Pew Trust pours millions into "roadless initiative" lobbying
by Dave Skinner
Paragon Foundation News Service

Alamogordo, NM (PFNS)    On June 5, legislation to turn 58 million acres of
Forest Service land into wilderness was introduced in the House by
Representatives. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). Capping the
Beltway fanfare was a Washington Post editorial favoring the legislation.
Borrowing generously from Heritage Forests Campaign press releases and Web
pages claiming "our forests remain in limbo," the Post complained that the
Clinton-era "rule has been in limbo" for the past year and further declared
"it's time to finish the job of putting these lands off limits."

Actually, it would be nice if the Post had bothered doing its job.

An April 30 press release by the National Environmental Trust announced the
launching of a publicity campaign calling on "the Bush administration to
keep its promises on national forest protection," namely the roadless
initiative. Heritage Forests Campaign (HFC) director Jane Danowitz's
official sound bite warned of a "price" if President Bush "continues to
listen to big corporations and not the American public."

But if President Bush follows Danowitz's advice, whom would he be listening
to? Not the American public. A TV ad was placed on "the airwaves in
Washington, D.C.," and HFC was tasked with "running ads in key locations
along the DC Metro and on The Hotline."

In this day of 57 channels and nothing on, few members of the American
public watch the D.C. network outlets. Even fewer ride the DC Metro enough
to get those repeated views so critical to message effectiveness, and fewer
still read The Hotline -- the Bible of insider Washington politics.

The only "public" the HFC campaign ever intended to reach in this month-long
blitz was the anxious and overworked Capitol Hill staffer who asks only two
things out of life: Easy ways to keep the boss in office; and protection
from targeted hit campaigns from overfunded single-interest groups. No
matter, when the tax returns come back, HFC member groups will show this
targeted lobbying expense as "public education."

Feeling cynical yet? Danowitz puffed to the press about "big corporations,"
yet she and the rest of the HFC team are on the payroll of some of the
biggest corporate entities in America, so-called "nonprofit" private

According to Audubon leader John Flicker, "[HFC] is a project led by the
National Audubon Society and supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts." The
Portland Oregonian's Michelle Cole backed that up in May 2000, writing that
HFC was "bankrolled by $2.1 million" from Pew. Six months later, Cole
reported that "a dozen of the nation's wealthiest foundations gave $9.7
million to more than three dozen environmental groups seeking to influence
President Clinton's proposals."

Pew's web site states: "the Trusts have focused . . . on public lands in the
United States and Canada. As part of this effort, we have supported a series
of regional and national public-education campaigns [including the] most
recent of these efforts, the Heritage Forests Campaign."

Folks, that's lobbying -- corporate lobbying. The Pew trust entity, with
$4.9 billion in corporate stocks and other assets, is one of America's
largest, albeit "nonprofit," corporations. HFC's status as a "campaign" or
"effort" means it exists only as a line item buried in the tax returns of
participating groups. Still, HFC's latest contact address is listed as 1200
Eighteenth Street, NW -- the National Environmental Trust (NET) occupies
Suite 500 in the same building. In March 2002, NET landed a $3,000,000,
one-year "For general operating support" grant -- from the Pew Trusts.

It seems the "roadless initiative" and surrounding hoopla is just more of
the same old swamp gas the real American public expects from Washington. It
is the same old pure, corporate-type lobbying that takes no account of how
an informed electorate might feel. It is, as Congressman Scott McInnis
stated, a "sham."

It is therefore ironic that while Pew and other tax-sheltered private
foundations have poured millions into the sham politics of the "roadless
initiative," Pew Trust also has a "Public Policy" program on which it spent
$30 million in 2001.

Its mission is, among other things, to "restore public trust in elections,"
promote "civic engagement," and "improve public understanding of and
confidence in government."

If that's not a sham, it is certainly a shame.

PFNS is a public service of the Paragon Foundation, Alamogordo, NM

Jay Walley
The Paragon Foundation News Service (PFNS)
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Contact Paragon Foundation Offices: Toll Free 1-877-847-3443

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