Contemporary cooptation of grassroots tactics – using nonprofits to promote big business interests

Past research, such as Paul DiMaggio’s work on museums, has examined how particular non-profit organizations have served as a vehicle for promoting elite interests. Today’s NYT article suggests that that lobbyists are co-opting non-profit structures. To read more, click here: article and a multimedia graphic about a lobbyist turned “advocate” for big business:
“Across two decades, Mr. Berman has founded the Center for Consumer Freedom and five other nonprofits with similarly innocuous names. His industry donors — including restaurant chains whose costs could rise if living conditions for animals have to be improved, and wine and spirits companies that might sell less liquor if MADD has its way — can claim a deduction for charitable donations or business expenses. And since nonprofit groups do not have to disclose their donors, Mr. Berman’s groups offer an even more valuable asset — anonymity for companies that would rather their customers not know they are behind certain attacks.

His critics say Mr. Berman’s organizations are little more than moneymakers for his for-profit communications firm, Berman and Company. Last month, in what appears to be a new tactic by those critics, the Humane Society and MADD filed a complaint with the New York Commission on Public Integrity, charging that the American Beverage Institute and Berman and Company were in fact lobbying and had failed to register with the state as lobbyists. ”

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