The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The Iraqi government hires the Podesta Group to lobby for it in DC | Glenn Greenwald

… The Maliki government will certainly have significant need for Podesta’s influence. Authoritarian regimes in general have big business to do in Washington, but as Politico notes: “The country faces a number of significant challenges in the capital — including repairing a somewhat strained relationship with the Obama administration in the aftermath of a failure to come to an agreement on a status of forces agreement in 2011.”

What Politico means by that is President Obama’s failed effort to persuade/cajole the Iraqi government to allow US troops to stay in the country beyond the deadline imposed by the Status of Forces Agreement entered into by the Bush and Maliki governments (after that failure - which forced the withdrawal of US troops against the will of the US president - Obama supporters characteristically celebrated the great president for ending the war in Iraq). The Maliki government was prevented from agreeing to that extension when WikiLeaks cables detailed several horrific massacres of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US forces, which made it politically impossible for Maliki to give Obama the legal immunity for US troops he was demanding.

But the Maliki government need not worry: with the cash it is shoveling to the Podesta Group, the doors that swing open in Democratic power circles will undoubtedly assuage most of its concerns. For all the talk about elections and pretty politician speeches, this is the sleazy dynamic that actually drives America’s Versailles on the Potomac. This repellent process now has a new happy couple as its symbol. Hearty congratulations are in order for Tony Podesta, Nouri al-Maliki, and everyone in Washington who will be showered with ample largesse from this joyous union.

See also: All About Oil: Former US Ambassador to Iraq Now Works for Exxon | Peter Van Buren

Ben Nelson among ex-lawmakers to K Street | POLITICO

Former Sen. Ben Nelson, who retired from the upper chamber just weeks ago, will be joining public affairs firm Agenda as a senior adviser, POLITICO has learned.

The firm has also hired Ed Schafer, the former North Dakota governor and secretary of agriculture under President George W. Bush, to serve in the same role. Nelson and Schafer will lead the firm’s advisory board.

Ethics rules prevent former senators from lobbying until two years after they leave Congress, but since the firm does advocacy work that doesn’t fall under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, Nelson can go through the revolving door immediately after retiring from the Senate.

[…]

Nelson will also be joining a national trade association in addition to his work for Agenda. The announcement is expected to come this week. Nelson said he received several offers before settling on those two.

Nelson’s move comes on the heels of several other former members of Congress heading to K street.

[…]

Agenda will use the new hires to grow its presence in Washington. The firm is expected to announce more advisers in the coming months. Its clients include AT&T, Eli Lilly and Kid Rock. Agenda worked with MGM Resorts International to rally support for Question 7, a ballot initiative to expand gambling in Maryland, which passed in the 2012 election.

Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry job | Glenn Greenwald

When the legislation that became known as “Obamacare” was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Folwer, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it. As Politico put it at the time: “If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer.”

What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus’ office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Folwer had worked as Baucus’ top health care aide). And when that health care bill was drafted, the person whom Fowler replaced as chief health counsel in Baucus’ office, Michelle Easton, was lobbying for WellPoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, and Young.

Whatever one’s views on Obamacare were and are: the bill’s mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry; as Wheeler wrote at the time: “to the extent that Liz Fowler is the author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well.”

[…] More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose … Liz Fowler. That the White House would put a former health insurance industry executive in charge of implementation of its new massive health care law was roundly condemned by good government groups as at least a violation of the “spirit” of governing ethics rules and even “gross”, but those objections were, of course, brushed aside by the White House. She then became Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.

Now, as Politico’s “Influence” column briefly noted on Tuesday, Fowler is once again passing through the deeply corrupting revolving door as she leaves the Obama administration to return to the loving and lucrative arms of the private health care industry:

“Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading ‘global health policy’ at Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.”

The pharmaceutical giant that just hired Fowler actively supported the passage of Obamacare through its membership in the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Indeed, PhRMA was one of the most aggressive supporters - and most lavish beneficiaries - of the health care bill drafted by Fowler. Mother Jones’ James Ridgeway proclaimed “Big Pharma” the “big winner” in the health care bill. And now, Fowler will receive ample rewards from that same industry as she peddles her influence in government and exploits her experience with its inner workings to work on that industry’s behalf, all of which has been made perfectly legal by the same insular, Versailles-like Washington culture that so lavishly benefits from all of this.

