Yesterday I blogged about a new tactic that a plastic surgery firm was using to entice consumers to try their facelift procedure: by having their own employees post positive internet reviews of the plastic surgery procedure, Lifestyle Lift hoped to get more customers. That technique, aptly named “Astroturf marketing”, has now spread into the healthcare reform debate, too. “Grassroots” protestors, led by the conservative website FreedomWorks, have cropped up at town hall meetings on reforming the health care system. The only problem is, the “grassroots” protestors aren’t really homegrown at all—instead they are “Astroturf” protestors led by conservative lobbying groups.
The main orchestrator of these “grassroots” protests is FreedomWorks, which is run by former Republican Majority Leader, Dick Armey, who is known on The Hill as one of the top ranked ‘hired guns’. In other words, he is a corporate lobbyist with a history of directing FreedomWorks to support the goals of his lobbying clients. In fact, he has a long history of supporting the following industries (some of which have a vested interest in keeping health care reform off of the table):
Armey’s FreedomWork’s is actively organizing against health care reform because his lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose the comparative effectiveness research of the health reform plan because it may cut into their revenue for name-brand drugs.
Armey’s lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance industry: FreedomWorks mobilizes its members for deregulated life insurance reform.
FreedomWorks is currently lobbying for maintaining the U.S. reliance on fossil fuels on behalf of the domestic oil companies and on behalf of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building ‘amateur-looking’ websites to promote the lobbying interests of Armey. It appears as if Armey doesn’t really care, though. Indeed, other lobbyist-run groups such as Americans for Prosperity, run by a former associate of Jack Abramoff, are joining forces with Armey to orchestrate the tea party protests. In fact, these lobbying websites are instructing members to infiltrate town halls and harass Democratic members of Congress. Although some news coverage has depicted these “grassroots” movements as real, it is yet again, another familiar Republican attempt to look like a party who actually cares about the average American family. Don’t be fooled.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.