MSNBC: Disclose Fix-the-Debt co-chair Ed Rendell's conflicts of interest when booking
Disclose Ed Rendell's conflicts of interest due to his position as a co-chair of the Fix the Debt campaign - a billionaire-financed campaign to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - when he appears on MSNBC to offer commentary on budget, public investment, infrastructure or environmental issues.
Why is this important?
Ed Rendell today is a co-chair of Fix the Debt — nevertheless, in media appearances on your network he is regularly introduced only as the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania. He is special counsel to the law firm Ballard Spahr, where he focuses on privatization in housing and infrastructure. Rendell is a senior adviser at Greenhill & Co., a multinational investment bank.
Rendell is also on the advisory board of Verdeva, a technology development firm, and an operating partner at the venture capital firm Element Partners, a company that has recently invested in natural gas "fracking" in Pennsylvania and nearby states.
Ed Rendell is no longer a Democratic politician. He is a lobbyist, a banking adviser, and technology investor.
Ed Rendell has numerous conflicts of interest that belie his role as neutral or "liberal" commenter. For example:
■ Social Security and other social insurance programs. Ed Rendell's prominent role in Fix the Debt makes him an advocate for benefit cuts to Social Security and other social insurance programs. The leaders of Fix the Debt have deep financial interests in cuts to these programs. Rendell in particular, and the organization generally, strongly advocates for these cuts.
Rendell's role as co-chair of Fix the Debt must be disclosed before he is allowed to speak about Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
■ Medicare & Medicaid reimbursement. Ed Rendell lobbied for KCI USA, a wound care technology company, on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in 2012. This client has a financial interest in shaping the future of these programs and their reimbursement policies.
These financial interests must be disclosed before he is allowed to speak about Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
■ Infrastructure & "public-private partnerships. Rendell is a strong proponent of "public private partnerships" (PPPs) in infrastructure, which have been criticized as a dubious form of privatization of public assets. Two of Rendell's firms, Ballard Spahr and Greenhill & Co., along with their clients and thus Rendell himself, could benefit financially from his public advocacy of PPP "solutions" to public needs.
His financial interests in public-private partnerships must be disclosed before he is allowed to speak on infrastructure and housing issues, or on any issue for which public-private partnerships are offered as solutions.
■ Technology investments. Rendell's technology firm Verdeva is developing technology to track motorists at the gas pump so they can be taxed for infrastructure revenue. This is an industry-favored — and industry-favoring — measure for developing income streams needed to finance infrastructure deals. In addition, Element Partners is involved in fracking. Rendell thus personally benefits from any expansion of drilling for natural gas as a solution to the nation's energy needs.
These financial interests must be disclosed before he is allowed to speak on any matter that Verdeva, or the fracking investor Element Partners, or any other firm with which he is associated, has a financial interest.
Ed Rendell is no longer a Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, no longer a "liberal." Yet he is allowed to present himself that way on your network — by statement or omission — including on your left-oriented evening shows.
Ed Rendell today is co-chair of the Pete Peterson organization Fix the Debt, along with chairmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. He fully advocates the Simpson-Bowles proposal of Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts.
Rendell today is a corporate lobbyist, a well-connected law partner, and board member and partner in several technology firms. He stands to benefit from many of the policies he espouses.
Tell MSNBC Rendell must not be presented to it's viewers as neutral or left-leaning, either by statement or implication, nor even as a politician. He must be presented instead as affiliated with and representing his own financial interests, the interests of his clients, and the interests of his investment partners.
It's no secret that MSNBC actively markets the news network towards a progressive audience by catering to issues important to progressive politics. If enough progressives speak up in large numbers and sign this petition, it will potentially have a strong impact on MSNBC's decision making process concerning representation of Rendell as a so called neutral or a progressive pundit on it's network.
Please sign this petition urging MSNBC to correctly present Ed Rendell every time the network allows him to speak to its viewers.