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Is This a "War on the Poor" or a Fight for Big Oil?

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Many of you have seen the so-called "Stop the War on the Poor" campaign that launched this week with a rally in Washington by a civil rights organization called the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

With major corporate donations in the past to CORE from big players like Monsanto and ExxonMobil, I hope you can pardon me for being more than a little cynical about their latest campaign.

To say that CORE has enjoyed a cozy relationship with big industry would be an understatement. In fact, here's a photo of Monsanto's Chairman and CEO, Hugh Grant chairing CORE's celebratory reception in honor of Martin Luther King Jr in 2005.

The visit to CORE by Monsanto's President coincided with a conference organized by CORE decrying environmentalists and their opposition to the use of genetically modified crops in Africa. Just so happens that Monsanto is the largest producer and supplier of genetically-modified seed in the world.

You can check out the an archived version of CORE's website where they once proudly touted Monsanto as the corporate sponsor of their pro-GM food campaign. I saved a screen capture of the Monsanto/CORE site archive just in case it goes "missing."

Then there's the $275,000 CORE has received from the largest oil company in the world, ExxonMobil, most of the money tagged for public policy work in the area of climate change. Roy Innis, the head of CORE, has a long and well-documented history of attacking the environmental movement over the issue of global warming.

For example, in March, 2008 Innis spoke at a press conference in New York claiming that:

"We are slowly destroying the energy system we have, and we are promoting an expensive, environmentally harmful, illusory energy system that exists only in theory and environmental rhetoric. Worst of all, we are harming our poorest families; we are rolling back the civil rights we struggled so long and hard to achieve; and we are sending many minorities to the back of the energy and economic bus. This must not, and cannot continue."

Again, pardon me for being a little cynical when an organization that took $250,000 from ExxonMobil comes out against investing in renewable energy.

But I'm not the only cynical one. There's a lot of us. For example, the original founder of CORE, James Farmer has accused Innis of:

"renting out CORE's historic reputation to corporations like Monsanto and ExxonMobil."

Looks like they're right. Here's the full story on the Congress of Racial Equality that I have put together in a briefing document.