The Privatization of US Foreign Policy: An Interview with the Author of "The Foreign Policy Auction" | Truthout

The foreign influence industry is a perfectly legal way for foreign money to get into US politics. Foreign nationals cannot directly make contributions to US politics, but the US lobbyists they hire can. In a nutshell, here’s how foreign money flows from a foreign government to US politicians: A foreign government signs a contract with a DC lobbying firm; the firm pays its lobbyists, at least partially, with that foreign money; then, lobbyists make campaign contributions or organize fundraisers with that money. In fact, I’ve found dozens of instances where foreign lobbyists made contributions to legislators on the exact same day they meet to discuss the needs of foreign governments. While this may look a lot like bribery to you and me, it’s, unfortunately, perfectly legal.

You might wonder why the major media hasn’t exposed all of this - perhaps it is because they also profit from it. These PR firms and lobbying shops buy ad space in major media outlets. They hire journalists that once worked at The Washington Post or The New York Times. They finance the writing of op-eds and pay pundits for favorable mentions on TV.

So, from the lobbying and PR firms, lobbyists, elected leaders, to the media, everyone - except the US citizens - are benefitting from the foreign policy auction. [more]

Wall Street Rolling Back Another Key Piece of Financial Reform | Matt Taibbi

Wall Street lobbyists are awesome. I’m beginning to develop a begrudging respect not just for their body of work as a whole, but also for their sense of humor. They always go right to the edge of outrageous, and then wittily take one baby-step beyond it. And they did so again last night, with the passage of a new House bill (HR 2827), which rolls back a portion of Dodd-Frank designed to protect cities and towns from the next Jefferson County disaster.

Jefferson County, Alabama was the most famous case – the city of Birmingham went bankrupt after being bribed and goaded into taking on billions of dollars of toxic swap deals – but in fact it was just one of hundreds of similar examples of localities being duped into suicidal financial deals by rapacious banks and financial companies. The Denver school system, for instance, got clobbered when it opted for an exotic swap deal pushed by J.P. Morgan Chase (the same villain in Jefferson County, incidentally) and then-school superintendent/future U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, that ended up costing the school system tens of millions of dollars. As was the case in Jefferson County, the only way out of the deal involved a massive termination fee that might have been even more destructive than the deal itself.

To deal with this problem, the Dodd-Frank Act among other things included a simple reform. It required the financial advisors of municipalities to do two things: register with the SEC, and accept a fiduciary duty to respect the best interests of the taxpayers they are advising.

Sounds simple, right? But Wall Street couldn’t have that. After all, if companies are required to have a fiduciary responsibility to cities and towns, how in the world can they screw cities and towns? The idea was a veritable axe-blow to the banks’ municipal advisory businesses.

So what did Wall Street lobbyists and trade groups like SIFMA (the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) do? Well, they did what they’ve been doing to Dodd-Frank generally: they Swiss-cheesed the law with a string of exemptions. The industry proposal that ended up being HR 2827 created several new loopholes for purveyors of swaps and other such financial products to cities and towns. Here’s how the pro-reform group Americans for Financial Reform described the loopholes (emphasis mine):

For example, any advice provided by a broker, dealer, bank, or accountant that is any way “related to or connected with” a municipal underwriting would be exempted from the fiduciary requirement. A similar exemption would be created for all advice provided by banks or swap dealers that is in any way “related to or connected with” the sale to municipalities of financial derivatives, loan participation agreements, deposit products, foreign exchange, or a variety of other financial products.

So basically, if you’re underwriting a municipal bond for a city or a town, and you happen also to give the city or town advice about some deadly swap deal that will put the city into bankruptcy for the next thousand years, you don’t have a fiduciary responsibility to that city or town. The banks’ view is that being asked to perform the merely-technical function of underwriting a bond is very different from advising someone to take on an exotic swap deal – so if a bank is mainly an underwriter and happens to offhandedly recommend this or that swap deal, it just isn’t fair to drop this onerous financial responsibility, this weighty designation of municipal financial advisor, on its shoulders.

Here’s how SIFMA describes what that awful burden would have been under Dodd-Frank’s original reform:

The consequences of being deemed to be a municipal advisor are very serious. Providing municipal advice without having registered is “unlawful”—i.e. potentially criminal. The highest standard of conduct—a fiduciary duty—is imposed.

God forbid! Thankfully, this new law provides an exemption from that “highest standard of conduct” providing the bank or financial company is not just giving advice, but also performing a merely technical function like underwriting.

The details of this law are pretty hairy, but the basic idea is simple: provided a bank isn’t dumb enough to only provide advice, or to ask for separate compensation for advice, it doesn’t owe anyone any goddamned fiduciary responsibility. So they can keep screwing cities and towns as much as they’d like.

