Progressive States Leaders Denounce Misleading Anti-Public Union Campaign

Orwellian Named "Center for Union Facts" Trying to Fool the Public Missoula, MT - Former state senator Steve Doherty and author David Sirota, the Montana-based co-chairs of the Progressive States Network, today accused the inaccurately named "Center for Union Facts," of spreading lies in Montana. The Center, a Washington, D.C., front group for powerful corporate lobbyist Rick Berman, has started a major anti-union advertising campaign targeting four states: Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. "We do not need hidden outside interests coming in with inflammatory, misleading advertisements," said Steve Doherty. "These ads being masterminded from Washington, D.C., take cheap potshots at hardworking Montanans." Berman has chosen to mislead the public regarding the motivation behind the advertisements. The Associated Press reported that "Berman denied any connection" to CI-97, the so-called "Stop OverSpending" initiative in Montana that would cap state spending. In reality, the Center for Union Facts actually spent this past weekend in Chicago presenting information about their ads at a meeting of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). ALG has helped fund the campaign in support of CI-97 and the Center for Union Facts appeared on a panel alongside two organizations sponsoring similar measures in other states. Spending initiatives are on the ballot this fall in all four of the states targeted for advertisements. "Make no mistake: In denying his connections with the shadowy out-of-state groups that are currently facing numerous complaints regarding violation of Montana law, Berman avoided reality," added Doherty. "Berman, Howard Rich of Americans for Limited Government, and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform are peas in a pod - rich East Coasters who think they can run a puppet show out here in Montana. They are in short grass with bad camouflage." Berman is well-known for his numerous front groups, his ability to hide funding sources, and his willingness to tar and feather his opponents - whether they are firefighters or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Montanans need to know more about the man and the money behind these ads," said David Sirota, author of Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government - and How We Take It Back. "Rick Berman is not some innocent and concerned individual. He rakes in $10 million a year in money from powerful interests and devotes his life to attacking working people. He has explicitly said that his goal is to lower wages and cut health insurance benefits for American workers. That's not an agenda that Montanans support." The Progressive States Network was founded in 2005 to drive public policy debates and change the political landscape in the United States by focusing on attainable and progressive state level actions. It recently changed its name from the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN). BACKGROUND The Associated Press reported that Berman "denied any connection to the ballot measures" aimed at capping state spending or increasing the minimum wage. (Associated Press, August 21, 2006) The Center for Union Facts appeared on a panel along side Bob Adney of Nevada and a representative from Missourians in Charge at the "Action Conference 2006" hosted by Americans for Limited Government. Americans for Limited Government is backing Montana's spending cap measures and similar measures in other states, including Michigan, Nevada, and Oregon. In Nevada, Adney is leading the effort. Missourians in Charge are the local front group in their own state for a similar measure. (Heartland Institute, August 14, 2006; TASC 4 Nevada, No Date; Americans for Limited Government, No Date) Rick Berman operates a number of front groups, including the Employment Policy Institute (the name is meant to remind people of the more respected progressive think tank the Economic Policy Institute), the American Beverage Institute, and the Center for Consumer Freedom, from his own company - Berman and Co., which is run by Rick and his wife. (Center for Media and Democracy, July 2006) The American Beverage Institute, one of Berman's front groups, has become famous as the archrival of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whom he describes as "Neo-prohibitionists." (Center for Media and Democracy, December 2003) Rick Berman's Employment Policies Institute, an organization specifically created to mislead journalists, has been called out by business writers for issuing "misleading studies." Like other Berman outfits, the Employment Policies Institute is funded by powerful business interests. (Center for Media and Democracy, February 2006) The Center for Union Facts began with typical Berman hubris. The organization hides its funding sources. With the launch of its website, it became equally clear that the truth was simply not an issue for the organization. While highlighting the fact that there have been "$400 million in labor racketeering fines and civil restitution in the last five years," Berman's outfit ignored that almost all of the penalties in question were being paid by businesses, not unions, violating labor law. (Alternet, June 2006)