Notorious astroturf pioneer Rick Berman is behind business group's anti-labor-board offensive - 2015-03-25
The Job Creators Network, however, represents a different way of doing business for Berman: He has guided the group's media strategy behind the scenes, while more than three dozen CEOs have publicly signed on to support the organization's mission. Its signatories include such corporate titans as Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson, Staples founder and onetime CEO Tom Stemberg, and Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus. Possible 2016 GOP contender and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina co-chairs the Job Creators Network's women's coalition. But the group also features executives from lesser-known but successful companies, such as Ganahl and Stephen Salis, cofounder and CEO of the &Pizza chain. It's unclear how many of the Job Creators Network's corporate members are aware the controversial Berman is a strategist for the network and its anti-NLRB campaign. As Berman himself has noted, companies are often squeamish about publicly associating themselves with him, hence the emphasis on anonymity.
But there are key clues linking Berman and his firm to the Job Creators Network. The network's media contact, Ted Peterson, notes on his LinkedIn page that he is employed as a digital-media strategist at Berman and Company. Berman and Company's in-house web developer, Chris Herbert, included the web site of the Job Creators Network's latest campaign, a project called Defend Main Street, in his online portfolio as an example of his work. An executive associated with the Job Creators Network confirmed Berman's longtime involvement with the group.
After Mother Jones asked Peterson about these connections, his LinkedIn page was briefly taken offline and republished without his photograph. Herbert's website and his LinkedIn page were scrubbed of references to Defend Main Street, other Berman projects—such as UnionFacts.com—and Berman and Company. Before his site was updated, Herbert had billed himself as "the main web developer for the infamous Washington, DC public relations firm Berman & Company." Peterson, Berman, and Alfredo Ortiz, the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, did not reply to requests for comment.