Center for Consumer FreedomPosted 6 years ago under Uncategorized
A front group for the tobacco, alcohol and junk-science-fast-food industries, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is funded by toxic-product-producing companies and corporations like Philip Morris, Monsanto, Tyson Foods, White Castle, Arby’s and Wendy’s, to name a few. One of the main goals of CCF is to neutralize activist groups that actually do protect public health, animal health, food quality and consumer rights. CCF is run by the nefarious Rick Berman and his for-profit PR firm Berman & Co., that uses media campaigns to viciously attack scientists, doctors, health advocates, animal advocates and environmentalists on a regular basis. CCF is registered as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, but Rick Berman is nothing more than a Washington lobbyist who funnels most of the money ($7 million since 1997) into his own pocket, auspiciously skirting IRS code 501c3. (1)
The advisory board of CCF is comprised almost entirely of shills and hucksters from the alcoholic beverage, meat and restaurant industries. CCF has changed its name twice in thirteen years to purge itself and hide from its shattered reputation in the eyes of consumers. Formerly called “Guest Choice Network” and now called “Center for Organizational Research and Education,” CCF is still the same rogue front group for GMO king Monsanto and commercial cigarette king Philip Morris, pushing genetically mutated food and the number one cause of preventable disease and death known to mankind. Berman is nothing more than a phony expert on retainer by the corporations that sell carcinogens to consumers. (2)
Set up in 1995 with well over half-a-million dollars from Philip Morris ($600,000 to be exact), Berman and his well-disguised for-profit business is forever in debt to the very companies that cater to disease and disorder for consumers, while functioning under the guise of “consumer choice.” CCF employs considerable time and money in its attempts to mislead people who care about animal and human welfare, as exposed by the group PETA. The watchdog group “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” (CREW) asked the IRS to revoke CCF’s tax-exempt status because Berman directs millions of charitable dollars (50% – 80%) to himself via his PR company. It’s all just a front to protect industries that manufacture and sell toxic food, alcohol and tobacco products.
“While it bills itself as “devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices,” others describe it variously as a front group, PR agency or tool for the restaurant and alcohol industries.” – The San Francisco Chronicle
CCF is not the only shadowy tax-exempt front group that Rick Berman runs. He also runs the American Beverage Institute (ABI) that tries to curb drunk driving laws, claiming that the blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is within the realms of responsible, social drinking (meaning he thinks its still safe to drive this way). Berman uses ABI to attack and try to discredit MADD–Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He also runs the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), which opposes raising the pathetic minimum wage, all to help the labor-intensive restaurant industry and protect their profits, since they help fund his shady PR tactics. All three of Berman’s industry front groups parade behind the banner of “free choice.”
Rick Berman is a slick trickster with evil intentions who employs brutal tactics to attack health advocates. He’s a PR machine set up to keep people from knowing what’s in their food.
The following are just some of the quotes of this man over the years who has made a living supporting anything, anyone and any corporation that cripples human health:
“We’re doing stuff to diminish the other side’s ability to operate.” —Rick Berman, to attendees of event sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance
“I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense. I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.” —Rick Berman, to attendees of event sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance
“You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” —Rick Berman, to attendees of event sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance
“People remember negative stuff. They don’t like hearing it, but they remember it . . . . We can use fear and anger—it stays with people longer than love and sympathy.” —Rick Berman speaking to a group of Nebraska farmers in 2010
“The crusade to establish 0.08 BAC as the uniform ‘drunk’ arrest level would have you in jail for behavior statistically safer than using a car phone.” —Rick Berman
“There is a lack of evidence that second-hand smoke causes cancer.” —Rick Berman
“Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger. Given the activists’ plans to alarm beyond all reason, we’ve got to attack their credibility as spokespersons.” —Rick Berman
And these are quotes about CCF’s Rick Berman and his nefarious ways:
“While he is a wholly unprincipled little man, he’s just a self-serving huckster who grubs for corporate dollars by offering to do their dirty PR work. His specialty is taking secret funding from major corporations to publicly slime environmentalists, low-wage workers and anyone else perceived by his corporate clients as enemies.” —Jim Hightower, former elected commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture
“In the food world, I kept bumping into groups like ‘Center for Consumer Freedom’ that were doing everything in their power to keep us from knowing what’s in our food—it was Orwellian.” —Robert Kenner, filmmaker of Merchants of Doubt and Food, Inc.
