WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 19-25, 2011)

ADVOCACY & POLITICS

Koch-Funded Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy Gives Congress Big Freebies.” No by-line. Huffington Post. September 20, 2011. A recently-formed judicial “academy” funded by industry groups and conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is offering members of Congress and their staff free meals and trips in order to “educate” the lawmakers on controversial pro-business reforms. The group is the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy (CCJCA), launched earlier this year by the Law and Economics Center (LEC) at George Mason University’s School of Law. Despite being part of the university, the right-leaning LEC depends entirely on specially-designated donations which come from a core group of about 50 corporations and foundations, including The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Merck, Exxon, Eli Lilly, Altria, Wal-Mart, and the conservative Bradley Foundation. Unlike similar LEC programs for judges and attorneys, however, the CCJC academy is connected to Congress via the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus. The two groups share the same goals, but are separate entities. Formed in February of this year, the caucus is made up of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats committed to promoting “a civil justice system that … advances job creation and economic growth.” For co-chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), that means a justice system wiped clean of “excessive and frivolous litigation” and “inefficient rules.” Goodlatte’s caucus co-chair is retiring Democrat Dan Boren (Okla.), who is joined by Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) as well as GOP Reps. Randy Forbes (Va.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) and Lee Terry (Neb.). On the Democratic side are Utah’s Jim Matheson, Minnesota’s Colin Peterson, Nick Rayhall of West Virginia and Loretta Sanchez of California. According to promotional materials, the caucus academy aims to provide “rigorous and balanced education programs on a range of civil justice issues for the benefit of the general public and members of the U.S. Congress and their staff.”

Perry has close ties to conservative foundation.” By Jackie Kucinich. USA Today. September 23, 2011. An Austin-based policy foundation controlled by conservative Texas businessmen and political supporters of Gov. Rick Perry has helped shape Perry’s policies in office and provided much of the intellectual foundation during his rise to the top of Republican politics. Perry’s connections to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) are extensive. Its board of directors and staff read like a who’s who of Perry appointees to various Texas boards and agencies. Royalties from Perry’s 2010 book, Fed Up!, go to the foundation’s Center for Tenth Amendment Studies. He uses two pages of the book to praise TPPF, which holds the book’s copyright. “In its 21 years, the Foundation has helped make Texas stronger while defending the Constitution and demonstrating the harm caused by the excesses of Washington,” Perry wrote. Foundation officials participated in the book’s publicity tour, according to a 2010 edition of Veritas, the group’s quarterly newsletter. A page feature about the book, which includes a website address where the book can be purchased, describes a “whirlwind book tour” across the state with Perry “to help roll out” Fed Up! The book has sold 25,000 copies since its release in November 2010 – 12,000 this year, according to Nielsen Bookscan. The book sold 1,000 copies last week. The foundation, Perry spokesman Robert Black said, is “like the Heritage Foundation in Texas” and “always supports the governor and conservative lawmakers in general.”

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