Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Albany "astroturf": fake grass-roots lobbying

The New York World has a good article on the difference between grass-roots lobbying and "astroturf," i.e., fake grass-roots lobbying.

What does New York Alliance for Environmental Concerns advocate for? Whom does Citizens for Fire Safety Institute represent?

Both, it turns out, work on behalf of businesses that produce or use chemicals. Lobbying always has an element of spin, but some organizations make it easy to misunderstand whom they speak for or what they stand for.

As the current state legislative session winds down, the New York World used its Lobbies at the Top database as a starting point to identify organizations that lobbied state officials in the past two years and whose names appear to disguise their objectives.

U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas coined a word for the phenomenon: "astroturf." Facing a deluge of letters from the insurance industry, he is reported to have said: "A fellow from Texas can tell the difference between grass roots and Astroturf."

A trademark for artificial turf grass has since been reborn as a label for any faux-populist lobbying. Groups that present a sympathetic face, and speak to loftier principles than a company’s bottom line, tend to get better hearings in the press and among image-conscious politicians.

The rest of the article is here.

Labels: ,