Tech Lobbying/PR Firm Outed For Faked Op-Eds

from the what-will-the-corn-farmers-do? dept

We get tons of PR spam here at Techdirt, most of which is simply an attempt to get us to write about this or that startup or product launch. It pretty much all gets trashed. Occasionally we hear from various tech lobbyists as well, pushing an angle on a story that supports the angle they're pushing. But one of the oddest experiences we've had was with a firm called LawMedia Group, which we wrote about earlier this year when Declan McCullagh outed the group as having allegedly composed a letter from a group of corn farmers somehow opposed to Google and Yahoo working together. Why corn farmers would be interested in such things isn't clear -- but McCullagh pulled back some of the curtain on the way these sorts of lobbyist groups act, picking a somewhat random "group" and then writing these sorts of letters and simply placing the group's name on the top -- even if (as in the corn farmers/internet advertising situation) the group has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

In our case, as mentioned, the folks at LawMedia Group started out by acting as if we were close friends, and then insisting that they had some really secret info that was damaging to FCC boss Kevin Martin. It's no surprise why they would approach us on the subject -- as we've written critically about Martin for years. After ignoring repeated requests for a phone call during which this info would be "revealed," I finally said that if they had anything they wanted me to see, just send it over. And so they sent a bunch of stuff that basically confirmed what was well known: Kevin Martin has friends who work at AT&T. Shocking, right, that a telco regulator might have friends at a telco? But, of course, it was positioned in a way to make it look really secretive, even to the point of suggesting that Martin really worked for AT&T. In other words, it was totally bogus. I told the guy at LMG that the info seemed pretty pointless, and never spoke to him again -- though he and other colleagues keep emailing stories that might make Martin look bad.

Now Declan is back with more stories of questionable activities by LawMedia Group, including what would appear to be a series of op-ed pieces published in newspapers using the names of people who don't even agree with what's in the op-ed, but, from the sound of it, may have effectively rented their name out to LMG to use in the op-ed. Most of the article focuses on a guy in Boston who is in favor of net neutrality, but had an op-ed published under his name that strongly argues against net neutrality. The guy admitted that LMG had something to do with it, but refused to provide details. However, when asked his opinion on net neutrality, proceeded to stay stuff in direct contradiction with what was in the op-ed under his name.

While somewhat sleazy tactics like this may be every day business in Washington DC, it's good to see it exposed, especially when it's being done so egregiously. At the very least, maybe it'll get LMG to stop bothering me with bogus conspiracy theories about Kevin Martin.

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  • identicon
    Kyros, 15 Aug 2008 @ 4:26pm

    blocking

    Most email systems have blacklists. If yours doesn't, install one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    gene haynes, 15 Aug 2008 @ 5:26pm

    comment on 'news' lobbying

    Thanks for exposing another liar disguised as confidential informant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • It's things like this that make legitimate marketing and important e-mailing difficult for those that are really using the Internet as a resource and not a source for spamming or pushing an agenda. As tactics get more complex, it seems to get harder and harder for professional services firms, businesses, organizations, etc. trying to help each other and forge real relationships to operate. It's nice to see this was exposed and essentially shut down, but sometimes it's pretty hard to stop people from doing what they want online, which ends up meaning more work for all of us as we have to be suspicious and take measures to make sure we're not vulnerable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      csin, 16 Aug 2008 @ 10:52pm

      Re: Computer Consulting Kit Home Course

      Yeah, you say that as you are pimping yout home course that uses fake "results" quotes from people...

      The very first "Success Story" is from iTEK Solutions and said they where founded in 2003... If you look on the itek website you'll see they where founded in 2001...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • Correcting Misinformation

        The company you referenced as being founded in 2001 is iTEK Solutions of Lake Mary, Florida and is NOT iTEK Solutions of Redlands, California that's listed on our Web site.

        It's very common in the computer consulting industry for multiple companies to have the same name, because most operate locally, with no desire to expand nationally. So having a duplicate trade name really isn't an issue with service marks or trade marks or anything like that.

        Again, duplicate trade names is a subject more for intellectual property specialists than for this blog.

        To TechDirt, I apologize for going a little off-topic in this Comment. However a commenter of yours directly attacked our business, with misinformation, so we have no choice but to defend. Libel is wrong no matter how you slice it. After all what would you do if someone was trash-talking or libeling TechDirt with misinformation on another blog?!?

        Thanks for the chance to set the record straight.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jgo, 17 Aug 2008 @ 12:55pm

    century-old lobbying tactic

    Vail and/or Insull used the gimmick of paying women's club presidents to put their names on "articles" singing the praises of regulated monopoly. Marvin N. Olasky wrote a nice piece in Reason that mentioned it back in 1986 February "Hornswoggled!: How Ma Bell & Chicago Ed conned our grand-parents & stuck us with the bill"

    I saved only this little snippet of the article's introduction:
    http://www.kermitrose.com/econ1996.html#Hornswoggled

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SenatorsAide, 19 Aug 2008 @ 5:51am

    It gets much worse . . .

    You think this kind of "outside" washington behavoir is sleezy, you should see what goes on "inside" washington. Stuff that would make Jenna Jamison blush. Now that the Republican party in particular has become itself run by lobbyists (I doubt it will take too much longer for them to control the democrats as well). I imagine the situation is even sleazier and more incestuous then it was a decade ago when I was there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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