16 minutes ago
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Update on the weird ad
First of all Rick Santorum is shown receiving an award from Pat Boone for sponsoring a bill to protect Social Security for people born before 1950. Then it goes on to plug the group's travel website. Strange combination. It turns out that Pat Boone is the front man for a group that calls itself the 60 Plus Association. Thanks to the reader who pointed this out. According to it's website the 60 Plus Association is:
.....a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues. 60 Plus has set ending the "death" tax and Saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities. 60 Plus has been described as an "anti-tax advocacy group" and an "increasingly influential lobbying group for the elderly...often viewed as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)."
Sounds good until you check them out. I found this on a Wisconsin political site What's Left:
Earlier this week Rep. Mark Green was touting an award he won from what he called a leading senior advocacy group. The group is called the "60 Plus Association". It sounded a little fishy since I had never heard of this group so I thought I'd see what this group is about.Turns out, Green's award is the equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken giving an award to the person that kills the chickens and expecting the chickens to cheer about it.The group is funded by big pharmaceutical companies so Rep. Green is getting an award for protecting the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies, not Wisconsin seniors.
But according to SourceWatch.org, a website run by the Center for Media and Democracy, there are really are no members other than the pharmaceutical companies.
The AARP Bulletin of February, 2003, has an excellent, well-researched article explaining this subversion of the democratic process by 60 Plus and two other astroturf organizations (United Seniors Association and the Senior Coalition). It notes that none of these groups have significant membership roles or community bases. "All three organizations claim to speak for millions of older Americans, although as recently as 2001 none of the three listed any revenue from membership dues on their tax returns," it states. "Moreover, an investigation by the AARP Bulletin shows that virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source - the nation's pharmaceutical industry."
From StealthPacs.org, a group run by Public Citizen:
60 Plus President Jim Martin told the British Medical Journal in 2003 that his group had 225,000 donors, whom he said he would not disclose to protect their privacy.10 But in 2002, 60 Plus received nearly $11 million (91 percent of its total revenue) from a single undisclosed donor, according to the group's Form 990 filing with the IRS.11 It is quite likely that such a large contribution came from the pharmaceutical industry. The Washington Post reported that 60 Plus was the beneficiary of an unrestricted educational grant in 2002 from PhRMA, the trade association of the brand name prescription drug industry;12 AARP Bulletin reported that 60 Plus received contributions in 2001 from PhRMA and from drug giants Pfizer, Merck and Wyeth-Ayerst.13 In the last three years, 60 Plus has relied increasingly on contributions of $5,000 or more, according to its disclosures to the IRS. The group's 2003 revenue represented a dramatic leap. Its annual revenue from 1999 to 2001 ranged from about $1.6 million to $2 million.14
Although 60 Plus bills itself as a non-partisan organization, its electioneering messages in 2002 exclusively benefited Republicans. Martin, the group's president, has long been associated with Republican politics. Among other things, the group's Web site advertises that Martin "was instrumental" in hiring George W. Bush for his first job in politics to work on the successful 1968 U.S. Senate campaign of Edward J. Gurney (R-Fla.).17
Another shadowy group that won't tell you who their donors are ala American for Job Security.