Dirt Diggers Network: Digest No. 8
June 17, 2002

Editor: Philip Mattera

1. The real identity of the Center for Consumer Freedom
2. Business for Social Responsibility introduces global labor database
3. Improvements to Industry Canada's Strategis website
4. SEIU research job announcements [omitted from web archive]

1. The real identity of the Center for Consumer Freedom

Sheldon Rampton takes issue with the moderator's offhand
comment in Dirt Diggers No. 7 that the Center for Consumer
Freedom does not attempt to hide its origins. Rampton writes:

Actually, the CCF DOES "attempt to hide its origins." The phrase "concerned
individuals" is hopelessly vague, and calling itself a "coalition of restaurant
operators" is misleading. Prior to January of this year, the Center for Consumer
Freedom called itself the "Guest Choice Network," which claimed to represent
"more than 30,000 U.S. restaurants and tavern operators." However, the IRS
Form 990 which it filed for the the six-month period from July to December 1999
shows that almost all of its financial support came from a handful of anonymous
sources. Its total income for that period was $111,642, of which $105,000 came
from six unnamed donors. It received no income from membership dues. How can
an organization which gets almost all of its money from six unnamed donors claim
to represent "more than 30,000 restaurant and tavern operators"? One possible
answer might be that those six donors are large chain restaurants, such as McDonald's.
Even if this were the case, however, the Guest Choice Network actually represent the
national companies, and it is misleading for them to pretend that they actually represent
local franchisees, who were probably not consulted and may not share the views of
the national chain.

Moreover, our research into the history of the Guest Choice Network shows that it
was created several years ago with funding from Philip Morris, for the express purpose
of promoting the tobacco industry's views among restaurant operators. Its first $900,000
in funding came exclusively from Philip Morris, in exchange for which Rick Berman (who
owns the PR/lobby shop that created Guest Choice) promised to set up a communication
center and newsletter that would have a "60% to 70% smoking focus." Some interesting
research has been done by Stanton Glantz and others about the tobacco industry's
strategy of setting up front groups for the express purpose of disguising tobacco lobbying
as restaurant lobbying.

For example, the June 2002 issue of Tobacco Control, a specialist publication of the
British Medical Journal, features an article by Glantz which cites linternal tobacco
industry documents showing that tobacco manufacturers gave donations to more
than 65 hospitality groups -- groups purporting to represent restaurants, taverns and
hotels -- alone as part of an "aggressive and effective worldwide campaign to recruit hospitality
associations, such as restaurant associations, to serve as the tobacco industry's surrogate
in fighting against smoke-free environments. ... The tobacco industry, led by Philip Morris,
made financial contributions to existing hospitality associations or, when it did not find an
association willing to work for tobacco interests, created its own 'association' in order to
prevent the growth of smoke-free environments. ... Through the myth of lost profits, the
tobacco industry has fooled the hospitality industry into embracing expensive ventilation
equipment, while in reality 100% smoke-free laws have been shown to have no effect on
business revenues, or even to improve them. The tobacco industry has effectively turned
the hospitality industry into its de facto lobbying arm on clean indoor air. Public health
advocates need to understand that, with rare exceptions, when they talk to organised
restaurant associations they are effectively talking to the tobacco industry and must
act accordingly."

This is precisely why the Guest Choice Network was created. It was actually a front
group for the tobacco industry, cleverly disguised as a front group for the restaurant
industry! Calling itself a "coalition of restaurant operators" is not honest disclosure;
rather, it is misleading language with which the Center for Consumer Freedom attempts
to CONCEAL the identity of its sponsors. John and I have written a critique of CCF and
ActivistCash.com, including links to selected internal tobacco industry documents, at
the following URL: http://www.prwatch.org/improp/ddam.html

2. Improvements to Industry Canada's Strategis website

The Strategis portal <http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/> produced by Industry Canada
has announced a major upgrade of its search engine. If you're not familiar with
the site, it's definitely worth a look when you're researching Canadian firms. It
provides access to databases such as Canadian Company Capabilities, Federal
Incorporations, industry reports, patents, trademarks, etc.

3. Business for Social Responsibility introduces global labor database

Business for Social Responsibility <http://www.bsr.org/> recently introduced an
online database called Labor Law, which is said to provide in-depth reports on
workplace regulations in more than 60 countries along with "supply chain compliance
resources." The resource is supposed to make it easier for companies to comply with
local labor regulations (such as they are). Unfortunately, the database is available
only on a subscription basis (and probably at a hefty price). If anyone has obtained
access to this database, please send in an assessment.

Philip Mattera