“The Center for Consumer Freedom also boasts a civic and innocuous-sounding name. In reality, it’s a nonprofit enabler for soda-guzzlers and junk-food-lovers.” —Janine R. Wedel, professor at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government and International Affairs
“Internal company documents show that members of Mr. Berman’s team – at least when they have been involved in some of the other corporate-backed projects – have discussed ways to massage academic data to change outcomes.” —The New York Times
“They are trying to peddle an industry wish list, but mask it as if they are independent experts. They are little more than phony experts on retainer.” —Lisa Graves of PR Watch, referring to Berman’s Employment Policies Institute
“CCF is the attack dog of the food industry. They engage in numerous dirty tactics that its funders would never conduct on their own.” —A Guide to Food Industry Front Groups, a report from The Center for Food Safety
“Unlike a lobbyist who files a report declaring which legislation he is trying to influence, Berman works on behalf of unnamed backers and tries to shape public perceptions about his targets.” —The Boston Globe “[T]he Center for Consumer Freedom [is] an organization that, despite its name, represents large corporations’ interests far more than it does consumers’ interests.” —Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, a multimillion-dollar food service company
“During our analysis of this charity’s FYE 2010 Form 990, the document revealed that the majority of the Center for Consumer Freedom’s program expenses are being directed to its CEO Richard Berman’s for-profit management company, Berman and Company. … We find such practices atypical as compared to how other charities operate and have therefore issued this Donor Advisory.” —Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that evaluates the financial health, accountability, and transparency of thousands of America’s charities
“Berman and Co. [is] the ‘communications firm’ that specializes in the creation of shadowy front groups and biased ‘research’ for their clients in major industries.” —Alex Pareene, political writer for Salon.com
“Rick Berman has set up a PR machine on behalf of the restaurant, tobacco, and alcohol industry that presents itself as a consumer protection group, tries to discredit any kind of investigation or legislation that might cut into industry profits, yells and screams about the allegedly shady funding behind “activist” groups, enjoys tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization, and pays its largest yearly fees into Rick Berman’s pockets.” —Nancy Goldstein, columnist for RawStoryQ
“Berman’s a real bottom feeder.” —Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Executive Director Michael Jacobson “The Center for Consumer Freedom has absolutely nothing to do with consumers, but it has everything to do with maximizing profits for major restaurant-and-bar chains.” —CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson
“CCF is one of a shadowy trio of tax-exempt front groups run by Washington lobbyist Richard Berman.” —CSPI’s Web site at CSPInet.org
“The so-called Center for Consumer Freedom deceives the American people every day of the week by posing as a consumer group, when it’s really a front group that does PR dirty work for the restaurant and tavern [industries].” —CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson
“CCF’s client companies want consumers—and their kids, evidently—to have less information about their food choices, not more. CCF is anti-parent, anti-kid, anti-health, and anti-truth. The restaurants that fund CCF should be ashamed.” —CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson
“Anyone who criticizes tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, or soda pop is likely to come under attack from Berman’s front groups.” —PRWatch.org, a Web site maintained by the Center for Media & Democracy
“Remember those ‘scientists’ the Tobacco Institute used to pay to run around saying there was no link between smoking and cancer? The studies you champion and promote often remind me of the dangerous nonsense they used to spout.” —VegSource Interactive Inc. President Jeff Nelson
“It ought to call itself the Center for Corporate Freedom.” —Jeff Cronin, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
CCF is really the Center for Consumer Deception
CCF is really just an “attack dog” and bottom feeder of the GM food industry, alcohol industry and tobacco industry that engages in dirty tactics that its funding corporations don’t want to conduct on their own–for fear of getting caught and exposed. CCF has nothing to do with consumers, but everything to do with maximizing profits for processed food-serving restaurants and bar chains. Unfortunately, posing as a consumer group, these tactics have worked for Berman, and have even been successful in influencing Congress.
In the beginning, back in 1995, it was Philip Morris’ (PM) intention to have “Guest Choice” not appear to be owned by PM, but rather to aggressively and proactively fight smoking bans with restaurant owners, so that they would appear to be acting on their own. PM thought this would gain more ground and quickly for smokers’ “rights,” thus removing locations that limit smoking and moreover maximizing profits for PM, plus hiding PM’s involvement would allow the group to take more aggressive, flexible and creative actions. All of this work is done under the guise of CCF’s non-profit status while Berman pays himself (his PR firm Berman & Co.) millions in non-taxed money to do the work of promoting alcohol, tobacco, casinos and soda pop all while attacking consumer health advocates, PETA and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Part of the CCF salvo is to direct attention away from the substantive, higher issues of concern and focus on the “messenger” rather than the message. This is part of their campaign to discredit or defame organizations that really are looking out for public interests. CCF tries to con people into believing they are protecting consumer freedom to buy, smoke, eat and drink anywhere and anything they like, anytime, blaming any regulations on junk science, binge alcohol consumption or toxic cigarettes as infringements on consumer freedom. It is CCF’s claim that the “food police” are out to get everybody, when any health advocates are intending to keep consumers informed of what’s in their food, drinks or tobacco.
The CCF attack on Chipotle’s move to eliminate all GMOs from their menu
Supported by fast-food companies that serve complete GMO meals full of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup paid CCF big bucks to start a website called ChubbyChipotle.com as a counter PR move after Chipotle declared they would no longer serve any food that contained genetically modified ingredients. The website boasts an aggressive campaign that with a picture of an obese man and states that if you eat two Chipotle burritoes a week for one year, you will look like the huge man on ChubbyChipotle.com. The Chipotle restaurant chain is the only “fast food” restaurant in the United States that doesn’t serve GMO or antibiotic-loaded meats. The obvious smear campaign by the “thugs” of the fast food industry and CCF is failing miserably as Chipotle sales are through the roof. (4)