News Release Archive - 2000

Africa: Analysts Available

Policy analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, Toler said today: “While this latest trip to Africa by Clinton is supposedly about stability and democracy, the corporate agenda also needs to be scrutinized. In exchange for paltry trade benefits, the ‘NAFTA for Africa’ African Growth and Opportunity Act made sub-Saharan Africa the only region in the world now subject to MAI [Multilateral Agreement on Investment] conditions. The recently announced loans from the Export-Import Bank are intended to undermine Brazilian and Indian sales of less expensive generic AIDS drugs and encourage African countries to go even further into debt in order to purchase drugs from U.S. pharmaceutical companies. The recent announcement of more U.S. aid to the Nigerian military is as much about diamond production in neighboring Sierra Leone as anything. Bottom line, Clinton is going to Nigeria on behalf of Chevron and Shell Oil, not on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Nigerian people.”
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Director of the 50 Years is Enough Network, Njehu said today: “When Clinton went to Africa in 1998, there was talk of the ‘African Renaissance’ — which has come to naught. There hasn’t been debt cancellation. The neo-liberal agenda is moving forward as evidenced by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which opens up sub-Saharan Africa for U.S. corporate opportunities, while doing little for the masses of African people.”
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Senior policy analyst with the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Pajibo said: “The U.S. would do well to come through on its debt relief commitments and pledge substantial resources to address the AIDS pandemic… Nelson Mandela has been attempting to forge a peace agreement in Burundi that may come to at least partial fruition next week. The people of Burundi have been at war since 1993. More than 200,000 people have been killed. Others continue to live precariously as refugees in neighboring countries, especially Tanzania, which Clinton will be visiting.”
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Author of the just-released Private Warriors, a book examining the post-Cold War arms trade, Silverstein said today: “The U.S. government is not so much interested in Africa as in small parts of it that are mineral rich, such as the Niger Delta in Nigeria, which has a great deal of oil. There’s been cooperation between the U.S. and Nigerian militaries and private military firms like Military Professional Resources Inc. and multinational companies. Firms like MPRI are made up of former Pentagon officials and have trained Croatian units which have been implicated in war crimes in Yugoslavia. If Clinton wanted to spare Africa a great deal of grief, he could simply order the State Department to cancel the licenses of these military firms.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Electricity Deregulation: The Costs

Author of the just-released book The Last Energy War: The Battle Over Utility Deregulation and senior advisor to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Wasserman said today: “Utility deregulation is a $200 billion scam that will gouge both the ratepayer and the environment for decades to come.”

Energy research director for Public Citizen and author of the report “Money Harvest: Utility Holding Companies Are Threshing Ratepayers,” Higley said today: “The public has the right to control the electric power industry — reliable and affordable electricity is an absolute necessity in our modern society. Electricity deregulation, which is supported by both the Republican and Democratic parties, is taking the power system away from the people and handing it over to for-profit corporations. In his announcement today, President Clinton failed to mention that the high electricity prices gouging San Diegans, who have seen their electricity bills almost triple in the last several months, have been caused in part by for-profit suppliers holding power ransom until prices reached stratospheric levels. By continuing to promote the inherently doomed scheme of electricity deregulation, President Clinton would spread the deregulation disaster afflicting San Diego to the whole country.”
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Executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in California, Court said today: “Two years after we fought against California’s deregulation law — once called a ‘model for the nation’ — San Diegans were the first to experience the greed of the energy monopolies. Electric rates went up 240 percent in the first month of deregulation. California has proven that deregulation takes power from people and allows the electric companies to gouge prices… We warned that deregulation would be a disaster and sponsored a ballot measure in 1998, Prop. 9, to try to protect people from it. But the utility companies spent $40 million and Prop. 9 was defeated. San Diego is the first area to be fully deregulated, and look what has happened… While offering some short-term relief, Clinton’s statement today suggests that he wants national deregulation of the energy market.”
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Executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy in Louisiana, Groesch said today: “The big winners from electric deregulation are the utility companies and their industrial customers, who are able to negotiate lower rates, while residential and small commercial customers will definitely get higher rates in the short run, and possibly even in the long run. Deregulation has been pushed by groups like Citizens for A Sound Economy: an ostensible ‘citizens group’ that is underwritten largely by Koch Industries, the largest privately held oil and gas corporation in the United States.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Post-Convention Analysis

