February 25, 2005
Attack DogUSA Next claims to be a senior advocacy group but looks nothing more than a right-wing operation funded by special interests.
Formerly known as United Seniors Association (USA), it was founded in 1991 by Richard Viguerie, often referred to as the "funding father" of the right. Mr. Viguerie built his fortune sending fundraising junk mail for, among others, "operations run by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, organizations supporting the Contras in Nicaragua and the World Anti-Communist League."
In 2002, an expose by Public Citizen revealed that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhaRMA), the pharmaceutical industry's powerful trade group, used USA Next as a surrogate to promote George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan through a million-dollar advertising campaign.
In 2003, in spite of repeated warnings from the SSA's Office of Inspector General, USA Next continued to send misleading solicitation letters to seniors about Social Security for which they were fined more than $550,000. An Administrative Law Judge later upheld this fine because USA Next deliberately ignored the warnings.
Though USA Next claims 1.5 million members, two of its last three available tax filings listed zero income from membership dues.
USA Next took down its American Spectator ad since my last entry. In a CNN interview, USA's CEO Charlie Jarvis said they were just "testing to see whether left liberal groups would overreact".
Please. They were testing to see how much they can get away with. Not exactly smart since the offending ad can hurt the very cause they claim to champion. Even a spokesman for the privatization proponent Cato Institute said the tactic is "not very bright politics".
Regardless, the ad is just the first distasteful volley from USA Next which claims that AARP is a "liberal" association, conveniently ignoring the fact that AARP supported George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan two years ago, the very same plan USA Next promoted with pharmaceutical industry money.
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