For Consideration, the same as money-----------Destroy Carlos Slim
December 2012 San Francisco
Delenda est Carlos Slim
Mexican Tycoon Carlos Slim's TracFone Accuses Activist Group Of Orchestrating A Corporate-Backed Smear Campaign
Carlos Slim (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
TracFone, a telephone company owned by Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim’sAmerica Movil (NYSE:AMX) filed a complaint on Monday accusing activist group Two Countries One Voice and its campaign against Slim in the United States of being a corporate smear campaign as opposed to a grassroots movement against the Mexican billionaire’s “monopolistic practices”, as the group claimed.
In a complaint filed Monday with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, TracFone accuses Two Countries One Voice (TCOV), a self-described Latino grassroots group, of organizing protests “with the apparent goal of generating adverse legislation and/or negatively influence regulatory decisions affecting” companies owned by Slim. It claims that there is ample public information to indicate that TCOV “is not an authentic grassroots organization and is, in fact, engaged in an ‘Astroturf’ campaign with hidden sponsors and funding to influence California state officials and lawmakers for political and ultimately commercial ends,” the 11-page complaint states.
Early this month, TCOV organized its most successful protest so far against Slim when 60 activists interrupted Slim with loud laughs and guffaws during a public event at the New York Public Library. Contrary to previous demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, this time TCOV’s theatrics received significant press coverage in the United States and Mexico.
The legal document alleges that TCOV lobbied against Slim’s acquisition of TracFone and SimpleMobile, which are recipients of U.S. government mobile-phone subsidies for the poor, despite not being registered as a lobbyist or other type of political committee. “TCOV is heavily engaged in advocating for regulatory and legislative action in California,” the complaint states. It also states that multiple California politicians, including State Senators Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara, and State Assembly members Das Williams and Nancy Skinner, either participated in TCOV’s events or were engaged in other activities against Slim’s companies in California.
One strong indication that TCOV has undisclosed outside funding is that despite over a year of operations by the group, TracFone has been unable to locate confirmation that the group has registered in California or with the federal government as a corporate entity or ever solicited funds from their supporters or the public at large. To the best of our knowledge, the complaint says, there are no registration filings for “Two Countries, One Voice,” in the public databases maintained by the California Secretary of State and the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Slim’s complaint called on the Commission to investigate if Juan Jose Gutierrez, the group’s founder, is financing TCOV from his business activities or whether he and his associates at TCOV have received outside funding and other assistance from corporate lobbying. Gutierrez is identified as the founder of another politically active group called Vamos Unidos USA, which the complaint says is a fictitious business name for a company called Vamos EUA, which has been the subject of several State of California tax liens filed with the Los Angeles County recorder of deeds in 2011 and 2012.
The complaint suggests that Mercury Public Affairs, a California-registered lobbying firm led by individuals with deep political roots in California and whose primary offering is grassroots mobilization and messaging, may be behind TCOV’s anti Slim campaign. It does not say who hired Mercury on behalf of TCOV, but believes that only well-heeled corporate clients or non-profits have the wherewithal to hire a firm like Mercury, a subsidiary of an NYSE-listed conglomerate called Omnicon. TCOV asserts that it is entirely self-funded and specifically denies that they are tied to Slim’s business competitors in Mexico. However, according to Bloomberg, Andres Ramirez, also a TCOV founder, has participated in events sponsored by Azteca America SAB (AZTECA.MX), a U.S. television network owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, a fierce competitor of Slim. In paid ads published May 20 in Mexican newspapers, TV Azteca, Salinas Pliego’s Mexican TV network, denied any connections to Ramirez.