National organizer of United for a Fair Economy, Silverman said today: “At the marches in the street, at trainings and in the Shadow Conventions, the themes of economic inequality and the concentration of corporate power were the basis of almost every message… Already 66 corporations, including AT&T and Raytheon, have given over $50,000 to both Al Gore and George W. Bush’s campaigns for president.”
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Executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Solomon appeared on the PBS “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on Wednesday. He said today: “Let’s face it: Most of the words that floated from the podiums of the Democratic and Republican conventions amounted to little more than insipid drivel. Delegates were so eager to stay ‘on message’ that there was no semblance of political debate. The two major parties are more like public-relations firms serving the interests of corporate clients than like political entities serving the interests of the public.”
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Professor of economics at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Miller said today: “On Monday night, Bill Clinton took credit for overseeing the most prosperous economy in U.S. history. And last night Al Gore asked for our support ‘on the basis of the better, fairer, more prosperous America we can build together’ — one, he says, that ‘will enrich not just a few, but all working families.’ But continuing the Clinton-Gore economic policies will do nothing to build a different, fairer economy. In the 1960s boom, wages rose three times as quickly as in the 1990s boom, and the earlier boom added nearly four times as much to the income of the median family.”
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A board member of California Prison Focus and an independent correctional consultant, Weinstein said: “One thing you won’t hear from Gore is that his administration has been vigorous in its support of the terrifying experiment of mass incarceration in the United States. We now have 2 million prisoners in the U.S. There are 164,000 in California state prisons; in 1970, there were 20,000. Federal policy has forced the states to incarcerate more people for more kinds of crimes with longer sentences.”
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National coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, Young said today: “Both the Democrats and Republicans avoid the issue of universal national health insurance. Their programs are failed programs. Under this administration, we’ve gone from 36 million to 46 million uninsured people. We spend $4,200 per capita annually, Switzerland is next biggest spender at $2,400 — and they have universal coverage. The Patient Bill of Rights is empty. The corporate takeover of health care — which happened under the Democrats’ watch — doesn’t need to be controlled, it needs to be ended.”
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Founder of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, Manilov said: “The shift in education policy discussion is similar to what happened around welfare reform. The Democrats are talking about charter schools as a way to increase ‘accountability,’ promote ‘change’ in neighborhoods where there are ‘failing schools.’ This puts testing over teaching and avoids the real issues: poverty and racism.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (415) 552-5378

Interviews Available on Democratic Convention

Pastor emeritus of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr. and a protester, Lawson said: “People are continuing the historic way of social change — they are in the streets risking jail and position, working to change the status quo.”

A member of the Direct Action Network in Los Angeles, Ruiz was hit by approximately 10 rubber bullets on Monday evening when police opened fire. He said: “I was trying to get people out of the area while avoiding a stampede, but the police started firing off rubber pellets and bullets.”
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Co-founder of Global Exchange and co-editor of the book Globalize This!, Danaher said today: “Both the Democratic and Republican leaderships are pushing the corporate trade agenda while neither is challenging the gross inequality in the distribution of our nation’s wealth — with the richest one percent owning more than the poorest 80 percent.”
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Assistant majority leader of the California legislature, Cedillo said: “Locally, in Los Angeles, a progressive coalition of labor, people of color and others has been effective in making real change, for example in working for a living wage.”

Professor of politics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of Welfare’s End, Mink said today: “Gore’s selection of Lieberman is troubling, and not only because of Lieberman’s New Democrat pieties about personal responsibility instead of government responsibility. The Lieberman candidacy signals an affirmation of the anti-woman, patriarchal moralism initially made famous by Republicans.”

Oil campaign coordinator for Project Underground, James said today: “While Al Gore is denouncing ‘big oil,’ he is relying on Occidental Petroleum for political donations and personal profit; meanwhile the U’wa people of Colombia are under the gun because of Occidental’s drilling on their land.”
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Coordinator of the Iraq Action Coalition, Masri said: “Hillary Clinton and others can tout this as a ‘peaceful’ time where our leaders ‘put children first,’ but our government is continuing to bomb Iraq and insist on economic sanctions, which are causing the deaths of 5,000 Iraqi children every month.”
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Director of the Free Speech Internet Project, Drolet said: “The police used a spurious bomb threat to shut down our satellite truck outside the Independent Media Center.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (415) 552-5378 or cell: (415) 518-3611

Core Democratic Constituencies?

National executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and executive director of Bay Area Police Watch, Jones said: “We have a great deal of concern about the plans of the LAPD given their long history of unlawful police violence and disregard for civil liberties. Both parties have participated in building up larger and larger and less accountable police forces coast to coast, and it’s not surprising that both parties are now relying on those overgrown police forces to stifle dissent.”

Environmental co-chair of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, Katelman said today: “The administration has convinced most of the public that they are environmentalists, but if you look deeper, you find that their actions are token. The corporations are making money and the environment is losing. In the case of the Headwaters forest, ancient redwoods are still being cut, the marbled murrelet and other species are being driven to extinction, and Charles Hurwitz and his Maxxam corporation are profiting while Clinton-Gore got the green points.”
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Co-chair of MAGI (Ministers Against Global Injustice) and pastoral associate at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Campbell said today: “Both at the global level and at the local level, there’s a propensity to be guided by the corporate interest and being blind to the moral dimensions of economic decisions being made. A just-released report from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, ‘The Other Los Angeles: The Working Poor in the City of the 21st Century,’ shows that one in four workers are poor. These are people who are working but are still below the poverty level.”
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For 27 years, Everett has been a lighting electrician in the Hollywood film and television industry. He is a spokesperson for the Hollywood Fair Trade Campaign and a labor activist. He said today: “The Hollywood job base has been deteriorating because of NAFTA, many movies are made in Canada because the Canadian dollar is soft and Canadian subsidies are permitted by NAFTA. These subsidies are supposed to go to protect the native Canadian film industry, but instead have been used to raid the U.S. film industry. In 1998, 24,000 jobs were lost to overseas production. There have been downward pressures in wages and conditions for the remaining jobs.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (415) 552-5378 or cell: (415) 518-3611

Perspectives on Sen. Lieberman’s Policies

Editor of Tikkun magazine, a bimonthly Jewish critique of politics, culture and society, and author of Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul, Lerner said today: “It’s great that a Jew is on a major party ticket but unfortunately, just as many African Americans noted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did not represent the interests of their community, so many Jews have mixed feelings about the selection of Lieberman. Sen. Joseph Lieberman joined with Bill Clinton and Al Gore to create the Democratic Leadership Council precisely to transform the Democratic Party from its traditional New Deal role to better the lives of working people and minorities into a party that caters to the interests of the corporate elite. He represents the tendency within the Jewish world to abandon the moral vision that has led generations of Jews to work to end poverty and oppression. Rather, he has championed escalations of the military budget while finding savings by reducing domestic social spending. Identifying Lieberman as a moral hero only makes sense when we narrow our vision of ‘morality’ to the sphere of sexual ethics and abandon the Biblical insistence that social justice is the core of ethical life.”
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Lubin, director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, said today: “The selection of Joe Lieberman as Al Gore’s running mate is frightening to me. His role in the Gulf War was not just as a supporter but as one who was in fact pushing for that war. He has continuously, for the last 10 years, functioned as a backer of the sanctions against Iraq (as has Al Gore), where over 5,000 children a month have died as a result. Lieberman is one of the largest recipients of funds from AIPAC, and it’s hard for me to see him as an honest negotiator between Palestinians and Israelis.”
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Associate editor at The New Haven Advocate, Bass has been writing about Lieberman for 20 years. He said today: “Lieberman is a very good student of finding where power lies and using that. You won’t find many people in Connecticut who don’t like Lieberman — personally, he’s very friendly. But in his first Senate run, Lieberman attacked liberal Republican Lowell Weicker from the right on school prayer and red-baited him for his support for normalizing trade with Fidel Castro. He was the first Northerner to lead the Democratic Leadership Council, which moved the Democratic Party to the right by co-opting Republican issues. He’s been for the death penalty and capital gains tax cuts. His biggest financial backers are military contractors, financial services companies and pro-Israel groups. He’s a supporter of aggressive foreign military intervention — he’s called for the assassination of foreign leaders. He’s been very skillful at building a national fundraising network, he was one of the first to realize that the influence of the traditional party structure was waning and you had to set up your own machine. He has voted for the McCain-Feingold bill to ban soft money, but has stockpiled funding even when he had only token opposition.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini or Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378

