May 11, 2010
Investigative Report: Richard Berman
Corporate front-man makes a fine living attacking charities
VIDEO: Berman drives away in his Bentley.
» American Beverage Institute was created in 1991 to fight government regulation of alcohol consumption issues. Its biggest target is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which was pushing lower blood-alcohol levels and is now advocating ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers.
» Employment Policies Institute, also created in 1991, which has aggressively opposed federal minimum wage increases and mandated health insurance plans.
P's & Q's
Author’s note: In a public statement on May 17, a spokesman for Richard Berman noted an error in the above story, regarding a change in the composition of the board of directors at the Center for Consumer Freedom in 2007. That error has now been corrected.
As originally written, the story contained the following paragraph:
It is unclear whether the IRS acted upon Sloan’s complaint, as the federal agency never discloses its investigations, but Berman’s tax returns suggest the agency has shown some interest. In CCF’s 2006 tax return, legal fees spiked to $130,000, about 10 times the amount of previous years. In 2007, the charity’s returns showed an abrupt upheaval in its board of directors. Berman, the executive director, was the only survivor.
The last two sentences have been replaced with the following:
In 2007, the charity’s returns showed two of CCF’s five board members—one a Berman and Co. employee, and the other a board member on another one of Berman’s public charities—had been replaced. In the IRS complaint, Sloan had specifically challenged the two directors’ ability to exercise independent judgment because of their conflicting roles with Berman.