Center for Consumer Freedom

The Center for Consumer Freedom is the group behind, but they don’t help animals

Background on the Center for Consumer Freedom

Masquerading as a legitimate non-profit organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front group for corporations trying to thwart animal welfare, environmental, and other public interest reforms. CCF sometimes will go by the Center for Organizational Research and Education, but no matter what you call it, it is not a consumer protection organization, and it has no social welfare mission. CCF takes in boatloads of corporate cash, providing anonymity to companies and allowing them to get tax breaks through their “donations” to this phony non-profit. HumaneWatch is a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom, and is part of their effort as well.

CCF was started with a grant from tobacco companies to attack anti-smoking organizations. With support from the restaurant, alcohol, and agribusiness industries, it has mounted campaigns against Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Humane Society of the United States and others. CCF and its related organizations have fought against legislation that would reduce the use of plastic shopping bags, and mocked New York City’s efforts to combat childhood obesity, saying that former Mayor Bloomberg might as well “cut to the chase and outlaw fun while he’s at it.” They have also advocated for tanning beds, mercury-laden fish and high-fructose corn syrup.

CCF hirelings sling mud on behalf of companies that profit from the mistreatment of animals—including the most extreme actors within the agribusiness sector. It’s not enough that Big Ag’s army of lobbyists keeps squeezing Congress for billions in taxpayer subsidies. They invest in CCF in an attempt to thwart even the most modest animal welfare reforms, defending lifelong confinement of animals, inhumane slaughter practices and the reckless use of antibiotics on factory farms.

CCF is one of the 35 or so shadowy non-profit organizations or web-based campaigns founded by or associated with millionaire lobbyist and PR professional, Richard Berman. According to CCF’s 2008 tax filing, 92% of all revenue taken in by CCF went straight into the pockets of Berman and the for-profit PR firm he formed, which appears to have been nothing less than a personal enrichment scheme.

This corporate shell game with sham non-profits, underhanded tactics against charities and public interest organizations, and the firm’s refusal to disclose the identity of its corporate paymasters, have been exposed in investigations by major news media, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Harper’s magazine, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and MSNBC. CBS’ 60 Minutes headlined its investigation, “Meet Dr. Evil.” See our list of some of the independent reporting about Berman and CCF.