Enterprise Freedom Action Committee

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Enterprise Freedom Action Committee (EFAC) is a conservative-leaning Political Action Committee (PAC) based out of Washington D.C. that has exclusively opposed Democrats running for political office. [1] Enterprise Freedom Action Committee is the latest creation of one of Washington's acknowledged masters of AstroTurf and stealth tactics: lobbyist and front man Richard Berman.[2] Bermans company, Berman & Co., represents the restaurant, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries.

EFAC is one of five organizations run by Berman. These five organizations are subject of an IRS complaint that they have violated tax codes that prohibit executives from profiting off the non-profits they run. These five non-profit organizations have paid Berman & Co. $15 million between 2008 and 2010. [3].

Marcus Owens, a former director of the exempt organizations department at the IRS, said in an interview that Berman’s “web of organizations clearly, in my view, is operating for his private benefit and for the private benefit of his clients.” That’s “a clear violation of the requirements for tax-exempt status.” [4].

“This mess of Berman and his empire of non-profits has gone on for too long,” added Frances Hill, a professor of law at the University of Miami and author of “Taxation of Exempt Entities.” Hill told Bloomberg reporters Mark Drajem and Brian Wingfield it “seems like an appalling abuse of tax-exempt status.” [5]

Berman's Non-Profits

Berman, who reportedly embraces his nickname, Dr. Evil, has set up and maintained numerous astroturf non-profits. Groups that he runs include the Center for Consumer Freedom and the American Beverage Institute [6]. The Center for Consumer Freedom was established with an initial $600,000 from the tobacco company Phillip Morris and advocates on behalf of restaurant chains and food and beverage companies against nutritional critics and government regulations. The American Beverage Institute has fought against drunk-driving checkpoints. Berman's organization have also attacked the Humane Society

A November 1, 2012 article in Bloomberg shows CCF in the following chart of non-profits created by Berman & Co. at the center of an IRS complaint filed in 2012 (used with permission):

11022012 Berman-kr-01.png

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  1. Enterprise Freedom Action Committee General Information Accessed 11/29/2012
  2. Stealth PAC blog Astroturf Maven Berman Jumps Into the Electioneering Game Accessed 11/29/2012.
  3. Drajem Mark [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/union-busting-by-profiting-from-non-profit-may-breach-irs.html Union Busting by Profiting From Non-Profit May Breach IRS
  4. Drajem Mark [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/union-busting-by-profiting-from-non-profit-may-breach-irs.html Union Busting by Profiting From Non-Profit May Breach IRS
  5. Pacelle, Wayne The Confidence Man Unmasked Accessed 11/20/12
  6. Warner, Melanie. Striking Back at Food Police Accessed 11/29/2012