For years front groups in this country have been able to operate pretty much under the public radar and have been very effective. I find, however, that lots of folks really don’t know about these groups and what they are. As some of you may know, a front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned — typically, a corporate or government sponsor. The tobacco industry is notorious for using front groups to create confusion about the health risks associated with smoking, but other industries use similar tactics. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries use front groups and disguise them as “patients’ rights” advocates to market their products and to lobby against government policies that might affect their profits.
Food companies, corporate polluters — anyone who has a message that they are trying to sell to the public — can set up a front group to deliver messages that they know people will reject if the identity of the sponsor is known. Politicians backed by Corporate America have learned from Karl Rove and his gang how to use front groups most effectively. We have seen firsthand how these front groups operate, and they have been able to avoid any form of transparency.
The shadowy way front groups operate makes it very difficult to know whether a seemingly independent organization is actually representing some other entity. That’s why these groups must be exposed. We have seen how a group with a clever name – The American Taxpayers Alliance – funneled large sums of money into the race for Chief Justice in Alabama in 2006. Nobody knew how much the group actually spent or who furnished their money. It’s this sort of thing that must be exposed and stopped. Front groups with an agenda can’t be allowed to influence elections at any level in this country.
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