May 18, 2002
Dear Mr. Berman:
In response to your
amusing letter of May 15, 2002,
let me make the following observations.
has come to my attention that the following paragraph appeared on
or about May 14, 2002, on your Internet website www.ParentalFreedom.com
(also known as www.JunktheJunk.com):
despicable industry lobbyist [Richard] Berman lives large distorting
the truth for a living (the non-profit Consumer Freedom paid Berman
$254,000 in fees out of it's [sic] $514,000 budget, according to
publicly available tax returns), and using whatever guile he can
invent to try to block parental controls over their own children..."
Here you actually
make factually correct statements. Hey, even a stopped clock is right
twice a day.
information is false and defamatory, and I demand that you take steps
to rectify your error immediately.
Do go on!
the Center for Consumer Freedom has never compensated me financially
for my work on its behalf. The payment to which you refer was made
to "Berman and Company," of which I am president. Berman
and Company in turn compensated over twenty people for services performed.
Is my original statement
really untrue? Let's look at the facts in a little more detail:
Guest Choice is a non-profit corporation which you control. In 2000,
Guest Choice paid $256,077 to Berman & Company, Inc., a for-profit
corporation wholly owned by you, according to publicly available tax
Perhaps I should
have said you paid the money to yourself.
the Center for Consumer Freedom was incorporated in January 2002,
and has not yet filed an annual tax return.
So it hasn't filed
a tax return under that name. But your website, GuestChoice.com
currently says: "The Guest Choice Network is now the Center for
Consumer Freedom." Okay, let me clarify this a bit then: Your non-profit
organization Center for Consumer Freedom filed this return under its
previous name. You are my source for this information; perhaps I should
be cautious about relying on its truthfulness.
the Center for Consumer Freedom has never taken a position regarding
the rights of parents to exercise control over their children's diets.
Your frequent statements to the contrary on www.ParentalFreedom.com
are misleading at best, libelous at worst.
Rick, it's my opinion
that you are anti-parent as well as anti-consumer. You're a lobbyist
who's been paid by the food, beverage and tobacco industries. When a
school district or official tries to remove from school grounds a machine
that dispenses high-sugar caffeinated beverages to children, you scream
about "freedom." Apparently your view is the freedom of your
funders to sell these harmful products in the schools trumps the rights
of parents who don't want their children to consume them. You're apparently
unconcerned about the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes among our nations'
Your website calls
it "brainwashing" when the Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI) encourages children to drink 1% milk instead of whole
milk, while at the same time you defend the fastfood industry for pushing
Happy Meals to children during Saturday morning cartoons.
I also think it's
anti-consumer to mislead the public with junk science. Remember those
"scientists" the Tobacco Institute used to pay to run around
saying there was no link between smoking and cancer? The studies you
champion and promote often remind me of the dangerous nonsense they
used to spout.
have also recently been made aware of your unauthorized use of the
design and HTML code from the Internet web site of the Center for
Consumer Freedom. The web site at www.ParentalFreedom.com uses an
unlawful copy of the HTML code from the Internet web site of the Center
for Consumer Freedom's web site, www.ConsumerFreedom.com.
your information, the HTML tag <!--CB =#PR#=--> near the bottom
of the code currently operating on www.ParentalFreedom.com is a dead
giveaway: the initials"PR" are those of our full-time web
developer, who is prepared to assist us in legal action to protect
Ever hear of "fair
use?" Since the major thrust of our campaign on this site is to
parody your website -- with a few changes (e.g., substituting the truth
for nonsense, as well as a more attractive color scheme and graphics,
if I do say so myself) -- we have reused some of your HTML. This is
entirely permissible under the "doctrine of fair use."
expect that you will rectify the above-outlined problems within 24
hours. At a minimum, you will:
remove all false statements about myself and the Center for Consumer
Freedom from your web sites, including www.ParentalFreedom.com,
www.VegSource.com, and any other web sites over which you have editorial
Sorry, Rick. I can't
remove what isn't there.
issue a public apology on the front page of your principal Internet
web site, www.VegSource.com;
Rick, here's my
public apology: I'm sorry you're a tobacco company whore.
I'm afraid I can't
post that apology on VegSource.com, however, because I'm not interested
in giving you or your website any additional notice or traffic.
and cease and desist from using copyrighted intellectual property
belonging to the Center for Consumer Freedom (to wit, the HTML code)
in the production and design of www.ParentalFreedom.com.
