemorative plaque. If the Monument were called a “park” instead, it would clarify what they are heading to see. Also, as a national park the Monument would draw more travelers from the airport and more tourists off I-70, boosting business at local hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, rental car companies, gas stations, art galleries and other businesses.

Sounds like a good idea, right? That’s because it is. And for that reason, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership endorses it. The Chamber of Commerce has supported it. The Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau says it is a “clear opportunity to attract more visitors.” Even the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association supports it. The Daily Sentinel supports it, saying “Studies show that monuments which become national parks don’t necessarily see a big increase in the number of visitors. But they do see a change in the types of visitors, with more people coming from outside the immediate area, staying longer in the area and spending more money.”

So if upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park is such a no-brainer and it would do our area so much good, why isn’t the effort going forward full throttle?

An Example of How Professors Became Whores for Industry

In this 1993 application for grant funding, Professor David M. Warburton of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom asks cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM) for £32,000 to perform a study on the human use of legal substances, like alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, food, tea and tobacco.  Warburton told PM he believed the outcome of the study would “show that it is the total abstainer from substance use who is abnormal.”  Philip Morris had previously funded Warburton from 1991-93 in the amount of $250,000.  Warburton also organized and implemented the tobacco industry-funded front group “Associates for Research in Substance Enjoyment” (ARISE). ARISE “scientists” toured Europe between 1988 and 1997 promoting the idea that smoking was good for people and actually boosted immunity and extended life because it relieved stress and people enjoyed it. Several tobacco companies including Philip Morris and British American Tobacco funded the group secretly at arm’s length, and operated it through a UK-based PR firm which formed a “secretariat” to administer the group — a business structure that made it difficult to uncover the group’s funding.

In 2001, after ARISE had run its course, Professor Warburton (apparently in need of more funding) released a study showing that people are intimidated by television chefs, whom he said elevate pressure on average people to produce excellent dishes at dinner parties. These fears were causing a new syndrome to emerge, that Professor Warburton called “Kitchen Performance Anxiety” (KPA).  The physical symptoms of KPA, according to Warburton, included mental blocks during cooking, a rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and headaches.  Warburton concluded that KPA was causing fewer people to hold dinner parties.  BBC actually did a news report on KPA that highlighted the following comment from Prof. Warburton: “It is interesting that many guests don’t expect perfect food and would prefer that their host or hostess concentrated on good company and wine.” The “study” Warburton performed in which he discovered Kitchen Performance Anxiety was commissioned by the makers of the Piat d’Or wine. See the BBC report on KPA here. Professor Warburton is now an emeritus at the University of Reading, which promotes itself as among the top 1 percent of universities worldwide.

Grand Junction Citizens Unveil New Anti-Chamber Website

DumpTheChamberMembers of Grand Junction, Colorado’s “Rein in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce” Facebook group have unveiled a new website to educate business owners and the public about citizens’ grievances against the Chamber. The site, GJChamber.info, asserts that many of the G.J. Chamber’s actions have hurt local citizens and businesses, and are contrary to citizens’ interests. The site’s pages have titles like “What’s Wrong with the Chamber?,” “Misguided Priorities,” “Bigotry and Intimidation,” “Overbearing Political Involvement,” “The Brainard Debacle” and “Chambermades.” The site provides links to published articles and other references to substantiate information on the site. The group created the site as one-stop shopping, a single place that local business owners can go to find out exactly why the Chamber has drawn the wrath of so many people and businesses in town. They hope that after perusing the site, Chamber member businesses will better understand the issues and consider leaving the Chamber, and that people who have less knowledge of the controversies surrounding the Chamber will be better informed. The group will also promote the site to new business owners so they can get up to speed on the political furor surrounding the Chamber before deciding to join. The site also contains a directory of non-Chamber businesses, to make it easier for people to choose where they want to shop. There are already over 100 businesses on the list. If non-chamber businesses want to be listed on the new site, or if a current Chamber member quits and wants to be listed, they can contact the group through the website and ask that their business be added to the list.

Citizens Picket Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce

Grand Junction citizens protested in front of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning. The group, Rein in The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, represents citizens who are angry about the Chamber’s controlling involvement in City politics. In 2012 the G.J. Chamber, under its president, Diane Schwenke, seized control of council after it formed a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization that raked in donations from deep-pocketed business owners and spent historically huge amounts of money to get Chamber-selected candidates elected to city council.  Prior to the Chamber’s direct involvement in local politics, no city council candidate had ever spent more than about $3,400 on an election. This year, Chamber-backed candidates spent an average of $11,000 each. A recent feature article in the local paper, the Daily Sentinel, revealed that the G.J. Chamber is spending huge amounts on lobbying compared to similarly-sized chambers around the state, and that at $133,930, G.J. Chamber President Schwenke’s compensation package far exceeds the compensation her peers earn at similar-sized chambers around the state.

