'Dr. Evil' takes on ACORN
Beneath the "voter fraud" campaign lies Rick Berman.
Rick Berman is notorious for fighting against the minimum wage and on behalf of those who make and sell high-fat, sugary foods. The only dangerous food in his eyes is ACORN, which he and his operatives call "rotten" and "a bad seed."
Secondhand smoke is a non-issue to Berman. He's too busy blowing smoke. Berman is one of the main forces pushing the issue of "voter fraud" by portraying ACORN as the biggest threat to democracy since Communism.
Why most of the press isn't dragging out his behind-the-scenes connections to the anti-ACORN "voter-fraud" campaign is beyond me — a 60 Minutes segment on him last year by Morley Safer pointed out that Berman is known even among fellow flacks as "Dr. Evil" (video, transcript). How fitting that CBS's photo of Berman (left) shows him in the pose that Mike Meyers's "Dr. Evil" made famous in the Austin Powers movies.
Berman's Dr. Evil isn't as zany. Safer noted that Berman's proud of his self-described duty to "shoot the messenger."
Berman usually stays behind the scenes, but just yesterday he snookered the Oregonian, a major Northwest paper, into running his "guest opinion." Why newspapers just blithely run pieces written by P.R. people is beyond me. Anyway, under the headline "Rotten ACORN: A sordid history of more than voter registration fraud," Berman (or one of his staff) writes:
Also, keep in mind that if you run across the slick site RottenAcorn.com, it's operated by Berman — a fact you can discover only if you peel back a few layers. From the site:
Berman's name isn't openly attached to RottenAcorn.com. The site's sponsor is the Employment Policies Institute. Neither Berman's name nor that of his firm, Berman & Company, appears on the website of the "institute."
But according to IRS records, the "institute" is a non-profit that operates from Berman's office and produces a profit of a million bucks a year for Berman and his company.
More on that in a minute. First, here's what others have said about Berman's work as a high-paid lobbyist for big-ticket industries and businesses:
Berman told a trade magazine for restaurant chains: "In effect, our work is restricted to and focused on issues that affect shareholder value. These big issues include labor costs as they relate to health insurance and the minimum wage. . . . Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger. Given the activists' plans to alarm beyond all reason, we've got to attack their credibility as spokespersons. . . . We always have a knife in our teeth."
60 Minutes 2007 segment "Meet Rick Berman, A.K.A. 'Dr. Evil' ":
Berman is accomplished at "creating a political action group that tries to mislead voters, in part by pretending to be an aggrieved grass-roots movement" (Willamette Week, May 28, 2008):
Now, back to the Berman's Employment Policies Institute. The 2006 tax return for its foundation shows that Berman, as executive director, worked an average of 14 hours a week and was paid $5,000.
Pretty damn selfless. And Berman & Company, of which he owns 100 percent, spent one hour a week as the institute's management company. Berman's company, however, got paid. It took home almost $700,000 in compensation and more than $300,000 in health benefits and deferred compensation, according to tax records.
The institute itself works 24/7. The 2006 tax records show that it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisements with circulation leaders Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Metro Networks (which buys broadcast time). Those are just the top four media outlets on which Berman's outfit spent money.
And what were the accomplishments of his nonprofit "institute"? The tax records say:
Berman's empire, according to IRS records, also includes the FirstJobs Institute, which produces "public-service" ads and more than a million coasters a year. From the tax records:
While Sarah Palin sneers at Barack Obama's links to evil community activists like ACORN, Rick Berman puts business money where her mouth is.