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[GreenYes] Fwd: Call for More Corporate Accountability

From: Charlie Cray <ccray@essential.org>
Delivered-To: mailing list empoweringdemocracy@yahoogroups.com
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 12:17:19 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Citizen Works [mailto:news@citizenworks.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 11:48 AM
To: media@mlm.citizenworks.org
More than 200 Groups Call Attention to Corporate Accountability as Bush Tries to Change the Subject

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2002

Contacts:
Charlie Cray or Lee Drutman, Citizen Works, 202-265-6164
John Cavanagh, Daphne Wysham or Kathy Spillman,
         Institute for Policy Studies, 202-234-9382
Wenonah Hauter or Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen, 202-454-5191
Josh Karliner, 415-561-6567; or Julie Light, 415-561-6559, CorpWatch

More than 200 groups today resisted the Bush administration's attempt to use the war on Iraq to distract from its under-the-radar attacks on corporate reforms by issuing a joint statement on the need for stronger and deeper corporate accountability.

The Unity Platform on Corporate Accountability, as well as the list of more than 200 groups that have endorsed it, can be viewed online at http://www.citizenworks.org/admin/press/unityplatform.php or http://www.corpwatch.org/

The Unity Platform "represents a cohesive analysis shared by diverse strands of the grassroots corporate accountability movement," said Charlie Cray, director of the Corporate Reform Campaign at Citizen Works. "Despite the inertia in Washington, the popular view is that there needs to be further and deeper change in how we govern corporations."

The statement outlines an agenda for public funding of elections, an overhaul of corporate governance, controls on speculative investment, stronger labor and environmental obligations, an end to international corporate welfare, and a redefinition of financial accountability, among other proposals.

Corporate greed and abuse remains one of the top issues for most Americans; it will be a factor in the elections and will come back strong in the months to come, added John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies.

We should be at a political crossroads today, developing ways to foster real corporate accountability, said Joshua Karliner, Senior Adviser to San Francisco-based CorpWatch.  Unfortunately the drum beat of war is drowning out the public outcry against corporate corruption. This not only undermines corporate reform, but also creates a climate in which Bush's agenda to further deregulate big business, one of the principle causes of the debacle at Enron, may well prevail."

As Wenonah Hauter, Director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program notes: "Despite the crushing failure of telecom and energy deregulation, the Bush Administration continues to advocate for increased deregulation of these sectors.

The platform serves as a beacon of what is possible at a moment when the Bush administration continues its brazen push to roll back the minimal reforms enacted by Congress so far.

Consider these recent developments:

- Instead of choosing someone with the relevant skills to head the accounting industry oversight board created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Harvey Pitt nominated William Webster, the retired CIA and FBI head whom even the Wall St. Journal described as Pitt s factotum.

- Bush recently proposed cutting the SEC s budget from the $776 million targeted in Sarbanes-Oxley to $568 million. Even Harvey Pitt has said this will prevent the agency from undertaking key initiatives to protect investors.

- Under the guise of simplifying the tax code, the Treasury Department hinted to the Washington Post that it is developing plans to scrap the corporate income tax altogether and replace it with a regressive value-added tax.

- Although deregulation has cost consumers billions and resulted in the inefficient allocation of capital due to fraudulent corporate practices, key Bush Administration appointees - Pat Wood at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Michael Powell at the Federal Communications Commission continue to call for increased deregulation. Wood is pushing his Standard Market Design despite the pleas by 18 states to cease this deregulation nightmare, says Public Citizen s Wenonah Hauter. And Powell has publicly stated that much of the $2 trillion meltdown in the telecom industry is not the FCC's concern, and instead is pushing for increased deregulation of the Baby Bells."

- International financial institutions continue to subsidize irresponsible corporations like Enron. In the coming weeks, the U.S. taxpayer-funded Inter-American Development Bank is expected to vote on financing $125 million in loans to Enron and Shell for a controversial pipeline in Bolivia.

- Congressional foot-dragging has failed to fix even the most obvious problems of corporate greed, such as a broken pension system and a wave of corporate relocations to offshore tax havens.

Meanwhile, little has changed in Corporate America. According to an October 2002 study of 1,245 US firms by the Investor Research Center, 72% of fees paid by firms to their auditors were actually for non-audit services, the same exact percentage as one year ago. And the General Accounting Office  (GAO) recently reported that corporate restatements rose from 225 in 2001 to an estimated 250 in 2002. In the last week alone Qwest, AOL, Tyco, MTS Systems, and Bristol-Myers Squibb have all announced new restatements.
 
####

Gary Liss
916-652-7850
Fax: 916-652-0485
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