Private Empire: Six Questions for Steve Coll

I’d say that … [the] scientists [working for ExxonMobil] are generally honest but their science management policies are not, in the sense that those policies are ultimately controlled by litigators and lobbying arms of the company, which use science not for the pursuit of truth, but as elements in directed arguments and campaigns tailored to advance corporate interests. I would imagine that there are a fair number of scientists within ExxonMobil who feel uncomfortable about the corporation’s uses of science in public policy and litigation, but who are not in a position to express dissent openly. I was able to tease out a little bit of this perception, but I feel confident that there is much more of it than I was able to document. […]

[T]he environment in which ExxonMobil and the Bush Administration devised parallel approaches to managing science and public policy in the age of oil spills and global warming was influenced by several factors that Darwin would not have recognized. One was the prominence of lawyers and their win-for-the-client mind-sets. The tobacco industry’s near bankruptcy had demonstrated that not even talented lawyers could overcome terrible facts in a product liability matter. Yet that example had also shown how industry funding and purposeful, subtle campaigning could profitably delay a legal reckoning for a dangerous product through the manipulation of public opinion, government policy, and scientific discourse. [++]

In Recorded Message To Drone Lobby Group, Congressman Rick Berg Brags About Loyalty To Industry | Lee Fang

With little debate, lobbyists slipped language into an FAA reauthorization bill earlier this year that will allow some 30,000drones to fly over domestic airspace in coming years. While the shift may lead to a marked loss of privacy for millions of Americans, one congressman is bragging about carrying the drone industry’s water.

Congressman Rick Berg (R-ND), a first-term lawmaker now running for U.S. Senate, recorded a message for the Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVS), touting his efforts to insert language into legislation that would allow drones to share airspace and runways for domestic test flights. “It’s clear to me that expanding the use of unmanned systems hold enormous potential for our state and our country,” said Berg in his taped video for the AUVS lobby group.

As Republic Report has noted, AUVS is funded largely by military contractors that build and operate drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group has doubled its lobbying expenses in recent years, and managed to develop a bipartisan pro-drone caucus in Congress, of which Berg is a member and Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA) is co-chair.

[…]

Lockheed Martin, maker of the RQ-170 Sentinel weaponized drone, as well as Boeing, makers of the Phantom Eye UAV surveillance drone, have contributed funds to Berg’s campaign.

North Dakota has the particular distinction of being the first state to use drones for a civillian police matter. With Berg’s help, it won’t be the last.

I seem to recall that Eisenhower’s original term for the now-famous “military-industrial complex” was “military-congressional-industrial complex.” Not sure why I just thought of that.

Aetna Hides $7 Million in Political Spending; CREW Calls for Greater Disclosure | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

[On Thursday], Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Mark T. Bertolini, chairman, CEO, and president of the insurance giant Aetna, asking his company to stop using corporate funds to influence elections.  This request follows an SNL Financial story revealing that Aetna has contributed more than $3.3 million to the American Action Network (AAN) and nearly $4.5 million to the Chamber of Commerce.

AAN is a shadowy 501(c)(4) organization that broke both tax and campaign finance laws in its quest to influence the 2010 elections, and the Chamber is one of the biggest political players. While corporations traditionally pay dues to the Chamber, in 2010 Aetna reported dues of just $100,000 – almost $4.4 million less than Aetna contributed to the Chamber in 2011.  These payments indicate Aetna surreptitiously has spent well over $7 million to influence Americans at the polls.

“Aetna wants to get rid of its political opponents without being held accountable by its shareholders or customers for funding vicious attack ads,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “If Aetna intends to use corporate funds to sway the elections in 2012, Mr. Bertolini should come clean and stop hiding behind AAN’s skirt.” 

AAN, chaired by former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), spent millions of dollars during the 2010 elections attempting to persuade Americans to vote against Democratic congressional candidates.  Last week, CREW filed its second complaint with the IRS and its first complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against AAN.  CREW explained that by spending over 66% of its budget on campaign ads and by failing to register as a political committee and report its spending, AAN had violated tax and campaign finance laws.

At a recent Aetna shareholder meeting, Mr. Bertolini had spoken in favor of transparency and accountability, arguing a proposal to require greater disclosure of Aetna’s political spending was unwarranted.  Ironically, Aetna appears to have mistakenly disclosed the payments to AAN and the Chamber on a filing with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  Aetna later amended the filing to delete the payments.

