jeudi 10 mars 2011

The company they keep

In case you didn't already know what a pair of nasty bastards the Koch brothers are, Rick Ungar at of all places introduces us to Tim Phillips, the face of the Koch-founded astroturf group Americans for Prosperity (sic):
Tim Phillips, the man who heads up the Americans For Prosperity group that serves as a political front for the brothers Koch (David serves as Chairman of the organization), and is leading the effort to support Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to neuter the public employee unions in Wisconsin, is a key cog in the Koch political machine – earning in excess of $250,000 for his services in 2009 (latest tax filing data available.)

Following Mr. Phillips’ career is like tiptoeing through some of the most notable political dirty tricks and lobbying scandals in modern history.

Here is a sampling of some of Phillips’ ‘greatest hits’.

In 1997, Phillips hooked up with Christian Coalition boss, Ralph Reed, to create Century Strategies, a political strategy and direct marketing group. The firm advertised themselves as being dedicated to mounting ‘grassroots lobbying campaigns’ and exploiting their ability to impact on legislation by using their strong connections to the leaders in the Christian community.

The new business got off to a nice start when Karl Rove referred their first major corporate client – Enron. While Century Strategies efforts to pressure Congress to alter energy policy in ways that benefited their client paid off – both in legislative success for Enron and financial success for Phillips and Reed- there is little to suggest that anything they did was unethical.

But many opportunities would lay ahead as the firm entered the big time when Phillips and Reed joined up with notorious lobbyist and future convict, Jack Abramoff.

More of the sordid story here.

I don't know what Rick Ungar is doing over at Forbes, and I sure as hell don't know why Steve Forbes is paying him to write stuff like this (given Forbes' political leanings), so I've approached his column with some skepticism. But Ungar's blog is rapidly becoming one of my must-visits (and is now on the blogroll).

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