Why 8 Months for Free Press to Respond – Incompletely – to Rep. Marsha Blackburn?

by Mike Wendy on December 21, 2011

In the middle of November, anti-property group, Free Press, finally complied with Representative Marsha Blackburn’s request to see the group’s major funders.  You may remember that Free Press’ commitment began last March in testimony before Congress (audio clip here).   Now, after Rep. Blackburn asked again on November 15th, they’ve suddenly decided to get around to it (response just below).

Free Press Rep. Blackburn Response Letter 11-16-11

How to account for the 8-month delay?

One can only surmise.  But an intriguing part of their response reads like this:

…In order to be responsive to your specific request, this list includes the names of some donors who, as is their right and privilege, require specific approval prior to Free Press’ publication of their names. One donor chose to exercise its right to privacy…  (Emphasis added)

Hmmm.  I do not remember Free Press’ Derek Turner making this equivocation during his testimony (I guess they feel they’re powerful enough to renege on most any promise, even if it was made in public, in open testimony, to a Member of Congress…but I digress.)

Anyway, who could Mr. Privacy be?

If you jump over to Free Press’ website, you’ll notice that the 2010 Board Report and the Blackburn response show different lists.  Most notably, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation is missing from the Blackburn letter.

Could this be a reason for the delay?  Soros’ OSF wanted some, er, anonymity?

Who knows? Maybe Soros is feeling the heat for his connection to LightSquared, and he wants some separation from his telecom lobbyists.  Some – namely, Senator Chuck Grassley – feel that the company is a political hot potato because of what appears to be FCC bias. It seems the agency gave LightSquared a controversial waiver to develop wireless services in spectrum slotted for satellite communications.  Interestingly, LightSquared’s main guy is Phil Falcone, a big contributor to the Democratic Party.

And Soros has significant investments in Falcone’s Harbinger fund, which is underwriting LightSquared.

That seems like some smoke to me.  Maybe even some fire, too.

Another alternative could be that the story actually runs in the other direction – that it’s Free Press, not Soros, who wants some insulation from the LightSquared heat.  And by eliminating / reducing Soros’ connection to the radical group, maybe it can avoid further scrutiny.

But this is a harder one to pull off.  The connection is well documented.  As I have written about previously:

From 1999-2009, George Soros’ organizations have given $11.5 million to media policy activist groups, including $2.7 million to Free Press, $1.9 million to the New America Foundation, $1.2 million to Consumers Union, $855,500 to Public Knowledge, $823,400 to the Consumer Federation of America, and $150,000 to the Media Access Project.  These groups, in turn, have with increasing intensity lobbied the FCC for more regulations on large wireless carriers, and against mergers that would make those carriers more competitive.

In fact as recently as this August, Free Press – and a whole host of others who have supped at the Soros foundation trough – has actively lobbied for allowing LightSquared’s wireless proposal to go forward at the FCC.

Maybe Rep. Blackburn knew of this general connection?  Maybe she didn’t?  Perhaps it doesn’t matter? It seems to me what does matter, however, is that Rep. Blackburn was trying to get to the bottom of a pretty basic question (which few in the MSM care to ask):

 …It’s less clear to me whom you represent with Free Press.  And, I think [this] might be instructive to us as we read your testimony, and as we try to figure out, you know, the bias you bring to the argument… (Emphasis added)

Well, here’s the answer.

Soros pays.  And Free Press lobbies like any lobby shop would, for profit-motivated interests.  That’s the bias. Moreover, I think this is the progressive foundation, “working in the public interest” rule, not the exception (as I recently wrote about on this “public interest” shill group).

In other words – the good ole, greedy 1%-er profit motive at work, and nothing more.


Post Script: Finally, I think FP’s languid response is highly disrespectful, too.  Here’s a group that urges Congress to do its bidding (i.e., on Carrier IQ, on the AT&T merger, Net Neutrality, SOPA, etc.), but it can’t even comply with a simple request.  And when it does, it does so on its own timetable, and then on its own terms.   Good representatives of brand-Soros, huh?


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