Below the Surface in Philadelphia

“What we’re seeing in Philadelphia is a First Amendment crisis that could become a First Amendment catastrophe,” said McGuire, an attorney working with the R2K legal collective. “The authorities in Philadelphia have set bail for demonstrators facing misdemeanor charges as high as $30,000. It’s unprecedented. We have $1 million bail set for demonstrators facing felonies. The police commissioner has called on the federal government to use the anti-racketeering and conspiracy laws to prosecute demonstrators.”
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Editor of the Texas Observer and co-author (with Molly Ivins) of Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, Dubose said this morning: “Bush is speaking in code to the religious right… This is the politics of money and of message and of personality and Bush is ideally suited for all three.”
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Columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, Gonzalez said: “If we didn’t know him, we’d be pleased with the speech — it sounded positive and loving. The problem I have with Gov. Bush is that it takes government to create social change, it’s not enough to have the private sector and the religious community to take care of the most disadvantaged among us. Gov. Bush speaks without any real knowledge of the debilitating experience of poverty, injustice, prison, a poor education.”

Author of the forthcoming Pearls Before Swine, a book on the national significance of the Confederate flag struggle, Gray said: “Both Bush and McCain hitched their wagon to the most racist elements here in South Carolina. Both major political parties use blacks as props. Cheney voted against releasing Mandela, he says that was because the ANC was a ‘terrorist’ group, but people of color are never allowed to say ‘give me liberty or give me death.'”

Author of Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street — A Populist Vision for the 21st Century, Gates was former counsel to the Senate Finance Committee from 1980 to 1987. He said today: “A real conservative would want to protect what we have for posterity. Instead today’s ‘conservatives’ undermine posterity with a policy mix that results in the top 1 percent of households now exceeding the combined wealth of the bottom 95 percent. The Democrats are barely better; the gap between the have-nots and the have-everythings has continued to widen at an accelerating pace during the Clinton-Gore administration.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

“Compassionate Conservatism”?

Senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute and author of the recent report “Lockheed Martin and the GOP: Profiteering and Pork Barrel Politics with a Purpose,” Hartung said today: “Bush-Cheney is the arms industry’s dream team. Bush tried to give Lockheed Martin a contract to run the Texas welfare system. Lockheed Martin VP Bruce Jackson, a finance chair of the Bush for President campaign, was heard to brag at a conference last year that he would be in a position to ‘write the Republican platform’ on defense. Under Cheney, Halliburton went from 42nd to 18th on the Pentagon’s top contractors list. Cheney’s wife, Lynne, serves on Lockheed Martin’s board, a service for which she receives $120,000 in compensation.”
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President of the National Center for Policy Research for Women and Families, Zuckerman said today: “Texas has one of the nation’s worst records of health care for children, and yet Gov. Bush did not support a federal program (CHIP) that provides health insurance for children who don’t have it. Assaults in Texas schools have increased, and yet Gov. Bush has opposed efforts to limit access to lethal weapons. Bush’s proposed tax cuts will mean less money for federal programs — and the GOP has a habit of cutting health and education programs, not defense… [Dick Cheney has] opposed some of the most essential programs for children, including school lunch programs, Head Start, and legislation aimed at preventing family violence.”
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“Bush has been silent on AIDS as governor and candidate,” said Davids, a member of ACT UP Philadelphia, which is widely credited with forcing the Clinton administration to begin to back down from its threats to impose sanctions on African countries that produce legal generic versions of expensive AIDS drugs. “Bush’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry virtually assure that he will reverse that policy. With millions of African lives at stake, AIDS drugs for Africa must become a campaign issue for Bush as well as Gore.”
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Policy analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, Toler said today: “The Republicans are making it a point to feature attractive African Americans like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but George W. Bush’s official positions on racism, the criminal justice system, welfare ‘reform,’ affirmative action and so on are totally contrary to the interests of African Americans.”
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Professor of media studies at New York University and author of the forthcoming Operation Desert Storm and the Triumph of Illusion, Miller said today: “With its cinematic tribute to Operation Desert Storm, the Bush-Cheney ticket demonstrated the same dangerous knack for fantasy that made that war seem — on American TV — like one long happy dream. This film was a tissue of seductive lies. It erased the U.S. complicity in Saddam Hussein’s military buildup and invasion of Kuwait, the weeks and weeks of unprecedented bombing from the air, the actual failure of our very costly high-tech weaponry, and the dreadful sufferings of the Iraqi people — sufferings caused directly by President Bush’s war and by U.S. sanctions that continue to this day.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Republican Convention: Issues of Economic Justice

Author of the forthcoming Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Abortion, Adoption and Welfare in the U.S., Soliger said today: “If the Republicans believe ‘no child should be left behind,’ they really ought to consider that children who might be left behind in this country are the children of poor mothers — the women who welfare ‘reform’ put in danger. Most Americans think today that motherhood should be a class privilege, a status available only to women who have enough money.”