Sloan continued, “I wonder how much influence Aetna has on exactly which lawmakers AAN and the Chamber target?  Just because Aetna isn’t telling the public what it’s up to, doesn’t mean the company is hiding its political activities from everyone.  I’m sure Aetna is expecting lawmakers to express their gratitude with legislative favors.  Just like these grateful lawmakers, Americans should know what Aetna is really doing with their insurance premiums.”

Boehner Aide Received $100,000 Bonus From Medical Device Lobby Group Before Overseeing Repeal Of Tax On Med Device Industry | Lee Fang

The repeal comes as medical device makers, a $140 billion industry, have lobbied aggressively and showered lawmakers with contributions. A report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the tax would likely spur innovation by promoting cost-effective ways of delivering care, while also ensuring vital health programs are properly funded. Nevertheless, the House passed the bill 242-173.

The medical device lobby had several advantages in this fight. For one thing, they had a man in the inside. In late 2010, as Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) prepared to take the gavel as Speaker, he hired a lobbyist named Brett Loper as his new policy chief. Loper left his job at the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a lobby group for medical device-makers, to join Boehner.

Republic Report reviewed ethics forms disclosed filed with the House clerk’s office, and noticed that Loper actually received a $100,147 bonus in 2011 for leaving his medical device lobbying group and becoming a public servant.

Democrats and Bain | Glenn Greenwald

We all know that Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former firm, is the paragon of capitalist evil, destroying the middle class in order to enrich greedy vulture oligarchs. We also all know that the Democratic Party is the defender of the middle class and the bold adversary of corporate pillaging. That’s why these facts generate so much cognitive dissonance:

Democrats have accepted more political donations than Republicans from executives at Bain Capital, complicating the left’s plan to attack Mitt Romney for his record at the private-equity firm.

During the last three election cycles, Bain employees have given Democratic candidates and party committees more than $1.2 million. The vast majority of that sum came from senior executives.

Republican candidates and party committees raised over $480,000 from senior Bain executives during that time period.

While Romney himself has received more contributions from his former firm than Obama has, “President Obama received a sizable share as well.” More generally, “campaign finance records show that Democrats collect more money from Wall Street than does the GOP.”

Why would these cunning Master of the Universe villains want so robustly to fund a party that is so adverse to their interests? The only coherent answer is that the party which they’re funding is anything but adverse to their interests. […]

Romney’s record at Bain, like everything else about a presidential candidate, deserves real scrutiny, and the private equity and hedge fund conduct that made him rich has indeed played a substantial role in exploding levels of income inequality and the relentless assault on basic middle class security. But the Democratic Party has been nothing close to a force standing in opposition to any of that. They’ve been, and continue to be, enthusiastically along for the ride. Despite the industry’s petulant anger, Wall Street has thrived under the Obama administration, and even in those areas where the White House had full authority and the ability to help ordinary Americans — such as the HAMP fund to aid defaulting homeowners — they displayed overwhelming indifference. Not only did President Obama propose large cutsto Social Security and Medicare, he has been assuring Washington insiders such as GOP Sen. Tom Coburn that he intends even larger ones if re-elected. [++]

Why Are Student Loan Interest Rates Set to Double? Thank These Lobbyists Who Helped Kill the Bill Yesterday

On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked a measure that would have prevented a big hike for student loan interest rates. The legislation would have kept “subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent for an additional year, rather than doubling automatically for new loans starting July 1.”

While the vote yesterday was certainly a partisan battle, a closer look at the interest groups driving the roll call vote explains the greater powers at play. Democrats wanted to pay for the student loan support by closing a tax loophole that even the late Robert Novak and the Wall Street Journal lamented as one the most egregious problems in the tax code. Essentially, wealthy individuals and large corporations often file using ‘subchapter S’ companies to dodge paying employment taxes. With Republicans refusing to close this loophole, student loan interest rates are set to double.

Republicans blocked the student loan interest rate bill simply because big businesses and campaign contributors lobbied aggressively against closing the loophole. The National Journalpublished a letter from a number of Beltway lobbying groups — among them, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents many multinational corporations, and the American Banking Association — protesting the measure. These lobbying groups have wide sway over both parties, but particularly the GOP. For a full list of the corporate lobbying groups that are ensuring that students pay more for college, see here.

