Free Enterprise Nation (FEN) claims to be an organization “fighting Big Government, taxes and debt.”
The themes of “Big Government” and “taxes” are effective messaging tools for provoking angry public responses as the recent corporate-backed Tea-Party movement has demonstrated.
According to Tampa Bay.com, last September, two prominent GOP Florida donors, James MacDougald of St. Petersburg and Greg Capello of Tampa launched “The Free Enterprise Nation .”
Money talks. MacDougald, invested more than $1 million to get the organization off the ground. He said, “Government can only be effective if it is also efficient and answerable to the people it is designed to serve. The Free Enterprise Nation is here to remind elected officials that they represent the people, not just themselves or their bureaucracy. Our plan is to speak with a unified voice so large and so loud our elected officials will be forced to listen.”
So who is assisting FEN to get its “voice” heard?
FEN’s website claims to employ 18 full-time employees, its headquarters are in Tampa, Florida. Van Scoyoc & Associates, a full-service government relations and public affairs firm is also helping FEN spread the word. It is curious that FEN, an organization claiming to be against “big government,” would hire Van Scoyoc Associates, a firm that reportedly specializes in earmarks from the federal government.
According to Sourcewatch, Van Scoyoc Associates lobbies for 20 of the largest 200 U.S. corporations. Sourcewatch also reports that Van Scoyoc Associates is registered as a foreign agent and lobbies for arms sales and foreign aid for foreign countries.
Linked in says: “The Free Enterprise Nation Inc. was formed to provide education, unification, and advocacy for the cause of free enterprise in America. It is the first national membership organization created specifically to unite, and to advance the broad economic interests of, businesses and workers in the private sector.”
Like most industry front groups, recently on June 24, 2010, FEN released its spin on stimulus spending and the nation’s employment data. “Think tank” reports can readily influence public opinion. The report is released to the press and then gets picked up on the business wire and published.
Government employees have a limited scope of work to avoid competing with private industry. Pushing private sector workers instead of public employees is not always a good idea when it comes to our health, safety and welfare. Private contractors argue greater efficiency, but much of the “cost-savings” comes from private contractors paying low wages and benefits and providing less service.
What “Free Enterprise” actually means is doling out private government contracts with less transparency.
Shamefully, the mainstream media routinely prints “data” created by corporate advocacy front groups that are not truly “independent” and have an agenda contrary to the American people at large.
Tracy Emblem is an attorney in Escondido.