Co-chair of the organizing committee of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, which is holding an un-permitted march for economic human rights beginning at 11 a.m. today and has been organizing “reality tours” of parts of Philadelphia, Pyler said this morning: “We need a new change and a new direction in the country. Neither the Democratic or the Republican party is representing the interests of the masses of the people. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone a right to a job at a living wage (Article 23), the right to ‘food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services’ (Article 25) and the ‘right to education’ (Article 26). All this is being violated every day.”
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Co-author of Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity and co-director of United for a Fair Economy (which is a sponsor of the Shadow Conventions), Collins said today: “CEOs make 476 times the average factory worker; in 1980 it was 42 times. In 1976, the richest 10 percent owned 49 percent of all wealth, now it’s 73 percent. Since Nixon ran on the idea of a guaranteed family income, the debate has dramatically shifted and issues of poverty and inequality have been lost.”
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ANDREW BOYD (aka Phil T. Rich)
Co-chair of “Billionaires for Bush (or Gore),” Rich said: “If you’re a smart businessman, like I am, you don’t buy one candidate and hope for the best in November, you buy both up front, and start celebrating now.”
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Author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems, Ferguson said: “People regularly mistake the sound of money talking for the voice of the people; this election is no exception. Much of George W. Bush’s policies have clearly been driven by money. He shifted to privatizing Social Security to secure an infusion of money from Wall Street when he was running low because he had to spend so much to beat McCain. The pharmaceutical industry is a major force in his campaign. The military contractors are pushing the ABM. The public is not clamoring for these things. Of course, the Democrats are prisoners to moneyed interests as well.” Ferguson, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts in Boston currently researching education issues, added: “On education, all we get from Bush are bromides about local control and how much better Texas has gotten, but that’s a result of reforms he had almost nothing to do with.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

The Conventions: Brought to You by Corporate America

The Republican Party convention has a price tag of more than $50 million. The Democratic Party plans to spend about $35 million on its convention. Federal funds will cover $13.3 million for each of those two conventions. Large corporations will cover the rest, many with major issues pending before the government.

Among the GOP’s top donors: Motorola, Verizon Communications (formerly Bell Atlantic) and Comcast Corp ($1 million each), Philip Morris ($250,000), Enron ($250,000) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($100,000). Among the Democrats’ top donors: SBC Communications ($1 million), United Parcel Service ($1 million) and Boeing ($100,000). Some companies have contributed to both parties, as the Center for Responsive Politics documents:

American International Group: $500,000 to the GOP Conv.; $2 million to the Dem. Conv.: Has lobbied successfully for federal deregulation of the nation’s financial services industry and China PNTR.

AT&T: $1 million to the GOP Conv.; $1 million to the Dem. Conv.: Pending merger with MediaOne; is trying to prevent the government from ensuring that other Internet providers can have open access over its cable lines.

General Motors: $1 million to the GOP Conv.; $1 million to the Dem. Conv.: Trying to prevent fuel economy standards on SUVs.

Microsoft Corp: $1 million to the GOP Conv.; $1 million to the Dem. Conv.: Microsoft is appealing the antitrust ruling that the company be split in two.

Global Crossing: $250,000 to the GOP Conv.; $250,000 to the Dem. Conv.: Pressing for federal approval of construction of a telecom cable underneath the Pacific Ocean.

Hewlett-Packard: $250,000 to the GOP Conv.; $250,000 to the Dem. Conv.: PNTR with China, privacy standards, expansion of immigration visas for foreign workers.

American Water Works Co: $100,000 to the GOP Conv.; $100,000 to the Dem. Conv.: Trying to delay implementation of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act.

Lockheed Martin: $100,000 to the GOP Conv.; $100,000 to the Dem. Conv.: Wants anti-ballistic missile system.

US Airways has contributed $500,000 to the GOP convention, at a time when it is lobbying for support of its merger with United Airlines, which is a $500,000 contributor to the Democratic convention.

The following analysts are available for interviews:

Bailey is a researcher with the Center for Responsive Politics.

Keller is deputy legislative director for Common Cause.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or (202) 332-5055; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167