A Brief History of Sleaze

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Bonner and Associates claims to be shocked that a wayward temp in their offices sent letters purporting to be from African American and Hispanic groups to lawmakers, asking them to vote against cap and trade. This is odd, because creating the illusion of popular support for or opposition to a bill is what Bonner and Associates does. Below the jump, a few of their greatest hits:

 

2001: Pfizer hires Bonner to muster up some grassroots opposition to legislation in Minnesota that would make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. A state representative finds out about the scheme after receiving a call that purported to be from the 60 Plus Association but which turned out to be from a phone bank organized by Bonner—the representative heard the caller being coached in the background. (Incidentally, 60 Plus has long been known as a go-to group for conservative causes—Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe to donate to the organization, saying that it would help garner support for their legislative causes with the House GOP leadership.)

2002: The Maryland legislature considers a bill to cap prescription drug prices. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a Bonner-created group called the Consumer Alliance faxes letters to church leaders and community groups like Associated Black Charities in Baltimore, warning that “the poor and disabled were in danger of losing access to affordable prescription drugs.” Bonner had been hired by the pharmaceutical industry to orchestrate the campaign, and was targeted with an ethics complaint until it agreed to register as a lobbyist in the state. When challenged on the tactic, company founder Jack Bonner called it a “great lesson in the First Amendment.”  

2003: Anita de Palma of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) makes a trip to DC to lobby against a Medicare funding cut for cancer patients. She cries at a press conference while recalling her own father’s death from cancer, and even gets a giant hug from Sen. Bill Nelson. De Palma said it was only later that she discovered that US Oncology, the group that paid her travel expenses, was not a patient advocacy organization but a front for drug companies that would lose millions if the cut went ahead. The “grassroots” campaign had been organized by Bonner. Explaining the strategy to Politico, Jack Bonner said:”Emotion moves politics. Cancer’s a great example of this.”

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We'll also be quite transparent and level-headed with you about this.

In "News Never Pays," our fearless CEO, Monika Bauerlein, connects the dots on several concerning media trends that, taken together, expose the fallacy behind the tragic state of journalism right now: That the marketplace will take care of providing the free and independent press citizens in a democracy need, and the Next New Thing to invest millions in will fix the problem. Bottom line: Journalism that serves the people needs the support of the people. That's the Next New Thing.

And it's what MoJo and our community of readers have been doing for 47 years now.

But staying afloat is harder than ever.

In "This Is Not a Crisis. It's The New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, why this moment is particularly urgent, and how we can best communicate that without screaming OMG PLEASE HELP over and over. We also touch on our history and how our nonprofit model makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there: Letting us go deep, focus on underreported beats, and bring unique perspectives to the day's news.

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