(Source: satanic-capitalist, via palatial-bear-messages-deactiva)

Copyright Lobby Tries To 'Hire' Demonstrators, Since The Public Refuses To Rally In Support Of #ACTA

anonymissexpress:

from the funny-stuff dept, by Mike Masnick, Apr 27th 2012

I recently gave a talk at the Innovate/Activate conference, where I discussed where the copyright lobby had been super successful, and where it seemed some of their weaknesses were. One thing I pointed out was that they had completely lost the hearts and minds of the public — and no matter how hard they tried, they were unable to muster up any kind of public or grassroots support. As an example, I showed a photo of the massive street protests against ACTA in Poland, and questioned what a pro-ACTA demonstration might look like. Well, bizarrely, it appears that some in the Copyright Lobby had decided to try to put on a pro-ACTA demonstration… but they needed to hire people to act as ACTA supporters. Of course, when you seem to think — as the industry often appears to — that the only motivating factor possible in the world is monetary exchange, perhaps this isn’t that surprising.

Copyright Lobby Tries To ‘Hire’ Demonstrators, Since The Public Refuses To Rally In Support Of ACTA | Techdirt

The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal | Lee Fang

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

CISPA, aka SOPA 2.0, Pushed Forward by For-Profit Spying Lobby | Lee Fang

A cyber security bill moving swiftly through Congress would give government intelligence agencies broad powers to work with private companies to share information about Internet users. While some critics are beginning to organize online against the legislation, defense contractors, many already working with the National Security Agency on related data-mining projects, are lobbying to press forward. Like many bad policy ideas, entrenched government contractors seem to be using taxpayer money to lobby for even more power and profit.

The proposal, H.R.3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, introduced by Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), provides companies and the government “free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for ‘cybersecurity purposes.’” Though the bill has been compared to SOPA given its potential to smother free speech on the Internet, the ill-fated copyright legislation that inspired an intense lobbying battle earlier this year, much of the tech community has has joined with copyright interests to support CISPA.

A full list of companies and trade groups supporting the legislation, from Facebook to AT&T, can be found here. Combing through the lobbyist disclosure forms, Republic Report noticed that two of the top firms spending a lot of money to pass CISPA are major National Security Agency (NSA) contractors. [++]

The Real Hilary Rosen Scandal | Lee Fang

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic lobbyist and pundit for CNN, found herself caught up in 24-hour news cycle controversy after she made some inflammatory comments about Ann Romney’s work as stay-at-home mom. Rosen has apologized for her off-the-cuff comments. But the entire story may set off a greater, more substantive inquiry about the nature of Rosen’s consulting firm, SKDKnickerbocker, an unregistered lobbying firm that has become one of the biggest names in the influence business by using its ties to President Obama and leaders in Congress.

[…]

We’ve compiled a partial list of SKDKnickerbocker’s clients. Since the firm refuses to register as an ordinary lobbying firm, we don’t know their full roster of clients:

— SKDKnickerbocker was hired by Kaplan Education to block Obama’s reforms on for-profit college companies, an industry plagued by by low quality education, false promises to students, and fraudulent business practices.

— SKDKnickerbocker was hired to push for billions in tax breaks for already profitable corporations. As Bloomberg reported, SKDKnickerbocker manages a lobbying campaign called “Win America,” an effort by companies like Google and Pfizer to receive hundreds of billions in tax breaks on profits made overseas.

— SKDKnickerbocker was hired by a coalition of food manufacturers to fight the Obama administration’s proposals on food nutrition standards. As the Washington Post reported, the firms paying Dunn include General Mills and PepsiCo.

— SKDKnickerbocker represents consulting for Students First, a lobbying group aimed at destroying collective bargaining, and replacing public education with a mix of charters, private schools, and online learning companies. According to documents revealed the blog At The Chalk Face, Students First helped craft bills in Michigan to break teachers unions by severely limiting collective bargaining.

— SKDKnickerbocker previously worked with the Association of American Railroads, a group representing large railroad companies. When the railroad industry was in a pitched battle with their respective labor unions, SKDKnickberbocker produced ads for the railroad lobby.

A proposal leaked two months ago showed that a group of political consultants, including SKDKnickerbocker’s Anita Dunn, worked up an effort to find hedge funds to pay them to kill efforts to enact the “Buffett Rule.” In the memo, Dunn clearly advertised her ties to the White House.

Earlier this year, I asked Hilary Rosen’s partner, Anita Dunn: “You have a lot of access to the President, from advising his campaign to regular visits to the White House. Do you think its a little bit disingenuous that you’re simultaneously being paid by a lot of corporations to lobby against his reforms?” Dunn scoffed at my question, and replied that she works for “some corporations” because “people have a right to be heard.” But the evidence suggests Dunn isn’t just giving voice to these multinational corporations. She’s also peddling their interests in multiple meetings with White House officials, all without registering any of her employees as lobbyists. [++]