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Portal:Front groups

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Front groups Portal

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned -- typically, a corporate or government sponsor. The tobacco industry is notorious for using front groups to create confusion about the health risks associated with smoking, but other industries use similar tactics as well. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries use front groups disguised as "patients rights" advocates to market their products and to lobby against government policies that might affect their profits. Food companies, corporate polluters, politicians -- anyone who has a message that they are trying to sell to a skeptical audience is tempted to set up a front group to deliver messages that they know the public will reject if the identity of the sponsor is known.

The shadowy way front groups operate often makes it difficult to know whether a seemingly independent organization is actually representing some other entity. That's why we need your help to research and expose them. Using the resources that we have listed here, it is often possible to identify publicize the hidden sponsor who lurks behind a front group. We need you to help in the search.

Like Wikipedia, the collaborative, online, free encyclopedia, this website is a collaborative project that lets anyone edit articles. We welcome participation from everyone: students, journalists, whistleblowers, and just plain curious folks. Everyone is invited to join in this project. If you need help doing so, the links and articles on this page can help you get started.


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Selected article

Video ads by the Center for Union Facts portray union organizers as thugs who invade workers' homes to intimidate them into joining.

The Center for Union Facts is a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities. It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman's family of front groups including the Employment Policies Institute. The domain name was registered to Berman & Co. in May 2005.


In May 2006 the Center for Union Facts, launched its first TV ad campaign. The 30-second spot, running on Fox News and local markets, has "actors posing as workers" saying "sarcastically what they 'love' about unions," like paying dues, union leaders' "fat-cat lifestyles," and discrimination against minorities. The ad campaign cost $3 million, which was raised "from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won't identify." [1]

Labor and economics professor Harley Shaiken said the effort "to create an anti-union atmosphere" more generally, as opposed to business-funded ads against a particular union organizing drive or strike, "is a new wrinkle." An AFL-CIO spokesperson called the ad's accusations "unfounded and outrageous." [2]

The group campaigned heavily against the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation which "would give employees at a workplace the right to unionize as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted to do so." The Center for Union Facts has spent "$500,000 on newspaper and broadcast advertisements this week alone," reported the New York Times on June 20, 2007. [3] The group's print ads for the campaign compared union leaders to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling the bill a "scheme to eliminate workers' right to a secret ballot." [4]

The Center for Union Facts is behind the billboards with the web site which have been put up around Newark, New Jersey[5].

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Front groups news

Latest articles from the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch about front groups:

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"Citizens for Fire Safety" Smoked Out: Front Group Folds After Exposé
Rebekah Wilce Mon, 10 Sep 2012 13:31:15 +0000
Koch-Funded AFP Hails Walker as Conquering Hero, Rallies the Troops for November
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Lisa Graves Thu, 19 Jul 2012 12:45:54 +0000
Koch's Americans for Prosperity Campaign Draws Some Relatively Small Crowds--from Wisconsin and Elsewhere
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Koch-Fueled Event Brings out Tea Partiers for Walker and Kleefisch from Wisconsin and other States
Will Dooling Sat, 02 Jun 2012 16:34:42 +0000
Indiana Workers Stand against the ALEC Agenda and the Anti-Labor Bill Called the "Right to Work" (for Less)
Lisa Graves Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:20:05 +0000
Mitt Romney's "Super" Friends Take Aim Through the "Restore Our Future" Super PAC
Lisa Graves Thu, 05 Jan 2012 06:01:17 +0000
The Real "Winner" in Iowa: New "Super" Front Groups That Are Super Corrupting Our Democracy Thanks to "Citizens United"
Lisa Graves Wed, 04 Jan 2012 14:01:28 +0000

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