Sunrise (3/31/11)

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TEA PARTY GROUP FLACKS FOR BUSINESS INTERESTS

NYT: “The Tea Party does not have a presence in Indonesia, where the term evokes cups of orange pekoe and sweet cakes rather than angry citizens in “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirts. … But a Tea Party group in the United States, the Institute for Liberty, has vigorously defended the freedom of a giant Indonesian paper company to sell its wares to Americans without paying tariffs. The institute set up Web sites, published reports and organized a petition drive attacking American businesses, unions and environmentalists critical of the company, Asia Pulp & Paper. … Tariff-free Asian paper may seem an unlikely cause for a nonprofit Tea Party group. But it is in keeping with a succession of pro-business campaigns — promoting commercial space flight, palm oil imports and genetically modified alfalfa — that have occupied the Institute for Liberty’s recent agenda. … The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government. Yet an examination of the Institute for Liberty shows how Washington’s influence industry has adapted itself to the Tea Party era. In a quietly arranged marriage of seemingly disparate interests, the institute and kindred groups are increasingly the bearers of corporate messages wrapped in populist Tea Party themes.”

ANONYMOUS REVEALS EARMARK OPPONENT MET WITH FIRM SEEKING EARMARK

Sunlight: “Six months after Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., joined a House Republican voluntary moratorium on requesting earmarks, his staff met with executives from a cyber security company that requested an earmark to explain their appropriations process, according to internal company emails from the firm released by a group of hackers known as Anonymous. … One of the email threads released by the hackers contained correspondence between July 2008 and September 2010 Greg Hoglund, CEO of HBGary, his wife Penny Leavy-Hoglund, the company’s President, and Marilyn Erbes, the district director for Lungren. In a Sept. 13, 2010 email, Erbes offered to schedule a meeting about Lungren’s appropriations process in response to an email from an email from Leavy-Hoglund. … The H.B. Gary president had written three days earlier, “I’d like to see if we can get an earmark or funding in a bill to see if we can continue to train law enforcement on malware and catching criminals using the computer.”

SILICON VALLEY SEEKS TAX BREAK

Sunlight: “The WIN America Coalition is a collection of seventeen corporations and four trade groups advocating for a one-time tax repatriation holiday. The coalition consists of some of the biggest corporate backers of the Obama Administration including Duke Energy, Google, Microsoft, and Pfizer. … The seventeen corporations spent over $50 million on lobbying in 2010 and employed some of the best tax lobbying firms in Washington. Cisco’s lobbying operation is heavily focused on taxes, with the firm Ernst & Young, which employs numerous former staffers of congressional tax writing committees, leading the way. … One of Ernst & Young’s lobbyists is Nick Giordano, former chief tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee and legislative director for Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. He is one of forty-three former staffers of congressional tax writing committees that were hired by the WIN America companies in 2010. … While the Obama administration has remained cool to the idea outside of a total overhaul of the corporate tax system, it may take notice as many of the WIN America companies are likely to be financial supporters of the president’s reelection campaign. … Recently, President Obama reached out to the Silicon Valley community in a private sit-down with tech executives and the venture capitalists funding new projects. Those companies included WIN America members Apple, Cisco Systems, Google, and Oracle. These four combined to donate $1.3 million to the 2008 Obama campaign. Duke Energy, another WIN America member, is providing a $10 million line of credit to fund the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina next year.

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