Name: Richard Berman
Profession: Restaurant and Tobacco Industry Hatchet Man
Corporate Front Groups: Center for Consumer Freedom / ActivistCash / Berman and Company / American Beverage Institute / Employment Policies Institute / Employment Roundtable
Barman tells congress under oath that the Center for Consumer Freedom represents restaurant operators
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Richard Berman. I am the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The Center does not accept and has never received government funds.
On behalf of American restaurant operators and food producers, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing today.
The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by lobbyist Richard Berman, a darling of the tobacco, booze, and agribusiness interests.
The so-called "Center for Consumer Freedom" is a phony consumer group funded by food and agribusiness companies that include Tyson Foods ($100,000.), Wendy's ($200,000.), Monsanto ($200,000.), Outback Steakhouse ($164,000), Coca-Cola ($200,000), Excel/Cargill ($100,000.), Pilgrim's Pride ($100,000) and dozens of other firms.
The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by Republican lobbyist Richard Berman, a darling of the tobacco, booze, and agribusiness interests. Companies like Monsanto and Tyson fund him to attack their critics, and his favorite tactic is the ad hominem attack, misrepresenting, misquoting and smearing public interest activists.
Berman was bankrolled in the mid-1990s with $900,000 from Philip Morris, the tobacco and food giant, and he has been funded since by them and by dozens of other food, beverage and restaurant companies. Berman is basically a food industry hatchet man with a considerable budget provided by industry, most of which goes into his own organizations and pockets.
Berman's strategy: shoot the messenger
In a 1999 interview with the Chain Leader, a trade publication for restaurant chains, Berman boasted that he attacks activists more aggressively than other lobbyists. "We always have a knife in our teeth," he said. Since activists "drive consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine," his strategy is "to shoot the messenger. ... We've got to attack their credibility as spokespersons."
Berman's list of enemies
Anyone who criticizes tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods or soda pop is likely to come under attack from Berman's front groups. His enemies list has included such diverse groups and individuals as the Alliance of American Insurers; the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; the American Medical Association; the Arthritis Foundation; the Consumer Federation of America; New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; the Harvard School of Public Health; the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems; the National Association of High School Principals; the National Safety Council; the National Transportation Safety Board; the Office of Highway Safety for the state of Georgia; Ralph Nader's group, Public Citizen; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Enemies list take two:
In a May 11, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle article, CCF spokesman John Doyle responded to questions about nationwide radio ads put out by the group. He said the ads were meant to attract people to their website and "draw attention to our enemies: just about every consumer and environmental group, chef, legislator or doctor who raises objections to things like pesticide use, genetic engineering of crops or antibiotic use in beef and poultry." http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2002/05/11/MN119037.DTL
Berman tried to deceive children searching for a healthy eating website
According to the latest ruling, "[I]t appears that [CCF] attempted to create confusion among Internet users looking for [CSPI's] websites." While one of the sites at issue, cspinot.com, criticized CSPI, CCF redirected traffic from smartmouth.org to the kid's section of the American Dental Association's (ADA)'s web site. According to CSPI, that helped show that CCF acted in bad faith, merely intending to confuse the young visitors trying to reach Smart-Mouth.org.
Berman spread false information defending the use of known carcinogen Alar
An article in the December 15,1999 copy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer describes Berman's support for Uniroyal, the company that produces Alar(tm), a pesticide used on apples. Through his Guest Choice Network (currently the Center for Consumer Freedom) Berman published a newsletter that minimized the risks of Alar to children. The newsletter stated, "According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one would have to eat 50,000 pounds of apples a day over a lifetime to contract cancer from Alar." In response, EPA spokeswoman Denise Kearns said, "To my knowledge, EPA never issued that kind of statement." In the end Berman admitted that the source of his information was a statement made by Uniroyal. Alar has since been banned due to cancer risks.
Berman's lobbying network serves the interest of its funders
Known CCF funders:
More fundersAlthough Berman refuses to disclose the identity of its anonymous funders, the following companies have been linked to Berman & Co. in news reports and other public documents: