Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes is a front group campaigning against a proposed California state tax on Botox that was created by a PR firm working for Allergan Inc., the maker of Botox. [1] It describes itself as a group "that seeks to stop the unfair taxation of health care services and prescription drugs in various states."[2]

The astroturf group was the work of Direct Impact, "a Virginia-based affiliate of global public relations giant Burson-Marsteller Inc., specializes in developing what its Web site calls 'grassroots communication marketing campaigns,'" the Sacramento Bee's Andrew McIntosh writes.[1]

"The company had signed on with Irvine-based Allergan to quarterback a $400,000 lobbying effort aimed at convincing California consumers and state officials that Botox cosmetic products should not be hit by a state Board of Equalization sales tax." Among the deceptive features of Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes campaign was the group's website - - which is registered to an employee of Burston-Marsteller's New York office. Neither Allergan's nor Burston-Marsteller's ties to the group, however, are disclosed on the website, McIntosh reports.[1]

On its website the coalition describes its membership as including Americans for Tax Reform, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and Men's Health Network. [2] As of early 2008, Allergen is now listed on the site as as a "coalition member."

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