Jessia Wright had a massive scoop on Abbott’s man Cory Bernardi who is now under fire over his extreme right lobbying.
TONY Abbott’s handpicked former parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi has apparently breached strict rules by failing to declare his ties to a right-wing, pro-tobacco group fighting gun controls.
The organisation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, was involved in a High Court challenge against the Gillard government last year and has financial ties with big tobacco.
The US-based council is working with the National Rifle Association to block President Barack Obama’s guns crackdown after the Newtown school massacre.
Cory Bernardi has been an ALEC member since 2009.
Senator Bernardi’s apparent non-disclosure on his register of pecuniary interests comes as he has claimed his party’s first pick on the South Australian Senate ticket at this year’s election, virtually guaranteeing him another term. The register aims to ensure the public understands politicians’ financial interests and other benefits, including sponsored travel. Senator Bernardi is chairman of the Senate committee that polices declarations.
Cory and friends respond to Jessica.
Jessia Wright responds: Bernardi denies pro-tobacco ties breach rules
THE Liberal senator Cory Bernardi denies he has breached parliamentary disclosure rules by failing to declare his links to a right-wing pro-tobacco group fighting gun controls.
Senator Bernardi insisted he did not have to declare his involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council because he did not believe it posed a conflict of interest.
Labor and the Greens called for him to be stood down as chairman of the senators’ interests committee, which polices declarations.
However, the rules say senators are required to disclose ”any other interests where a conflict of interest with a senator’s public duties could foreseeably arise or be seen to arise”.
The Greens senator Richard Di Natale said Senator Bernardi was ”unfit to chair” the senators’ interests committee.
In a letter circulated on Sunday, Senator Bernardi claimed he was not contacted by Fairfax Media before the story was published.
But Fairfax Media did contact his office and stands by its story.
Mr Abbott is yet to comment.
Update: Mr Abbott has been asked a question about Cory Bernardi in his doorstop with Campbell Newman
He has form on not responding to questions and walking out on the media.
And he gets away with it. It seems only the light entertainment show the ProjectTV reports on this.
ALEC is also a major financial backer of the Tea Party during last year’s US elections. It has spread its conservative agenda across the globe, especially on plain packaging of tobacco.
The chairwoman of the taskforce is Philip Morris International executive Brandie Davis, who drafted two letters sent to the Gillard government in 2010 and 2011, demanding Australia abandon its efforts to force all tobacco products to be sold in uniform drab packaging.
British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris, a major supporter of ALEC, last year launched an unsuccessful High Court challenge against the Australian laws.
Some background on Cory Bernardi by Mike Seccombe: If You Like Sarah Palin, You’ll Absolutely Love Cory Bernardi
Some background on ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council:
ALEC’s major funders include Exxon Mobil, the Scaife family (Allegheny Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation), the Coors family (Castle Rock Foundation), Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), the Bradley family (The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation) and the Olin family (John M. Olin Foundation).2 These organizations consistently finance right-wing think tanks and political groups.
Members of ALEC’s board represent major corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, PhRMA, Peabody Energy, and State Farm. Such corporations represent just a fraction of ALEC’s approximately three hundred corporate partners.3 According to the Center For Media and Democracy, over 98% of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations, special interests, and sources other than legislative dues (which run $50 per year for legislators).4
ALEC’s activities reflect its founding, funding, and control by corporate interests. After paying to get a seat at the table, corporations are able to introduce bills at ALEC conferences that are written by corporate law firms, and that are specifically designed to benefit their industries. Many of these ALEC bills are written by corporate lawyers at defense firms like Shook Hardy & Bacon.