Photo credit: Christopher Tomlinson/Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Photo credit: Christopher Tomlinson/Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Sentinel Exposes G.J. Chamber of Commerce’s Hubris

Chart from the Daily Sentinel showing GJ Chamber President Diane Schwenke's compensation far outstrips the compensation earned by other comparable chamber presidents around the region

Chart from the Daily Sentinel showing GJ Chamber President Diane Schwenke’s compensation far outstrips the compensation earned by comparable chamber presidents around the region. The same goes for the G.J. Chamber’s lobbying expense.

The Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel on July 21 published a scathing expose’ of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s recent activities that have citizens in an uproar.  The Chamber, once seen locally as a respected and helpful institution, in recent years has started engaging in hard-core political activity, and spending plenty on it. In 2011, the G.J. Chamber spent a whopping $74,000 of members’ money on lobbying expense. The next closest comparable Colorado Chamber of Commerce that spent anything at all on lobbying was the Montrose Chamber, which spent just $2,000. The Sentinel also revealed that G.J. Chamber president Diane Schwenke’s compensation far exceeds that of her counterparts at comparable Colorado chambers. In 2011, Schwenke made $133,930 in salary and benefits. Her next closest counterpart made just $112,477. Most of the other presidents of comparable chambers made well under $100,000/year in combined salary and benefits. The G.J. Chamber’s headlong dive into hyper-political activity has led to a backlash among citizens, who have started boycotting Chamber-member businesses. In many citizens’ eyes, the G.J. Chamber stepped out of bounds after it formed a secretive political group, the Western Colorado Business Alliance, that takes in unlimited money and spends unlimited funds to get Chamber-backed candidates elected to local office. The Chamber did exactly that in the last City-wide election, only to have one of their winning candidates, Rick Brainard, get thrown in jail four days after the election for beating up a woman. Brainard pled guilty to assault on May 17.  Throughout his legal travails, Brainard has refused pressure from citizens to resign from Council, and will soon cost City taxpayers $50,000 for a recall effort. Making matters worse, the Chamber continues to back Brainard, making Grand Junction the first city in Colorado to allow a freshly-convicted criminal sit on its Council. Former G.J. Chamber member Harry Griff of the law firm Griff, Larson Laiche & Wright, told the Sentinel he quit the Chamber after being a member for 25 years, calling it “a very, very exclusionary group.” Another business owner, Marilyn Charlesworth, also quit the Chamber over it’s unwelcome political activity, calling it a “little boy’s club.” Other businesses to quit include the CandyTime Shoppe, Pablo’s Pizza and the Hot Tomato in Fruita. New businesses in town are also opting not to join the Chamber due to the firestorm of controversy surrounding the organization. Citizens who are outraged at Chamber activities are boycotting Chamber-member businesses and using Facebook to organize, share strategies and share names of businesses that belong to the Chamber and those that do not, or to name who recently dropped their membership. For its part, the Chamber’s leadership remains completely unapologetic. In response to a question Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby posed about whether the local backlash is having any impact on the Chamber’s decision to get more political in the future, Chamber president Diane Schwenke responded that yes, it’s had an impact, but only to the extent that it will make the Chamber try to become even more effective at its political involvement in the future.

Source: Grand Junction, CO Daily Sentinel, Politics and Business, by Charles Ashby, July 21, 2013 (NOT behind a paywall!)

Philip Morris’ Secret “Ninja Program” (1991)

ninjaIn this 1991 outline, Karen Daragan, Administrator of Media Affairs for Philip Morris USA, describes PM’s secret “Ninja Program,” in which PM recruited individual smokers across the country to act as seemingly independent media spokespeople who would oppose smoking restrictions and cigarette taxes.  Daragan described the rationale for the program:

“Smokers can respond better than we can to these zealots’ positions on smoking restrictions and excessive taxation. Basically, we can get them [smokers] to deliver our messages for us and it works beautifully because they don’t represent big bad tobacco co[mpany], have more credibility [and] can relate to the public better and talk about issues that are affecting them rather than have us talk for them like we did in the past. But they can also go a step beyond. They can…get the antis reacting to them which puts the antis on the defensive for a change.”

