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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rent-A-Front: New Group Wages Stealth Battle Against Wall Street Reform

"These guys made the KGB look like amateurs"
In the last few weeks, a new player entered the financial reform fray with a $1.6 million ad buy, a respected economist on board, a blitz of opinion columns on left-leaning websites, and a message, cooked right into the group's name -- Stop Too Big To Fail -- that liberals could love.
But as TPMmuckraker has looked into the group, every indication is that Stop Too Big To Fail is an astroturf operation funded by corporate interests to give the appearance of grassroots opposition to reform.
The group's leader has a long history running a rent-a-front operation: offering up his services to large corporations who are willing to pay top dollar for a "consumers group" that will engage in stealth advocacy on behalf of industry. The group refuses to divulge its funding sources. The respected economist whose support the group touts now says he was deceived. And Stop Too Big To Fail has links to DCI Group, one of Washington's best-known astroturf operators.
Besides all that, Stop Too Big To Fail's real goal is clear: kill the financial reform bill.
"These guys made the KGB look like amateurs, and I used to work in Russia quite a lot," says Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF, now at MIT, who is a prominent advocate of breaking up the big banks.
Stop Too Big To Fail reached out to Simon Johnson earlier this month to participate in a media conference call purportedly on the topic of breaking up large banks. The theme was "protecting small investors." Johnson agreed to be on the call and outlined his views as usual, but he also noticed something seemed off. "I thought they seemed a little different from the other people I talked to on these issues." LinkHere

Late Update: The group has now pulled Simon Johnson's image and name from its website.

Reform opposition for hire


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