Let's talk about
what you do, Rick. Let's talk about your respect for other
people's intellectual property rights.
CSPInet.org is a
well known website operated by the Center for Science in the Public
Interest. You or your corporation or one of your non-profits -- it's
hard to tell them all apart because they all sit at the same desk --
went out and purchased the domain CSPInet.com. I understand when CSPI
demanded you return it since you apparently were using it to generate
traffic using their trademark, you refused. The domain name was later
transferred away from you and given to CSPI when you lost an ICANN dispute
Now I find you've
done the same thing to VegSource (and many other organizations). You
ripped off our name by purchasing vegsource.info,
obviously hoping to capitalize off the goodwill in our trademark. Expect
a cease and desist letter through the mail.
any competent attorney will likely advise you, you are on notice that
your actions and continuing harm have exposed you and your company
(VegSource Interactive) to numerous legal consequences.
Now let's talk about
falsehoods which you have published about me.
On at least three
of your websites you describe me as "the Armour meatpacking empires
principal heir." This
is simply untrue.
You claim I "make
[my] living bashing meat." Wrong again.
You claim I wrote
a "how-to book on filing ad hominem lawsuits." I assume
you're referring to "Sue the Bastards." Thanks for the plug,
but have you even read the book? We all know what an ad hominem
argument is, but what the heck's an ad hominem lawsuit?
I'll give you an
example of what I consider to be a perfectly legitimate ad hominem
argument. In deciding how much credence to give to a person's public
positions, it may be reasonable to look at who's buttering their bread.
Let's look at who's
buttering your bread, Rick. Here's a site that details some of the tobacco,
booze and food companies that fund non-profit organizations you control
(and which casts serious doubt on many claims you make including that
you represent "more than 30,000 U.S. restaurants and tavern operators"):
Watch article exposing Rick Berman's funding.
So where does all
this money go once it comes into your non-profits' coffers?
Mostly to you, Rick.
Should we call this
- According to
tax returns for your Employment Policies Institute (of which you are
Executive Director), in 1997 you paid yourself personally salary and
benefits of $163,967 for running EPI. That same year, your non-profit
EPI paid your for-profit Berman and Company another $459,058 for "consulting
services." That's a total of $623,025 you got. Again,
that tax return says Berman and Company is wholly owned by you, Rick.
So of the $904,709 you raised for your non-profit EPI during 1997,
69% went to either you personally or a for-profit corporation that
you own. Here's a link to that tax return: 1997
EPI tax return.
- In 1998 wearing
your EPI hat, you again paid yourself salary/benefits of $163,967,
and your corporation's take that year was $847,469. In other words,
according to the publicly available tax returns, in your role as "Executive
Director" of EPI, you paid yourself and your own company $1.011
million out of the approximately $1.272 million you raised via
EPI in tax-free donations. That means 79% of charitable donations
that went into your non-profit EPI you then transferred into your
own bank accounts. Here's a link to that tax return: 1998
EPI tax return.
- In 1999, as head
of EPI you paid yourself salary/benefits of $163,026. You also paid
your corporation another $508,173 for "consulting." So out
of the $1.237 million you raised that year for EPI, you paid yourself
and your corporation $671,199. Thus in 1999, according to the
tax return, you only transferred 54% of that particular non-profit's
cash into your bank accounts. For this tax return see: 1999
EPI tax return.
- In 2000, GuideStar.org
states you raised $1.185 million for EPI, but as EPI's 2000 tax return
is not yet publicly available on the web, we don't yet know how much
of that you ended up putting in your own personal and corporate bank
accounts. Was it between the 54% and 79% of total donations you've
apparently taken for yourself previous years, which would translate
to your getting between around $640,398 and $936,879? Click
here for preliminary 2000 EPI tax info
- As previously
noted, we do know that during 2000, wearing your Guest Choice hat,
you did pay $256,077 in cash from non-profit Guest Choice to
your own for-profit business account. Since you raised a total of
$521,163 for Guest Choice in 2000, that means 49% of those donations
went to you. Click
here for that tax return.
So in about an hour
of digging, and looking at only some of the tax returns from
only some of the non-profit organizations you control, Rick,
I found $2,561,737 that ended up in your own personal or company
bank accounts, which you yourself transferred directly from these non-profits
of yours. I'm guessing there's much more.
Rick, that's a lot
of butter. Think about what it's doing to your arteries!
VegSource Interactive, Inc.