have been expected to implement a widescale safety program to reduce injuries. Instead the company lobbied Congress to cut OSHA’s budget and to bar the Agency from developing a long-anticipated ergonomics rule, which is intended to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries and heavy lifting. Last year UPS held fifty-five “meet and g reet” sessions with individual members of Congress at its D.C. townhouse. The company’s PACthe corporate world’s most generous, with outlays of three million dollars during the past three yearsspent about four hundred fifty dollars for food and drink for the affairs and also gave the attending lawmaker a direct campaign contribution of four thousand five hundred fifty dollars, thereby hitting the maximum legal contribution of five thousand dollars. Of seventeen lawmakers on the House appropriations subcommittee who attended a “meet and greet,” sixteen voted with UPS on the ergonomics rider. In another effective move, UPS hired Dorothy Strunk as a consultant. Strunk headed OSHA in 1992, when the Agency proposed its initial measures to combat repetitive strain injuries, and now works to kill the guidelines that she had drafted. The House has voted with UPS to bar OSHA from issuing new ergonomics regulations. The Senate will debate a similar proposal during the next few months. Gina Ellrich, a spokeswoman at UPS’s Washington, D.C., office, says her company “supports ergonomics principles,” but opposes OSHA’s approach. “The proposed regulation is very broad-based and without a great deal of scientific back-up,” she says. “We don’t think American business should be an experimental laboratory when it comes to regulation.” 3. Lockheed and the F -22 With the fall of the Soviet Union, big weapons manufacturers find it harder and harder to create the “national security threats” needed to justify their wares. In pressing for development of its F-22 fighter, a seventy-billion program, Lockheed has turned even Canada into a menacing foe. The F-22 was originally designed to penetrate deep into Soviet air space, a need made obsolete by the end of the Cold War. But Lockheed argues that the plane is still needed because of the formidable aircraft possessed by potential U.S. adversaries. The company’s pro-F-22 literature lists threats to America ranging from Russian MIG-29s owned by Iraq and North Korea to Lockheed’s own F-15s and F-16s held by “hostile” nations like Israel, South Korea, Turkey and Canada.. In other words, Lockheed wants taxpayers to shell out billions of dollars so the U.S. can maintain air superiority against planes it has previously sold abroad. Lockheed goes so far as to boast that the F-22 can stymie the air defense radar systems installed on F-15s and F-16s. A GAO report from 1994 says that the F22 is not needed to meet any foreseeable defense threats. Taxpayers could save six billion dollars over the next five years by scrapping the plane and maintaining the F15 as the Air Force’s standard fighter. “We can’t predict the future thirty years from now,” Jeff Rhodes, a Lockheed spokesman, said in a telephone interview. “A military dictator could take power in a country [owning Lockheed aircraft] which is currently an ally.” He also said that the company was not promoting the F-22 as merely a counter to its own planes and that many hostile nations possessed Russian-made advanced aircraft. 2. Herman Cohen and Stability Under Bongo Herman Cohen, assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Bush, lobbies for some of Africa’s cruelest tyrants. In early 1995, he signed a one-year contract with the government of Gabon calling for him to handle media relations, write a monthly press release and produce a promotional brochure. His mission is to draw attention to the “very concrete process of democratization and democratic reforms” brought about under President El Hadj Omar Bongo. At about the same the time that the deal was finalized, the State Department released its annual report on human rights practices around the globe. According to Cohen’s former colleagues at State, torture in President Bongo’s homeland is routine: “Eyewitnesses reported seeing prisoners tied to chairs, doused with ice water, or made to crawl on their stomachs over gravel or sun-baked asphalt.” As to the “very concrete process of democratization” that has taken place under Bongoin power since 1967the State Department report said that the December 1993 election in which Bongo triumphed with fifty-one percent of the vote, was “marred by serious irregularities.” In Bongo’s home region of Haut Ogoue, the number of votes cast for the supreme leader was greater than the population reported by the 1993 census. Soon after Cohen began his work for Gabon’s leader, it was disclosed that a number of Pad’ in utes were suing Bongo’s tailor, who procured their services for the dictator without revealing that he is HIV-positive. Bongo paid up to fifteen thousand dollars per night for his prostitutes. Cohen also charges stiff fees for his services. His contract calls for payments of three hundred thousand dollars. Cohen did not return phone calls seeking comment. 1. Robert Beckel, NTS and AT&T’s Grassroots Campaign Robert Beckel is a “grassroots” lobbyist, one of the growing breed of corporate flacks who employ phone banks, letterwriting campaigns and other activist tools on behalf of corporate clients. A big client for him last year was the Competitive Long Distance Coalition, led by AT&T, MCI and Sprint, which paid Beckel at least two million dollars to drum up opposition to a bill that would allow the Baby Bells to compete with the big longdistance carriers. With the help of NTS, a Lynchburg, Virginia-based telemarketing firm, Beckel’s campaign generated five hundred thousand telegrams to members of Congress. There was one problem: up to half of the telegrams were faked. Many were signed by people who had never heard of the bill and others were sent by people who were dead. Beckel’s entire campaign was a fraud. NTS phoned peo ple and asked if they were in favor of “competition” in telecommunications. If the response was affirmative, NTS asked if the person would like to send a telegram, at no cost, to his or her member of Congress. To heighten the impact of the drive, NTS sent out four telegrams per person. More than fifty thousand of the telegrams came from people who had previously sent a message to Congress on the issue but who were not contacted by Beckel or his subcontractor. Roughly twenty thousand came from family members of someone who had given permission for their names to be used and eight thousand were sent by people who had no idea of how or why their names were used. Twenty-seven House members wrote to the Competitive Long Distance Coalition saying that “Our constituents have been manipulated, lied to, and misrepresented…In our collective years of service none of us has ever before witnessed such reprehensible conduct.” Beckel did not return phone calls seeking comment. [.] 12 MAY 17, 1996
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.