Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes is a front group campaigning against a proposed California state tax on Botox that was created by a PR firm working for Allergan Inc., the maker of Botox.  It describes itself as a group "that seeks to stop the unfair taxation of health care services and prescription drugs in various states."
The astroturf group was the work of Direct Impact, "a Virginia-based affiliate of global public relations giant Burson-Marsteller Inc., specializes in developing what its Web site calls 'grassroots communication marketing campaigns,'" the Sacramento Bee's Andrew McIntosh writes.
"The company had signed on with Irvine-based Allergan to quarterback a $400,000 lobbying effort aimed at convincing California consumers and state officials that Botox cosmetic products should not be hit by a state Board of Equalization sales tax." Among the deceptive features of Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes campaign was the group's website - www.stophealthcaretaxes.com - which is registered to an employee of Burston-Marsteller's New York office. Neither Allergan's nor Burston-Marsteller's ties to the group, however, are disclosed on the website, McIntosh reports.
On its website the coalition describes its membership as including Americans for Tax Reform, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and Men's Health Network.  As of early 2008, Allergen is now listed on the site as as a "coalition member."
Articles & sources
- Andrew McIntosh , "Botox maker's lobbying assailed: 'Grass-roots' group fighting planned tax is company-created", "Business", Sacramento Bee, January 31, 2006, Page D1.