Right-Wing Smear Machine At It Again, Attacking Progressive California Policy Group

First they came for ACORN, then it was Planned Parenthood and NPR. Now, the right-wing smear machine is at it again, targeting a local group that has had a strong impact in advancing important progressive causes. The group is LAANE or the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the provenance of persecutor is unknown, and mysterious.

From an extensive Jim Newton column in the the LA Times, here's a description of the kind of work LANE does:

LAANE, as it's known, is an 18-year-old advocacy organization that seeks to fashion and influence public policy relating to jobs, the environment and community development. The group, widely perceived as having a strong liberal slant, has a staff of 45 people and an annual budget of $4 million, and it is headed by a shrewd executive director, Madeline Janis. Housed in a tiny suite of offices just west of downtown (LAANE rents the space from the union UNITE-HERE), its modest quarters give little evidence of its impact, which is profound. In project after project -- from winning passage of the city's Living Wage Ordinance to revamping the way the Los Angeles port handles truck traffic to reimagining the region's approach to recycling -- LAANE has shown itself to be one of Southern California's most potent political organizations.

So what kind of attack is the group under? A massive, widespread request for records that could cost up to #50 million, a "digging operation" run by a shady group known as  MB Public Affairs that has represented such entities as Meg Whitman and the company formerly known as Philip Morris. 

It's the attack's unknown origins that worry the folks at LAANE, according to Newton:

There's a possibility that it's being bankrolled by business interests on the opposite side of an issue LAANE has taken on. Or it might be motivated by ideology, something akin to the attacks on labor in Wisconsin or on community organizing as practiced by ACORN: "Is this connected to a right-wing infrastructure…?" Janis asked rhetorically. "That's what scares me and is keeping me up at night."

Janis also described the attack as a "mugging in a parking lot." Certainly, these kinds of all-out, spare-no-expense attacks on organizations that do a world of good for working people are becoming all too common, and fighting back is essential.

Read more about LAANE's struggle against its unknown foe at its special web page devoted to fighting the attacks.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at June 21, 2011, 5:00am

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