For years, the corporate funders of efforts to restrict American consumers’ access to the courts have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on massive lobbying campaigns, advertisements and projects to bankroll anti-consumer political candidates. Today the Huffington Post exposed one of the newest efforts to sway lawmakers and avoid the congressional gift ban through thinly-veiled “educational” programs:
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.
These programs amount to little more than an opportunity for corporate special interests to access members of Congress and their staff under the guise of education instead of lobbying.
AAJ has highlighted efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to weaken the basic legal protections of American workers and consumers through the Institute for Legal Reform. More information can be found at www.justice.org/USChamber.