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How The Game Is Now Played (We’re Way Beyond “Rigged”)

A Tightly Knit Circle Of Corporate Corruption And Abuse Of The Public Interest

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(Source: NJ Audubon Annual Report (2022)

One of my favorite writers on media, Caitlin Johnstone, wrote an excellent piece today about the propaganda function of US media:

To support her argument, she used an example of the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), outlining the relationships between military defense contractors on the CFR Board, lobbying, Pentagon budgets, CFR research and Report topics, and propaganda in support of wars that create demand for military weapons spending to boost the profits of the weapons manufacturers on the CFR Board.

A Tightly Knit Circle Of Corporate Corruption And Abuse Of The Public Interest.

I submitted the following comment on Caitlin’s piece regarding issues I’ve often written about here and offered up an example that closely followed her CFR example:

It’s not just the war profiteers that engage the self interested propaganda game you outline.

Case in point: The NJ Audubon Society (publicly considered wealthy birders) are led by a former Exxon Mobil corporate scientist named Alex Ireland. Mr. Ireland appeared in a recent press release issued by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection announcing a sweetheart settlement deal with corporate chemical giant polluter BASF at a massive 1,400 acre toxic waste site in Toms River NJ that is known to have been the cause of a childhood cancer cluster where scores of children died of rare cancers (read the NJ Dept. of Health Cancer Cluster Report). Ignoring that historical tragedy, Mr. Ireland profusely praised this settlement in terms of its benefits to the local community (it involved creation of a small “nature park”). Mr. Ireland’s quote was widely printed by the media.

New Jersey Audubon enthusiastically supports this use of Natural Resources Damages to create forests and parks in Toms River. … NJDEP and BASF have worked together to clean up and restore a contaminated area for residents to enjoy. This project is particularly significant in that the funding is going directly back to the community that experienced the damages from contamination. said Alex Ireland, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon. ~~~ DEP Press Release 12/5/22

(Mr. Ireland surely knows that neither BASF nor DEP are “creating forests” and that the site is nowhere near completely “cleaned up and restored” . Just the opposite: Even EPA admits that the site won’t be cleaned up for at least 20 – 30 years:

“The FYR has been prepared due to the fact that hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants remain at the site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure (UU/UE).” 

And the DEP BASF NRD deal explicitly allows BASF to sell and/or develop a 210 acre forested parcel which will reduce current total forested land cover. So he’s a liar too.) 

Two days before the deal was announced publicly, despite keeping the community in the dark, the DEP Commissioner met secretly with friendly hand picked environmental groups (including NJ Audubon) to request their public support for the deal, which they agreed to do.

Immediately after the deal was publicly announced, the local government passed a Resolution and the Mayor spoke publicly to condemn the dirty deal. Residents were outraged about it and blasted the NJ DEP at a public session held AFTER the deal was negotiated behind their back and executed without their knowledge or input.

Now here are the cherries on top: 

1) BASF (and Exxon Mobil) have been longtime “major donors” to NJ Audubon, a fact that is in NJA annual financial reports (see above and below tables) and not hard to find out, but never reported by media. Curiously, just prior to this BASF deal, NJ Audubon received an “anonymous” (in other words, dark money) “gift” of $6 MILLION, which they openly bragged about as the largest in their organization’s history; and

2) DEP Commissioner LaTourette previously represented BASF as a corporate lawyer, yet failed to disclose that conflict and recuse from BASF involvement.)

So there it all is: 1) revolving door; 2) propaganda; 3) regulatory capture; 4) undisclosed and unreported gross conflicts of interest; 5) dark money; 6) lapdog corporate media; 7) self serving schemes between corporations, so called non-profit public interest groups, and government (conspiracies); 8) secret government; 9) mutually reinforcing funding; and 10) corporate poisoning of people and violations of environmental laws that goes unpunished.

And this is just one example – the same organization NJA formed a partnership with Donald Trump at his Bedminster NJ golf course for which Trump got media praise and corporate tax credits (and preferential treatment – the personal intervention of DEP Commissioner Martin – and lax enforcement by the Christie DEP for significant violations of water allocation regulations and permits.)

Billionaire Peter Kellogg is a “major donor” to NJA too. That’s the same man who paid NJA $330,000 to draft the Sparta Mt. logging plan and bought off NJ DEP staff and conservationists.

And none of this is an anomaly – it’s how even the environmental groups now play the game.


I really can’t understand how a so called environmental organization can take money from a corporation and then advocate specifically for policies that benefit that corporation – and without disclosure – and then the media ignores these egregious conflicts entirely. The rest of the environmental community goes right along and has no problem with this. What the hell has gone wrong?

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