to Harvard Nieman Watchdog article
to Skunkworks 101
Some Black, Hispanic, Deaf,
Disabled, Low Income and Seniors, Astroturf and
* Video Access Alliance
* Alliance for Public Technology
* American Association of People with
* Internet Innovation Alliance
* National Association of the Deaf
Other groups also sent out releases on this and
related topics including:
* National Black Chamber of Commerce
* Consumers for Cable Choice
* League of United Latin American Citizens
* Video Access Alliance
The PR release previously quoted is from Video
Access Alliance, a non-profit which is run by Julia
Johnson and funded by Verizon and AT&T.
According to a Florida Times' article "FL:
Consumer groups or covert lobbyists?" March 5,
"Video Access Alliance, based in
Tallahassee, is comprised mainly of independent
networks, video programmers and entertainers.
VAA chairman Julia Johnson said the clients of
her company, NetCommunications, include AT&T
Common Cause wrote this of VAA:
"Video Access Alliance has the dubious
distinction of being exposed as a front group by
a Member of Congress."
Worse, Julia Johnson had a position of power
over the phone companies as the former Chairman of
the Florida Public Service Commission, but now
works for them. According to Forbes:
"She was Chairman of the Florida Public
Service Commission (the "Florida PSC") from 1997
to 1999 and served as a Commissioner of the
Florida PSC from 1992 to 1999."
If the 'leader of the pack' is an astroturf
front, what about the other groups? Many have
joined in multiple campaigns to support this and
previous AT&T-Verizon-friendly regulations at
the FCC, Congress and at the state level.
* Alliance for Public Technology (APT)
APT is funded by Verizon and AT&T and is run
out of the offices of "Issue Dynamics", who creates
skunkworks campaigns funded by the phone
Here's what they claim:
"APT is composed of public interest
groups and individuals, some of whom
historically have been left out of the
Information Age, including the elderly,
minorities, low income groups and people with
Here's more about their astroturf work:
APT was a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory
Committee. Their consumer representative was Daniel
B. Phythyon, who was also "Senior Vice President,
Law and Policy at the United States Telecom
Association ("USTA"), where he oversees its
government affairs, law and policy departments. -
I.e., the phone companies' main lobbying
association. A conflict of interest?
* American Association of People with
AAPD gets major donations from both Verizon and
the Verizon Foundation, and put a Verizon VP,
Richard T. Ellis - on its own board. (2005). It
participated in multiple Verizon-based campaigns,
including part of a group put together by Issue
Dynamics that jointly signed an ex parte letter to
the FCC, explaining why the Bell companies should
not have to open their fiber-optic networks to
competition. --- It worked.
* National Association of the Deaf (NAD):
Verizon's telecom and broadband primer.
How insidious does it get? Here's how these
groups combine to do campaigns collectively.
Verizon created "primer" for groups representing
disabilities, deaf, blind, and others so that they
can quote the phone companies' position
According to the National Association of The
Deaf (NAD), The American Association of People with
Disabilities (AAPD), American Foundation for the
Blind (AFB), American Council of the Blind (ACB),
National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Self Help
for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH), TDI (formerly
known as Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.),
and World Institute on Disability (WID), all use a
'Primer' on essential telecommunications and
broadband issues. It is funded by the Verizon
"The Primer contains information that
will help you to advocate effectively on
Broadband, Peer to Peer Signing,
Telecommunication Relay Services (TRS),
Wireless, VOIP, Universal Service, and
Unbundling.... This "Primer" is designed for
advocates to use in working on these urgent
issues. The NAD thanks the Verizon Foundation
for its support in developing this Primer."
Also, their broadband report was created in
conjunction with New Millennium Research Council,
which is a 'project of Issue Dynamics', created to
help create the aura of legitimate research.
"Broadband is very important for many
Americans with disabilities. The case was made
in a report, 'Broadband and Americans with
Disabilities', that was issued by the National
Association of the Deaf and, simultaneously, by
the New Millennium Research Council."
* The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) in a
Another questionable group is Internet
Innovation Alliance. Here is a separate press
release by this astroturf group applauding the
actions of another Bell-funded group.
"The Internet Innovation Alliance today
applauded the Alliance for Public Technology
(APT) on the release of their policy paper -
"Achieving Universal Broadband" "APT should be
commended for helping to bring much needed
attention to the critical issue of universal
broadband deployment and adoption," said Bruce
Mehlman, Co-Chairman of the Internet Innovation
Alliance and former Assistant Secretary of
Commerce for Technology Policy."
Common Cause wrote this about IIA:
Here's the cable's companies astroturf site,
PhoneyBaloney, giving an opinion of the IIA:
Other recent releases:
* Consumers For Cable Choice: Astroturf
Here's a recent press release for Congress to
imitate the FCC's bad policy decisions.
"Consumers for Cable Choice (C4CC)
today urged the U.S. House Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and the Internet to emulate
the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
pro-consumer stance on the cable industry."
To read about them in 'phoneybaloney' see:
Here's what Common Cause wrote:
Yet another phone company flak is Netcompetition
run by Scott Cleland. Here's their recent press
release on net neutrality
"Internet Expert Warns Against Net Regulation"
Mar 14, 2007 http://p231.news.mud.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20070314/pl_usnw/internet_expert_warns
"Today, the Chairman of
NETCompetition.org, Scott Cleland, urged the
House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet to work with the Federal Communication
Commission (FCC) to keep the Internet unfettered
by Federal or state regulation."
Need the Black Vote?
This problem is not new. Here's an article from
1994, outlining AT&T's support to get the black
"A new black business lobby - National Black
"The NBBC's primary sponsor is
AT&T, which is providing office space,
advice and financial support. AT&T is a
longtime supporter of other minority-owned
businesses and organizations, such as the U.S.
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National
Association of Women Business Owners. The
telecommunications giant says it welcomed a
relationship with the NBBC."
And in 2007, the National Black Chamber of
Commerce puts out a release "National Black Chamber
of Commerce Endorses FCC in Video Debate",
Just go to their site to learn that AT&T and
Verizon are both 'partners', and funding the group.
And it seems this practice to get black
community representation is common, according to
"Prominent among supporters of Big
Cable and Big Telephone are the National Black
Caucus of State Legislators, thanks to tens of
thousands in donations from AT&T, Verizon
Let's not forget Hispanics.
On the Consumers for Cable Choice site we see
that one of the members who is part of their press
releases is League of United Latin American
"LULAC President Hector Flores, who
signed the petition representing his 115,000
members, said Latinos are among the biggest
consumers of video communications, yet have
little influence in the current monopolistic
regulatory structure. "We see competition as a
way to leverage our value and encourage better
programming, better price and more
inclusiveness," he said.
LULAC has been receiving large contributions
from Verizon since the 1990's.
In Massachusetts, LULAC writes:
"LULAC is supporting this reform
because we believe that if adopted, there will
be more options for cable TV and broadband
internet service, which will lead to more
enhanced offerings, better service and lower
prices. Verizon's new video service, as well as
its voice and Internet services will be offered
over the most advanced fiber-optic network in
"One of LULAC's goals is to ensure that all
Americans have access to the latest in
technology infrastructure investments."
Obviously, LULAC missed the FCC and state
filings on broadband in Massachusetts. By 2010, the
entire state should already have been rewired and
paid for. Here's a complaint New Networks filed in