Statement: When Hypocrites yell ‘Transparency!’

26. July 2017

We were delighted to see that Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) spent a good amount of time studying the activities and finances of the Consumer Choice Center and our parent organization Students For Liberty.

We’d like to advise CEO to look a bit more diligently at organizations they write about. Given their interest in us, we decided to take a look at their organization:

  • It would be amusing if it wouldn’t be so sad and frightening that CEO is mainly funded by Ayman Jallad, a man with openly anti-Semitic views who thinks that chopping down trees is worse than killing humans. All this at the same time he makes significant amounts of money in conflict zones of the Middle East. Talk about nebulous if not hypocritical.
  • CEO uses labels like ‘plutocrat’ to describe SFL donors, but accepts funding from organizations close to the very successful billionaire George Soros and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation. Which, if semantics hold true, would apply equally to themselves.
  • CEO calls for transparency but they don’t even add an author’s name to their report.
  • Margarida Silva from CEO attended our launch event but did not reveal her affiliation with CEO and registered under her private email address. While this is her right, she and her colleagues should be a bit more careful when it comes to yelling ‘Transparency!’ in the roads around Place Lux.

Furthermore we would like to correct some of the false accusations in CEO’s report:

  • CCC represents all consumers interested in more overall choice and being treated less like infants and more like adults by regulators. While CEO says  we do not represent consumers, we’d like to highlight that recent polling in Canada shows that the majority of consumers want to have choice and not paternalism when it comes to these decisions. This can be seen in legalizing sharing economy services, preventing branding bans, marijuana legalization, or de-monopolizing alcohol distribution. And that’s across all age groups, particularly young people.
  • CEO fails to mention any of the great content and campaigns we’ve produced for greater healthcare innovation, dismantling unfair corporate welfare in the dairy industry, the harmful anti-science narratives spun by organizations such as themselves, and the benefits of decriminalizing medicinal use of marijuana. Mentioning these facts would likely destroy the conspiratorial web they’ve weaved so elegantly but without solid research.
  • We have a very clear policy that we do not give any editorial oversight to donors of CCC. We only push issues that embrace and enhance consumer choice.
  • CEO fails to understand how four full-time staffers can operate in Brussels at a budget smaller than 200k EUR. While this budget also includes significant travel and event costs and not only our salaries, we would be happy to teach CEO how to run a lean organization and not burn through donors’ money.
  • Students For Liberty is not mainly funded by Koch properties but by over 3,000 donors around the world. No donor contributes over 10% of SFL’s total budget.

A final remark about the style of how people should treat each other. Despite having different political opinions, we should treat each other with respect and always be able to have a civilized conversation with each other even when disagreeing. By publishing such a poorly researched report and not practicing transparency while preaching it every day, one readily comes to the conclusion that CEO’s staff follow the mantra of their dubious funder: humans are not important.

-Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC)

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