May 08, 2015

CREW Congratulates April’s Scoundrel of the Month: Richard Berman

Rick BermanWashington, D.C. — CREW has known for years that corporate America’s preferred hired gun, Rick Berman, will stoop to aggressive and dishonest tactics on behalf of his powerful clients. But Berman’s latest campaign to sell off America’s public lands, backed by one of the leading sources of dark money for conservative causes nationwide, reached new heights of hypocrisy, leading CREW’s voters to crown Berman as April’s Scoundrel of the Month.

As part of the public lands campaign, Berman’s public relations company, Berman and Co., spammed newspapers around the country with supportive op-eds. The nearly identical pieces attacked sportsmen’s groups who oppose privatizing public lands as “green decoys” concealing their true, pro-environment motivations. As evidence, they alleged the groups accepted “dark money” from environmental foundations. In fact, Berman and Co. routinely misleads the public about the motives behind its campaigns, shielding major financial backing from big corporations behind its phony nonprofits. Indeed, the firm’s campaign against sportsmen’s groups appears to have received funding from Donors Trust, which has been called “the dark money ATM of the conservative movement.”

“Rick Berman has spent his career criticizing others from behind a veil of secret identities and hidden corporate ties, but even for him, these attacks against ‘dark money’ are galling. Fortunately, many local news outlets around the country have become familiar with his corporate-funded mudslinging and object to being used as a platform to deceive the public,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said.  

Berman was in many ways a pioneer in the dark art of accepting corporate money to influence politics. As the practice blossomed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the overlap between Berman’s empire and rest of the dark money ecosystem has broadened. Two organizations connected to the billionaire Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity and the Institute for Humane Societies, collectively contributed nearly $800,000 to Berman’s firm and front groups between 2011 and 2013.

Nominations are already being accepted for May’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by Friday, May 23. Voting will begin the following week.

CREW to Congress: Close Loophole Used by Activist Hedge Funds to Detriment of Ordinary Investors

CREW and two other groups sent a letter urging the House and Senate to take up legislation to close a loophole in securities law allowing activist investors to secretly buy large stakes in companies before initiating hostile take overs. Read More ›

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