A recently-formed judicial "academy" funded by industry groups and conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is offering members of Congress and their staff free meals and trips in order to "educate" the lawmakers on controversial pro-business reforms.Luckily, if one were to click the "core group" link above one would see a familiar name on the list:
The group is the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy (CCJCA), launched earlier this year by the Law and Economics Center (LEC) at George Mason University's School of Law. Despite being part of the university, the right-leaning LEC depends entirely on specially-designated donations which come from a core group of about 50 corporations and foundations, including The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Merck, Exxon, Eli Lilly, Altria, Wal-Mart, and the conservative Bradley Foundation.
Sarah Scaife FoundationYou just knew there'd be some Scaife money tied in with all this, didn't you? Wondering how much?
Glad you asked. Way back in March of 1999, Salon.com described write this:
Most alarming to critics is the fact that key financial supporters of the seminars are foundations such as Olin and Scaife -- philanthropic institutions whose normal list of annual grantees reads like a hall of fame roll call for the right-wing intellectual power structure. While Scaife has provided seed money and continuing funding for the Law and Economics Center at George Mason, the Olin Foundation has spent millions on a large-scale attempt to promote law and economics curricula at law schools across the country.And a page or so later:
The Scaife Foundation also funds numerous law and economics programs, and has taken a particular interest in the George Mason Law and Economics Center. The Scaife Foundation provided original seed money for the establishment of the center (then located in Miami) in 1973, and as late as 1996 was still contributing around $100,000 a year to the center -- about 10 percent of its annual operating budget.In fact, Media Matters lists $860,000 in Scaife money going to the:
LAW AND ECONOMICS CENTERS FOUNDED BY HENRY G. MANNE (AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, EMORY UNIVERSITY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY) LAW AND ECONOMICS CENTERfrom 1990 to 1997.
So yea, I guess we can conclude there's some serious Scaife money involved here.
And this is what's going on, according to the Huffingtonpost:
According to an invitation and an agenda obtained by The Huffington Post for the October retreat, participants will be "educated" on "civil justice issues" by three different experts, all of whom belong to the same controversial "Law and Economics" movement in the legal community. The movement's speakers favor the use of economic principles to make legal decisions, with a high value placed on the most efficient solution. As such, Law and Economics tends to favor corporations over individuals where lawsuits and punitive damages are concerned, making it especially popular among industries with high litigation rates and plaintiff class actions, such as pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. These same industries are the ones that fund the academy's work: In addition to the corporations above, the Law and Economics Center has received donations from Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Google, State Farm, Pfizer, Conoco Phillips, Boeing, AT&T and 3M -- every one of which has been the target of at least one class action lawsuit since 2009.Interesting what connections you find if you just take a look.
Something else to watch.