Daragan calls PM’s Ninja Program “a proactive media relations tool for us,” and describes how PM’s method of recruiting smokers as spokespeople differs from those of other cigarette companies:

 “We don’t manage smokers rights clubs and organize meetings like our competitors do. What we do is go out and find the most articulate and devoted activists. We call them our ninjas. We feed them with our most powerful information and arguments, media train them and then have our public relations agency go out and pitch stories and set up interviews for them…”

She continues, describing how PM finds their ninjas:

“Right now we have about 30 trained media ninjas across the country…We find them through correspondence with PM, through phone surveys and written surveys among the 12 million people on our database, through word of mouth, LTE’s, and visible activists among the already existing smokers rights clubs across the states.”

PM instructed its “ninjas” to carry specific, corporate-defined messages to the media: “accommodation,” civil liberties, fairness and self-determination.

Source: 1991 Philip Morris report/outline, Bates No. 2078755208/5213

 

Gun Maker Freaks Out, Retaliates Against Colorado Gun Safety Bill

Magpul's Internet Ad

Magpul’s Internet Ad

Magpul Industries of Erie, Colorado, which makes and sells  high-capacity ammunition magazines, has declared war on Colorado over a gun safety bill currently moving through the state’s legislature. HB 1224, currently in Colorado’s House of Representatives, would limit high-capacity magazines to 15 rounds, and add a more restrictive 8-round limit for shotguns. Magpul makes 30-round magazines. Magpul threatened to move its business out of state if the bill passes. The House then voted to amend HB 1224 to allow Magpul to keep making its high-capacity magazines and selling them in other states, but that wasn’t enough for the company.  Magpul launched an Internet-based campaign to flood the state with high-capacity, military-grade magazines and weaponry in advance of a vote on the bill. Magpul posted a cold-war style ad on its Facebook page announcing that the company will sell up to ten 30-round AR or M4 ammunition magazines per customer directly to Colorado residents, and will expedite shipping for a discounted price of just $5.00. The ad shows a little girl with pigtails, smiling and reaching up to catch 30-round gun magazines as they are dropped, airlift-style, from an airplane. The copy reads, “In the battle for Colorado Freedoms, support for second amendment rights is being delivered by Magpul Industries Corporation. Fielded in the millions by US and its allies since 2007, the PMAG is the magazine of choice for those defending freedom and democracy around the world…Now, with the ability of Coloradans to purchase new standard capacity magazines in jeopardy, Magpul Industries is working to supply as many as possible to the good people of Colorado. Similar to the Berlin Airlift, the Boulder Airlift will bring much-needed gun supplies to freedom-loving residents trapped inside occupied territory.” In addition to high-capacity magazines, Magpul also makes rifle grips, buttstocks, rifle sights, gun mounts and other gun-related parts and accessories. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. Colorado has a history of gun massacres, including the Aurora Theater massacre in 2012, the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and the Chuck E. Cheese massacre in 1993, also in Aurora, Colorado, in which a gunman killed four restaurant employees.

Who Funds Rick Berman’s Dark Money Group, the “Center for Consumer Freedom”?

Center for Consumer Freedom's Rick Berman, a.k.a. "Dr. Evil"

Center for Consumer Freedom’s Rick Berman, a.k.a. “Dr. Evil”

Rick Berman, the D.C. beltway corporate lobbyist who revels in the nickname “Dr. Evil,” is at it again, this time defending a dangerous New Hampshire “ag-gag” bill that would block the ability to build solid court cases against animal cruelty in commercial agricultural operations. Berman also penned an opinion piece in the Boston Globe opposing the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” a bill that would require federal agencies to buy food products only from farms that raise animals free from cruelty and abuse. Aside from the underlying question of why the Boston Globe would print anything by Rick Berman, a corporate sell-out who lacks completely in credibility, why does Berman persist in supporting something as distasteful and horrifically unpopular as animal abuse?

Berman operates the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCR), an industry-funded front group that relentlessly attacks do-good organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Berman uses over-the-top rhetoric, calling people who research and expose the causes behind obesity “food control zealots.” He uses hyperbole and slippery-slope arguments, saying animal welfare groups like the Humane Society are “fighting to get rid of every dairy, pork, egg, beef, veal, and poultry farm across America by increasing the cost of production and hence increasing the price of food.” Hogwash. Whenever possible, HSUS works with commercial ag operations to reduce animal abuses like tail-docking of dairy cows and confinement of animals in horribly small spaces. The groups has been successful in doing so, but does pursue legislation to protect animals, too.